claire rousay’s music examines the granular details of life and documents them through field recordings, ambient resonance, and text-to-speech narration of love letters. With atmospheric sounds and emotions laid bare, the work invokes still, quiet reverence and reflection. rousay spoke to PR’s Braden Wells ahead of her headlining Sound Room debut on Fri 7.22 to chat emo influences, collaborations, and finding beauty in the smaller things.
You’ve coined the genre you work within as ‘emo ambient’, drawing influence from, and perhaps arguing for a tonal throughline amongst both genres. A playlist of favs on your Spotify profile includes Lil Tracy, blackbear + Lil Peep. How do these influences show up in your work?
Emo ambient is basically the marrying of like emotional rock music and then also like the emotional music that has been influenced by emo music — and it could be more like emo-influenced R&B, or hip-hop, or the newer things like the blackbear and the Lil Tracy that are in the playlist. That playlist of my favorite songs was literally just a playlist that I made with the feeling of “this playlist makes me feel invincible”. So that’s one part of it. But how those influences specifically show up in the work, I don’t know. I really like how, you know, these artists married emo music and R&B or hip-hop or whatever. I was thinking of a way that I can extend that to slower music or ambient music or something along those lines. I like the idea of combining things like emotional music or emo music with pretty direct lyrics and feelings associated with it. And then matching that with ambient music, which is pretty open to interpretation, on a case-by-case basis. There’s a lot of people doing it. Amulets and More Eaze are the two other artists that kind of came up with that term.
Field recordings are an essential aspect of your work. Recordings of running water, keyboard clicks, wind, and atmospheric rustling show up in your songs. The listening experience evokes a meditative stillness and a reverence for deep observation. What about naturally occurring sounds is moving to you?
I don’t know, I feel like finding beauty in smaller things is nice. I don’t really know much about the world, so kind of going in instead of looking out is a little bit easier sometimes. Figuring out how one small thing works rather than how you play your part in the whole and being the small part, I guess. More interesting to me. It’s also easier to assess other objects and mundane, or quote unquote mundane sounds as opposed to the big picture.
On your latest album “Never Stop Texting Me”, and on a new single “Overcast”, you’ve collaborated with the likes of More Eaze, Bloodz Boi and How To Dress Well — how did these collaborations come about?
Yeah, I talk and play with More Eaze a lot and Bloodz Boi more so now — we have an EP coming out soon. And the How To Dress Well thing was kind of like a one-off track with Bloodz Boi. I’m just a fan of all those people’s music and they do a lot of pop music that has been influencing me a lot lately. So maybe there will be more music that is influenced by that or sounds like that. But More Eaze I’ve been collaborating with for 10 years or something like that and Bloodz Boi, we met on the internet and same with Tom — we met Tom through Instagram.
On Friday, you’ll be making your headlining debut in The Sound Room. How does your work, which feels so intimate and personal, shift in the context of performance with an audience?
I don’t know, I don’t think the work really shifts at all. The whole reason I kind of make things is to connect with other people or, you know, communicate something that I’m feeling with another person that might be able to also feel that thing or something similar and kind of relate to it. And doing it in a live setting is almost more ideal because it’s more immediate and you can kind of see and gauge the reaction of people there and kind of adjust accordingly. It’s different than making a record. But I’m really excited to be making my headlining debut in The Sound Room — I will be singing.