Musician and Claymation Artist, Friends of Clay Discusses New Music, Learning and Working with Claymation and More!
Get to know the amazing music and claymation artist called Friends of Clay who on April 16th, released their highly anticipated self-titled album. Alongside the album release, they simultaneously dropped Episode 1 of their new animated mini-series Quinn County Convicts.
Influenced by musical powerhouses including The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie and Johnny Cash – Friends of Clay is an exciting hybrid of indie, alternative and rock music. It is the brainchild of gifted storyteller and music artist Clay Priskorn who welcomes listeners into the Friends of Clay world through his creative audiovisual lens. Fun fact, Clay taught himself how to do claymation during quarantine as he was looking for a good visual to transcend his music.
Friends of Clay caught early attention from fans worldwide with their first four singles “What Percent Are Monsters,” “Livin’ Time,” “Growing Up,” and “Pretend with Me.” Each release was accompanied by a captivating claymation visual. “What Percent Are Monsters” received early support from the LA Daily News who noted: “Priskorn is heavily influenced by the Beatles and that comes through in the song with a melody reminiscent of the more psychedelic side of the Fab Four, think “Strawberry Fields Forever.”” In addition, the track made its official radio debut on LA’s KROQ Locals Only show following release.
Says front-man Clay Priskorn: “With my previous single releases, the foundation was laid for the Friends of Clay universe. I introduced my fans to new songs and new stories. The full length Friends of Clay album will correlate all of the storylines from the singles, and bring them together as a cohesive world of songs and visual content.”
Learn more about Friends of Clay in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So first things first, how did you start this band? What made you think that you could work together? How difficult was it to come up with a band name that you all agreed on?
Thanks for having me! I started the band Friends of Clay during the first couple months of the pandemic. Our drummer Trevor and I have been in multiple bands together, and decided to form this band when we felt like we had some really good songs to show the world. The name “Friends of Clay” came naturally after I started making claymation videos to accompany all of my music. My name is also “Clay”, and I like the play on words that the band name represents. Everyone involved with the music is a ‘Friend of Clay’; the fans, the animated characters, and the band itself.
How are you all feeling at this point about the pandemic and the recent openings?
In the beginning of the pandemic, it was really tough for me to not express myself and share my music with people in a live setting. I learned though that I could tell stories through claymation and my music, and could still connect to my fans. At this point in the pandemic, I feel very certain that music will get back to the way it used to be, and people need musical connection more now than ever, and I hope to bring people together with a great live show.
Let’s talk about your brand new just released self-titled album. What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Were there any unexpected surprises/challenges? How do the songs on this album differ from anything else that you have created?
I really loved being able to release this debut, self-titled album. It’s the first complete work of art that I felt completely comfortable with, and every song on the album flows so nicely together. The album tells a story about heartbreak and how human beings tend to take life for granted. If you dig deep into the lyrics and melody of most of the songs, they paint a melancholy message about the human experience and how everyone deals with their vices. Some of the songs on the record are brand new, and others were written up to 5 years ago. The final track on the album is the oldest, but still feels so relevant today.
I understand that alongside the album release, you also put out a new video called “We can work it out”. Can you elaborate on this project? How do the two go hand-in-hand? Where did the original idea come from to do this even?
I wanted to put out a new animation video to complete the album and visual experience. The new claymation video takes place in a weird alien world where a boxer named Luther fights for the intergalactic championship. This is the best claymation I’ve done, and I put so much effort and work into it. The boxing scene alone took me 2 weeks to film, and I really am proud of this work of art. The idea for the video came from my love of the Rocky movies. My dad showed me all of the Rocky movies as a kid, and I just fell in love with Apollo Creed and everything that went into the fight scenes in the movie. That’s the basis of my inspiration for “We Can Work it Out”.
Clay, I am curious to know how you went about teaching yourself to do Claymation during quarantine? What made you think of it in the first place? Was it hard to get started?
I’ve always loved claymation and stop motion videos. Between Gumby and Fleet Foxes animation videos, I’ve always been super curious on the process of making this style of art. During the start of the pandemic I thought that it would be cool to learn a new skill, so it was the perfect time to dive into claymation. It took me a couple of weeks to get the hang of it, but I slowly began to understand it and feel comfortable. All in all, it came together naturally as I’ve been filming music videos for years, but it was a fun new transition into the film universe that I truly enjoy.
How excited are you about getting back out there to perform live? Do you have any future dates already scheduled yet?
I’m so excited to perform again! It’s honestly the most incredible part of music, and I can’t wait to play my new album for all the fans! I have an album release show planned in the coming weeks, and it’s gonna be awesome!
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues?
I think the biggest thing that makes an ideal show is that the band is locked in together. If your band is feeling the groove together and happy, then you have a great vibe for a show. The audience feeds off that energy. My favorite show I’ve ever played was at El Cid, in Silverlake. I was playing with my band, and we were so electric and fun that the whole crowd was locked into us. That was such an awesome experience to have, and I’m looking forward to getting back to that.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you carry yourselves in this group? If not, why do you think that is?
Agoura Hills has a huge place in my heart and I really love this question because I don’t get asked enough about my hometown. It’s honestly the biggest influence for how my music is sculpted. Agoura is a small suburb outside of LA and it has a really unique vibe. I feel like I am my town, and when I see Agoura get over developed I’ve really had a hard time with it. I write a lot about how I enjoy open space, and the problems of over development in my community. I think a lot of these issues influence my lyrics and melodies in my songs.
How would you say that you have grown as musicians over the years? How has your sound matured and developed? What has remained the same?
My voice is the biggest thing that has improved over the past 5 years. I really wasn’t born a natural singer and it’s taken me years to feel comfortable with my voice. I really didn’t have any clue how to sing, but guitar and songwriting always felt natural. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 9, and have been playing rock and jazz music my whole life. After I learned how to control my voice, I combined my guitar knowledge and came up with my unique sound.
Where do you think you are happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere? With all the negativity out there today, what else in life truly makes you happy?
I love creating and coming up with songs in the studio. That’s definitely a happy place for me. Playing live is the best feeling ever and I wouldn’t replace that feeling with anything. When I’m playing in front of a crowd, I truly come alive. I connect with people when my guard is down, and that is truly achieved when I’m playing my songs live. Basketball also makes me extremely happy. Playing pickup basketball at my local rec center keeps my physical and mental strength dialed in.
With all the different social media platforms out there, how do you balance it all? How do you think that social media has impacted you personally and this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize them through the years?
Social media has been an interesting experience for me. I love posting live content and animation videos for my fans, and love talking and interacting with them. It’s such a rewarding feeling when I connect to a stranger and they feel good by listening to my music. That’s why I do this and why I’ll never stop. I’ll always connect with my fans and be here for them.
What musicians have really been inspiring you since you first started making music? Who would you all love to work with in the future?
The Beatles are my favorite musical experience in this world. They influence me and I always draw inspiration from their records. I think we all agree that we would love to jam with the Chili Peppers though. Trevor and I are huge fans of them, and love their performance at Slane Castle the most.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
The biggest take away from my music is that you’re never alone in this world. I feel like my music can bring people together and also make people happier. We all need to be kinder to each other and help each other out. I hope people feel comfort in my music.