“To me, what I make represents what I'm feeling at a particular moment in time but might not capture who I am as a whole.” That’s clearcurse speaking. Originally hailing from Oakland, the producer/vocalist/songwriter relocated to Philadelphia just a few short months ago. Ever since then, he’s been hard at work planning music videos, rolling out new singles, and preparing for the release of his debut album, all while navigating his new environment on the other side of the country. It’s a trying time, but clearcurse isn’t the type to claim he has it all figured out. “I’m sick of all this motion/I’m throwing in the towel,” he confesses on his newest single “Nana,” a collaboration with the producer Offpace.
Clearcurse credits an eclectic list of inspirations; Michael Jackson and Sade are named alongside Misogi and My Bloody Valentine. The resulting music is heartbreakingly hopeful. On “Nana”, buzzy synths and booming drums set the stage for clearcurse to vent his emotions about a fractured relationship. “Originally, I didn't like the song because it sounded too happy,” clearcurse says. Although the lyrics were eventually changed to their current and more honest reflection of reality, the music still implies that this love isn’t so easy to pin down.
Speaking of, love is a common theme in clearcurse’s music. This makes a lot of sense when you consider his philosophy on what he writes. The music represents what he’s feeling in a moment, but feelings are transient and moments are fleeting. The same love that warms your heart one day might turn it icy the next. clearcurse is willing to get lost in the little things, exploring the ephemeral nature of love without letting himself be defined by what he finds. What comes out are songs which bask in their temporality, thriving in the space between events, letting everyone know that this is real, but not everything.
Now, as clearcurse figures out life in a new city, upholding his values takes on a new importance. “Part of the reason I wanted to leave was to experience new things and grow,” says clearcurse. “I love Oakland but I felt it was a drain on me. I felt like I’d seen all it had to offer and I was in need of a change of pace after high school.” Oakland was where clearcurse started his journey, but he never planned to stay there forever. Just like in his music, there’s always something more at the edges of the picture. It doesn’t have to be explored; he could just as easily cement himself in Oakland, or settle in a relationship. For clearcurse though, that’s not an option. He wants to grow, which means taking on something more, looking beyond the city limits, finding out what other fleeting moments the world has to offer. As clearcurse puts it, “Moving to a new place, meeting new people, being in a new school, it’s all definitely influencing who I am and who I want to be.”
Through it all, the music will keep coming. The release of “Nana” is just the start of something new. “After this single, it's going to be nonstop music until the album drops,” clearcurse proclaims. “I’ve been mostly silent for the majority of this year because I've been plotting and want everything to be perfect.” He’s got a plan in action for the future, but this is only one phase of many. The future is always filled with uncertainty, but as clearcurse concludes, “The music will always be there.” If there’s anything about clearcurse you can set in stone, it’s the reality that his music is here to stay.
We were able to sit down with clearcurse to talk about his musical background, goals, and the inspiration behind his newest single "Nana." Scroll down to read the full interview and listen to "Nana" out now!
Do you see yourself as a rapper/singer/songwriter/producer, some combination of the 4, or something else?
“For a short answer, I would say I'm just a producer and vocalist but I like to be creative on all fronts of music whether that be playing piano and guitar or writing songs.”
What got you into making your own music?
“In middle school, I was making beats for fun but had no one to send them to, so I would get on them myself. Back then, I listened to a lot of SoundCloud rap. Artists like Lil Tracy and Hella Sketchy which inspired me to make DIY music.”
What were your inspirations?
“The artists who inspire me today are a lot of older artists that I grew up on like Michael Jackson and Sade. Just an older RnB that my parents would play. In highschool, there was a lot of ‘guitar music' that inspired me like Misogi’s Blood Moon Underworld or MBV’s Tremolo.”
Was there a point where you realized “oh shit, I’m good at this, I should keep going”?
“Probably when I first started. (even though in retrospect I sucked). I’ve always had a passion for making music and felt a steady progression which pushed me to keep going. I never feel satisfied with where I'm at, which inspires me to keep going but can sometimes hold me back from releasing music.”
Where did clearcurse come from?
“I don't know, really. I just felt in the past year or so I was becoming something new creatively and leaving that old name behind felt right to me. The name itself is something random I just came up with that I think sounds cool and is recognizable.”
How did you get into that scene you’re in now?
“I'm into new and forward thinking music and that's what the underground music scene is to me. Some of the most creative and unique things are coming from people in that scene and I want to be a part of that. I hate to put a label on things but I guess it is the ‘glitchcore’ scene lol.”
What’s your songwriting process like?
“I really don't have a process of writing songs. It's all pretty organic. I kind of just sit at my mic and punch in until something good hits me although I do want to start writing more because I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry in school.”
Did you start as just a producer?
“I started making music just on GarageBand on my computer in like 6th grade then upgraded to Logic Pro X in 7th grade. My original goal in making music was just to be a producer though I quickly found it easier to make beats for myself than for other people lol. My workflow used to be very cookie-cutter; main melody, then drums, then I added vocals, but now I find everything super scatter-brained. Now, I might start a song from an old acapella and make the beat around it then record new vocals on it.”
Can you tell me a bit about how you approach writing lyrics? Is there any story behind the lyrics?
“I will usually have a specific idea or feeling I want to convey in a song and work around it that way. The lyrics usually don't follow a singular story but just a general idea of love I guess. With a song like ‘stung’, I worked backwards from the title. I wanted the last word of the verse to be stung so I worked backwards from that.”
Do you feel like your music reflects who you are?
“Kind of. To me, what I make represents what I'm feeling at a particular moment in time but might not capture who I am as a whole.”
I’ve noticed that love is a common theme in your lyrics, but you sing or rap about it in a very real way.
“Imma sad boy deep down lol. But I guess it's because I really have nothing else to sing about. I usually look to Adam Young from Owl City when writing songs. He writes in a lullaby kind of style but not in a corny, melodramatic way and I like that.”
What’s the story behind that song?
“I made the ‘Nana’ demo originally in early 2021 and made it with an open verse for another artist to get on. I came back to it this year and scrapped the whole thing. Originally, I didn't like the song because it sounded too happy, but with the new vocals it sounded a lot more polished.”
In general, what do you hope people walk away with after listening to your music?
“Generally speaking, nostalgia, because that's where most of my music is coming from a place of.”
So you’re in your first year of college, you’ve just moved all the way across the country from Oakland to Philly. Do you feel like being here has affected your creative process?
“Moving to a new place, meeting new people, being in a new school, is definitely influencing who I am and who I want to be. Part of the reason I wanted to leave was to experience new things and grow. I love Oakland but I felt it was a drain on me. I felt like I've seen all it had to offer and was in need of a change of pace after high school. I'm hoping to grow as a person and an artist while I'm here by surrounding myself with people with similar goals and aspirations.”
I know you have a whole slate of releases planned for this November, can you talk a little bit about your direction moving forward?
“I have so much I want everyone to hear. I've been mostly silent for the most part of this year because I've been plotting and want everything to be perfect. After this single it's going to be nonstop music until the album drops. The music will always be there, I want to plan music videos and different media posts as well to go along with it.”
Anything else you want to mention?
“Nope and thanks for having me.”
Listen to "Nana" on Spotify:
Make sure to follow clearcurse on Instagram to stay updated on his upcoming projects!