Once 17-year-old singer and songwriter Claire Rachel Wilkinson, aka Clairity, decided she wanted to pursue a career in music, all it took was watching a few videos on YouTube and viola, instant superstar garnering comparisons to Lorde. Okay, so maybe that’s not the complete truth — there was plenty of hard work from the ambitious Wilkinson to reach her dream, and maybe she isn’t quite a household name…yet. However, expect big things to come from Clairity, who recently shared her new song, “Sharks In The Swimming Pool”. Earbuddy was lucky enough to get a chance to talk to Clairity. Watch “Sharks In The Swimming Pool” and learn more about her via our interview in this edition of Fresh Wax.
So you grew up in a very suburban area. What kind of music were you and you friends obsessing over?
My friends and I were into a pretty wide variety of music growing up but I distinctly remember listening to Nirvana, Radiohead, Beck, Blink-182, and Gorillaz while playing Super Smash Bros. at my best friend’s house. That was sort of like our “typical angsty high schooler” playlist for a while. I think we all related to the themes of being a freak and a misfit as cliche as it sounds, and we bonded over it in a weird way.
How did you come to the realization that music was something you were serious about and wanted to pursue?
Well, I’d always sung in school choir and I’d taken voice lessons for fun since I was about 6, but I definitely had a moment of realization where I knew music was something I seriously wanted to pursue. There was one morning in the 8th grade I recall walking into the gymnasium and feeling everyone in my school watch me as I stepped through the door; I sort of realized in that moment I had so much to say. I was pretty shy as a kid so I never quite figured out how to articulate any of it except through my music. I wanted to write in a vernacular that wasn’t tainted by what people thought they could or couldn’t say in a song.There were plenty of other validating moments, but I think that’s when the fire started, so to speak.
YouTube can be a very informative tool if used correctly instead of just scanning through various cat videos. You actually used it to learn how to play the keyboard. Was there a particular series or instructor that you followed? What were some of the first songs you learned to play?
I did! I tried taking piano lessons on multiple occasions and I just found myself getting so bogged down by the technicalities of it. One day I searched the chords to “The Scientist” by Coldplay and a Youtube tutorial came up. I learned basic chord structures that way which in hindsight was probably the best because it was directly applicable to songwriting. I’m not sure if I had a particular instructor that I followed, but I’m so thankful for all the ones I watched. I wouldn’t be here without them!
Your song, “Sharks In The Swimming Pool”, paints you as an outsider to a group of popular kids in high school. Is this something you actually experience currently or has it somewhat changed since you’ve started making music?
I definitely still feel like an outsider sometimes! I experienced it on and off as I started pursuing a career in music, and I think it even doubled in some ways because I wasn’t doing what most kids do at my age. I was disconnected from that environment; it felt like I was transported to a different world when I went to high school parties. I was homeschooled and already moving towards what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so it was difficult to relate in ways that I felt that I should as a teenager. Although, I do honestly believe it helped shape my perspective as a writer in a very positive way. It came from such a vulnerable place in my life where the most effective way to deal with those emotions was to write songs. Those songs brought me here, which is so serendipitous and I’m grateful for it. I’ve been very fortunate to meet some incredible like-minded people along the way, so I’m happy to say that feeling doesn’t creep up on me as much as it used to!
Being from Tennessee, would you consider Nashville or Memphis as the more musically rich city?
Nashville is my backyard so I think I’m a little biased, but I feel like it’s a songwriter’s city. Coming from that headspace, I appreciate the holistic approach that is associated with country music; sitting down with an acoustic guitar and writing a song because it’s what you love to do. I’m really inspired by the idea of telling stories in music too which is another facet of that world. I think some of the best songs ever written have been crafted in Nashville, and incubating there creatively has been so cool.
What musicians or bands would you consider influences on your music currently?
I am hugely and pretty consistently influenced by Coldplay, Imogen Heap, Sia, and Kate Nash. I appreciate them all for different things, but overall they helped me hone in on my own unique perspective as “Clairity”. Listening to their music inspired the search for my artistic identity in a way that I never understood until I experienced their art.They’re all fantastic and enormously talented!
Likely to be the biggest question on everyone’s mind is where did you get those very fashionable frames that you’re wearing in your press
It’s funny I actually bought them at a party supply store around Halloween last year. I thought they were kinda cool so I started wearing them with the lenses popped out; everyone really liked them so they sort of just became my signature look. haha!