After a year of tweaking her sounds as Butterclock, touring with oOoOO, forming the imprint Fantasy Music with co-conspirator oFF Love, and settling down in her new home of Berlin, Laura Clock finally feels like she’s ready to start releasing music again. For fans of haunting avant-pop beauty, the announcement is a happy one indeed. Taking cues from her love of R&B and hip-hop as well as darker shades of electronics, she blends her loves into beautiful tributes to loss. As a precursor to her upcoming EP First Prom, we’re happy to present “Don’t”, a co-directed video that feels like a tribute to her adopted new home.
The video was shot in Weisensee?
I lived there for a year and it was really nice and very weird. I think I was influenced by this suburb as it’s not really Berlin, it could have been a little town somewhere in Germany. Only weirdos, old punks, old people, not at all the “cool” Neukölln crowd. Very industrial too. I had a big window, and I was in front of a parking lot so there was something desolate about it, but at the same time very beautiful. Especially coming from Paris and growing up there, I am really attracted to maybe the opposite? This idea of beauty and the conventional idea of “what is a beautiful city or street” is something I’m really not into. I’m more fascinated with the weirdness of landscapes, and it’s something that is important to me and really influenced me for the video and for the new songs. The mix of the “ugliness” and industrial mixed with beautiful things out of nowhere. That’s something that is really important to me. Like natural vocals and auto-tune, the mix of synthetic and organic. In the video there is synthetic and organic, and reality and fantasy. It’s a very dear topic to me, the limits between both, the danger.
So you like to exist between both states? Real and fantasy?
Yeah. Like, what state can you create? Not even just in creating, but in general. It’s also something that I was really into when I was younger, and studied it a lot when I was in school and in university I was writing a lot of stuff about that. It’s something I was really, really into, this way to create. But I wouldn’t say the way to create is automatic writing, like the French surrealists such as André Breton might do.
How did that environment shape the writing of your new EP?
It’s definitely more joyful than before. Maybe not “joyful”; the topics are really tragic and sad, but the music is more upbeat than before. Less minimalist as well. I’ve added more layers and made it sound bigger. I guess the topic itself is always the same though.
Love and heartbreak. The teenage years that are over and that you desperately try to grab again. Most people can’t wait to grow up.
But then as soon as you do grow up you think “Why the hell did I want this?”
I feel that some people can deal with both, but for some people it’s really hard to function and they just stay really obsessed with not growing up at all. In music, I really try to focus on getting out of reality and just being really emotional. I’m really fascinated with this link between mental illness and neurosis in love and how that can impact on creativity, and psychologically what pushes you to create. That is what I find fascinating. What pushes people to make music individually, why do you get into these states…I don’t have the answers and I am trying to find them even though it’s hopeless. I don’t know if it’s being healthy or sick. I guess I will never have that answer.
I don’t listen to a lot of different bands. Of course I am aware of what is going on, I read and want to be aware of what’s going on socially but there are a few things I like and I listen to it obsessively. It can be overwhelming, because there is a lot. There are too many things. I just really believe that it is better to not pay attention too much, just stick to a few things. I wouldn’t have the pretension to say “I am not inspired by anything or anyone, I just live in a room in my cave”. And there are a lot of things that I like from today; l’m really excited about the new Justin Timberlake album coming up in three days. Like, crazy impatient. But I think you can be subconsciously be obviously influenced when you create music, if you know too much on what’s “good” and what’s “new”.
When we were teenagers before the Internet brought a hundred new bands a day, you had these three or four bands that were really your bands.
I was on MTV all the time. I remember watching shows like The Grind when I was younger and this is where I was watching all the music from all day. All the R&B things, I was really into that. I never had any phases like goth or whatever, I was really into the mainstream stuff. It was later that I got into other things. But during my teenage years I was listening to Brandy, Monica and Whitney Houston and just singing in my room.
But that just means that you are artistic and weird but you don’t let yourself be defined by a musical subculture.
I try not to. I think you have to have a strength, you know? I feel that oftentimes now, if a woman is making music she has to have this attitude that says “I am strong like a man. I can do it like a man”, and maybe they are afraid to be vulnerable. But I think it’s okay to be a girl and make music and not scream everywhere “Yeah I can be like a man”. Even if I recognize myself as not needing men to make music, I wouldn’t broadcast it as “I am so strong!”. You can produce music yourself and be feminist, but it’s okay to be vulnerable, or to be soft. What do you think about it?
Well, I’m not a woman so I can’t say what a woman would go through making music, though I think it’s important for anybody making music to have a determination and to have a vision that they really believe in.
Of course, you can be determined and strong in the idea that being vulnerable in itself is what you want to show and the vision, and that it is okay to feel emotionally clumsy. It’s not heartbreak or sadness, it’s just this state of confusion.
Do you feel that your music comes from a confused place, or are you trying to make things clearer for yourself?
It doesn’t’t clear up the topic at all. Maybe it helps? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that. It’s actually what I am really wondering again, what state is best to create, what pushes me. I wouldn’t say I would like to feel too happy; I’d get scared. Some people need this, this masochisme…chaos and tension makes your personal life kind of awful but at the same time it gives you something to say and something to write. If you’re feeling too good, where does this need to say things come from?
Sounds like someone’s a ♪drama queen♫!
Haha, yeah but what can I do! I really admire some of those people with musical personas, and how they can really separate themselves from it. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. I’m too emotional.
Published January 11, 2013. Words by Daniel Jones.