GET TO KNOW: Clinton N
After cementing himself with a flurry of bold and exciting releases over the last few months, which have since amassed him hundreds of thousands of streams in the process, Ireland-based Hong Kong native Clinton N is back once again with his vibrant new offering 'Electric Blues'.
Channelling the same warm and sweeping alt-pop aesthetic he has built for himself, 'Electric Blues' makes for a wonderfully sweet and alluring listen. With his own majestic voice layered amongst a broad and soaring production throughout, he is certainly continuing his upward ascent with this one.
So with the new single available now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has been inspiring him of late.
What was the first band or artist you fell in love with?
I’d say Yiruma kind of started it all for me. I was a classically trained pianist when I was young and I’ve played a lot of classical music that I really enjoyed and loved. However, it was Yiruma’s music that gave me that very first inspiration to create my own melodies and chords. Then the rest is history.
Did you ever form a band when you were younger and if so, what did they
Back in highschool, a couple of friends and I formed a band called “Cafe Mocha”. I was on the keyboards and we had a guitarist and a bassist. It’s funny because we only really got to practice as a group once before we just stopped completely. But during that one session we did a few covers on some of the classics from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park. Looking back it was more like a one-off jamming session and we loved every second of it.
Walk us through the artist process of Clinton N - where did your career
start and were there any inspirations behind this?
Yiruma, Joe Hisaishi and Hans Zimmer being my early musical inspirations, I started out by improvising several piano solo pieces throughout the years. My passion for composing really took off when I relocated from Hong Kong to San Francisco where I wrote a couple of pieces for my high school’s string orchestra. I then went through different musical phases like uplifting trance, dubstep, future bass, lofi, pop and synth pop in terms of what I listen to and what inspired me during college. Now I’m starting to produce music in some of the genres listed above (sometimes a hybrid of a couple). With this being a side hobby currently, everything is made in my bedroom studio here in Ireland where I’d also make my own album art and short videos.
What has been your primary inspiration in writing music?
I’d say listening to different types of new music and artists has been my primary inspiration. Whenever I hear new sounds or elements being used in different & creative ways I feel very inspired to make music and continue to hone my “own sound”. Sometimes inspiration comes from significant and emotional life events where a lot of self-reflecting happens. Or it can also come randomly during sleepless nights while I'm forced to think about nothing and everything until I fall asleep.
How did the idea and production take place for ‘electric blues’ - can you
walk us through the production process?
‘electric blues’ came from one of those self-reflecting moments regarding the age-old saying “you are your own worst critic”. I have been producing music as a side hobby on and off for the past 10+ years and I’d love to make it my main career someday. But I never really seem to be satisfied with my own work. At the same time I do notice improvements when looking back at older songs. When I saw others around me hitting milestones where I’m stuck in an “okay but still not good enough” loop, it made me feel unmotivated and discouraged (the “blues”, if you will). But I tell myself that everyone lives at their own pace and I do know that I’m getting better with each song, so that “electric” feeling of optimism and hope is also there and I’m just constantly trying to embrace and balance both of these emotions.
I started out with a simple motif which you can hear in the first few seconds of ‘electric blues’ and soon came the chord progressions as well as the main melodies. I was inspired by shallou’s mellow sounds and Said the Sky’s lush synths so I tried to capture both in my track which led to a synth pop future bass hybrid arrangement. I then turned my thoughts above into lyrics and after multiple vocal takes, ‘electric blues’ was pretty much created.
What is a song you wish you had written yourself?
Skrillex’s ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’. To me, that song took the electronic music industry by storm. When I first heard that song it was filled with sounds that I’ve never heard of before. It took some time to grow on me but once it did It blew my mind and opened up so many possibilities on how I perceive and make music. I wish I had the originality and creativity to influence, inspire and reshape music on such a massive scale and it’s something I aspire to be able to do one day.
If there was any moment in your career you could relive, what would it be?
The day I played my own first melody on the piano. Up until that point, I’ve been drilled on scales, classical pieces by the big names like Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart etc and to pass the piano exams. Piano and music in general was perceived as a chore and something I was forced to do so I did not enjoy it at all. Then one day, one of my friends showed me a clip of Yiruma’s “River Flows In You” and I instantly fell in love with it as it was so different from the music that I’ve been playing. I jumped into a rabbit hole of all these different music you could play on the piano instead of just classical and one day I just sat down, and improvised my very own first melody inspired by these newfound music. It started everything and ignited my passion for composing and creating. I’ll never forget that feeling.
Which artist would you most love to share a stage with?
I’d love to share a stage with Porter Robinson. Being one of my biggest inspirations, I find his versatility in music beyond impressive. His melodies are always captivating and his sound designs are refreshing. I’ve been following his music since “Spitfire” and everything he puts out just seems genuine and honest. Even more so after “Worlds” and his latest album “Nurture” where every song tells a personal story about him or his feelings. He just has so much fun with his music and you can really feel that energy in his live shows/sets. He also interacts with his listeners and emits so much positive vibes overall. That is someone I’d love to share a stage with someday.
And is there an artist you would love to collaborate with as well?
Porter once again. I just love how he expresses himself with his music. The way he produces is super creative to me and I’m impressed by how he can seamlessly incorporate gaming music and tech into his musical space. His personal story is also very inspiring and I’d love to make some music with him
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Ideally, I would’ve elevated my music production to the next level, have tracks get signed by labels and shape my own distinct sound/style that’s genuine and truly me. Hopefully by then I would’ve been able to collaborate with some of my inspirations and maybe even share the stage with them in small to mid sized intimate gigs. Having a song get on Spotify’s editorial playlist has always been something I wanted to achieve as well so hopefully that would’ve happened (maybe a few times) by then.
Clinton N's new single 'Electric Blues' is available to stream now. Check it out below.