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The Singer Exploring His Emotional States Through Song    

The Singer Exploring His Emotional States Through Song

Art by FISK

By Jessica Schiffer 

Artists have long used music as a tool for exploring difficult experiences and untangling complicated emotions. For many people, playing or writing through whatever they’re going through at that moment can be cathartic, and sometimes less intimidating than simply unpacking it in conversation. 

That’s been the case for Clide, a 21-year-old artist German-American singer/songwriter from Berlin, whose latest EP “feelings” traverses six of his different emotional states, both the highs and the lows. “I have a hard time talking about how I’m feeling with other people, so my music gives me an outlet to share those feelings,” he told us over Zoom. Each song on the EP, debuting this fall, dives into a different emotional experience, from the unique pain that comes with breaking up with someone to craving alone time after a stressful encounter. The syrupy sound of the EP varies in step with the feelings explored, mixing pop melodies with elements of R&B.

“What I hope to do is reach a lot of people and give them comfort,” said Clide when asked about his goals for the EP. “Especially because of COVID, a lot of people are experiencing depression and not feeling well mentally, so I’m hoping they can get some comfort from my songs and feel better after listening to them.”

We continue our conversation with Clide below, diving into the inspiration behind the EP’s format, what it’s been like to get his first flash of fame, and why it’s so important for male artists to put their feelings front and center.

How has being half American and growing up in Berlin influenced your music?

I grew up with my mother in Berlin, but I was lucky to be able to fly to the U.S. once a year and visit my dad [in Portland, Maine], so that’s why I have a connection to the country. I feel at home here even though I spent most of my life in Germany. It made me learn English pretty welI and I was mostly listening to American artists, so that music scene was what I wanted to be a part of. Berlin has a cool music scene, too. I went to a music school there and there were many great and talented people that also influenced me but Berlin is heavily based on techno and dance music, there is a huge club and party scene, and that is just not my kind of music.

What drew you to start making music in the first place?

My parents are both classical musicians, so they play in an orchestra, and I grew up surrounded by music. It wasn't really my passion, I was sort of forced to learn instruments when I was a kid, when what I really wanted was to become a football player. But when I was 16 I started producing on GarageBand. At that point, I was influenced by EDM DJs, so I started off producing music like that and from there, I tried out different stuff, experimented with different genres, and got the confidence to sing and write songs. I then went to music school and got better at what I was doing.

What has it been like to start putting your music out there on a larger scale? 

It has been awesome. I mean, literally after putting out my first song in 2020, a lot of people and labels reached out. We had conversations with many people, and a lot of people on Instagram and social media gave me great feedback. It is just amazing to put a song out and receive that input, so I am super grateful for that. 

What has it been like to enter this first level of fame, where you have people who know who you are? Is there anything you don't like about it? 

So far, there is nothing disturbing about it. I get nice messages. But I’m not being recognized on the street yet, so I haven't had that kind of problem. I feel like that would be cool in the beginning and then, after a while, it would be sort of hard. Social media can be a lot and I think it’s important to slow down and not get too caught up in it. The gratification that comes from it can also go away pretty fast, and you should value and honor your happiness [outside of that].

You have an EP coming out called “feelings,” which explores mental health and dealing with different emotions. What inspired that theme? 

All of the songs on the EP are talking about feelings from a unique perspective. For example, the first song that came out is about a breakup but from the perspective of the person who has to break someone's heart, which is not talked about as much but can be just as painful. The title track, “feelings,” [explores how] how feelings can pull you down or make you feel good but, in the end, you want to feel all of those things because that’s what makes life worth living. You take the highs and the lows. 

I personally have a hard time talking about how I’m feeling with other people, so my music gives me an outlet to share my feelings. I hope that it resonates with people and that people can find comfort in it and feel better if they're going through something similar. If I can do that, then that’s awesome. It's understandable that it’s hard to be vulnerable, it’s like you make yourself look naked in a way. But it’s also great if you manage to do it and I respect people so much who are really good at openly talking about [what they’re going through]. Maybe I will get better at it by putting it into music. 

Totally. What is your songwriting process like? 

Most of the time, I sit down with my guitar or at the piano and just play something, maybe a melody in my head that I like, and I'll build off of that. Some of the songs I like the most were just super spontaneous things that were running through my head after I experienced something or they came from just one line of music. The idea is there and then you have to work through it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to just sit down and write a song just because I feel I have to write a song. If I have nothing in particular to say, then it might not be super real. The songs I write that I like the most are based off of something that really happened and inspiration that came to me right at the moment. It’s hard to recreate those moments, but you just know when you’re having one and you have to be patient [for them to come]. 

Historically, there's been a stigma that men aren't supposed to show emotion and are always supposed to be strong. Do you think it’s important for men and male artists to counteract that by being more forthright about how they're feeling and what they're going through? 

Definitely, I feel like it’s something that should be talked about and it seems to be getting discussed more than ever today. There are a lot of great artists that are sharing that message and I love seeing it. I love to see everybody doing what they want, expressing their feelings, and living their life to the fullest without [abiding by] certain stereotypes. 

You mentioned the pandemic earlier and how hard the last year was. What was it like for you, especially as a musician? 

I tried to draw all the positives out of the situation that I could, like getting to spend time with my family and being able to slow down for a moment. It also opened new doors for me as a musician. People are doing zoom sessions now to write songs together, which we wouldn't have thought to do before but can be really worthwhile. On the other side of things, the last year for me just seemed to fly away because as a musician and songwriter, I need stuff to write about and if you’re sitting in your room most of the time, there is probably not as much inspiration coming up. There were periods in the last year where two months just disappeared, and I thought, "where did the time go?" So, it has been a really weird time and I had some up and down phases. Last fall, I was not in the best mental state but I got out of it, and now I am feeling really good and happy to see things opening up. I’m super excited to really connect with people and be able to actually play my music live for the first time and see how people respond.

Is there anything else coming up for you this year? 

I am writing songs constantly and I am also writing songs for others, so alongside my own music there will be some songs coming out that I co-wrote. I am also launching merch. But the main focus is getting the new music out, touring and working on the next EP. I am not putting too much pressure on it though, I am just enjoying the ride. 

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.