An Interview With The French-American ALT POP Songstress and Visual Artist, CLARA NOVA!
Posted On 28 Mar 2018
Enigmatic French-American alt-pop musician and visual artist, CLARA-NOVA (the new moniker for Sydney Wayser) released her latest EP, The Iron Age, on March 2nd via Kobalt Music Recordings. The project was in collaboration with producer Shawn Everett (Julian Casablancas, Alabama Shakes, John Legend, Lucius) to help expand Wayser’s sound and explore new sonic elements for the EP.
Over the span of her career, Wayser has amassed millions of streams on Spotify, and garnered press praise with NPR, ELLE, Interview Magazine, KEXP, Nylon, and more, plus performed on national TV for Last Call with Carson Daly. Her music has been featured within numerous major films and network TV series such as: Spotlight (film trailer), Wish Upon (film credits), Shameless, How To Get Away With Murder, This Is Us, Fear Inc. Exodus: Gods and Kings (film trailer) and more. Her songs have also been highlighted within national advertising spots for major companies such as: Madewell, Victoria Secret’s, Old Navy, Billabong, Whole Foods and more. Her recent work with other musicians includes, singing on M83’s 2016 album Junk, and she is currently recording a duo project in Los Angeles with herself and Luke Pritchard from The Kooks.
In support of The Iron Age, Wayser is also working on a beautiful photography installation, titled The Iron Age/The Golden Age, and will be debuting that at a live multi-media show in LA in 2018.
Learn more about Clara Nova in the following All Access interview:
So where does this interview find you? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
I just got back from SXSW in Austin and I’m settling in at home. We had a little too much fun so I’m taking a day to rest up and recover. 😉
Overall, how do you think 2017 was for you and your career? What are you most excited about for this year? What is one big goal you have for 2018?
2017 was a great year! I finally separated from a label that was sort of holding my music hostage and spent most of the year writing and recording. I was a bit of a hermit actually. Spent a lot of the year in the studio. Last summer I performed at a bunch of my favorite festivals singing backgrounds for Lorde. I was singing with two of my dearest friends and we had a fun and wild ride!! Singing at Glastonbury was a definite life highlight!
I’m very excited for this year because I’ll be releasing a lot of new music. My EP, THE IRON AGE, came out earlier this month and I’m releasing a second EP, THE GOLDEN AGE, in a few months. I’m working on a collaborative photography installation where I’m pairing photographs to each song from the EPs. The installation will be out in late summer / early fall.
Growing up, did you ever think that this would be the kind of life that you would have? Has music always been a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
Music has always been my life. My dad is a musician and when I was little I would sit on his lap and put my hands on top of his hands to learn what he was playing on the piano. The first song I ever wrote was in 5th grade about a Modigliani painting I saw at the museum that day. I still have the lyrics somewhere around the house. I loved singing, writing, playing and eventually found myself at Berklee College of Music. After graduation I made my way to New York City where I really cut my teeth on life as a musician. NYC has a way of shaping an artist. It can be tough a times but also the most rewarding.
How do you think growing up in your hometown has influenced your sound and who you are as a musician?
I grew up in Los Angeles and Paris and feel that they both have influenced my life, my taste, my music and my voice. My French father listened to Serge Gainsbourg and Françoise Hardy and my American mother listened to Joni Mitchel and James Taylor. I was exposed to a ton of different cultural experiences outside of music. We went to museums often, the theater, the ballet. Our months in Paris each year were filled with French culture, art, food and family. We learned two different ways of living at the same time. That has definitely shaped who I am as a person and who I am as a musician.
Let’s talk about making your EP, “The Iron Age.” What was that like for you? Did anything surprise you about the overall process of it all?
I was signed with a label that took all my music and left me without any music to release. I started a Pledge Music campaign and raised money to re-record some of the songs the label took. The Iron Age is the first chapter of those songs. My fans, friends, family and community showed up for me in a huge way. They made all of this possible!! I successfully completed the campaign and headed into the studio. I recorded at one of my favorite LA studios, VOX. That space is magic! Me and my band-mates pieced together the songs and one by one they took their own shape. They are similar and different to the original recording. My co-producer Shawn Everett is a wizard and mind reader. We had a blast working together. It was pretty seamless between he and I. By the end of it we were finishing each other sentences and music was pouring out.
While it may be difficult to pick, can you talk about a few of your favorite songs on this EP and how they were written? Typically, where do you find that your inspiration for your songs?
FLORA is a favorite. It’s sort of a strange song but it resonates with me a lot. I wrote it in the sculpture garden of the Norton Simon Museum in Los Angeles. I was feeling stuck and looking for ideas so I went to museum to gather my thoughts and take a break. While walking around the Rodin sculptures the chorus started to fill my head and within a few minutes I had that part figured out. It felt like a puzzle. There were different pieces floating around and I needed to find how they fit together. Eventually I rushed home and the rest of the song poured itself out that day.
Where do you find that you sing the most these days, in the shower, in the car, in the studio or elsewhere?
I love singing while I walk. Ideas for new songs come while I’m walking. Maybe it’s something to do with the pace and movement but I feel inspired.
Where can fans see you perform next? What do you think makes for an ideal concert for you?
We’ll be on the east coast in May playing at the music festival Welcome Back Campers that The Wild Honey Pie puts on each year.
We are living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that music is going to reflect these challenging times?
Music is a beautiful escape. It is a place where we come together to sing and dance. I know if I’ve had strange day I go to a concert and feel better. Music is about community. I think during this tumultuous time, music will bring people together.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Some of my forever favorites are Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Feist, Dirty Projectors, Françoise Hardy, Joni Mitchel, Little Dragon, Radiohead… the list could go on for days!!
What do you hope your fans take away from your music?
I hope my music inspires fans! I hope it makes people want to dance and sing along. If it makes anyone’s day a little bit brighter then it’s made my life!