Coachella 2016: Cloves On Her First Major Festival & Debut LP
Cloves arrived in a blaze of blog love last summer with “Don’t You Wait” — a sparse, bluesy ballad that showcased her honey-dipped vocals. The Australian teenager backed that up with the beautifully melancholy “Everybody’s Son” and a refreshingly understated debut EP, XIII. She plans to build on that momentum in 2016 with a slew of festival appearances that began with a stellar set at Coachella on Saturday afternoon (April 16).
I spoke with Kaity Dunstan (her real name) not long after she left the Mojave Tent and she was justifiably ecstatic with her first major festival performance. She opened up about her journey from the Melbourne pub circuit to critical darling and revealed some interesting tidbits about her debut album, which will arrive after her second EP. Cloves also talked about her soulful sound and the influence of Amy Winehouse. Find out more in our Q&A below.
Are you enjoying your first Coachella?
Yeah, it’s incredible. When we first got here we drove through this huge paddock. We got given these artist bands and we’ve been running around in little golf carts. It’s been amazing actually. It’s been really cool. My mom and dad flew in from Melbourne to see me. I haven’t seen them since January, so I spotted them in the crowd and said hello. My mom was crying.
Is this your first festival?
We played SXSW but we just did very simple stages. This is the biggest stage that I’ve done. It was amazing, it was very cool.
Were you worried how your sound would translate at a big festival?
I was really nervous beforehand because when we were doing a line check, there was literally just my mom, my dad, my two sisters, Finn, Justin, and a few other people in the tenth. I was thinking, “Oh God, no one’s going to come. This is going to be a disaster.” Then as we started playing, more people came.
There was a good crowd by the time I got there.
It was really nice, there was a few people singing the songs back to me. Whenever I see them doing it, I start to get a little emotional and then stop singing. [Laughs]. I’m like, “Wait, concentrate.”
Which artists are you looking forward to seeing?
We haven’t really sat down and thought it out yet obviously we need a plan. I just feel a massive sense of relief because I’ve been really stressed out. But definitely Guns N’ Roses. It’s going to be great. After this, I’m going to go back to the trailer and plan out my weekend.
You’ve quite an English accent for an Aussie.
I’ve been living in London for three years, I guess. I think I pick up accents really quickly. As soon as I got here, I started speaking a little bit American. I was like “We’ve only been here a day.” I think it’s human nature to mimic what’s around you and adapt to the situation.
I loved your EP. How long until we get an album?
[Laughs]. I think there are going to be a couple more songs coming out in May. A second EP. Then hopefully an album will be finished by the end of the year. I have been doing a lot of writing, spending a lot of time in the studio. I’m producing some songs now. It’s really cool. We did some work with Paolo Nutini’s band. It was really sick.
Who else have you worked with?
I’ve got my core guys that are. They are Justin Parker, Starsmith and Rich Cooper. They are my three guys. Me and Justin have collaborated on the album together. They actually came to the show as well. Justin flew over from London to see me. They’re literally incredible.
There’s a really soulful vibe to your music. Where does that come from?
When I was younger I always wanted to move to London and make music. I was always inspired by big soulful voices. My obsession was Amy Winehouse. I just fucking loved her. So I guess maybe that’s what it is, I always gravitated towards that scene. Maybe that’s why my music has a soulful tone.
You’ve got the Amy eyeliner.
[Laughs]. Yeah, I’ve got the Amy eye. I started doing that when I was 15, and then I just kept doing it.
How did you make the leap from gigging in Melbourne to being signed in the UK?
It was a very long process. It wasn’t just like one day I got up and moved to London. I got signed when I was about 16.
Were you signed in Australia?
I was signed in Australia.
From The Voice?
Yeah, when I was 16. The experience for me… was a learning curve. So then I roamed around for a while just trying to find people that I wanted to work with. Producers. So it’s been a long three years of finding myself and finding myself as an artist.
Did you find it easy to settle into life in London?
Yeah. I think when I first moved to London, it was very different. It was a bit of a shock. But now I have really great friends there and I love it a lot. Like you can just go sit in a bar, play some pool, relax. It’s really cool and it’s got a great music scene.
Do you have any promo planned in the US this year?
I think the plan is to grow organically. Honestly, I want to finish my album first. I’ve got a lot of festivals coming up. We are playing Lollapalooza, Osheaga. I’m so excited about Osheaga. Radiohead are playing, Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing, Lana Del Rey is playing. I’m so excited about that. It’s a lot of live performing. I have to season myself through performing.
Are you going to finally put out some videos?
I think we’re going to put out a couple of videos, we’re trying to work on a couple pieces. That’s the idea. So stuff is going to trickle out. I want the visuals to have beautiful imagery. Not of me, of other things. Cinematography really interests me. We’re going to be putting a couple of cool pieces out.