Creative Spotlight: Claire Reneé

Interviewed by Alexa Wilson

What independent artist Claire Reneé brings to the table--I mean, besides her classical training in dance, smooth vocals, and meaningful lyricism--is authenticity. There is something about her music that feels completely honest and thus universally relatable. Claire’s latest EP Let Me Glo guides listeners through a journey of personal growth starting from the inner monologue on conquering self-doubt that is “Dear Me” to the final meditation on lost love of “Love So Hard”. But the thing is, Claire is more than her sonic prowess. In her brand new video for her song “LOL”, the amalgamation of everything that is “Claire Reneé” comes together--her lifelong love of dance, her thoughtful lyrics, and the sonic melding of R&B, jazz, soul, and pop. Claire Reneé is not an artist you can or should pin down, but she is one that we are so excited to see more from in the future.

What was your relationship with music growing up? Have you always been interested in songwriting?

I grew up dancing. Music of all types of genres was an outlet for me to escape the world. I was very shy and music helped me find ways to move that felt good and honest. I also just loved music. I sang in church for a short while during my youth. I wasn't interested in writing songs until my junior or senior year in high school.

When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a career?

Around my senior year of high school, I realized I wanted to be apart of the music business. I wasn't sure how or in what capacity. In time, that led to me finding my voice as an artist and around freshman year. I decided I wanted to take my writing and singing seriously.

Are there any musicians or songwriters who have influenced your style?

Roberta Flack, D'Angelo, Cole Porter, Nina Simone, Jill Scott and Nas. (to name a few)

I read in another interview that you really enjoy writing in nature, what is it about being outdoors that inspires you the most?

I do like writing in nature. I feel a lot more grounded and aware. The sounds of the wind, ocean, trees swaying, and whatever else may be near me is calming and allows me to open up. I also have a habit of writing at skateparks because since I'm from NY and didn't always have a beach, that became my beach. The sound of the skateboard wheels and some of the crashes was my version of the beach waves. Plus the skate culture is all about a good vibe. It's beautiful and inspiring to be around.

When you’re writing, what usually comes first for you--the beats or the lyrics?

I don't have a set way of writing. I like to make sure I work honestly in the moment. Some days lyrics come first. Some days a melody. Some days everything comes together with a beat I have. Most days melody and harmony pour out of me first though. I don't always write to beats either. LOL was actually not written to a beat. The beat came later.

Listening through your EP “Let Me Glo”, there’s an overarching theme of overcoming barriers--whether they be internal or external. What advice do you have for young artists who are having trouble trusting their own creative vision? 

If there is any artist struggling with trusting their own vision, I would say step back. Take a minute for yourself. Trust you first. If you don't trust yourself how can you trust your vision? Make sure you believe in yourself and your abilities first or that will bleed right into your art. Then you may be creating art that you are constantly unhappy with or not satisfied by. Don't look to others to see what they are doing with their art either (unless it's for inspiration or to learn). If you try and compare or take someone else's creative journey, then you get art that isn't truly you.

Your latest visual is for your song “LOL”. Can you tell me more about the concept behind the video?

The concept is me showing different sides to Claire Reneé. We all want to love someone, but I find it important to be loved in return. I'm dancing which was my first true love and dance loved me back. I've never had a music video so focused on that. Me Loving Out Loud (LOL) is dancing freely with no expectation or pressure. Then you see me alone and  barefoot in nature, representing self love. Then you have what I feel a beautiful love could look like represented as well. I don't want to hide my love for my art, myself, or the person I choose to fall in love with. I hope they would feel the same. Ken Irish (the director, videographer, and editor) did an awesome job creating a mood and I loved trusting and seeing what a black male's perspective was going to look like.

What makes you feel powerful?

Realizing that there is only one Claire Reneé. There is only one me. That's powerful. When I feel low or down, I remind myself of that.

What’s next for you?

I'll be performing around the LA area and plan on getting started on a new project. I'll be dropping more visual content in the coming months as well. I'm thinking I want to drop some music in the fall/winter and then an LP with some new sounds and a new vibe. Stay tuned.

More Creative Spotlight ... interview w/ Sarah Sidway Godshaw 🍑