The last show I saw before Los Angeles shut down was at the infamous School Night at the Bardot. That's where I was first introduced to Lucy Clearwater. Lucy's effortless vocals and insane vulnerability had me getting goosebumps throughout her set. Her voice just echoed through the whole venue; the crowd was so silent you would hear a pin drop. She has this crazy talent to reach into your soul like she knew everything you had been through and guided you through like a guardian angel telling you there was still hope. Her EP "Feel Again" goes through the stages of love and we can't stop listening to it. We talked to Lucy about the EP and how she's been holding up during coronavirus.
So, how you've been holding up?
Lucy: It's been-- I mean ups and downs for sure. But I'm doing pretty good. It's actually like the timing of this with my EP is kind of good because I don't have to compete with myself, I'm such an extrovert, and I love going out all the time. This forces me to sit at my computer and do the work instead of always being like, "Oh, I'm going to go to this and go to that," so it's fewer distractions, I guess that's good.
Yeah, that makes sense. It's so weird that your show was literally the last thing I did. So let's talk about this EP. Actually, how did you get started in music?
Lucy: So my mom is a violin and piano teacher. When I was four years old, she gave me a violin for my birthday and started teaching me classical violin. And so, that was my first experience with music. And then also my dad played guitar and was always just as a hobby kind of different--writing songs and playing guitar when I was growing up. We used to play together, and we had a little setup with a garage band in a closet. And he would play a little acoustic guitar and things, and I would just improvise on top of it when I was like six.
When did it kind of become a career path for you?
Lucy: It became a career path when I started doing paid gigs when I was probably 15, singing at weddings and stuff like that. And then I was writing songs probably-- that's when I got more serious and started writing songs. I started diving into this singer-songwriter kind of world more when I was 17. Then I moved to LA to pursue it full-time when I was 18.
And what was that decision kind of like, the move to LA and now you're pursuing music? How did that go over?
Lucy: So the town that I grew up in in the East Bay area is a very-- it's like upper-middle-class and Everybody-- there's this pressure when you're in high school that you're going to ace the SAT's and go to some four-year university and everything. And I kind of always knew that I just wanted to do music. And luckily my parents were super supportive of that, so they were like, "Yeah, you don't have to go to college," but most of the adults around me other than my parents were kind of like-- I don't know, I felt like I was the weird kid, by not following the traditional path. There was a lot of weird pressure to be more academic, but I still had to do it. Moving to LA just felt natural because it's kind of what I knew I always wanted to do. There was just that little bit of resistance from sort of the community around me, but I'm glad that I persevered through that and still chose to make the move and do it because I mean, yeah, now it's totally the path that I want to be on.
And how are you finding the music scene in LA?
Lucy: I love it. I think so many people warned me against it, and you hear all these stereotypes of how the music industry is so crazy in LA, it's super whatever, wild. But I feel like I've found the most amazing community of wonderful, loving people, and it feels like the music scene in LA is really-- for me, the part of it that I've found and tapped into really feels like a community and like a family. So all of those stereotypes about LA people being fake and everything has just not been a reality for me, and I'm really lucky.
Well, we're on the good side of LA.
Lucy: Yeah, exactly. I'm sure the dark side exists, but I, luckily, have not come into contact with it very much.
It's so funny that you say you're extroverted because I feel like, with your songs, you would seem like an introvert to me. Does that make sense?
Lucy: Totally. I think that, yeah, my songwriting is definitely really personal and introspective, but maybe that's kind of why my personality outside of when I'm just sitting at home and writing is so extroverted because it kind of balances itself out, maybe.
So, let's talk about this EP. Can you kind of give me the story behind the making of it and kind of the overall theme?
Lucy: It kind of tells a story. I wrote the first song, Feel Again, in-- I think it was 2017, and it was right after I'd had a casual hookup on New Year's Eve, and it was the next day. And this song just poured out of me, and Feel Again is kind of about that longing for a deeper connection with somebody, wanting to feel real emotions and something deeper than just a physical connection with someone. And I didn't realize at the time that I was going to be writing this whole EP because that was just the first song, but then it was kind of interesting, the chain of events. Feel Again was basically saying, "I want to meet somebody, I want to fall in love," and then literally two weeks later, I met this incredible guy and totally fell in love and then, through that relationship, I ended up writing the rest of the songs from the EP. And they all just kind of felt like they fit together and they tell a bit of the story.
