On September 7th, 2023 the American lady Lucy Clearwater will give a release concert in Berlin.A day later her new EP "Augenlieder" will be released.The special thing about this EP is, that she sings all the songs in German, usually it's the other way around.Even if you notice a small dialect, it makes the EP even more likeable.Time to introduce the charming lady in more detail in an interview.
Lucy Clearwater was born in a bathtub in a cookie factory in California.
Hello Lucy, thank you for your time. How are you doing right now? Hey! Thank you :) I’m doing well, just returned back to Berlin from a little adventure in Schwarzwald and am happy to be back in this city which I love so much.
Your new EP “Augenlieder” will be released on September 8th. After all your music, is there still a little excitement? If anything, the excitement is stronger than ever before! I think every time I release new music my excitement grows because each release is like a step (or sometimes a leap) that takes me to a place I’ve never been before in my musical journey and in my career. I love new and uncharted territory so I'm always full of anticipation and thrill when there’s a release right around the corner. And this time, even extra because it's my first time releasing music in a foreign language! So in a way, it feels like the first time all over again.
Tell a little bit about your musical past. How did you get into music? My mom is a violin and piano teacher. She gave me a violin for my 4th birthday and taught me classical music until I was in my teens. From her, I learned technique, discipline, music theory, etc. And on the other hand, my dad was always playing guitar and writing songs for fun. I strongly gravitated towards that and through him, I discovered how experimental and playful music can be, also. Looking back, I’m incredibly grateful I had both angles because they make up the type of musician I am today. I did some musical theater and then at some point came to the realization that I was really only doing it because I wanted to sing, not because of the dancing or acting part. Then I started using song-writing to process my teenager-emotions and since then I’ve never stopped.
When and how did you decide to make music and what genre do you want to go Into? I always knew I would make music as a primary focus in my life. I tried lots of different genres as I was growing up and when I was about 16 that’s when I began to write my first “good” songs, I would say. I mean, looking back on those songs now, I think they are pretty funny/cheesy, but I remember at the time that's when I knew I had a certain skill/talent for writing songs. It’s hard to say what genre I “want to go into” now, because for me it's sort of an ever-changing and morphing thing…I write what I feel and as I grow and have new experiences, the things I feel change and mature in different ways. At the moment, I’m really feeling connected to super organic/acoustic/earthy sounds. I have a feeling I’ll continue this way for a while, but it's impossible for me to predict what my music will sound like 5 years from now. I’m always making the genre of music that I want to make :)
Can you remember the very first song you wrote? Describe it a little. I can’t remember exactly which was the first, but I do remember at least a super early one… I must have been about 11 or so. The refrain went something like: “in life there’s always changes everywhere everyone gets older, people come and go sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes its no” I think I played this one on the piano. Another one had something like “I’m walking through the forest Let the sun shine I hear the twitter of a bird In the night time I’m walking through the forest Let the sun shine”
Haha - thinking back on it now, even though I’ve gone on quite the journey with genres and topics since then, I guess some of the core themes have now come back full-circle. These days, I’ve written some songs that, subject-wise, aren't too different from these innocent 11-year old Lucy songs! Lol.
Who or what gave you the support to continue writing? Who did you play the early songs for? My family has always been incredibly supportive and encouraging. I’m super grateful that I didn't feel like they had some big expectation for me to become a lawyer or doctor or something more “traditional”. They’ve always believed in me. I would play the early songs for my family and my best friend (and sometimes we would even write some songs together during play-dates).
It was the first song I ever wrote in German, so it was the catalyst
The new EP will be released on September 8, 2023.
On your new EP you sing in German. Usually it’s the other way around. Two questions: First, why German? Haha, this is always the first question anyone has when they find out I wrote a German-language EP! “Why not French, Spanish, Italien?!” It’s funny because I don’t really have any profound answer to it. Basically, I passed through Berlin on a little “DIY solo-european-tour” I did in 2017. I played small living-room concerts and open mics all over Europe and out of all the cities I visited, Berlin just immediately stole my heart. I returned to Los Angeles after the tour and couldn't stop thinking about how much I loved Berlin. I returned a year later to see it again and play some more shows, slightly bigger that time, and fell even deeper in love with Berlin. Then in 2020 when I was stuck at my flat in LA during the lockdowns, I decided to learn German for fun (and i guess because of my affinity towards berlin). I never meant to write songs in German but the ideas just started to flow and I let them come. Then one day i looked at my notebook and realized “oh boy, i guess i wrote an EP in german!).
