With reggae the beating heart of his sound, in the words of the man himself CLAYE is ‘unequivocally, unapologetically great’. After a successful year following last month’s release of “Murda” and his most recent release “Forever,” CLAYE is set for a great summer of music. But don’t get us wrong, CLAYE is no newcomer to the music industry. As a multi-instrumentalist and producer, CLAYE has established himself as a song-writer and composer for big urban music acts like the king of dancehall, Sean Paul, as well as Aloe Blacc and Chip. With all this experience stored firmly under his belt, CLAYE is now putting the focus on his own creativity, making 2019 a big year for his solo career development.
“The difference between making music for myself as opposed to other artists is that I have more ‘headroom and freedom’ to experiment and be creative. Usually, you are writing to fit into the Top 40 etc. But making my own music is just to fit in with my best self. I have an eclectic palate for music that I guess I inherit from classical music which makes me a fan of so many talented artists that I’d love to work with.”
“The UK music scene is immaculate right now.”
Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, CLAYE is now based in the UK, immersing himself into the London music scene. Classically trained in piano and self-taught in guitar and drums, his breadth of talent speaks for itself. “I’ve been involved in the Music Industry since I was in Jamaica (unofficially), but I’d say officially since I moved to London over 15 years ago. I’ve seen the music industry grow and change rapidly from needing a giant record label to independence and ownership. What is even greater is that I saw the era of ‘streaming’ emerge which to me is a major change in the history of music, so I guess it’s fair to say I’ve seen a historic change. Since I migrated, I’ve always been a Londoner. The UK music scene is immaculate right now, especially as the artists and media are embracing the diversity of the sounds and culture that the scene has created.”
“I’m always in writer-mode and draw inspiration from everything. There’s a song and a story in everything.”
The release of “Murda” was the first taster of a new album that will be releasing this year, which promises to be CLAYE’s most explorative, unified and personal project yet, brimming with energy and Kingston flavour. Writing, producing and performing all this new content himself, the island rhythms of “Murda,” and his latest track “Forever,” provide an exciting glimpse of what’s to come. His reggae roots are seamlessly met with modernist pop, and we couldn’t be more excited. “The new track is a scorcher! lol. It’s a fusion of my musical taste and influences. The idea to do a track like that came from watching the TV series (I love old films). I’m always in writer-mode and draw inspiration from everything. There’s a song and a story in everything. Once I know what I want to say and how I want to say it, the writing and recording process flows easily. I started the track then I moved to the ‘hook’. This isn’t always the process and usually I allow the track to lead me!”
“I’m fortunate enough to have my studio in the back of my garden. I love homely zen-like spaces. I feel I create better in small spaces lol. Even when I do writing camps, I request a small production room. I do write in the studio 95% of the time but mostly I am always jotting down titles/concepts and lines in my phone to work on later in the studio. The new album is fire for sure! To sum it up ‘It’s an amalgamation of my musical influences and tastes’. You can definitely expect more vibe like “Murda.”
“I’m super focused on my fan-base at the moment and more music. I plan to tour but I want it to be an experience, so I need to make sure the songs are marinated inside people’s heads lol, then I’ll give them the show of the year!”
From CLAYE’s early break signing with RocNation, to co-writing Sean Paul’s “Hold My Hand,” to now releasing his best solo music to date, there is definitely no limit to what CLAYE can do. And with his solo album just around the corner, we couldn’t be more excited for a summer of reggae-fuelled fun.
Words: Lily Major
Photographer: Niklas Haze
Stylist: Pamela Idström
Groomer: Rebecca Zoe Hampson