Do you feel like modern dating is very commitment-phobic? I feel like I know so little people with boyfriends. Do you feel like there's a huge wave of non-commitment?
Lucy: Yes, exactly. I definitely feel that. And that's why the song Feel Again, the first one kind of came out of that place. I moved to LA, and I was single for like, I don't know. It was probably; I don't know. Not even that long. A year and a half. But it was like a year and a half with a lot of-- it was my first time living away from home so I was partying and meeting people all the time and kind of living this free kind of lifestyle, which was great at first, but then it started to feel empty. I think that that kind of like hookup culture and non-committal. That non-committal culture is really big, and I feel it strongly. In a way, Everybody's about just having fun. But I kind of experienced that for a while and then was like, "No. I need something deeper." And that's kind of what sparked the whole thing. But, yeah. I would definitely agree with that.
Do you have a particular song that's especially difficult to perform live?
Lucy: Let's see, I think "Distracted" is probably the hardest one for me to perform live mainly because it's technically harder to play. But as far as the emotionally harder to play, probably "Say The Word" because that song is-- I have to tap into this feeling of angst. It's kind of like the rest-- it's like, "Dang, here is all of me. I'm going out on a limb," my way of saying like, "I want to be with you," and being vulnerable.
I love the corresponding images. And you style-directed all these, is it important for you to be involved in other creative aspects?
Lucy: Yes, 100%. Exactly. Yeah. I like songwriting. It's one of my favorite things. And performing is what makes me feel alive, and that's what I live for. But I don't think I would enjoy any of it if it wasn't my vision. This is part of why I'm an independent artist and why I decided to kind of not try to go the major label route because I want to have full control over the artistic side of everything that I'm doing. I went to this weird, kind of hippie, creative private school when I was in grade school, and it was very art-focused. We would have painting classes and knitting and handwork and all these kinds of artsy stuff. I think that that has played into, yeah, just my character. And the artistic side of me is alive. I love to paint, and I love to draw. I'm trying to implement as much of that as I can into my art projects. So it's kind of like a full thing.
What would you think has been the biggest challenge for you as an independent artist?
Lucy: I think the biggest challenge for me as an independent artist was for the longest time, I struggled to find the right producer and the right people to work with. And I went back and forth on thinking like, "Should I just take production classes and learn how to produce myself and do that?" I did. I took a Pro Tools class and whatnot. But I kind of tried out recording with a lot of different producers and never felt like it was quite the right fit. Until I met Justin, who produced "The Feeling" EP, it felt so serendipitous and amazing the way that we kind of got connected. I'm a bit of a spiritual person, and so I like to take signs from the universe or whatever and it kind of just felt like I couldn't ignore that so many people were talking about this same guy and so I reached out to him, and we met up for tacos at HomeState Tacos. We got tacos, and then just pretty much instantly, I could just feel like this is probably the right thing, and then we went into the studio to start recording. And sure there's been more obstacles, and it's a journey, and so I'm sure there will be more challenges as we go forward, but that was the biggest one for me.
What would be your best piece of advice to young women in the music industry?
Lucy: I think that it's really important to educate yourself on the business side of things. When you're young, and you're a female in the music industry, people can take advantage of your kind of naivety if you don't kind of know the way that things are supposed to work. We've heard a lot about really horrible like sexual assault and all that stuff, but I'm talking more about just knowing how not to get taken advantage of on the business side. I took an industry class at a college right before I moved to LA and it was the most informative and probably the most beneficial class I've ever taken. I learned what my rights are and what percentages managers should take and the industry standard for all these different things. After learning all this, I found myself in positions where people would try to totally screw me over, but because I had taken this class I kind of knew what was supposed to happen, I was able to call people out and say, "No, you're not going to take that crazy percentage of my song." I think that my biggest advice is to educate yourself on the business side of this industry that we're in because it is definitely male-dominated and they just assume that we don't know.