With her raspy voice that is infused with R&B, soul and jazz, Claire Renee is making a name for herself with her brand of soul with such songs as “License to Drive” and “Telepathy.”
Recently Renee, released her latest video for her song “Yes You Are.” We got the chance to catch up with her. Read our interview below:
When did you first know that having a career in music is what you wanted to do with your life?
I knew I wanted a career in music around my junior or senior year in high school. I wanted to focus on music business at first.
Who have been some of your musical influences? What in particular about those artist have inspired you?
Some of my main musical influences are strong black women who had something to say, and changed the game in some way. They made me see there is a way to be respected, loved, talented, and yourself as an artist. Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Sade, Janet Jackson, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, and Lauryn Hill just to name a few.
So now you attended Professional Performing Arts School as well as The Dance Theater of Harlem, can you describe a unique experience at both that really helped prepare you for a career in music?
I attended Dance Theatre of Harlem first and a unique experience there for me was how I got in and my first couple of years there. My mom thought it would be a good idea to get out of the suburbs and bring me to the city for dance on the weekends. I went to the audition and hours later was asked to be apart of their weekday training program on a full scholarship. After getting in and working hard (while advancing a level mid year) I realized my talent. I realized that it is okay to be a black girl who is good at ballet and I should never downplay it. My first real lesson in confidence.
My experience at PPAS was really at Alvin Ailey (our dance program was there). Getting to audition for a chance to dance with the company for a few nights during their season was eye opening. I didn’t get it. It did make me realize that if you fight for what you want dreams can become reality. I was only 17 auditioning to be apart of something so major. Life changing.
What do you feel that you bring to music that is unique and different?
I bring myself to my music. That’s as unique as I can get. My viewpoint, experience, voice, moods and facets.I pull from all types of music and jazz is a great base for me since it’s what I know, love and studied. I don’t aim to be anyone or sound like anyone but Claire Reneé.
How did the collaboration with Bagir-Ba come about on Breaking Codes? Will you be working with him on future projects?
We were friends for a long while and decided to get serious about collaborating on a project together. Our musical chemistry was always amazing since the first day we met. Can’t say there will be more work together in the future though.
How did the concept for “Yes You Are” come about? Can you tell us about your songwriting process?
“Yes You Are” came about after producer TEK.LUN stumbled upon me and sent me some music. I got attached to this beat and one day just penned the whole thing an an hour or so on a day that I had felt kind of alone.
My songwriting process varies especially based on my mood. I like writing in more than one way. Somedays I sit at my keyboard and come up with chords and a melody and then write lyrics later. Sometimes I write poems and go back to them when I feel it fits something I’m working on and mold it into a tune. Other times I sit and write to beats that move me. There are days when everything falls into place at once too. So many different ways to write and create.
Why was now the right time to release Let Me Glo EP? What song on the EP stands out the most to you?
I released it in Spring because it just felt like a good time to put it into the universe.I hadn’t released a project since Breaking Codes and I was happy that I finally had songs that I was proud to share after a rough couple of years and of living and learning. I was hard on myself and my art for a while. I felt maybe someone else needed to heal like I did with this project. Lots of people could relate and embraced this project. I think “Love So Hard” stands out because it’s so short, yet uplifting. I was super open and vulnerable. It was a breakthrough for me in general.
Do you plan on remaining as an independent artist or do you want to sign with a mainstream label at some point?
I plan on staying independent for now. IF I find a label that aligns with me and my wants in the future maybe I’d sign. Right now indie feels right.
What else can we expect from you?
I’m focused on giving my Soulmates a few cool visuals for three songs off of Let Me Glo. The summer will be based on that GLO as we head into fall. Also working on new music, thinking about producing more and working with more dope up and coming producers out there, and thinking about what I want to say next as an artist. Thinking I want this next project to be an LP.