Musician and vocalist for popular Twin Cities bands, Clair de Lune, talks to us about why Minneapolis is the perfect place for artists and where to see great live music.
Are you from the Twin Cities?
I grew up on the Upper West side in Manhattan. I moved here when I was 12 because my mom wanted to get out of New York. The cost of living was crazy there. We moved to Saint Peter, a little town an hour and a half south of here to be near family. Then, I went to high school at Perpich Center for the Arts in Golden Valley. That’s how I wound up in Minneapolis. I loved how there were tons of coffee shops, a co-op in every neighborhood, and so much respect for the arts.
When did you get into music?
I’ve been playing music since I was a child. But, until I started my current project, Tiny Deaths, everything I did was just sort of a happy accident; I just sort of fell into one thing after another. I started off as a solo singer/songwriter because I had a guitar and I played by myself. Then, one of my friends asked me to sing hooks on his group’s new mix tape. After that, I turned into being a go-to for singing hooks, singing for a bunch of different rappers.
So, singing in your all-girl hip-hop band, The Chalice, was sort of an accident?
I started doing The Chalice as a fun side thing, but I never really saw myself as a hip-hop artist. The Chalice started doing really well [they were picked as best new band in 2012 by City Pages] and so I made it a priority.
Tell me about your new project, Tiny Deaths. The ethereal, electro-pop sound is a big departure from The Chalice.
With Tiny Deaths I finally feel that this is what I want to be doing. I make songs with a producer, Grant Cutler, who is based in Brooklyn. He does the beats and I do the vocals and it’s just us on the recordings. When I perform live, I play with a three-piece band to add that element of spontaneity and community on stage.
Do you think you will stay in Minneapolis?
After traveling around playing different cities, I now realize how really rare and special Minneapolis is. People really prioritize and take pride in the arts. Plus, it’s affordable and artist friendly. You can be a starving artist and survive. It makes for a more interesting culture.
What are the best venues to see music in the Twin Cities?
It depends what you want. First Avenue and 7th Street Entry stand the test of time. They have great sound and sightlines. Artists from all over look forward to playing there. But, Icehouse is my favorite for local music. It has awesome, consistent live music and great cocktails. They book really interesting acts.
You wrote about discrimination against women in the music industry. What do you think should change?
Often, sound guys will ask my band, not me, about the sound. Or they’ll bypass me for business decisions, even though I’m the one putting the show together. Being kind is so important for longevity in this industry. In my experience, people that are career musicians are really kind and easy to work with. You don’t build a career by treating people poorly.
As a former Upper West-Sider, can you find good bagels in Minneapolis?
I think you can do better than Brueggers! Common Roots Café has really good bagels. They’re not New York bagels, though. I’ve heard that Rise Bagels makes really good bagels, but they’re only available during farmers market season. I’m such a late riser, that they’re always gone by the time I get to the farmers market.
See Claire de Lune play with Tiny Deaths at Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul on November 21st.
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