Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's new home for exclusive music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
"I'm Not Her" probably took over your Spotify recommendations at the end of last year, but artist Clara Mae has more to the story. Last month, she released her follow up single "I Forgot," which also takes place in the aftermath of a breakup. Rather than lamenting over an ex that's moved on, "I Forgot" is for when you run into that ex four years later, and all the powerful feelings come back. However, Clara Mae's take on the heartbreak has an empowering message, and is the perfect anthem for anyone who finds themselves falling back into old traps and relationships that stop them from being their best selves. Now, the music video for the single is premiering right here on Refinery29, and adds another layer to this all-too-familiar story.
Ahead, we spoke to Clara Mae about what it's like to make art that's so personal, how the music video for "I Forgot" came together, and how she ended up here in the first place.
How did you get started in music?
I grew up in a musical family in a small town in Sweden called, Gävle. My father is a music producer and a singer, and was a part of a band during the 80’s. I became very intrigued by his work at a young age. We had a studio in our home and I found myself constantly hanging out in there, writing and recording my own songs by the age of 10. I went on to study jazz music for 3 years in high school before I signed my first publishing deal and moved to Stockholm to write music full time. I was able to find my sound through writing for a lot of different genres and artists. I predominantly wrote for electronic producers such as David Guetta, Tiesto, KREAM and Martin Jensen, but felt personally connected to pop music and knew I was ready to begin my own career as a solo artist releasing music under this genre. I signed to my label, Big Beat/Atlantic Records in 2017 and have released two singles since, “I’m Not Her” and “I Forgot”.
Who are the artists who made you decide to become a musician?
I’m a product of the 90’s, so I listened to A LOT of pop music growing up. I idolized girl groups like the Spice Girls & TLC and had every Backstreet Boys & Hanson CD on rotation. Outside of those groups I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Robyn. I sang her song “Do You Really Want Me” a bit too many times in front of the mirror.
How would you describe your style as an artist?
I make pop music with electronic sensibility aka electro-pop. Electronic music will always be part of my DNA, so I’m happy the two genres are so connected in today’s music and I can stay true to my roots. I’m a romantic junkie, so emotional lyrics about relationships will always be a theme in my songs. Lyrics are the foundation to my music – I start with a concept and build the melodies around that!
What was your inspiration for this video?
“I Forgot” is a lyrical and visual extension of my debut release “I’m Not Her”, both of which I wrote and are personal to my life. “I Forgot” is about when you see your ex for the first time in a while, at an inconvenient time and place – in my case, at a party 4 years after a breakup. You thought you were over him, but then all the feelings come rushing back and it feels like you’ve never been apart. Then he starts to show his true colors and you realize he’s still the same person you once left, so for a minute you just "forgot".
The characters are consistent in both videos. It was important for me to play the main female role, because of my personal connection to the lyrics. I think you can really sense the emotion through the video, because for the most part, I felt like I wasn’t even acting, but more so reliving real life experiences on camera.
What do you think the video communicates that isn’t said in the song?
Through lyrics, listeners can make their own interpretation of a story, which is great, but since this song is personal to my life, I wanted to portray a version the way I intended it to be understood.
Some people that have listened to my song, think that “I Forgot” is referring to forgetting how much you like a someone (an ex) after seeing them for the first time in a while, but the real message is that emotion temporarily masks your judgement, making you ‘forget’ for just a second why your ex was/is no good for you.
You can see the inner conflict my character is struggling with, rather than just hearing it, having to assume the outcome.
It has a pretty surprising ending. Why was that an important choice?
As a female artist, I’m given the opportunity to show empowerment through my lyrics. I think most viewers expect me to succumb to lust and let my emotions get the best of me – so demonstrating the power to walk away at the end of the video was an important message I wanted my fans to see.
Was it difficult to star in a video about something so personal?
Of course. It’s hard enough to write and share personal lyrics with the world, much less act them out. But I couldn’t see another person portraying my story. In a way, it’s very therapeutic to re-live these moments and see them played back on camera.
Who were the other people in the video?
LA based actor, Ky Mahone, plays my ex-boyfriend in both this video and the video for “I’m Not Her”. Rosie Trujillo, who is also an LA based actor, plays my best friend in this video. Rosie did a fantastic job of capturing the essence of a best friend, who knows your entire story and will always step in right away to help when they see you need it.
What’s next for you?
More music! I just spent a month in LA recording a lot of new music that I’m so excited to share. I’m also going to begin playing live shows, including performing at some great festivals in Europe and Asia this summer.
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