IF YOU’RE A REGULAR PURVEYOR — in online discussions, you know most people perceive talking points as black and white. You either love pancakes or you hate them from the sidelines of Team Waffles (and there’s no in between). You’re either right-brained or left-brained — what I’ve always thought of as mostly a myth used by people that like to make themselves feel distinguished. But differences in behavior and talents exist on a spectrum — we don’t need to alienate the other side of the brain. My opinion was further reassured when I met Stanford mechanical engineering grad turned singer-songwriter Claire Brooks, whose music conjures elements of psychedelic, jazz, and indie R&B.
In West LA, Brooks and I met at one of Coffee Tomo’s wooden tables. The singer-songwriter ordered us two unsweetened pomegranate teas — refreshing and subtle — before we decided to move the conversation to a walk-and-talk around the neighborhood.
Our stroll was an introduction to my first summer in LA. The sun beamed down as we talked over gardening and construction ruckus; at one point, we spotted someone walking their cat. Growing up here, Brooks was always enamored with science and math and even made “educational raps” to entertain her peers during presentations. Even though she excelled in STEM subjects, she knew she’d pursue music.
“I was singing when I came out of the womb,” Brooks said.
Despite having a “lot of pressure to be smart,” she “felt really empowered” to pursue her artistic interests, as her parents always encouraged her to embrace her artsy side. Her father would play old show tunes that would appeal to her dark, jazzy melodies, while her mother exposed her to singer-songwriters such as Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, and Jason Mraz. Brooks used these influences to express her emotions and wrote songs doubling as diary entries.
“Every time I would write a song, I would cry,” Brooks explained. When she was 16, she “tried to check all the boxes of sappy shit” when writing and performing an original ukulele song at a solo vocal show. It moved people to tears, and she felt inspired to write and release more music.
Her work would take many states: mushy love songs, freestyle tracks about the math tests she was studying for, and raps “about bowhead whales” in her marine biology class (which she submitted as her art supplement).
The raps made academic appearances, but Brooks fully discovered the rap genre when she was eight and dove down the rabbit hole. She indulged in the acts of the time; she was “disgustingly obsessed” with Mac Miller, her first IG post is her sporting a Been Trill snapback, and she was a pre-“Thrift Shop” fan of Macklemore (we all know one). Her amalgamated style is evident in her song “Body Language,” in which she lays down sultry vocals before transitioning to a blasé verse reminiscent of Big Sean or Asher Roth.
Brooks wrote and produced the song in her dorm room in 2019. Though she doesn’t think it represents her current sound, she still believes it personifies her well.
“Body Language” is the earliest song you’ll find on digital streaming platforms, but her sound is constantly metamorphosing. While the commentary continues and her production still piques ears, there is a higher regard for Brooks’ art. The lyrics are a little bit more mature, the instrumentals sound more complex, and there is more mystery to the singer-songwriter’s persona. Even the levels of maturity in the visuals drastically change for her next song, “Oxygen” (though she filmed both music videos in the same weekend).
Her latest release, “Weathered,” is the second single off her debut EP, The Human Experience. It follows last month’s “Heartbeat,” a theatrical, bombastic introduction to the stages of life as a concept. “Weathered” portrays the direct opposite of existence and details a melancholy acceptance of her demise.
“When you die, you give your body back to the world,” Brooks said. “You’ve been weathered after all this turbulence, life, candy, sex, whatever. Then, you’ll become worm food —and that’s okay,”
Usually giving off nothing short of bright guile, she uses “Weathered” as her interpretation of the imminent otherside. With it comes all the bells and whistles. Thunder and rain accompany Brooks’ acoustic chords and solemn tone, signifying a content soul ready to leave behind its worn body. She plugs in a regaling electric guitar solo before her last vocoded words drift off into oblivion. Left and right brain transcend the mortal plane all the same.
“Weathered” is only a taste of what we’re getting this summer. Expect a few new songs in the coming months, but if you can’t wait, “Oxygen” and “Heartbeat” already available, will also appear in The Human Experience, which will likely drop around September.
Always on the nose, always clever, and always challenging herself, Brooks characterizes musical intrigue. Her meticulous production and poetic lyrical ability merge well, using the full capacity of the human brain. Her shape-shifting sound is “not made to be viral” and blends multiple genres. It’s just a further reminder that Brooks is not an “either/or” artist but a “yes, and.”
parapop , translated with google translate.
"Let's close this weekend with an honest and touching chant from Claire Brooks, a multi-talented musician from Los Angeles who has just greeted us with her song "Weathered". Listening to this song is an unusual journey, “Weathered” is presented in an acoustic bandage and a long melody with Claire's heavy vocals striking a sincere note with an unusual curve at the end of the song. And to be honest, the experimental feeling that was conveyed at the end felt symbolic which came with an unusual effect. The song's mood, defined by its sadness and introspective mood, doesn't wallow in hopelessness. Instead, it is contemplative, encouraging listeners to reflect on their own existence and the inevitability of returning to nature. Claire Brooks, with her artistry, bridges the gap between the real and the subtle, making “Weathered” not just a song, but a meditative experience. For anyone seeking depth, both lyrically and musically, “Weathered” promises to be a captivating and immersive journey."