An Interview with CLAIRE / A shiny rough diamond

by marcopantella

Read it on The GROUND Magazine

Munich has always been a hub for new underground music to blossom and be heard. There is a certain kind of vibe and openness that few places in Europe has and five-piece band Claire could not come from anywhere else. Lead by the melancholic yet intriguing vocals of Josie Claire Burkle, Claire’s musical direction does not aim for an easy ride. This is why they are already in the lineage of artists such as James Blake, Bastille, and their debut EP “Broken Promise Land” is a colourful and eclectic mix of synths and orchestrations not quite easy to categorize.

In a music business where the word “pop” starts being feared and everyone tries too hard to be different, Claire tells The GROUND why there is nothing wrong about being put in a box… As long as it is filled with a brand new kind of originality.

In terms of creativity how does it feel to be the only woman in the group?

I’m a bit of a Tomboy and the guys treat me like a guy so actually there isn’t any difference especially if we are just talking about creativity. We started the band and we noticed that being creative works best for the band when we do things together.

You have all met, and made your first song, thanks to one of your friends who was working on a short film. What kind of films inspire you and would you ever like to work on a soundtrack for a film in the future?

We all have different tastes when it comes to creative things but often we agree on how a music video is absolutely great, for example “Iron” by Woodkid just to name one. Working on a soundtrack for a film would be something really great to do. Good music always takes the film to a new level, “Drive” for example is a great film with a stunning soundtrack. It was definitely an inspiring film for us.

Claire came about quite spontaneously and yet your music is hard to put in a box. How would you explain this?

Before we found each others for “Claire”, we all listened to different genres of music. Messel and Nepi are quite into the electronic stuff but they really grew up listening to hip-hop mainly. Fridl and Flo listen to a lot of metal & hardcore, they even played in the same band at some stage. Flo is also really into indie and Josie grew up with a lot of singer songwriter stuff but in fact, the one thing that bring us together is good music. In the end we never end up listening to one genre and maybe that makes it so hard to put us in one particular box, so we made our own box and called it “Neon-pop”.

The video for “Pioneers” looks like a fashion film, how did this project come together and what is the meaning of the diamond?

The video for “Pioneers” looks like a fashion film, how did this project come together and what is the meaning of the diamond?
It actually is a “fashion film” from our good friend Christoph Schaller who also got us together in the beginning. He and a few other friends wanted to do a new so once again they took our music and also got us giving a bit of inputs like the flag with our diamond on it and Josie being the opening and closing shot. We wanted some kind of symbol that people could relate to us and so we got the diamond in the video as well. We are planning to go further with it, like incorporating it on stage and stuff like that but until now the time and money are missing.


The title-track, “Broken Promise Land” has a strong 80′s vibe to it, what do you like about that era?

As we use many synthesizers, we automatically come across the 80’s and its completely own sound and vibe. We bought some old synths from the early 80’s and started to use them. They naturally made their way onto our songs. “Broken Promise” Land is a track that we started with our sweet Juno 60 so with a start like that you can’t get rid of that 80’s touch.

“Games” on the other hand has a feel-good and pop vibe to it. Where do you think pop music should be heading to?

Over the last few years pop music has changed a bit because you can make pop music and mix it up with all sorts of genres and this is a really great development already. Now you don’t have to be ashamed of saying you do pop because there are so many creative young musicians taking this genre and making it colorful. Pop is getting really versatile in its definition.


How does the “making of” a Claire’s song look like?

Nepi, Messel or Flo start to mess around with an instrument. This goes on for about 5 hours, where 8 to 16 bars are recorded. Then the one who started quits because he’s sure that what he’s doing is bullshit so he would go into the kitchen feeling frustrated. Now the other two guys continue working on this raw idea until the one who started it comes back in and hopefully likes, what happened to his first idea. After spending hours taking turns on the computer as the others are complaining or sleeping on our studio sofa, an instrumental version is ready. Josie then comes into the studio and we all listen to it collecting all the images that come to our minds in order to get them all into one reasonable text and start to check out melodies. Josie sings into a microphone and here you go, a new Claire track is born. Truth to be told, it’s never that easy!

How did Munich shape you and inspire you as musician?

We think that in our case it wouldn’t matter were we would make music as long as we are working together in this constellation, the sound would stay the same. Munich is a very cosy and quiet city so if you want to take a break from work, you can do that without having too much distraction but above all it means home for us.


Matthias and Nepomuk are the band members in charge of your synths driven sonority. How did you start playing synths?

On stage, we had to divide tasks, so Nepi and Messel play the synths and Flo plays the guitar. In the studio though everyone plays everything. Nepi is the only one who knows how to play the piano properly. It’s probably the fact that you have endless possibilities with synths that fascinates us, it’s more about which sounds you can create rather than how good you can play them. We started using synthesizers out of our computers but we really discovered the magic of old analog synthesizers. It’s the imperfections of these old instruments that make them so personal. We spend hours and days just pressing one key and changing the position of every single knob. It is quite an obsession.

Josie, as a woman and a singer, what do you think an artist should try to achieve?

Bringing people together.
You recently played NYC’s CMJ Music Marathon, what do we have to expect from Claire in the next year?
We are planning to release our debut album in the US and actually our goal is to play live as much as we can! The guys are also fired up about writing new stuff and we hope we’ll get the chance to come to the US a second time, that would be really awesome!


Claire are:

Josie Claire Burkle- vocals

Florian Kiermaier- guitar

Fidolin Achten- drums

Matthias Hauck- synths

Nepomuk Heller- synths