Photographs and feature by Lola Pistola
The primary time I noticed Cowgirl Clue stay, it was type of a cheerful accident. Her music “Utopia” was already part of my Spotify summer time repertoire, and after listening to we’d be enjoying the similar venue for SXSW in Austin, Texas, I had to ensure I was capable of see her set. However, in fact, after 10:00 p.m. any unofficial act is a drunken blob of feelings and getting your gear to the low cost Lodge 6 you copped by way of your Expedia rewards no matter program is the least of your worries — and once I say ‘you’ I mean me. I needed to see Cowgirl Clue. All I keep in mind was finishing my set at the outside patio situated inside the Austin bar and venue, Spider Home, grabbing a drink, and heading in the direction of the indoor stage lured by drum and bass beats that welcomed anybody and everybody who dared not be outdoors for an additional rock band. There, Ashley Calhoun (higher generally known as Cowgirl Clue) commanded the stage with an angle like no different — daring and contained, yet messy and stylish. Cowgirl Clue, as a stay act, is a mix of sounds that goes from tribalistic to bubblegum pop paranoia, a mixture that’s anything but futile. Its an escapade and melodic experience that’s enjoyable and private. Her debut full-length Icebreaker encompasses world rhythm sounds with dance parts in a cohesive manner that makes it undoubtably the “Cowgirl Clue” sound.
Let’s set up slightly bit of background. I was curious — What made you get into music? Did you play any devices as a child or an adolescent? Was there anything that caught your attention and that’s why you started making music?
Cowgirl Clue: Once I was super young, I played keyboard — I acquired a keyboard for Christmas and I did it for fun, overlaying songs and shit. However then once I received just a little older, I took guitar lessons. It was kinda weird as a result of the very first thing [my guitar teacher] stated to me was “So, you want to be a rockstar.” Just about after that, I didn’t need to go anymore as a result of that wasn’t my motivation. I simply needed to play an instrument, like, properly. Then, as I acquired older, I started to play the bass — in all probability once I was fifteen or eighteen. I started a number of random bands, like we’d play one show then we’d cease. I don’t know, I don’t really play that a lot anymore.
Round that point once I was seventeen, I began DJ-ing, making mixtapes and stuff like that as a result of I’ve all the time favored dance music and I hated what DJs would play once I’d exit to a party. Ultimately [I] acquired uninterested in that. I imply, I nonetheless love DJ-ing now, however I feel I needed a break. At the time, I might simply take any gig and I started creating dance nights and stuff like that. I type of wanted a break and started making my very own music and stopped enjoying other individuals’s music so much… that’s how I obtained into music.
Did you curate dance nights deejaying?
Yeah! Yeah, I started some raves in Olympia, Washington and dance nights and played pretty much anything I might play simply to DJ and it turned out to be something I actually favored to do. Once I was younger, I really favored dance music and pop music and I received more into techno as I turned a DJ — the more experimental stuff like that.
You possibly can inform you mix lots of genres. Regardless that it’s dance oriented, there’s lots happening. For instance, I really feel I’ve all the time felt like together with your singles “Utopia” and “TAXI TAXI,” they’re very fast paced and thumping bass — like for those who have been like jumping in a rave. Do you build them up in states and atmospheres inside your music on function?
Yeah, yeah! I feel I make just a little little bit of a theme and I really like creating atmospheres with sound. I wish to have visible content and things individuals can sort of relate to or discover enjoyable. For me, it’s really easy to take a seat at a piano or a synth or perhaps a bass and make that music. The very first thing I’m in all probability gonna play you is some sad tones and stuff, because I don’t know, perhaps it’s as a result of I’m a Scorpio or one thing, nevertheless it’s harder for me to make upbeat pop music. I like the challenge of doing that.
