Indie Scene Spotlight: Claire Gohst Talks Paper Citizen’s Evolving Sound BC Exclusive: Interview with Clair Gohst of Paper Citizen
LOS ANGELES, CA- In the vibrant mosaic of the Los Angeles music scene, my attention consistently gravitates towards the undeniable talent of Claire Gohst, the creative force behind Paper Citizen. Her music, an intriguing blend of introspective lyrics and soul-stirring melodies, has carved a distinct niche in the indie landscape, captivating a diverse audience, including myself.
Witnessing Claire’s evolution from the intimate charm of her solo performances to the dynamic energy of her full band shows has been a journey of musical discovery. In this exclusive interview, we dive into the essence of Paper Citizen. Claire opens up about her evolving artistry since the captivating ‘Heart On Fire,’ her approach to live performances, and her creative processes. From discussing her recent ventures into collaborations and remixes to reflecting on personal experiences shaping her songwriting, Claire offers a unique glimpse into her artistic world.
Join us as we explore the depths of Paper Citizen’s music, the challenges and triumphs of Claire’s journey, and what the future holds for this compelling act in the indie music scene.
BLURRED CUTURE: “Heart On Fire” was the song that got me into you. Since ‘Heart On Fire’, how do you feel your music and artistry have evolved?
CLAIRE GOHST/PAPER CITIZEN: Thank you so much! I love hearing which song really resonated with you! Since writing “Heart On Fire”, I feel that my artistry is evolving in a way that has allowed me to be more honest with myself and vulnerable with my audience. I’ve been particularly working on my singing voice, paying closer attention to new techniques and pushing my boundaries on what I feel comfortable doing.. I think my lyric writing has sought to dig a little deeper emotionally, and I’m giving myself more allowance to accept whatever comes up creatively for me, dial down the self-criticism, and in turn, to accept myself as I am in each moment.
Having seen you perform three times in 2023, I’m obviously a fan whether it’s with a full band or solo. Can you share your approach to live performances and how you connect with your audience?
With live performances I try to keep a few things in mind – trying something new (which could be a new song, a new technology we are trying out, or a cover song). These days while performing a set I do try to banter a little bit more, sharing something about myself and what’s going on in my life – I have found that this not only connects the music together, it also opens up a point of connection to someone who might resonate with something I’ve said, to share our human experience.
What is your creative process like when writing new music, and how does it differ when you’re working on remixes like those for ‘Clockwork Reasons’? And What inspired the collaboration with eksd for those remixes, which seem like quite a departure from what I was used to.
For writing new music – I draw a lot of inspiration from songs that I like listening to, from classics that I’ve heard hundreds of times, to new tunes that I’ve only recently discovered. Sometimes I write poems that spark the idea for a new song, sometimes I find a new chord progression while playing the piano or guitar, and other times I get lucky when fragments, or even a whole idea comes to me suddenly in a moment during the day, or in a dream.
2023 for me has been the year for collaboration! I wanted to start exploring what that looks like when merging ideas with other musicians, producers and engineers, especially so because I feel that music is so much greater than myself. It has been such an uplifting and heartwarming experience, hearing the ideas and contributions of other talents come together in a way I couldn’t have made up on my own. It takes a village and I do believe that music is a powerful way in which we all can connect.
When I was a teenager, I really enjoyed listening to vocal house and trance music. During those years I loved to party, so the fast and uptempo beats were appealing to me! I really liked the sound of the vocal melodies that would lead on these tracks – they were different from what I was hearing on the radio and they really inspired me. When EKSD, who is from Canada, reached out about doing a house remix of the song, I was really excited to hear where he would take the song. I think the remix not only represents a whole different genre/world where my song can exist, it is also a symbol of the inspirations that I draw from in my writing.
Having “written” (which were basically just general thoughts) about two of your performances on BlurredCulture.com, I’m curious about how you perceive media reviews and if they influence your work in any way.
I love reading about different perceptions of media reviews. Perhaps I’ve been very fortunate to have read only the good ones? [Laughing] I like knowing what feelings and/or thoughts my art invokes in others.. It’s always been my dream to make music that other people can make memories with.
If anything, media reviews have only shown me encouragement, and reinforce the notion that I should keep on doing what I’m doing, which is writing songs and making music that is honest and true to myself.
Who are your current musical inspirations, and how do they influence your sound and songwriting?
Current inspirations include K.Flay, Donna Missal, Metric, Arlo Parks and Haley Williams. Their music is bold, different, distinct and honest.
Your music often feels deeply personal and emotive. Can you talk about how your personal experiences shape your songwriting?
My personal experiences do shape a lot of my songwriting as it is the only perception I would know the most about! I’ve lived a pretty colorful life so far, having to live in both eastern and western cultures, writing songs has been a way for me to share stories or emotional soundscapes of my experience.
As a very emotional human being, I feel all the highs of joy and the lows of sorrow, and all of what’s in between…sometimes that can feel chaotic, so songwriting has given me a way to channel a lot of it into art 🙂
What have been some of the most significant challenges and triumphs you’ve faced in your music career so far?
I think moving cities and having to “start over” has been a significant challenge each time – I felt this way when I moved to the USA from Singapore, and then subsequently from Boston to Los Angeles. It’s stressful, costly and the uncertainty of how things are gonna turn out can feel pretty overwhelming at first. The music is changing because I’m changing.. The people I used to collaborate with also change.. Oh the discomfort! Every time I’ve had to uproot, it takes some time to settle in, to find work, community and inspiration in the city.
However, over time, I get grounded again and I find myself seeing triumphs roll in – the music gets better, the shows get better, the people I meet and surround myself with are inspiring to me, and new opportunities come through in ways that were greater than I could imagine!
Looking back at your journey so far with Paper Citizen, what moments stand out to you as pivotal or defining in your career?
Being able to write music itself, recording and releasing these songs, has been pivotal in my musical journey… It’s indicative of my life here in America, which is to be given the privilege to experience the freedom of expressing my thoughts and feelings through music. Given this opportunity to make music here in the USA, and proceeding to have someone like yourself listen to, write about and feature my music, feels really validating and defining in what I used to feel was impossible to do!
What’s next for Paper Citizen? Are there any upcoming projects, collaborations, or tours that your fans should look forward to?”
Yes!! There are so many new songs that are finally going to come out in the new year! They’ve come a long way from these songs I’d written in quiet moments… I had the privilege to collaborate with some of my friends who have helped grow these songs into gorgeous and powerful records. I can’t wait to share with you!