Here’s a riddle for you: what do you get when you combine a golden falcon, the delectable sounds of the house and techno persuasion, and one pair of magical white gloves? The answer of course is Claptone, the living definition of a riddle in the form of a music producer and DJ. His anonymity is a puzzle piece that has helped place him at the top of his field, his aviary – the world stage.
Though he needs little introduction, the extensive resume that Claptone boasts (including international festivalsElrow, Hideout, and Tomorrowland) has seen this masked genius collaborate with some of the best musicians in the world, and jump from strength to strength in less than 6 years. The most incredible thing about this charismatic musician? His infectiously humble attitude toward his career, and creative process. Early on in my conversation with Claptone it becomes clear that his intentions lie with a wholesome, genuine, and happy lifestyle, with or without the thousands of masked fans who follow him.
On the cusp of releasing his upcoming album Fantast and touring the world, Claptone took the time to chat with us before embarking on his world tour, and while you can do your best psychoanalysing his spelling and grammar in the hopes of identifying some common characteristic of a certain nationality or representation of identity, I think it’s best just to enjoy Claptone as ‘it’ is, in its entirety. Oh and you best read this one with a glass of wine and an open mind, because you’ll likely find yourself pondering the meaning of life throughout.
Where in the world are you at the moment, and most importantly, does the mask fit in your carry on or do you check it in your luggage?
Hey there, I am writing you from atop Mount Kosciuszko, a lovely National Park in New South Wales. I have found inspiration in these peaks; divine and solemn. After all these years, my golden mask has seemingly become part of me, an extension of my body. And I always travel light, hand luggage only, no checking in.
An easy question to ask you first and foremost is ‘why the mask’, so rather, I’d like to know whether the mask enables you to be authentically and unapologetically your own creative self, or whether it hinders you in the sense that you feel like you have to align with the type of genre that ‘Claptone’ would explore.
I don’t think wearing a mask or not makes much of a difference in what freedom you have when making music. Authenticity is a dangerous word, because it implies that everything one does follows a certain rule deeply implemented into one’s body and mind and that these rules can not be changed altered or broken unless you’re not ‘staying real‘ or not being ‘true to yourself’.
But even if you – contrary to the common use of the word – define it as a more flexible concept: Authenticity in music today is nothing but a straight up lie. And people need to wake up on that.
When you look at Bruce Springsteen and you see the honest hard working guy from next door that he is, you are indeed tempted to think he’s an authentic musician, doing solely what he wants, being in charge of everything, having everything the way he wants it to be. But I am sorry to disappoint you. For one Bruce has his team and they work together on things, secondly, the way you perceive Bruce is by an image which media and his team created for himself. So when you think about a spectrum of authenticity, starting with Bruce Springsteen as very authentic on the left, Michael Jackson in the middle and Daft Punk as a mere – sweat free – concept on the right, you are surely wrong. It’s a bit more complex.
David Byrne in his brilliant book ‘How Music Works’ states ‘The meme of the solitary genius is powerful’ and diagnosis that in the modern age we are after the genius performer instead of acknowledging that music is most of all a communal effort. More than ever music is something that we work on together. Look at the songwriting credits of many of today’s number one hits where you find up to 15 names credited to have written one song. But not only that, music gets licensed to record label who promotes it, you have social media and specialized agencies. Music is everything but brought to you by a hard-working genius, who stays true to his inner voice. All that didn’t prevent me from writing a ballad for my new album Fantast though.
The relationship you have with your audience may sometimes feel like a one-sided love affair, I suppose because of your anonymity. Do you feed off of your live performances and your interaction with audiences and fans, or would you rather spend all your time alone in the studio?
Just because I don’t allow glimpses into my sparse private life doesn’t mean I am ignorant towards my supporters. On the contrary, I communicate with them through the essence of life that is music. Why would I bore them with details about my diet or my love life? And don’t be fooled; I take in each resonating vibration and gleaming smile that the lovely people bestow upon me during my concerts, and file each of these unique connections away in the depths of my creative subconscious. When the time comes to create a new album, I unlock this hidden chest and let these treasured moments spill out: like paint, oozing and dripping over a virgin canvas.
Your relationship with music seems like a very spiritual one, do you have quite a formulaic creative process when creating new music, and do you find inspiration from basically everywhere?
In the beginning, there was sound. The Bible describes it as God’s voice, a mere resonance that created everything we can think of today. No wonder I am inspired by the many wonders that this planet has to offer – the crashing waves of our oceans, the delicate bending of our trees and the perpetual rising and setting of the sun. So much beauty rests in everyday life. People would be amazed and marvel at its wonders if they would only put down their iPhones.
Your last album Charmer seemed to focus a lot on romanticism, falling in love, and the charismatic enigma that is Claptone’s experience with love. Does your upcoming album Fantast, while still revolving around themes of love and relationship with tracks sucks as ‘Stay The Night’ and ‘In The Night’, have a darker and less optimistic tone?
I see Charmer more as a brief introduction of my character and Fantast as taking them (the audience) with me on my path which now leads to the great outdoors. It’s no secret that I am an unashamed romantic, having blindly fallen in love too many times to count. Themes of love and tones of romanticism will always be present in my creative work. Fantast sure reaches deeper than my first album but it has another more defining different quality: I venture in nature, I face the elements and try to unveil the truth about my non-human traits of character; you could say I am chasing the animal in me, facing my demons. But at the same time, there are positive, dreamy and beautiful moments on Fantast which can turn a dark forest into a fairytale garden from one moment to the other.
The Fantast tour sees you travelling all over the world, from Dubai to Brazil; is there one particular city you’re visiting that holds a special place in your heart and that you’re looking forward to getting back to?
After doing this for quite some time, you start to realise that the best part – truly the greatest part – of the travelling, is not the cities and places, but the people that inhabit them. With this privileged, wide-ranging perspective, you are able to see firsthand that everyone should be equal and respectful towards each other and their rich cultures, that beauty is in the ordinary and that emotion is universal.
Claptone’s dream collaboration?
There’s not only one and some of the dreams came true on Fantast when I worked with Kele from Bloc Party, Joan As A Policewoman, Austra and many other great artists that I can now cross off my long list.
What do you do in your downtime, how will you be relaxing after you tour this highly anticipated upcoming album?
Downtime, what a beautiful concept! Moments of time that are reserved purely to myself are few and far between, but when they do occur, I cherish them like precious gold. I often spend these rare moments on my sailboat, drifting peacefully, to wherever the tide brings me. You should try it every once in a while.
Claptone 2018 Australian Tour Dates
Friday 27th April: Groovin The Moo – Wayville SA
Saturday 28th April: Groovin The Moo – Maitland NSW
Sunday 29th April: Groovin The Moo – Canberra Friday 4th May: Masquerade Ball @ Roundhouse, Sydney Saturday 5th May: Groovin The Moo – Bendigo VIC Saturday 5th May: Masquerade Ball at Velodrome – Coburg North, Melbourne Sunday 6th May: Groovin The Moo, Townsville Friday 11th May: Masquerade Ball @The Met, Brisbane Saturday 12th May: Groovin The Moo – Bunbury WA Saturday 12th May: Masquerade Ball @ Metro City, Perth Sunday 13th May: Masquerade Ball @ La Laguana, Bali