clementine creevy is everyone’s favorite subject, but she’d rather talk about something else
The Cherry Glazerr frontwoman opens up to i-D about teen dreams and rock star realities.
(L-R): Sasami Ashworth, Tabor Allen and Clementine Creevy. Image courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
Cherry Glazerr frontwoman Clementine Creevy has always been about the music. It sounds like a hollow line, but since she started recording in her bedroom at 15, music served as a very personal language to decipher the world around her. The thing is, once those early tracks (her solo work is under the name Clembutt) made it to Soundcloud, they were impossible to ignore. Noticed by Burger Records co-founder Sean Bohrman, the tracks became her first tape, Papa Cremp, and a knocked-kneed initial step to forming Cherry Glazerr.
Four years on, Clementine and band members Tabor Allen and Sasami Ashworth have just released their second album, Apocalipstick. Like everything the band does, it has drawn praise for its fuzzy yet exacting sound, and for the band's ability to crystallize sometimes contradictory feelings into delicious three minute bites.
Excellent reviews aside, Clementine remains everyone's favorite talking point. Considering the attention she attracts, it's not surprising the now 20-year-old writes so dexterously about identity, image, and expectations. A preternaturally cool teenage rock star is always going to make headlines. Her particular brand of Instagramable chanteuse saw her serve as a muse to Hedi Slimane and pick up a regular role on Transparent while Cherry Glazerr's first LP Haxel Princess was still warm.
But bathing luminously in other people's reflected fantasies can get tiring. When we called her she was very much at work, driving through Nebraska on the way to Colorado, wearing a gas station t-shirt reading "Daddy's little trucker." Out of her hometown L.A. sunshine, passing through cold, rusted landscapes, it becomes easier to see her for what she is: a very smart young woman in an excellent band with people she loves.
You've always made it clear that despite the fashion, acting, and modeling hype you're very much a musician first. Obviously people get tangled up in a lot of other parts of your identity when they talk about you. How do you navigate that interest in your appearance, and work to pull your music to the center?
It's so much harder to do than I want it to be. All I can do about that is continue to do music. There's nothing else I can do, you know; you can't change other people's or society's mind-state of contextualizing women. All I can do is make good music every day.
How does that feed into the band dynamic?
You know, it's not as complicated as one would think. At the end of the day all we care about is making music with each other. We just jam all the time and talk and listen to music together constantly. We are just friends and do shit together. We have a creative, loving relationship with each other. We make music together and that's where all of our priorities lie and we can just connect in that space. We show each other music, we talk about it, we go to sleep, and then wake up and do the same thing, play some more music, talk about music, and then go to bed.
Being in a band with your friends creates this second language; it's a really unique place to digest the world around you. How does having that extra frequency to communicate impact the relationship between the three of you?
Oh wow, that's a good question. I mean, I find it hard to connect with some people. Every type of person has the potential to be a creative person, but having this musical language with my band is something I don't take for granted. I think that's true for all people. I think that everybody's transfixed on their own unique individual energy wave, and probably find people who coin on to that. Everyone struggles to find people that are sort of on their level, and then when you do find people who are on your level, it's like the whole world has just cracked open and this crazy light just shining through into you.
A lot of reviews of Apocalipstick relate the themes directly to your own life and experiences. That mirrors a tendency we have to assume female musician's writing is personal and confessional, where men's is world building — the events aren't automatically tied to real life.
That's a really good observation. Women are more affected because they don't have the whole opportunity of the world in front of them and so women write and talk about themselves and not having privileges. It's not expected of them to have access to that whole world of ideas. Women have been socialized to not have an agency in the world and so they don't have the same privileges and opportunities that men have and they're not expected to go out and participate in things larger than themselves. So they either don't, or they fight for it. I'm a woman who does, and no judgement to any man or woman who just wants to talk about themselves, fuck yeah, good on you. I'm just talking on my ass here but I guess I just want to have my opinion heard and respected, so I have got to work for that by doing exactly what I want to do all the time.
You do a lot of interviews, is it ever surprising what other people see and pick up in your work.
No, because I don't really have any expectations about what other people are going to feel about my art. I want people to interpret it their own way. Everybody has their own relationship with a piece of art and I have to respect that. My favorite thing to do is make art without thinking about other people's feelings and opinions about it. When people say, 'that's beautiful,' you feel good but I make sure that doesn't affect the creating process. I never want to pander to anybody, I just want to always make things that I like.
It's still a very intimate process to share all this with the world. You create something that's personal and then you have to digest it with strangers forever.
I've already made it. Sharing it is irrelevant. It's the creation that matters. It's not exhausting to share art, what is exhausting is having to talk about it. I hate interviews, but I understand that everybody just does their job. If my manager and publicist didn't make me I would never do an interview because I believe the art speaks for itself and talking takes away from it.
After doing interviews all day I sometimes wonder, 'imagine if when I finished work each day I had to talk to sixty people about why I did everything I did.'
But every conversation that I have with a cool person is just nice. It would be great if every interview was like I got to choose the interviewer that I wanted to speak to, and we just talked about other musician's music. That would be awesome. This is how I would want to do an interview. I spend a bunch of time listening to a certain kind of music and the interviewer also spends time listening to that music and then we talk about it with each other. Not talking about me or my shit.
Okay, I'll bite: what are you listening to at the moment?
Actually yesterday I was listening to a bunch of Ethio beats that had been compiled between the early 50s to the 80s. It's just kind of classic Ethiopian folk tunes, and a lot of group singing and cool beat rhythms and a lot of structures that are not western-intuitive and it's really beautiful. I'm into Mahmoud Ahmed, his stuff is cool, it's mainly African rock.
Do you have an album or artist you return to when you feel like you need to hit the creative reset button?
Yeah, totally. I guess I feel that way about the Rolling Stones. In contemporary music I've been listening to a lot of Elza Soares, she's a Brazilian lady with a huge powerful raspy voice. She went through a lot of trauma in her life and you can hear that in her voice. It's this beautiful, painful woman who cries straight from the heart. I could listen to her sing all day. You should check it out. It's like tropical experimental rock.
Before we go, you have a lot going on, what are you most excited about?
Dinner tonight. I really want to get Indian.
Text Wendy Syfret