Yeah, that’s like just a little difficult too because if you sit down, it’s simply you and the instrument. Whatever you decide to start out writing first, but then you find yourself making these very difficult songs. There’s quick breaks, drum and bass, [Guinea] Bissau out there. It’s so rhythmic. Like I listened to it like 20 occasions, in all probability extra, because I completely liked the calypso vibe. I assumed it was tropical in the starting, however then it turns to be this older a part of it. How do you blend those collectively because there’s a number of world rhythms — you recognize, like drum and bass, you might have some lure, R&B, hip hop — like there’s just a little little bit of the whole lot…
My objective is to not make each music sound the similar because I need to hold evolving. That’s sort of what Vada Vada [Collective] is to me, which is a collective or genre I’m a part of — whatever you need to think of it as — and a variety of occasions, they’ll just start with the drums and then I’ll see if I can put a cool sound over it, then ultimately transfer onto the bass. I all the time appreciated the loud bass, even when it’s type of quirky. I’ve all the time listened to a whole lot of numerous varieties of music in my life, so I feel I’ve all the time simply taken inspiration from having an open mind or listening to music, and “Buzzz Out” is a very good example of that — lure beats combined with steel drums, and a quirky break down. You recognize, I identical to to have plenty of character with it.
I feel it’s enjoyable simply to completely mirror who you’re as a person at the finish of the day.
I’m nonetheless creating so much, so since this was my first album, I feel it feels good to get it on the market and I’ve a new path. I’m sort of like that individual that may draw something and never take a look at it once more, or make a music and clearly, I might hold enjoying the track but like, I feel that reflects who I’m, or at the least where I was at one [point]. [In my old tape], I used to be making an attempt to discover my sound, what I needed in music, and it was sort of more like an experimental EP, I assume. Things I was going by way of at the time sound more sad. There’s not as many upbeat songs on that EP, however extra fascinating notes or rhythm, I assume. And now I feel like I’m in just a little bit of a greater place. I type of know what I need to do now, at the least for the subsequent few months. I feel my music undoubtedly represents my character.
To point out us some perspective, it’s very totally different now. Such as you’re saying “I see a song and I don’t touch it again,” you are feeling you do the similar with performance and you try to problem yourself to do something totally different once you’re in entrance of a crowd. I keep in mind once I saw you in Austin and it felt like more of a party vibe and also you have been like the dance host and you bought your moves and it appeared slightly bit choreographed. But now, I really feel like I was entrapped on the way you have been letting yourself go, but nonetheless so answerable for these purposeful tunes and throwing yourself into the crowd.
I imply, I’ve been making an attempt to do one thing totally different each show. There are some occasions the place it’s undoubtedly more mushy and dance-y, but typically I might be more aggressive, simply type of depending on my temper. I was just a little sick of that present, so like I don’t know, I’m just gonna let it all go. I’m still in command of the state of affairs and the vibe of the show; I used to be just making an attempt to build off of that and are available out with a special, type of more rock and roll angle.
Yeah, it really came ahead that approach. You have been in the moment, and nonetheless, you have been performing your music.
Yeah, I feel that a few of my songs might be interpreted in several ways. Typically I really need to embrace that bubbly aspect, and typically my core is like a man [who] grew up fairly in a punk angle. That’s sort of how my background with music is so I feel typically, I’ll exhibit that aspect a bit of more, you realize? If somebody pisses me off, I’ll in all probability kick them or whatever, but I’ll additionally like dance and hold their hand at the similar time. I assume it simply is dependent upon the environment. I feel there’s also just room for that in music — there’s no rules. I feel individuals get caught up in the rules that they make for themselves. That’s sort of how I see it.
How did you determine to have your first full size [album’s] theme referred to as Icebreaker and having a track [called Icebreaker] as nicely? The track is very poppy, it has the synth, and your voice is reverbed out. The breakdown half, the bass and the guitars… I really feel prefer it’s like a bit of bit of every thing from the album. Do you assume it’s extra aggressive than most of your songs, like when the drums, bass, beats, and quick breaks are available?
