By: Cameron Rubner
When I first heard of Clairo I was quickly dismissive. I passed her off as another quirky, trendy internet girl adored by every middle school tween.
But, I’ll admit I was mistaken. Back in October, on a whim, my friends and I decided to check out her show at the Van Buren in Phoenix, and it might’ve actually changed my life.
The demographic of attendees was not what I expected. Before going in, I thought would witness a sea of 15-year-olds go crazy for their savior, but most of the audience was around my age (19) if not, older — though there was a bunch of high schoolers mixed in as well.
Her stage presence was nothing short of phenomenal. After she went viral in 2017 with her DIY hit “Pretty Girl,” early reports of her shows were quite negative. Most of them stated she was awkward and that her sound was better left to be performed in the bedroom, rather than in front of a live audience.
In 2018, Clairo has released a six-track EP titled, “Diary 001” and just this past August she released her first full-length LP “Immunity.” So obviously with more experience and more confidence under her belt, Clairo seems very comfortable on stage.
Clairo caught some backlash in 2018 her father was discovered to be a major marketing executive with ties to certain record labels. This caused people to assume she was an “industry plant” or a seemingly inorganic artist who actually was backed by a major label.
While there’s no denying Clairo has had significant help from her connections in the music business, this shouldn’t negate the fact that she does have talent.
Clairo’s early sound was very lo-fi and bubblegum pop-ish. With the release of her debut album, “Immunity” it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what kind of music she makes. Coming into the show I was expecting “bedroom pop” or whatever, but instead it seemed like she had a different type of sound for every song.
Her debut record set her apart from the image that she had cultivated in 2017. No more lo-fi DIY songs, these were all well-engineered pop tracks that you wouldn’t expect her to have put back then.
But more importantly, Clairo is a keystone in the “new indie” wave of the late 2010s. I’d group her with the likes of artists such as Rex Orange County, Cuco, Boy Pablo, and Wallows. Not exactly in terms of their music, but in terms of their aesthetic and appeal.
Clairo is a poster child for the VSCO movement. Middle school girls across America seem to try and emulate her style. The “new indie” wave is mostly about being trendy — wearing Fjällräven backpacks, drinking out of hydro flasks and dying the ends of their hair a funky color.
I personally have nothing against any of those things, but that is the majority of who listens to her music, and this isn’t by mistake.
In an interview with Apple Music Beats One, Clairo said, “that’s who I made the record for, 15-year-old me, or at least 15-year-olds. I see who comes to the shows, I see who tweets at me, it’s 15-year-olds, 14-year-olds who find community online, and that’s exactly who I was.”
If you’ve never heard of Clairo before reading this article, shame on you because she is a key player in the new era of pop music and culture as we know it. and she’s only just getting started.