Artist of the Month is an accolade we award to an up-and-coming artist who we believe is about to break out. We turn our attention in February to Claud, an indie singer-songwriter about to release their debut album, Super Monster.
Claud Mintz, known simply as Claud, is well on their way to taking over the independent music world whether they know it or not.
The 21-year-old indie artist is the first signee to Phoebe Bridgers’ new record label, Saddest Factory, and will release their debut solo album, Super Monster, this Friday. This isn’t Claud’s first journey into the music world by any means. They’ve released music as Toast with friend and collaborator Josh Mehling, as well as with the indie supergroup Shelly (Clairo, Mehling, and Noa Getzug), and have a few singles out as themselves already. This is, however, their first time releasing a full album as just Claud, and with Phoebe Bridgers (who scouted them for about a year before they signed!) at their side, people are paying attention.
Claud and I spoke recently while they were keeping their grandmother (and her dog, Lucy) company in California, though they usually reside in New York. Right off the bat, I noticed how warm Claud’s presence was, even over a communication tool as uncomfortable at times as Zoom. Their eyes are large and round, kind, knowing. It’s no surprise that their songwriting is as thoughtful and poignant as it is, because that is exactly how they are in person.
Claud sings about love, but not in a gushy way. Rather, they sing about love in an “I feel seen” type of way, incredibly specific to themselves while simultaneously relatable to others. Lyrics like “I wish I left all my things at your place, so I could come get them” (from the single “Soft Spot”) are able to pinpoint exact moments that feel so personal and vulnerable to anyone who’s been there before. One might think it’s a “wise beyond their years” scenario, but as a child of divorce, Claud has seen the ins and outs of love since they were a child, giving them years of experience to consider the subject.
Super Monster is a personal triumph for Claud, who is thrilled for its release, though apprehensive about its reception. “It feels like a huge accomplishment for me, so I’m excited,” they said. “But at the same time, I’m really nervous for other people to hear it and perceive me.”
Obviously, we’re in their corner along with Bridgers, and if we had to guess, most of the indie scene will join us after hearing the record. Read on for Claud’s words on getting signed by Phoebe Bridgers, their love for maximalist pop music, mixing at the hallowed Electric Lady Studios, and more.
Super Monster will be released Friday February 12th via Saddest Factory Records. Also make sure to tune in this Thursday (February 11th) to our Instagram Story for a Claud Takeover!
Getting on Phoebe Bridgers’ Radar
Well, it’s funny. I’ve been a fan of hers for so long. And yeah, since like, before, Stranger in the Alps, I think. So, when she reached out to me, like a year ago, I was really excited and really flattered because somebody had showed her my music, or she found it somehow. And she really liked it, and we started talking about her label and how it was gonna work and what her vision was and what my vision was for my project, and eventually, we just really aligned. And that’s sort of what happened.
Cutting Super Monster Down from 50 to 13 Songs
Well, some of them were very easy to eliminate. I guess, it sort of came down to … Okay, what am I like? Let me think about lyrical content. Am I repeating myself here? Sometimes I talk a lot about the same things, or I share a pretty similar story over and over. So, how many out of all of the songs tell the same story? Which one do I like the most? Which one do people resonate with the most? Yeah, it was a hard process. And then sonically … Okay, do I need a ballad? What do I need to keep the record interesting and entertaining?
Usually, it takes me a while to be able to write about a situation or something that happened, but I constantly have the notes app on my phone open. I write things down all the time. Sometimes, I’ll wake up in the morning, and there will be three new notes that I don’t even remember writing … like, in the middle of the night, you know? Which is an exaggeration … I’ll remember writing it once I see it.
So, I think a big part of my songwriting process is just constant documentation of how I’m feeling moment to moment. It’s just natural for me. I don’t even really think about it. But, yeah, I think it helps me when I go back to a song about something and remember how I was feeling.
The Story Behind “That’s Mr. Bitch to You”
I was hanging out with my friends. And there were a couple straight cis guys there, which was mistake number one. And one of them was making fun of me and called me a bitch. I was so offended and responded, “Mr. Bitch to you.” Then, my other friend who was there was like, “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but you need to write that down. That is the most amazing thing you’ve ever said.” And I was like, “I can’t believe I just said that.” But it was true. First off, you’re misgendering me because nobody ever calls men bitches. Secondly, I really feel that a man calling somebody that, like a marginalized gender, is very misogynistic and really offensive. So, yeah, that’s where that song came from. It was super easy to write because it was just like, fuck the patriarchy.
