CLEWS' new single Overluck is out now! We chat to the duo about the track, their forthcoming debut EP and more.
Image: Maya Luana.
Last month, Sydney-based sister duo CLEWS shared another bewitching cut from their forthcoming debut EP, Loveluck Omens. Bringing their signature mesmerising vocals to Overluck, the track is built upon indie-inspired drum loops, jangly guitars and beguiling strings.
Conceptually, the track explores one half of the duos fears of being alone, whilst also reflecting on how happiness can be achieved without a romantic relationship. Building to a chorus that will be ringing around your head for days, the song also serves as a reminder you can choose your own path and have the power to dictate your own life.
Making the most of 2020, the duo spent their time crafting their debut body of work, whilst continuing to perform and create new live experiences for fans. Having recently returned to the stage, supporting DMA'S and Tash Sultana in Sydney, CLEWS also performed two sold-out headline shows at The Landsdowne, as well as gigs across the coast of NSW. The band’s development as a live act has influenced their songwriting, with a certain looseness and a natural approach to performance putting their light and loving dynamic as sisters on display and permeating through new studio recordings.
Overluck is out now! Read our interview with CLEWS below.
Could you tell us a bit about how you began your musical journey, and your background in music?
We were born into a musical family so music has always been part of our lives. We spent some time in the States as kids travelling around with our Dad’s band, being backstage as kids while they played festivals and even slinging merch at shows and hanging out in studios. Our mum sings harmonies to every song that plays on the radio and does amazing work in music education, and we grew up singing together and listening to music like Crowded House, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, The Beastie Boys...lots of albums from our mum and dad’s big CD collection.
Congratulations on the release of your new single, Overluck! The track explores the idea of being lucky in life but unlucky in love, a theme woven throughout your forthcoming EP. What prompted you to write the song and what inspired its conceptual nature?
Thanks, I’ve been trying to write more honestly and this song came about from reflecting on spending my whole life single. I hope I’ve made the right decisions so far, and I guess if I go out alone I’ll only have myself to blame haha! But this song really made me ask myself whether I’m truly happy alone or whether I’m just used to that being my modus operandi.
The track also serves as a powerful anthem, serving as a reminder you can choose your own path. How important is it for you to present this message, that we can control our happiness and pleasure?
Being happy on your own is a value we both live by. It can be hard in a world that is exploding with romance and partnerships but if you can be happy on your own first then whoever else comes into your orbit will only light up your universe more, not be your reason for living. Grace and I support eachother, and we have wonderful friends and families and partners who support us, but we were raised to be independent and to not have to rely on anyone else for those things. It’s a fine line between being happy on your own and not opening up to people though..
What is the moment you’ve felt your luckiest?
Ok this is a bit wet but...we really have attitudes of gratitudes instilled in us, so I feel very fortunate all the time. It’s something I really work on for my mental health and outlook on life. Our parents had this tradition that we’ve continued on in our adult lives where before we eat, including if guests are around for dinner or anything, we all stop and go around the table and say something we’re grateful for first. Ok it sounds a bit kumbaya but it’s so nice!! I guess you can’t really appreciate luck or good fortune without gratitude, so they go hand in hand. Being randomly born into a life where we get to make music - that’s pretty lucky.
If Overluck was a piece of pre-existing visual art, which artwork would it be?
Overluck would be a James Bond film, maybe naughties Casino Royale.
How did you arrive at the overall sonic exploration and sounds present within your music?
Overluck is a great one to talk about this question with. We originally recorded it with our band with standard drums, bass and lots of guitars. But for some reason it just wasn’t really flying the way we wanted it to. Overluck kind of got left until the end, while the other tracks on the EP all really came out easily. We couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t until our producer Dylan Adams gave it a complete makeover, cut the drums and bass we had recorded and painted a whole new backdrop for the song that it became the track it is now. He was inspired by Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy and spent many late nights trying to perfect the drum loop, so our hats go off to him for taking it somewhere we never could have ourselves. It’s also a personal song in terms of songwriting, so it lent itself well to a single vocal (Lily’s) to start the song which we don’t usually do - we usually let harmonies run the show from the get go.
Want You That Way is one of our favourite songs of the year! Along with Overluck, we’ve been offered vivid glimpses into your forthcoming EP. What can listeners expect from the release as a whole?