It was an older track, nevertheless it’s gone by way of tons of transformation, particularly the most up-to-date model of it sounds so totally different from the first model. I added the guitar as a last-minute determination, however for “Icebreaker,” I needed to have more of a Okay-pop inspired guitar, or like baby metallic, Japanese pop, identical to bizarre distortion sounding songs. I feel it’s sort of like breaking the ice and I feel that might be a superb title for my first album. I feel it demonstrates a nice number of sounds and is also simply playful. I assumed it will be a cute addition to perhaps an album as nicely.
Such as you stated, you’re like “I get to have it out there. Now, onto the next.” What’s your process like once you’re writing songs? Are you continually doing so? What’s your yr like? What’s your life like?
Nicely, it’s picked up rather a lot in the final couple of years and I’ve labored a number of jobs all through my life. I’ve moved to California a couple years in the past, and that’s when this venture kind of began and I ended deejaying. Every single day is pretty dang totally different. Like, I really like enjoying exhibits, so if I can play a show, I’m often pretty stoked. As far as writing goes, often, I’ll sit there and attempt to push the track, and if nothing’s popping out, then I attempt to not pressure it. It’s just frustrating. Like, sitting there. Typically I feel I have this concept of what I need to do after which I sit at the keyboard or at a computer and it’s not coming out. I don’t know what it is. I’ll write down the concept and come back to it one other day, or perhaps by no means come again to that concept at all. On different days, I’ll simply make like 5 songs in like three days or one thing — when you get in the groove of issues and follow rather a lot, that’s when the greatest comes out of what I do.
Yeah, it’s undoubtedly discovering your personal pace while writing — discovering the right sound.
I feel it took me a very long time to actually know what sort of music I even needed to play as a result of I’ve bounced forwards and backwards between making experimental music, punk music, dance pop, and electronic, so I assume that’s why I finally really feel like I’m sort of stepping extra into what I need to share with individuals now, [in comparison to] what I did a couple years ago.
It’s an excellent, comfortable medium. It’s essential to take your time and look all over the place once you’re making music. No matter what your placing up, simply continue writing.
Totally. Oh yeah, you’re a musician. You get it.
I’ve experienced this as nicely. I don’t even know learn how to clarify it. From my personal expertise, if I can’t exit and perform at a show, I might be completely misplaced. There’s no approach and I don’t see there being another means, which is so loopy! Like what am I going to do?
I begin to really feel like I’ve a lot balled up and I’m like “I need to play a show soon.” And even with writing musically: “I really need to write!” It will depend on if I begin slacking off and clearly [that’s sometimes] the case. At the similar time, so far as artistic processes go, I used to be simply serious about this, however typically, if someone’s like “if someone’s moved to LA, I’ve got a lot of people who really want to come and hang out in the studio or something.” If I did that, I feel like I might never write music. It’s simply so private to me with my process and how I’m going about it and stuff. If I’m on the spot, then it’s a load of strain. I like to do issues solo.
Do you make all of your music on a computer digitally? Do you employ a keyboard? What’s your hardware like? What do you employ?
Properly, for many of it, I exploit GarageBand, then I switched over to Logic pretty close to the end of this album and I was so excited to modify over as a result of I feel like it opened up a variety of doors. I used Ableton and truthfully, my mind wasn’t prepared for it. I don’t know I’m simply not an Ableton individual. Once I received Logic, I was capable of buff every part up and superb tune it — there was extra room to grow, so now I do rather a lot. Recording, I simply perform a little in a tape recorder, after which I just often report every thing one monitor at a time. I often start with drums or drum loops after which sort of go from there. “Icebreaker,” as an example, is an excellent instance; the music sounds tremendous totally different from once I first [made it]. I’ve been enjoying that track for perhaps like a yr or two and that track first started out as the intro and I’d throw it in my set as an interlude, and then I started to construct a music off of it. Then from there, I listened to it, and in the direction of the end of the album, I noticed it doesn’t even really fit and I had already determined that I was going to name my album Icebreaker. I felt prefer it was just a little witty identify for a first album. So, I went back and I took out a bunch of the drop elements, so on the refrain there are little bubbly synth sounds which might be after each measure. Then I added guitar and was like “now this is fitting the album and I really like the song.” Each track just goes via transformations and a few don’t make it, however some do.
