Claud is having a stellar year, celebrating the release of ‘Supermodels’ with an upcoming tour around Lake Michigan’s cities.
Fresh off the press, Claud’s sophomore album “Supermodels” has hit the scene like a thunderclap straight out of Neil Finn’s mouth, that’s how good it is. Representing Saddest Factory Records’ inaugural release of 2023, this record is a masterclass in pop craftsmanship and sublime vocals.
The album arrived with the single ‘A Good Thing,’ accompanied by a video that stars none other than our favourite ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ blowhard Paul Rudd. Directed by Christina Xing, the video’s exploration of uncertainty is brilliantly expressed via an unravelling jumper.
Claud’s artistic journey has been marked by some impressive collaborations and growth, notably sharing stages with luminaries like Phoebe Bridgers and Bleachers. A candid chat with producer extroadinaire Jack Antonoff led Claud to take charge and self produce ‘”Supermodels”, resulting in a confident, and impeccably polished record that easily marks its place as one of the BEST album releases this year.
Beneath the surface, “Supermodels” is an introspective journey, with tracks like “Crumbs” and “Wet” delving into personal experiences. In this exclusive interview, Claud opens up about their inspirations, the album’s sonic direction, and the significance of tracks like “Paul Rudd.”
Happy: What are you up to today?
Claud: I’m hanging out with a fluffy pomeranian named Magic.
Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the music scene like in your neck of the woods?
Claud: I’m from the suburbs of Chicago originally. There isn’t really a scene in the suburbs, but Chicago has an awesome music community, and I found a lot of community when I moved to New York a few years ago too. They are big cities, but people who make similar music find each other. It’s really cool and always amazes me when that happens.
Happy: Describe an average day?
Claud: Wake up, go for a walk, make coffee and breakfast, watch Tiktoks, answer emails or run errands, maybe write a song, eat more, watch a movie, sleep.
Happy: What about your ultimate day?
Claud: Wake up, go for brunch with my friends, walk around the city and find thrift stores, mid day aperol spritz, make dinner at a friends house, play board games, and then go dancing or do karaoke.
Happy: What did you listen to growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
Claud: I listened to a lot of old rock music and played in rock cover bands. It was really fun and I also dressed like a rocker in high school… I wore chunky Dr. Martens and plaid skirts and half my head was shaved like Skrillex.
Happy: How does your sophomore album, Supermodels, differ from your debut album, Super Monster?
Claud: Supermodels is a lot more reflective, where Super Monster feels a bit more documentative. On a sonic level, I’d say Supermodels offers a bit more of an alternative rock sound, where Super Monster was more indie/DIY pop.
Happy: What inspired you to name a track on Supermodels after actor Paul Rudd?
Claud: I called the track “Paul Rudd” because in the song I fantasize about an idyllic, movie-like romance where I end up with the person I’m yearning for. In this song I imagine myself as someone similar to the characters Paul Rudd has played. He’s been in all of my favorite movies.
Happy: Can you tell us more about the concept and theme behind the music video for ‘A Good Thing’?
Claud: Christina Xing, who has been directing my videos ever since we met in high school, came up with the sweater unraveling concept. “A Good Thing” is about how I tend to overanalyze things until they fall apart. In the video, Paul Rudd delivers me a sweater that was meant to be a gift from my hypothetical girlfriend, and then the sweater unravels the first time I wear it.
Happy: How did the experience of filming the music video push you out of your comfort zone, and how did it reflect the themes explored in the album?
Claud: It’s funny because the song “Paul Rudd” is about wishing I was as confident and cool as him, and in order to get him in my music video, I had to be confident and him. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone, as I usually have a really tough time asking for things I want. It was a huge lesson learned that all you need to do sometimes is ask.
Happy: In what ways did your personal experiences and the challenges they faced during the creation of Supermodels influence the sound and lyrics of the album?
Claud: I was really sad when I wrote this album, especially towards the end of the writing process. A lot of the record is me trying to be hopeful that things will turn around, but most of it is coming to terms with change.
Happy: Could you elaborate on your approach to genre in Supermodels and how you navigate and transcend perceived barriers?
Claud: I don’t like to subscribe to one genre, it feels limiting. If a song calls for big arena rock guitars, then I’ll do it. If a song needs a Juno and autotune, that’s what I’ll do. I really tried to let the songwriting influence the production for this album, instead of vice versa.
Happy: How does your new album showcase their growth and newfound confidence as an artist?
Claud: I wrote and produced a lot of this record on my own, which is huge growth from my past releases, most of which I never touched the production on. I really like producing a lot. Honestly, a lot of this newfound confidence I have Jack Antonoff to thank for. He took me on tour to open for Bleachers for two months, and I gained a ton of confidence as a performer.
Then Jack asked me to play guitar on Saturday Night Live with him, which would have been the ultimate highlight of my career until he told me he thought I was a good producer. That was the highlight of my life, and enough confidence I needed to make Supermodels.
Happy: Can you highlight some of the standout tracks from Supermodels and the stories they tell?
Claud: ‘Crumbs’ opens the album with a peaceful domestic surface that has an uneasy undertone.
Happy: Can you tell us about the recording process? Any stand out stories?
Claud: Making “A Good Thing” with Dan Wilson from Semisonic was a major highlight of the recording process. He is such an expert. Getting to write with Dan was like watching Michael Jordan play basketball. I don’t know much about sports but that reference feels right.
Happy: Fav piece of gear that you can’t live without?
Claud: I have a rubber bridge acoustic guitar from Old Style guitar shop in Los Angeles. It’s a parlor, so it’s small and fits me really nicely. The rubber bridge mutes the resonance of the strings, and it’s so calming. That’s pretty much the only instrument I’ve ever splurged on. I’m not a gear head by any means. I have a simple set up that’s basically one electric guitar, a microphone, a keyboard and an interface.
Happy: How has your experience with Saddest Factory Records been so far? Has it been a validating experience, or has it come with a different kind of pressure?
Claud: Signing to Saddest Factory felt like I got struck by lightning (in a good way). It’s one of those rare opportunities that completely changed the trajectory of my career. I love being part of something that only serves the purpose of uplifting and supporting music instead of just caring about stats and numbers like most record labels. No one is really doing it like Phoebe Bridgers. She does so much and she does it all with so much love and care.
Happy: What are your plans following the release of Supermodels, including upcoming tours and any other notable collaborations or projects on the horizon?
Claud: I’m leaving for my North American headline tour in three weeks! It kicks off in Milwaukee, then on September 6th I’m playing my biggest show yet at Thalia Hall in Chicago.
Happy: What makes you happy?
Claud: Fluffy Pomeranians named Magic.
Photo credit: Angela Ricciardi