Secondly, how difficult was it to learn this language and how did your fan base react to it? Learning German was (and still continues to be) quite difficult but that doesn’t stop me from being completely in love with and excited by the process of learning. Having something to study and help me return to a “student-mindset” was really helpful during the covid lockdowns and gave me something to focus on. It’s not an easy language to learn, but it really became a fun hobby for me and every day I would wake up excited to sit with my morning coffee and learn more! I also got super into listening to some German bands and had a lot of fun learning via translating my favorite songs.
There are some bands from Germany that encourage Americans to learn German. Were you inspired by that? I (embarrassingly) was not hip to Tokio Hotel at the time that I was heavily interested in learning German. But, I did have a lot of fun making some playlists full of German bands I discovered on Spotify. I may have slightly annoyed some of my LA friends because for a while, everytime we got in the car, my German playlist would come on and I’d be singing along to Von Wegen Lisbeth, Die Höchste Eisenbahn, AnnenMayKantereit, Gisbert Zu Knyphausen, Herbert Grönemeyer, Oehl, Pohlmann, Faber, Haller, The Düsseldorf Düsterboys, Lina Maly, etc!
Let’s talk about the EP “Augenlieder”. The work combines elements of folk and Singer/songwriter. How do you create songs? Creating songs can happen in many different ways for me, but for some reason, the Augenlieder EP was all super consistent. I would sit on my bed with my 1960s acoustic Yamaha guitar tuned into what’s called “Open D tuning” (not the standard tuning for guitar), and play around until I found progressions and patterns i liked. Up until this point, I hadn’t written much music using this alternate tuning, but I ended up writing the entire Augenlieder EP in Open D. Some lyrics would pop into my head in German - typically just a small phrase such as the first line of the opening track, it sings “Ich kann nicht fliegen, und meine Träume platzen immer”. Originally I had thought “meine Träume fallen immer”. Later, I used google translate to refine some parts, add new lines that I didn't know how to say in German yet, and find synonyms and other words that just sounded better in song-form. Pretty much all the songs on the Augenlieder EP came out this way. Initially a phrase in German would pop into my head, and then the rest I would piece together with the help of google translate. I finished writing all the songs alone first and then later showed them to friends who helped fix some left-over grammar mistakes!
Which track on the album challenged you the most until you were completely Satisfied? I think it’s gotta be “Allein”. That track had so many layers and different instruments (including lots of violin lines) which really triggered my perfectionism. I had to re-record a few parts that I had poorly engineered at the start to get everything to sit just right, but with the help of my incredible friend and mixing engineer Julia Borelli (who mixed two tracks on the EP - Allein and Immer Noch Berlin), we were able to pull it together to feel exactly how I wanted it!
The EP contains a total of 6 tracks full of fragile beauty and melancholy. Is there one or the other special piece that is particularly close to your heart? Thank you! My favorite track on the whole EP is the title track “Augenlieder”. It was the first song I ever wrote in German, so it was the catalyst for this whole wild German-music adventure that I’m on. The song came to me spontaneously one day while taking a shower (yes, its true, lyric ideas often come as shower-thoughts haha!) and it really caught me by surprise. I didn’t believe I had the ability to write a whole song in German, but at the time, I was having a really hard time coming up with songs in English, so I figured I might as well just try writing it out for fun or as some kind of mind-exercise. About an hour later, the song was finished and it just flowed out so easily. It’s also the song that required the least amount of grammar-edits, and I feel really comforted by the subject-matter.
