Next Wave #829: Clara La San

In Association With Vero True Social

Bedroom producer Clara La San is an artist keeping things private in an era when we’re told to Instagram Story our every move.

The intimacy of Clara’s sound mimics her minimal online presence, which is essentially limited to a handful of SoundCloud tracks. Her caramel-smooth voice cropped up first in 2015 on a track with balls-to-the-wall producer Scratcha DVA, but she really got people’s attention via ‘Fones’, a collab with crystalline beatmaker Mssingno. The recently released ‘Good Mourning’ is her mission statement – a mixtape serving as an introduction to her sound, which flits between downtempo club tracks à la Night Slugs and glossy Noughties R&B.

A few days after her Next Wave shoot (her first ever editorial snaps), we catch her on the phone, stealing her away from a copy of New Scientist. She laughs about early obsessions with Avril Lavigne and Good Charlotte, while growing up in the West Midlands, but goes on to cite influences like Michael Jackson, Sade, and composer Stanley Clark. “He did this film called Passenger 57 and he’s so good,” she gushes. “I saw this interview with Thundercat where he said his influence was Stanley Clark, and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I’d never heard anyone else talk about him.”

Learning classical piano from the age of 11, she began writing her own songs as soon as she got the hang of the basic chord structures. Her first ever song, ‘Me And You’, got its premiere at her secondary school assembly. “I remember my music teacher saying something along the lines of, ‘If you’re writing that now, you’ll go on to write great things in the future’,” she says. Going on to study Music Business at university in London, she ended up learning more “outside of uni just by going to meetings, and chatting to people in the industry.”

In the meantime, she’d hone her production skills in her bedroom (“I’ve got this RØDE mic I’ve had since I was 17, a soundcard, an electric piano, midi – and then everything else stems from sample packs”), soon gaining an affiliation with nomadic collective Gang Fatale and guest slots on XL Recordings cuts.

Now based in Manchester (as “it’s the kind of the city where you can do creative things and not have to work in hospitality six or seven days a week”), she’s currently devising a live show that will “bring that bedroom intimacy into a live set-up.”

“The things I write about are always related to me and situations I’ve been through. It’s how therapy would work for some people, I guess…”

WHAT: Late-night R&B vocals over sparse, icy production
WHERE: Manchester via the West Midlands
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Gravity’, ‘Let You Go’, ‘Feel Good’

FACT: She collects science magazines, and also owns a telescope.

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Words: Felicity Martin
Fashion: Josh Tuckley
Photography: Sophie Mayanne

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