I was simply curious as a result of even at the show you performed at Trans-Pecos, there were so many genres beneath the similar roof — do you are feeling like your id and your position as a female musician and producer makes it simpler to get away with enjoying dance music at rock exhibits? I feel it’s a pleasant thing because youngsters come from such totally different backgrounds and luxuriate in so many kinds of music.
Yeah, undoubtedly. The web, for many who use it, is a very good software to seek out new music and now we now have all these apps like Spotify and stuff that introduces new music on their algorithms and stuff like that. I undoubtedly do fall more into that just because I began with dwelling down the road from Burger Data once I was in California. They turned my associates and I went to exhibits, and I placed on my cape with them, so I really feel like I undoubtedly played more exhibits with bands — like extra rock bands and whatnot. I want to play with extra artists that align extra [with me], but I feel it’s like a problem to get like a rock crowd to start out dancing, particularly being a feminine with totally different themes. I feel lots of people for a long time simply type of laughed at me once I introduced DJs to an indie present, or no matter. I might play totally free or no cash as a result of I didn’t even know — I just needed to play. So I feel, as I’ve established myself as a feminine [musician] and once I play exhibits at Trans-Pecos, I feel these sort of like frustrations may come by means of extra. I feel that everybody has rage and especially ladies can have rage and it’s good to not just all the time be so… you already know, we’re dwelling in a time where anything is good and something can occur due to the web, and you may delete anything you possibly can. I feel it’s necessary to point out your full aspect as a performer as a result of it exhibits that you simply’re a real individual, you recognize, that type of factor.
I felt like that was such an fascinating method of placing things — it’s like all the things was a special soundscape, between electronic music [and more], nevertheless it felt like the similar power as whenever you go to see any rock band, individuals are still doing the similar thing. I haven’t seen that in so long, which was great.
I feel proper now too, there’s identical to far more of an curiosity in DJ tradition and electronic music, and there hasn’t really been a time for that type of music in a very long time, so there’s simply a variety of room to grow. It’s fascinating to see a lineup at like Trans-Pecos, to see what individuals are doing in that sort of like minimal gear, digital sounds, and having all these totally different kinds of aesthetics for a night and it’s enjoyable.
Come to consider it, human interaction is so restricted to our phones now and having that reaction to satisfy digital music and digital music these days is simply so regular and so in touch with what we do daily.[Electronic music] hasn’t been in style since the 90’s, extra on like a tangible aspect of issues. There hasn’t been lots of Diplo, like a whole lot of dubstep and stuff like that, but I assume it’s really like in a more DIY means, so it’s fascinating to see how individuals are doing that. And yeah, it is like a punk type of angle just like once you go to a punk show or a hardcore present — it could actually feel the similar.
Yeah, properly thank god there’s not that many people anymore and that wave rides in the next 10 years because there’s nonetheless a really vibrant and reside, highly effective, underground, digital scene [and you can see] the mixture of both. The best way you do it, for instance, you’re associated with The Garden and there’s also Viagra Boys. Have you ever listened to Viagra Boys? At first, you see them and you assume they’re gonna scream in your face they usually’re a dance group. They’re a dance group. They’re dance-y. They’re like very rudimentary — it’s nice. It’s like… I feel like it’s essential.
I’ve all the time type of seen rock and roll and punk with extra of an angle. I imply, I’ve seen one million bands that I don’t even like, but if they will deliver a certain angle, it exhibits interest. Some individuals will go out with their seems, and you then’re like “wow, this is kind of disappointing.” It can be used properly, or it could possibly be used in a weird approach.
Comply with Cowgirl Clue on Spotify, Soundcloud, Instagram, and Twitter. ‘Icebreaker’ is out now.