What I felt about your music and your art was a familiar melancholy. How important is it to you, that these emotions touch other people? I hope that the emotions in my music move and touch those that listen to it. I guess it's one of the fundamental reasons why I make music. Because, one of the greatest gifts i've ever received is feeling moved by music, and now I want to give others that experience as well. I think my music has a quality about it that invites and encourages a listener to let down their defenses and allow themselves to feel different emotions. In a society where only certain happy emotions are celebrated, I think it's important and will create a healthier society if people allow themselves to feel and acknowledge a wider range of emotions within, and I think music is one of the main tools for doing that.
Do you already have ideas for a follow-up project? I am working on another EP (this time in English). However, I do also have about 6 more songs in German which i didn't include on the Augenlieder EP, that I miiiight release depending on how this first German EP is received!
Hiking alone gives me time and space to process and organize my thoughts
Meet Lucy in the Michelberger Hotel on Thursday September 7th in Berlin.
What does Lucy Clearwater do when she’s not writing music or in the studio? Hiking! Especially when I am in California (about half the year) I hike just about every day. Nature is what grounds me and keeps my serotonin pumping. Hiking alone gives me time and space to process and organize my thoughts and feelings, and really helps me get through the week. Other than that, I spend lots of time with friends, host dinner parties, cook or bake, do yoga, and I love community building and bringing people together. Specifically, for the last few years I’ve been hosting these song-share circles both in LA and in Berlin where basically I gather a group of insane songwriters and we share a meal together and then sit around in a big circle in the living room and everyone plays new and sometimes unfinished material for each other, and connect on our shared experiences as songwriters/artists in this industry. What started as a small hang in my living room in LA is now turning into quite the network now with hosts in LA, Berlin, London, and Copenhagen!
Do you follow the releases of your music? Which album or composer made a big impression on you recently? Some artists that have made a big impression on me recently are: Madison Cunningham, Gregory Alan Isakov, Monica Martin, S. G. Goodman, Idan Raichel, John Hartford, Blake Mills, Paolo Nutini, Andy Shauf, Leif Vollebekk, MARO, and so many more! I love listening to music so my list could go on for ages!
What advice would you give to young people who are talented and love to compose music but don’t dare release their music because they think it’s bad or nobody cares? If you have a desire to release the music you’ve made, then it doesn’t matter if you think nobody cares. Because if you care, that’s all that matters. If you want to put it out, put it out! If you truly think it's bad, then work on making it better. You don’t have to think you are a musical genius ALL the time, but I do think it's good to sometimes feel proud of your creations before sharing them with the world. But remember there will always be days where you feel like it's not good enough, even once you’re at a point where the rest of the world clearly thinks you are amazing. As long as there’s moments where you recognize its good, then hold onto those moments, continue to grow, and don’t let the voice that occasionally tells you it's not good enough control your every move. It also all depends on what your goal is with music. Some incredibly talented people just love to make music and don't need to have their music be heard by the masses. If making music brings you all the joy and satisfaction that you want out of it, then there is nothing wrong with keeping it as this beautiful, sacred/personal practice.
You’ll be in Berlin for the release concert soon. Already excited? What else are you going to do in Berlin or Germany? Yes, I am SO excited for the release concert. It’s at Michelberger Hotel on Thursday September 7th and then the EP will drop at midnight! I’m really excited not only to perform but also to get to spend the night with my incredible berlin-family. Since arriving here about 4 months ago, I have felt such a warm welcome into this city and I can't wait to see everyone all together. I just really love people! Some amazing friends of mine will be performing as guest artists, including Lie Ning, Pablo Brooks and The Ocelots. I’m honestly such a fan of each of them and excited I get to see them perform! I even made a small batch of exclusive up-cycled merch, and it's just gonna be a super cute and cuddly night of music and friendship.
Thank you Lucy for the interview. The last words are yours. Thank you so much, André! I’ve loved answering these questions. I am sad to say my stay in Berlin is almost at an end for this year. I’m super grateful for my time here these last new months. I am looking forward to returning again in the spring, and I plan to come back every year, and split my time between Berlin and LA for the foreseeable future :) I hope to see you at the release show on Thursday!