I called [my college radio show] Claud City because I was really into watching Broad City at the time. The show was supposed to be all women, and then I realized … well, then I found out what being non-binary was. And I was like, “That is me!” Then, I started questioning everything and changed my show to … Well, first off, I think it’s very marginalizing to dedicate a show a certain group of people. I think if you want to highlight marginalized artists, you should just do it. You don’t have to say you’re doing it, you know? So, then I rebranded my very small radio show that no one ever listened to. And yeah, I definitely played a lot of Phoebe Bridgers, and I played a lot of Big Thief and Shamir.
Discovering Indie Music as a Teen
Discovering that scene when I was like 17 or 18 was a really big deal for me. First off, I had no idea that you could go to a concert that wasn’t in a theater or an arena. It also felt very relatable and accessible to me and people who looked like me and sound like me. Sounded, you know, like played the same instruments as me and were doing cool things. I loved their music, and that just really excited me. I started playing house shows and going to a lot of house shows. The first concert I went to in college was Big Thief at this really small bar in upstate New York, and nobody was there. Well, there were people there, but they were all really dedicated fans.
Mixing at Electric Lady Studios
As soon as I got in there, I played “Wish You Were Gay” on the monitors, because it was my first time hearing my music in a room like that or on monitors and speakers as pristine as those. So, I sort of played like every song I’ve ever released to make sure it sounded okay. Then, on top of it, to hear all these other songs from my album that I had only ever heard in headphones and bedroom monitors in that room was so special. And, it really, really pushed me to think more about production and size of rooms I want to perform these songs in. And, yeah, just the stuff hanging on the wall. It was really crazy. I was so excited. When I found out we needed to rent a studio to mix my record, I was like: I will wait a year if I have to. I want to do it at Electric Lady.
I have always been a big fan of PC music. One, I just think the music is awesome. And two, I love how many Trans and Queer people are a part of PC music. And it’s always really just drawn me to it. But, I can’t make music like that. I just don’t know how. It’s not in my blood. But, when I DJ or something, I always just play Sophie, and I always play so much PC music. I just really have a passionate love for that genre.
Living in a Pandemic
It forced me to take a break from moving around so much. I was constantly on tour, and if I wasn’t on tour, I was traveling to see somebody else on tour and visit somebody, and I just felt very unsettled for the last couple years, and then the pandemic hit. Those first few days when we weren’t really sure what was gonna happen … My dad called me and said, “What if you came to Chicago for a couple weeks and just waited it out here?” I was like, “Okay, yeah, that’s not a bad idea.” And he was like, “Yeah, I think I’m gonna sell the house soon. So, you should just come say goodbye.” I was like, “Okay…” So, I packed a bag for two weeks, and then I ended up staying four months.
I wrote every single day. And I taught myself how to be a better producer. My dad always jokes that he was like, “You were with me the last four months? I never saw you. You were always in your room.” But it’s true. I loved writing. I loved … well, my dad sold the house, but I loved writing in my bedroom. It’s where I wrote all my songs in high school, so I loved that space in that house. There were a lot of windows. It really just had positive memories for me. But, I think I would have done that anyways [despite the pandemic], because my dad was selling the house. And because I wanted to say goodbye to that space.
On Naming Super Monster for Daniel Johnston
So, there were a couple other titles I had in mind, but nothing felt 100% right yet. I was thinking of naming it after a track on the record or even naming it Mr. Bitch. So, the last day at Electric Lady, Lee Foster, who co-owns Electric Lady, texted me and was like, “Do you like Daniel Johnston?” And I was like, “Yeah, I love Daniel Johnston…” Clairo actually showed me Daniel a few years ago and showed me his art and music and took me to the mural in Austin, and I was blown away. And Daniel talks a lot about Frankenstein and monsters in his art and feeling like an outsider and like a creature, and that always really resonated with me.
So, Lee happens to be managing Daniel’s artwork with Daniel’s brother. And he rode over on a bike to the studio on our last day at like two a.m. It was raining, and he pulled it up on his phone. He didn’t have the physical sketch. I still haven’t seen the physical sketch. He said, “I found this when I was looking through Daniel’s sketches from 2014. I don’t think anybody has ever really seen it yet.” But, it just said, “Claud, the Super Monster” on it, and I was just obsessed with that. I sent it to Phoebe at like three in the morning! I was like, “Oh, my god. This is what I’m calling my album.” And I immediately knew I really liked the idea. “Super Monster” reminded me that somebody could be a superhero and a monster — we’re all complex human beings. There’s not just one or the other, you know? And I just became obsessed with that title and asked the Johnston family if I could use it for my album, and they said yes. Then I did my own artwork for it!