Classical dance fused with soul
What first struck me about Claire is the passion in her voice, the softness of her pitch and the deep meaning in her lyrics. It goes without saying that she is yet another underrated musical gem. Claire has managed to capture the art of storytelling bringing us feel good music intertwined with relatable love stories. She is an underrated musical gem that definitely has the potential to take the indie-soul scene by storm this year. Naturally, Claire feels the rhythm of her music and expresses it through dance, successfully setting herself a part for being able to effortlessly fuse two passions together. Claire keeps it real sharing what she values in being an independent artist, why it is important to learn about the academics of music, amongst other things!
Who is Claire Reneé? Tell us about the soul behind the music!
Claire Reneé is a multi-faceted and multi-talented Gemini woman, just trying to connect to the world through art and love. The soul behind my music comes from my experiences and the things I’ve observed. Also, how I’m feeling at a particular moment, or anything that inspires me enough to take a step back and realise how tiny we are, in this vast universe.
How much of an affect did the music scene in your hometown have on your sound?
First off, I’ve always loved R&B. The time I spent in the Bronx, as well as studying dance in Manhattan and jazz music whilst in college had a huge effect on me. I grew up training to be a classical dancer, so most of my life has revolved around classical music. Being in a place like NYC allows you to hear so much more. Every corner, subway or bar offers something different. It was easy for me to get into Latin music, reggae, dancehall, hip-hop and anything in between. The Bronx is filled with lots of Caribbean people (including myself) so soca, calypso and reggae is not foreign to me by any means.
In the U.K, Caribbean culture definitely dominates in many ways. Through slang, the admiration of dancehall and the calypso sounds that tend to come through in Afrobeats. Very interesting to hear that the culture stays relevant in the US too. When did you start dancing and how did do you infuse that together with your passion for singing?
I started dancing when I was four. I don’t really force my talents to come together. Just like how I can mix different dance styles together all at once, I found ways for my movement to correlate with my sound. I grew up loving Janet Jackson. I wanted to be like her. I believe my training and understanding of music and dance, has left me with so many options and ways to think outside the box.
You studied at Manhattanville College, Berklee College of Music, and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Why was it important for you to get into the academics of music? Is that something you recommend for other aspiring musicians?
It was important for me because, I didn’t come from that world. All my life I was dancing. So, I decided to study something different after high school. I did all this training to become a strong dancer, so I figured I should do my best to gain as much knowledge as I can about music. This is something I wanted to study and truly understand. Anything I go for, I want to be my best at it. Whether it’s learning from other musicians in rehearsals or going to school, I’m going to soak it up. I suggest aspiring musicians learn the theories on their own or better still find a mentor, if college is too expensive – which was the case for me. It helped me break down what I was hearing, singing and enabled me to understand what happens musically when I get confused or stuck with my writing.
2017 flourished with underground soul and soothing vocals. Which female indie, soul and jazz vocalists particularly caught your eye?
I loved hearing Charlotte Dos Santos and Gavin Turek, my dear friend Jazzmeia Horn, VanJess. Ravyn Lenae is cool!
I grew up listening to VanJess’ YouTube covers, their range is phenomenal. I am also very glad you mentioned Ravyn Lenae, her range is unique. Those sought of talents, like yours, definitely need more recognition. Can we expect any shows or concerts from you this year? What do you have planned for us?
I’m currently working on setting up more shows this year and doing a bit of travelling. Hopefully, I’ll be in UK and Europe for a bit in the summer. I’m currently working on multiple projects, so you are getting new music throughout 2018.
Yes, love that! It would be great to catch you here in the UK and there’s definitely a lot more people that need to be introduced to your sound! Can you share any personal goals for 2018?
Some personal goals of mine this year is to travel more, stop being a homebody and to try new things!
I can relate on so many levels. What was it like having your music video for Easy Come, Easy Go (Nights With You) featured on Afropunk? How does it feel to be breaking ground in the industry?
It felt great to have Easy Come, Easy Go (Nights With You) featured on Afropunk! They have been supportive of my music for quite some time and I am thankful for them. It’s funny that you say breaking ground, because I feel like I am yet to scratch the surface in this industry. Thank you for reminding me that I am making more headway than I give myself credit for! It feels amazing to know that my journey is also setting me up for longevity.
You’re welcome! Do you think you have been able to maintain your core identity more as an independent artist, than a signed one?
What about being an independent artist is more appealing to you?
I prefer being an independent artist, because I like the freedom of being able to create. I also get to release what I want, when I want and how I want to. I like the idea of being able to tap into all my sides and share them without having too many hands in the pot, giving their say so. I’m not saying I would never sign with a label, but I would like a good fit that doesn’t leave me stifled…or broke lol.
Gotcha! Can you advise any upcoming musicians, who may be hesitant to release a full-length project on how to overcome that fear? How did you find confidence in your talent?
All I can say is…go for it. There is a lane for everybody. Some people will love you and some people won’t. That is life. When it comes to expressing yourself, don’t miss out on being a voice for someone who feels as though they don’t have one. You will be surprised how many people connect with you, if you allow yourself to open up. I was always confident in my dance talent. However, music is something I took seriously later and felt I wasn’t enough. I always felt like I had more work to do before I could release anything. I let go of that fear, as I realised that not sharing is selfish. I could be using my art to heal.
True. I LOVE the Dilla touch in your music. As a strong Dilla fan myself, I wanted to end the interview with the question: what do you love most about Dilla’s music?
I love Dilla’s music, because it sounds so effortless. He creates moods that hit you deep and sometimes you aren’t sure why. There are some beats of his that make me remember a certain time in my life. He is simply a genius. His understanding of music and sound is by far one of the best. I released Dilla Thursday’s to pay homage and challenge myself. I did this after having realised that the sample for Players by Slum Village said “Claireeee”, I felt like in some way we were connected…
CONNECT WITH CLAIRE