Backstage With CLARA MANN
As gigs are on pause, Home is the new Backstage. Get behind the scenes with Clara Mann this week.
Celebrating the release of her stunning debut EP, Consolations, we caught up with Bristolian newcomer Clara Mann to discuss the inspiration behind the EP and the process of self-reflection and escapism during these uncertain times.
Did you come across any surprises, whether pleasant or unpleasant, while recording the Consolations EP?
I found that I am quite impatient when it comes to recording – I think with home recording there isn’t the same atmosphere of focus you’d get in a professional studio, or even in a better equipped home studio, and so I got distracted very easily. I didn’t realise how bad I was at concentrating on that stuff – I’m getting better at it, but I still flit around a bit!
Were there any particular events/stories that sparked the inspiration for the EP?
I don’t tend to write from particular events – my songs are more like distillations of things I’ve been feeling over a long time, with fragments of my ordinary life in them. I spent a long time last year looking out of the window of my room in Bristol, watching the world go by from my sofa in the evening. Maybe that feeling of observation, and slight “outsider”-ness comes through.
What advice would you give to your pre-lockdown self?
Be ready to let go of plans as easily as you make them – things are unpredictable, and you will have to adapt, and anyway, what matters is right now, more than the next step you might or might not take.
How, if at all, did lockdown impact your music making and producing process?
Honestly, I’ve found it really really hard to write over lockdown. I realised how much of my musical momentum and energy come from spontaneous, unexpected things – overheard conversations in the queue at the supermarket, or on the bus, or talking to myself on long drives. Suddenly, for all of us, there was just this emptiness, that creatives were supposed to know how to fill, because the creative process is an interior one – but when there’s no movement in one’s life and no buzz from being around other makers, I think it’s really hard!
I have written some things I’m proud of, but often what’s held me back is just over thinking everything – too much time with my own thoughts, I suppose! Anyway – it’s definitely become easier, and I feel like I understand my writing process a lot more than I did this time last year.
How would you sum up your 2020 in one sentence?
A bit grey and overcast – with moments of real sun.
If you had a quarantine character, what was it like?
Mrs Tiggywinkle out of the Beatrix Potter books – completely domestic but well dressed.
Name 5 things that got you through lockdown.
Cooking, my loved ones, “Beginners” (the Christian Lee Hutson album), making ceramic cups, and the Elena Ferrante novels.
What’s the most interesting thing you discovered over lockdown (could be a revelation about yourself, a new TV show, a new hobby)?
I am now an enthusiastic (but not very accomplished) knitter. Everyone I know will be receiving wonky knitted goods over the next year or so. I also watched quite a lot of obscure BFI archive films – little scraps of stuff mostly, like a child from the 1960s reading a poem he’d written about a river, or half a documentary about the decline of sheep farming in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1970s. I know it SOUNDS boring, but something about them really had me hooked. It’s almost like I haven’t had a lot going on in the last year or so.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2021?
I’d love to play to more than 2 people, and somewhere other than my bedroom! And to resume long road trips on which I can talk to myself – or even go with someone, so I can talk to them too!
And finally, slightly cliché but what does music mean to you?
The reason the EP is called Consolations is because that’s what the songs, and music in general, mean to me – music should console those who need it, and challenge those who don’t.