21-year-old alt-pop singer Clairo, aka Claire Cottrill, is currently on tour to support her debut album “Immunity,” which she released in early August. On “Immunity,” Clairo blends together beautiful lyrics with light, airy melodies, and explores her queerness through her song “Sofia.”
I had the opportunity to attend and photograph Clairo’s sold-out show at Brooklyn Steel on November 4th, where she opened up the concert with a passionate performance of “Alewife,” a song about a night of suicidal thoughts during early teenagehood in Massachusetts. “But you know you saved me from doin’/ Something to myself that night,” she sang.
In October, Clairo told PAPER magazine that she did not want to write a sad song, which I will say Alewife is not. It’s much more than that. It’s a song with sad elements, sure, but it’s an emotion-filled experience that left me with a feeling — not of resolve or hope, because hope is far too cliche for Clairo and resolve isn’t how mental health works — but of okay-ness.
On Immunity, Clairo tends to dive into deep, emotion-packed themes. Alewife is the rule, not the exception. Her song “Sofia” highlights her own exploration with sexuality. On July 26th, the day she released the single, Clairo composed a multi-tweet Twitter thread explaining “Sofia.”
‘sofia’ is about my first ever crushes on women i saw in the media. people like sofia coppola, sofia vergara, etc. this was my way of making a celebratory song about this discovery while maintaining the cheesy/corny lyrics you’d normally find in songs where you profess your love
the actual explanation of the song is pretty minimal- it just captures a moment in my life but instead of hiding it, it’s expressed in an almost ‘explosive’ manner.
‘i think we could do it if we tried … know that you and i shouldn’t feel like a crime’
knowing what you want but feeling scared to reach out for it. but if you tried, you could have it (re: a relationship w/ a woman)
It continues, but you get the idea: Clairo’s “Sofia” addresses her queerness in a slightly cheesy but catchy and upbeat way. In April, she told Out Magazine that she still is unsure how to define her sexuality but does know one thing: it’s “not straight.” She continued, saying that she doesn’t think there are enough “happy, dance-y songs that are meant for girls who like girls.” AMEN. Clairo, please make more!
There was a brief pause between “Sofia” and the next song, in which a group of teenage girls somehow emerged in front of me, almost magically, and loudly debated what song would be next. “It’s Bags,” I said directly to my friend, without hesitation; I looked up the setlist before the concert began. And almost as if on cue, the familiar melody of “Bags” filled the venue. The teenage girls let out a small shrill, exclaiming, “IT’S BAGS!” and re-emerged back into the crowd.
I will say, Clairo knows her fanbase skews a bit younger and told PAPER magazine that’s partly why she wanted to address so many deep, important topics on “Immunity.” She wants to be a role model and is extremely comfortable taking on an older sibling role for her younger fans.
Clairo’s rise to fame is an interesting story that truly plays homage to society’s current obsession with internet culture. In 2017, Clairo uploaded a very simple video of her song “Pretty Girl” onto Youtube, one that she recorded on her laptop’s webcam with her headphones in. The video takes place in her childhood bedroom as she dances silly, playfully taking her sunglasses on and off. Clairo told The FADER that when she made the video, she was having a terrible day. She had on makeup from the night before and could barely look at herself in the mirror, but it was perfect. Now, the video has over 42 million views.
After finishing her set, Clairo exited the stage for a few minutes, leaving the audience to stew in a mix of anxious excitedness, as anyone who attends concerts these days knows a concert is incomplete without multiple encores. “Pretty Girl” served as Clairo’s second encore and the iconic music video played in the background during her live performance.
This is just the beginning for the queer musical icon-in-the-making.