Thank you! This EP is all about Lily being single for 25 years and having never been in love. Grace very recently sits on the other side, in love and dating someone. Being single and being happy has been such a massive shared experience for us, and now we find ourselves on opposite sides of the coin, wondering who has it better. We are more transparent with how we feel about love and relationships on this EP than we ever have been before. I think that’s the main thing this EP is introducing - a new era of being 100% transparent and really letting people into the inner workings of our hearts and minds, hoping everyone can find some comfort and sense there. There are four tracks on the EP and with Dylan Adams we gravitated a bit more to programmed drums and modern sounds to tell our modern love stories.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording this collection of songs?
We started recording the EP with our producer Dylan Adams in a little studio in Coogee in the Eastern Suburbs that has had a legacy of great bands come through its doors. Josh and Oscar our live bassist and drummer are on the tracks with us too. The songs are a mixed bag - Want You that Way we’d been playing live for a while so already had its arrangement fleshed out. But other tracks like Overluck and F.A.U.X we built completely from scratch. For Cuban Heel we know what we wanted it to sound like - very synthy, very Killers, but we didn’t know how to get it there ourselves. This EP actually took quite a while and its lifespan went from strange, spooky mid-lockdown vibes to being finished and born as a winter release rather than the summery debut we had planned for it.
How did the EP evolve and change as you were creating it, and were there any tracks left on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future?
Yes absolutely. There was actually meant to be a 5th song on this EP. We love it so much and can’t wait to put it out but when we played the finished EP through, the 4 that are left on it sit in such a nice sonic pocket all together. That 5th song was a bit too much of a dark horse. It will get it’s time in the sun one day though, don’t you worry about that.
Throughout the album's rollout, we’ve seen some great visuals (images and videos). How important are the visuals to you when it comes to portraying the stories and themes present on the songs? The visual for Want You That Way is absolutely stunning!
Thank you, supré important! Our best friend Maya Luana does all of our content for us, so we always start with a brainstorming session with her. We come up with a broad concept and the look for the music video and listen to the lyrics, pulling out key motifs that we can communicate visually. Then we have a think about how the single art can tie into that world while still being its own thing
If you had to pick one song off the EP to play to someone who had never heard your music to make them an instant fan, which three would it be and why?
Grace’s would be Overluck because it’s just so cool, it’s the song I’m proudest of having made, and it encapsulates everything I want for us as artists.
Lily’s would be F.A.U.X. I’d say check this out - we usually sound nothing like this.
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts and why?
Caitlin Harnett and the Pony Boys for her voice, songwriting and live show. Don West for his beautiful single ‘Money’. Adam Newling for his folky twang and visuals. The Buoys because they rock the house down. Triple One because they had my favourite album from last year.
With restrictions easing and borders having opened, will we be seeing you hit the road with national dates anytime soon?
Yes! Shows for the EP incoming. We’re also playing all the Next Exit festival dates with Ocean Alley and Spacey Jane in a bunch of regional spots this month.
PJ Harvey, Oasis, ‘00s indie bands and printing chords off ultimate guitar .com.
Some massive EDM or pop princesses..Charli XCX?.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Jeff Buckley’s Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Saucy, sexi, mad.
A release you’re most looking forward to in 2021?
Our EP. (This is Grace talking) I don’t listen to a lot of music which is strange as a musician why am i the way that i am.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
Ummmmmm The Dark Knight, give it a spaghetti western guitar girl band ‘90s soundtrack.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Miley. We didn’t watch Hannah Montana, we were only allowed to watch the ABC.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Songs About Jane - Maroon 5
The English Riviera - Metronomy
Best concert you have been to?
Jake Bugg in London - First time Grace went out with Lily as semi-adults together out in the big world. Lily’s is Beck - beaming and singing every word.
Last concert you went to?
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
Spicy Spice and Spicier Spice
Guilty music pleasure?
I have no guilty pleasures. I know other people (Lily) get second-hand embarrassment when I say things like this but Replay by Iyaz is an amazing song I know all the words
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
Taylor Swift. She’s been doing things that are brave and changing the fabric of the industry, being bold.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Don’t worry, spend some more quality time by yourself, fall back in love with yourself and spend your time doing things that recharge you on a deep level.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I definitely remember going to a festival in high school - probably Groovin - looking around and thinking wow this is fun, then looking up at the people on stage and thinking but that would be so much more fun.