Interview by Carol Wright
We got to chat with singer/songwriter CLOVER about the music video for her new single “Sunman,” busking throughout the country, and what has been keeping her creatively motivated.
Take us back to the beginning. Growing up was music often a way you felt you could connect with others or express yourself?
Yes, definitely! From the time I was four years old I always gravitated towards music – I was obsessed with the movies The Sound of Music and Annie. I would often dress up as Annie and dance around the house singing the songs. It’s crazy thinking about it now that I’m a music teacher, but when I was five I played piano and sang “Lady Madonna” by The Beatles at my elementary school talent show. After that performance I remember being so overcome with emotion that I ran to my mom and cried – this was the moment I knew I found my “thing.” It made me feel so whole to be able to express myself in that way and bring joy to people through music. When I got to high school that’s when I really started leaning into songwriting. I used it as a method for understanding my emotions and processing complex family dynamics. This is now one of the main ways I express myself and connect with others – as a songwriting teacher.
You have been busking throughout the country and recently started selling journals as well. How has it been having these unique performances and what have you learned along the way?
Busking during this time has been such a blessing – selfishly for me because performing is what makes me happiest (and with the pandemic, proper gigs don’t really exist), but it has also been a blessing for those who stumble upon it. Right now people are craving live music and magic and providing that for them feels so good. Painting and selling journals is a way I like to encourage creativity in others. Now more than ever, people need a form of release. Whether it’s songwriting or free-writing, having a private and personal place like a hand painted journal that has been made with love is a great canvas for self-expression.
“Sunman” is a beautiful song. Did you pull from your own love life and experiences to write the lyrics?
Thank you! Yes, I wrote this song as a gift for my partner Dani’s birthday. He was born on the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. He also has the sunniest personality of anyone I’ve ever met – always positive, smiling, and playful! Our love is definitely blinding and the lyric “I wanna drink the light ‘til my irises are golden” speaks to this. It’s a song about having a healthy, loving, and loud love with a partner who you admire so deeply and not wanting to miss a moment of it.
The music video for “Sunman” is magical. What was the inspiration behind the visuals and did you create mood boards to track your ideas for the video?
This music video was really the first time I felt like I got to put all of my essence out there without anyone trying to control my image. I had the most amazing collaborators for the “Sunman” video. Unfortunately, I’ve had a few experiences in the past with people in the music and entertainment industry trying to manipulate my sound and image so it was refreshing to work with such trusting and supportive people. At the time, I was living in an artist community in Upstate NY and met Amrit Matteo Guillin and his husband Quentin Bruno. They really understood me as an artist and were so supportive of the vision. I wish I could say I was organized enough to have a mood board, but the visuals in the video created themselves. I was planning on doing a photoshoot for the song and went into Hudson, NY to a thrift store to look for an outfit. It was there that I found the red, orange, and yellow jumpsuit with a 70s vibe. On my way back home I saw an incredible orange chair on the side of the road and I knew I just had to take it. The next day we did a photoshoot and spontaneously ended up shooting the scenes of me on top of the hill with the orange chair for the video. The visuals for the scenes in the woods (especially the fairy and sequin looks) can all be accredited to Amrit. He does a lot of work with mirrors in his art and came up with the concept of bringing them into the woods. I’m also wearing most of his clothes in the forest scenes.
Throughout the pandemic what has been keeping you creatively motivated and excited to create new music?
As I said earlier, I use songwriting as a means for processing emotions and we all know this is an incredibly emotional time. There is no lack of material for me personally – I’m super sensitive so I’m easily affected by both my own emotions, as well as the emotions of people I interact with. I have many many songs, but not as many recordings since that part of the process takes so long. Knowing that my music and art is bringing people joy and inspiring them helps motivate me to keep recording so that they can listen to it whenever their hearts desire. I mean, I love hopping on the phone and singing someone a song when they need it, but unfortunately that isn’t as sustainable as streaming! Well, honestly, streaming may be less sustainable money-wise, but I can’t be on call for singing through the phone.
What advice do you have for aspiring singers?
The main piece of advice I have for aspiring singers is to trust your gut and only sing and create things that feel authentic to who you are. There are going to be so many people out there who want to tell you what to do and when you’re first starting out it’s easy to blindly trust what they have to say. In 2018 I was in LA filming for “The Voice.” I was fresh out of college and although I had never watched the show before, it felt like the biggest opportunity for recognition and exposure that I could get. I was there filming for a month, having people tell me what to sing, what to wear, what to talk about. They were telling me who I was as an artist – and that’s totally backward. A few days before the blind auditions I decided that I didn’t want anyone determining who I was as an artist except me, so I flew home. You are human. Flowing, everchanging, and expanding. Your genre may shift, your “brand” may bend, but this should be on your terms. Always.