Australian musician, CLOVES, who will be releasing her full-length debut album, One Big Nothing, on September 28 via Interscope Records, is a lyrical and musical magnetic force to behold. CLOVES’ music is pragmatic, evoking sensitivity throughout her music. For being only in her early twenties, CLOVES’ music is thoughtful, poetic and emotive. With her new single, “Hit Me Hard,” it’s indicative of her vocal and lyrical prowess. As a recent press release states, “her signature poignant lyrics, evident in all of her songwriting, perfectly capture the frustration surrounding a relationship gone wrong and the urgency for truth-seeking.”
CLOVES recently toured with hot, new rock band, Greta Van Fleet, on their sold-out U.S. tour this summer. The band even covered her beloved single “Don’t Forget About Me,” from her critically acclaimed 2015 EP, XIII, during their live set. She’s also performed at some of of the world’s most popular festivals, including Panorama, XPoNential among others, including headlining shows in Europe, England and Australia.
In our interview, CLOVES talks about why she writes, her meaningful and extensive songwriting process, touring with Greta Van Fleet, and her music favorites.
First, I LOVE your music! It’s eloquent and beautiful! Your debut album is coming out soon also. What was it like writing and recording for it?
CLOVES: Firstly thank you! To be honest with you this album process for me wasn’t just about the actual making of the music it was also saturated in lessons and growth as a person. I’ve always been really ambitious and I went into this album wanting to make something that I felt was an honest expression of myself and I could be proud of, and that strict mindset ended up bringing copious amounts of self-pressure and self-doubt. I was completely obsessed by every tiny detail going on the album being perfect, and how well the studio went that day defined how I felt in my head. A year into making the record I found that I’d lost all self-confidence and I stopped being able to write anything.
Everything felt like it wasn’t good enough. It took a while before I started to really try and give myself some understanding to overcome the cycle. A couple breakthroughs of the odd voice note idea or finishing off of a chorus, finally “Wasted Time” came along and I was really happy with it. It’s one of the reasons I’m so proud of that track; it helped me take such a bad headspace and thought process and channel it into something productive and something good for me. I think the last five years of giving everything, taking a step forward, massively failing and trying again has really been what’s made me who I am now as an artist, and I really want to take those lessons and turn them into something positive and productive.
You just came off of opening a slew of shows with Greta Van Fleet (love them!). What was it like touring with them?
CLOVES: Touring with the guys was genuinely great fun! We drank a lot (laughs) and we all got on really well. They’re exactly how you would imagine them to be; lovely and living in their world of rock and roll. To be honest with you, touring can be kind of a head f*** sometimes, there’s a lot of ups and down, so it was made easier with the guys being so welcoming.
What’s your songwriting process like?
CLOVES: The actual writing process is relatively consistent. I work a lot with a composer named Justin Parker. The day always starts with a really long conversation about anything and everything. I tend to think that’s what gets the subconscious flowing. Then sitting down and he’ll play around with different chord progressions and I’ll start by jamming little spontaneous melodies over the top of the progressions he puts together. I tend to see melodies like little patterns in my head and they all have to add up to make sense to me and feel good. Once we’ve got a rough chord and melody arrangement together we will break down the lyrics. A lot of the time there will be something I’ve said subconsciously whilst jamming on the melodies that will be scarily relevant to what’s going on in my life and will work from there. That’s why I think conversation in a way is the key to writing lyrics because you start to really let the mind spiral out of control and build the story.
I know all of your songs have a special meaning to you, but there are some that really tug at the heart…which one(s) of yours are those?
CLOVES: “Wasted Time” is probably my favorite. Like I said before it really was a step forward for me and holds a place close to my heart.
You’re now on tour in the UK through mid-October…are you planning for more tour dates afterwards, or what’s next?
CLOVES: Well I’m putting out my new single in a couple weeks and then my album in September! Though I’ve already started working on some new music, right now I’m really passionate about taking advantage of the new way music can be released, its going to give me a chance to catch up to myself instead of sitting on songs for too long.
Who was your first concert, and which concert has been your favourite, thus far?
CLOVES: I’m not really sure who my first concert was, I never really went to big gigs when i was growing up because we lived so far out of the city, it was hard for me to get there. I remember the first music festival i went to though; it was a summer festival with a line up of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – it was pretty amazing.
What was your first album on CD or vinyl?
CLOVES: My first CD was the Beatles 1 compilation album, I got gifted it for Christmas, the one with the blood red background and bright yellow text, I always loved that cover, because the colors had such a harsh clash.
What five album or artists would you not want to live without?
Hmmmm that’s actually pretty difficult, in no particular order…..
Fiona Apple – Tidal
Mazzy Star – So Tonight That I Might See
Carole King – Tapestry
Radiohead – OK Computer
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Do you have a guilty entertainment pleasure?
CLOVES: I don’t know if it counts as a guilty pleasure but I’m obsessed with cooking programs! There’s an amazing one on Netflix called “Chefs Table”; each episode is centered around an acclaimed chef who then breaks down the ethos and hard work behind their restaurant experience. I just find it really inspiring to watch people give everything to their craft.