Following the release of her latest single “Is It Me?” and EP 3AM earlier this month and with her hit song “Blinding Lights” having already been streamed more than 50,000 times on Spotify, there’s no doubt that Crystal Clayton is certainly well on the way to making quite a name for herself. As she looks to a bright future, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to chat artistic inspirations, the power of social media and what, many years from now, she’d most like to be remembered for.
TITL: Please introduce yourself in a few words.
Crystal Clayton: My name is Crystal Clayton and I am an independent pop music recording artist/ songwriter
TITL: Has music always been the career goal for you or did you have other ambitions before embarking on this journey?
CC: I’ve wanted to be a singer since I was a kid. When I was young, I was constantly dancing and singing around the house. I wanted to have a voice like Celine Dion. As I grew up, I started taking voice lessons and performing in theaters and shows. I began writing songs when I was a teenager and I was hooked. There has never been a plan B. I’ve always wanted a career in music.
TITL: Which artists and bands are you most inspired and influenced by, and what is it about the music they make that you like so much?
CC: I try to be unique and true to myself, but there are several artists I’m very much influenced by. Growing up, like I said, I was obsessed with Celine Dion and also Mariah Carey. I just loved powerful voices and I tried to emulate that. Over recent years I have been heavily influenced by Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Right now I’m listening to a lot of SZA and Banks! I think I take bits and pieces of what I listen to and create my own version of the music I love.
TITL: Is there one particular artist you might say you’re in any way similar to?
CC: I had a gentlemen with Music Is My Radar review my new project and he said the most relatable artist he could think of would be Rihanna. But I think this project is definitely more R&B/pop than some of my previous material that has been much more strait forward pop. I really can’t pin-point one specific artist that I’m like.
TITL: If you had to give one reason as to why you stand out among your artistic counterparts, what would you say?
CC: What I love about the music I create is that it is catchy and it is pop music, but I give the lyrics life and authenticity. My lyrics are emotionally driven because I am a very emotional person. I like to infuse my love of R&B with my love of pop music.
TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing? With that in mind, could you choose what you feel is the greatest song ever written?
CC: Growing up my parents had me listening to a lot of classic rock. I loved Boston, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Eagles… I believe hands down that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the best song ever written. The range of emotions in intonation, vocally and instrumentally is one of a kind. There is a lot of current music that I often think to myself “I wish I had written that song”. Rihanna’s 2016 album, ‘Anti’ is a masterpiece. I also really love Kehlani’s new album ‘While We Wait’ as well as ‘CTRL’ by SZA. I like to think that my musical taste is well rounded…I just love music. I’m influenced by oldies and also current music.
I’m also very much influenced by my own life experiences. I can easily look back on situations from my past and draw from those experiences. Even if it’s been a while since the relationship or event took place, my empathy and ability to feed on those emotions helps me write.
TITL: What made you choose “Is It Me?” to be your lead single? Is there a particular story behind the song?
CC: “Is It Me?” was actually a very easy song for me to write. It’s about that excited feeling you get when you believe in what you’re doing and you know that good things are in the future. It’s just a feel good song with feel good vibes. I was able to share that excitement with my producer and team and we just made a happy song.
I think I chose “Is It Me?” because it resonated well with a lot of friends I shared it with. They liked the energy of the song and it’s also a bit more pop than some of the other songs on this project.
TITL: This is also your first release since moving from Kansas City to LA. Why did you decide that now was the right time to do so and how have you found the transition?
CC: I was actually hoping to put the project out before I left Kansas City, but things were not coming together quickly enough, and I wanted to wait until after the holidays. I just figured, this is a new beginning for me, so why not release a new project that somewhat re-brands what I’ve done so far.
I found myself very stagnant in the Kansas City music scene. I was born in LA and brought to the Midwest when I was very young, and I had always dreamed of moving back out here. I got to the point where it was like, ‘just take that risk! Just follow that dream, what do you have to lose?’ The transition has been an adventure! I still haven’t fully immersed myself into the LA music scene, but it’s coming along. I’m still the new kid trying to get the hang of things around here.
TITL: “Is It Me?” features on your new EP 3AM which came out earlier this month. For those who haven’t heard it yet, how would you sum it up?
CC: 3:AM has many different layers to it. I think it’s an extension of myself, as a young woman, coming into her own. There is a common element in a lot of my music that has this sense of reaching towards aspirations, and big dreams that you can’t seem to let go of. I think that some elements of 3:AM also have that. There’s the confidence of ‘Is It Me?’, the sexiness of “Mine” and “Falter”, the heartbreak of “3:AM”, and then there is “Pieces” that show’s my vulnerability. In that song I’m really just saying, sometimes I’m not okay and really I’m just barely keeping this all together, but I HAVE to keep going. I think that a lot of people can relate to this project and that’s what I strive for.
TITL: Do you have a favourite track on the collection and if so, which is it and why?
CC: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite because each one is special to me in its own way. Each song captures a different moment and experience. I think, for me, “3:AM” is one that really resonates well. I think that song is my best work lyrically, and that a lot of people can relate to it. We’ve all been in relationships that we know in the back of our minds will not last, but we continue on because we’re in love.
TITL: Will you be/are you touring/performing in support of the EP and if so, where can people come and see you?
CC: I haven’t started planning a tour yet. I have been focusing on promotion of the project and performing around my new city, LA. You can keep updated with performances and music by following me on social media and my website; @criddleclayton and www.crystalclayton.com.
TITL: Given that your hit song “Blinding Lights” has so far been streamed more than 60,000 times and your audience online is growing considerably, how do you feel about social media? Do you think society and the music industry is perhaps too reliant on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, or do you believe such platforms are now vital tools, given the technology-obsessed world we live in?
I’m really proud of how well “Blinding Lights” has done. I think that social media and streaming helped ‘Blinding Lights’ get the attention that it has. I do believe as a society we spend too much time on our phones and on social media. The internet completely lost it when Instagram went down for a day a couple weeks ago. But, it is the way of the future and it’s not going anywhere. I think as a business person – and music is a business – it’s smart to find ways to use these tools to your advantage and engage with people through social media. It’s such a huge market and you can reach people you probably never could have before. It’s vital to a music career in 2019.
TITL: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
CC: The rest of this year I’m hoping to release some music videos, perform at some awesome shows here in LA, release some more new music later this year, and hopefully do a small tour run!
TITL: Finally then, as you continue to make your mark on the industry, looking many years down the line, what’s the one thing you’d like people to remember or recall when they think about you and your music? What message or legacy do you want to leave for the current and future generations?
CC: I just hope that people will remember authenticity from me. My music is vulnerable and real. I write music for myself, and what I like; and I hope that people can relate and resonate with it.