The music of Claptone produces a sound that I can honestly say I can lose myself to. Though the existence of Claptone has been around for some time, I first heard this mesmerizing sound while watching the Ultra Music Festival live stream earlier this year. After that, I became an instant fan. I had the privilege to interview the masked being recently and we discussed the details of his new album and tried to reveal some of the mystery that is… Claptone.
First off, I’d like to say I’m honored to have this interview. My first time hearing you, I had the Ultra live stream playing in the background earlier this year. I literally stopped everything I was doing because I was mesmerized by your sound. Is mesmerizing your audience the reasoning behind the title of your new album, “Charmer”?
Yes in a way. You can listen to the album and to different people at different stages. The music on ‘Charmer‘ has a different but charming effect. I like the connotations of that word, which are positive overall… but there is a slightly darker, almost dangerous… deeper end to it. For some it’s just a nice soundtrack to whatever they’re doing. For others, it feels really good and touches their souls. And then there’s those who fall under it’s spell completely. They dance to my beats like the snake to the flute of the snake charmer. But fear me not, I mean well. Claptone is about bringing people together through music on an emotional level and there’s no harm in that.
“Charmer” features artists from all over the world. Was featuring a global sound part of the planning that went into the album?
I am a child of this planet and I don’t feel part of any scene, tribe or nation for that matter. Traveling keeps me open-minded and mentally flexible. I do not only accept diversity… I love it, I feed from it. When I contacted singers, I did not ask where they’re from. I asked, ‘do they matter to me, does their music matter to me? Would their lyrics and performances help me to spell out the Claptone universe? I didn’t want any studio singers. I wanted characters. Artists like Jimi Tenor, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Peter Björn and John, Jay-Jay Johanson or Young Galaxy, they give my music a voice. And I really mean that. When playing their music I didn’t supply any guidelines as to how the lyrics should be or anything. What they came back with from writing was a revelation. Everything just fell into place. It instantly felt like the words fit my music, they added the emotional as well as social and at times political layer – which was needed.
One of these artists is Jaw, who is featured on the huge hit ‘Dear Life’. You previously worked with him before. What do you enjoy about Jaw that made you want to bring him back onto another track?
Jaw has a unique voice filled with funk, soul and life’s experience. He is one of these characters. And with Jaw there was an instant musical connection that you couldn’t deny. His voice and Claptone music they are made for each other. I work with him because together we can touch people.
I love how a lot of your tracks bring out the sound of the piano. Are you fluent in the ways of the piano? Or are you restricted to the turntables and magic wand?
Apart from the fact that I restrict my means on purpose to enlighten my creativity, I don’t find that question relevant. To answer it, allow me to approach from a different angle. My music feeds from inspirations grown in my mind and my body translates it into the sonic universe. But I have my preferences of course. I like my sound organic and dirty, it aims to be human like I do. Besides Rhodes and Piano the Bass is a very important instrument for me. I start with the groove and work on it until I fall in love with it, until my body moves. Then I add the soul, the heartfelt drama, the emotions. The result needs to get through that layer of everyday pink noise which we cover ourselves in day-by-day, and reach you to fulfill it's purpose. If I achieve that, then I’m a fluent musician and a magician. if I go beyond that then I am a ‘Charmer‘.
How did the design of the Mask come to be? Were you a bird in a past life?
I was given this mask a very long time ago. It must have been decades, it’s very hard for me to recall what exactly happened or what I just imagine in retrospect. I am pretty sure that I am, but what exactly remains a mystery to me to this day. I aim to be human though and music helps me. What I can say is that the golden mask I wear resembles the shape of a plague doctor's mask and at the same time has a Venetian origins. Culture and religion are powerful but dangerous tools. They do inspire me nonetheless.
The mask, the black and white, the shadow, the mystery. Would you consider yourself the “Phantom Of Dance Music”?
I am Claptone and I am happy if people take me into consideration in general. I have never been one for labels, so I leave it up to you to label me.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview! I can’t wait for the album release and to hopefully catch you in person someday.
Thanks for making me reflect on certain things. Looking forward to be close to you in sound.
Posted by Claptone on Friday, October 16, 2015
“Charmer” is available now via Different Recordings. Grab yourself a copy and charm your soul!