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Anxiety Exit Games with Clea

Interview by Kara Zosha // Photos by Jack Birtles and James Caswell

Photo by Jack Birtles

Hey Clea, how are you doing today and are you excited about your new album Idle Light ?

I’m good, very good. I feel like it’s been a long time coming, this album is gonna be very nice to hand over.

How long have you been working on this album?

We truly started recording it in 2020, but the ideas have been coming since about 2018. We definitely pulled from lots of different things, but the majority of creating it was from 2020 to 2021.

What is your writing process like?

It starts off with little ideas. Generally, Ali [Clea’s partner] might be roaming around the house going about on an acoustic and there’ll be something that we both like and might start singing to. There might be a riff or a chord progression that we usually get down on our voice memos and will most likely visit it again a little later. It’s always those initial ideas that then get revisited. Usually, the core aspect [of a song] is there from the beginning whether that’s the cords, the melody, or major lyrics because whatever is usually coming from my subconscious is usually the best. There were some interesting moments [when writing this album] in which we came up with ideas. For example the song Listen Up; we were passing a petrol station in the car and we noticed the price was very low because at the time during covid petrol was below a dollar, and I just started singing “Petrol’s back baby, petrol’s back from that baby,” which was just this little ditty that turned into this massive anthem.

How does this upcoming album compare to your debut album Vermillion

Absolutely, I feel like I’m a lot more comfortable in my sound and I guess a bit more understanding of how I want it to sound, especially melodies, instrumentation, and just exploring new ways of getting to that point – finishing a song and knowing when it’s finished. Vermillion was very quick,  we did  the recording only over a couple of months. My partner Ali and I recorded [both] Vermillion and Idle Light, but with this one we really wanted to improve and make music that was a bit more advanced and mature than what I put out previously. I think we really delved into the instrumentation and explored music as a whole, trying to make unique sounds and just create an entirely different world from Vermillion. Vermillion is like a little baby and this is her bigger sister.

The whole theme of this new album is about moving through your twenties and fully sitting in your life and accepting whatever happened has happened. I feel like it can be a very transformative time. I’m tying it into the moon as well, we’ve released a song every new moon. The moon is a very important part of making this album since we live out in the country and we are so reliant on it like when it’s a full moon it really lights up the property and when it’s a new moon it’s so different and dark – a good time for renewal and reflection, which was really lovely to incorporate that into the releasing schedule.

Do you have a favorite or most impactful song from the new album?

I think Exit Game, it’s always resonated with me the most. The consistent drive of it reminded me a lot of Radiohead, that monotonous consistency and moodiness. I kinda always loved that song and it’s probably the song I spend the most time on because is so hectic, there’s over a hundred tracks.

Speaking of Exit Game, songs like that and I Wanna Be Alive touch on themes of mental health, how does mental health impact your music? 

Photo by James Caswell

Anxiety has been a part of my whole life. I’m moving through my mid-twenties now, I’m 27 and just the very obvious fact of life is really in your face of “this is it, you’ll only be this age once” and it almost feels like at times I’m trying to catch up, so I really need to find those moments of slowing down, taking deep breaths, and putting a lot into perspective in order to move through life with a little bit more ease. Essentially this whole album is a big mantra to myself. Mental health stems through a lot of the album, especially coming to terms with that this is all there is and that’s scary yet really beautiful. I Wanna Be Alive is that notion of here I am, this is an insane scenario, we really don’t know why we are here, so we might as well revel in its beauty and sadness. While Exit Game is more about the actually spiral and having going to those demons and facing them because the only way is through it. That’s what I really had to come to terms with when moving through my twenties is that I can’t avoid it or then it’ll become suppression and come back to bite me later on.

What’s your favorite thing about performing live and what does a Clea show look like?

Over the years I’ve really started to become more comfortable with myself and how I like to perform. The big difference is that I would sometimes get affected if it wasn’t the right environment or things didn’t go as planned, but with practice and time I’ve been able to hone in on my performance and performance with the band, so we are always creating the environment if we feel as if that vibe isn’t there. I really like to think you can throw us into any situation and we can work it, so I love the challenges in that sense. I didn’t before, but I really really enjoy that now and becoming more comfortable every time I’m on stage with how I like to express myself and translate the music. I want every aspect of my music to be a different experience. From purely listening, to watching the music videos, to performing –  that’s why I love music because it’s so multifaceted and we can experience it on say many levels. I’d like to master each and every one of them. I still have a very long way to go but I feel like I’m on the path of hopefully becoming a master in what I do.

Have you always worked with the same band?

Our band has been together a couple of years and definitely has a good thing going, especially communication and unspoken communication as well. We know each other really well, so there’s a lot of trust and the ability to pull it all together.

You’ve said previously “I obviously love being able to create the looks and the whole aesthetic” referring to your visualizers and music videos. What is the creative process behind creating visuals for your music?

Sometimes I will have a cool idea that I stem from and there are times when I have to sit down and think about how I want to represent the music visually. Usually, it starts off with that core idea about the themes, so [for example] with Exit Game themes it’s about being thrown into that world, facing all these different versions of myself and literally having to move through it that’s why I’m all slimy [as if] I’ve just been rebirthed. That constant remembering and forgetting and being thrown into the thick of it and facing these demons with extra crazy long nails (laughs).

Then I Wanna Be Alive’s concept was showing every aspect of life. We really wanted to showcase that beauty and then there’s the pain. [In the beginning] I’m being showcased as the devil and then I’m literally an angel at the end of the clip which is the album cover, so very everything is thematic. Theme, fashion, and the overall concept just layer and seems to come together.

Can fans expect a tour for this upcoming album? 

There will be shows and that’s all I say (laughs).

All things Clea

Stream Idle Light here 

Kara Zosha

Kara (they/them) is currently the music editor for Ramona Magazine based in Delaware, USA. Creativity and self-expression are at the core of Kara’s life. They could talk your ear off about basically anything including a book they’ve recently finished or the latest artist they’ve been listening to. Kara is hard to quantify, but they are a person you won’t forget!

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