Written by: Hannah McKinney
Photography by: Valerie Burke
Styling by: Nora Foley
Hair by: Jenn Lagron
Makeup by: Karla Bonilla
Production: Great Social Club
Production Assistant: Claire Grisolano
LA-based queer alt-pop/R&B artist, CLAY, returns with the release of her sophomore EP Breathing Into Bloom, which features her collaboration with Alessia Cara on “WTSGD” (When The Sun Goes Down) — a track that has surpassed 1.7M Spotify streams since its release in March. The single follows her first single of this project, “ARTERY,” which gave listeners an upbeat track juxtaposed with candid and raw lyrics. The album takes listeners through a soulful and reflective journey of healing, with hopes of creating art for others to use for their own healing.
Following her debut single in 2016, CLAY has developed a fan base of over 17M streams across 520K+ monthly listeners on Spotify. Her music has been featured on multiple playlists curated by Spotify, including Alternative R&B, Indie Pop, Out Now, Morning Commute, Cleaning Kit, and Ready for the Day. The singer-songwriter has also been featured in major press articles, such as LA Weekly, Teen Vogue, Consequence, METAL, and LADYGUNN.
CLAY states her six track EP, Breathing Into Bloom, “is about accepting that healing is a process, one that has many phases and breaths, ups and downs, and learning how to love yourself throughout the journey.” The album, co-produced by CLAY, is a multi-genre experience that explores the artist’s personal experiences with mental health and unrequited love. In collaboration with The House Magazine, CLAY has shared with us a deeper look into her newest album as well as into herself as an artist.
CLAY’s earliest inspirations and influences in music originated within her home. She remembers that she had started singing “long before I was forming full sentences,” and growing up in a house that always had music playing it is easy to understand why. “It took until I was about 18 to decide to venture into writing music for myself using my own words, thoughts, and musings,” says CLAY. Since that time, CLAY has been on a journey of finding her “sound” and the “literal sonics in combination with the melody and lyrics.” She describes this journey as a continuous one that she hopes she will always be on.
When asked about her passion for music CLAY says, “I always like to say that music chose me because that’s the only way to truly describe the way it moves through me. I am deeply passionate about creating tangible things that people can interact with and make their own.” She also describes herself as a multidisciplinary artist because of this passion, and seeks to be able to express herself in many different art forms, with music being the “nucleus/heart” of it all.
In her recently released album, Breathing Into Bloom, there are many themes portrayed throughout. She explained that the inspiration for this body of work “came together naturally over time. I am always drawing inspiration from the process of healing and the human emotions we all experience like shame, heartbreak, etc.” Nature is another theme that can be seen throughout the EP. As CLAY expresses, she has “always felt so interconnected and deeply moved by nature, so I end up using many analogies and comparisons to nature throughout my writing.” The portrayal of nature is beautifully written into her EP, and her song “Numb” is a perfect example of her use of natural imagery to convey the meaning behind the song. Opening with the line, “My blood drips green,” CLAY evokes a sense of connectedness to nature in her commentary on climate change and the destruction of nature.
On track three of Breathing Into Bloom, CLAY collaborates with Alessia Cara on “WTSGD” (When The Sun Goes Down). As her first collaboration with another artist, she described feeling “organic and creative” together during the experience. She also notes that due to collaborating during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the artists’ session occurred over FaceTime. Although there was a physical separation between the two, CLAY tells us that they came together with “open hearts” and that “the song just poured out of us. It was beautiful.”
Through her musical platform, CLAY is able to share with listeners her grief about climate change and other personal topics that resonate with her. She explains that right now, the purpose of her music is to heal herself in hopes that “in sharing my innermost feelings and musings, I may provide some healing for listeners.” CLAY would like her listeners to know that she seeks to create a “sonic and eventually visual world where people can feel free to be themselves, whoever that may be.” Though CLAY uses her music as a tool for her own healing, she wants her listeners who may also be going through processes of healing to know that the art she has created is now theirs. She says, “it is there for whatever they may need or desire from it.” CLAY’s current EP explores her own struggles with mental health, and she shares with us her message for those who are struggling with mental health and sexuality. “You are loved,” says CLAY. “You are important. There is only one you on the planet, therefore being yourself in your truest form is essential.”
At the end of our Q&A, CLAY tells us she is currently finishing up another EP and plans to tour at the end of the year, as well as the majority of next year. She says, “I simply cannot wait to get on the road and perform forever!” With exciting plans of touring for her new EP along with new music in her future, CLAY is definitely an artist to keep your eye on! CLAY’s new album Breathing Into Bloom can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music, and you can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @iamclayofficial.