People

Clay

If you haven’t yet heard of Clay, there’s a chance you may have already seen her. The musician and activist has a look not easily forgotten, a crop of violet hair and a penchant for brightly embroidered denim. An L.A.-based San Franciscan native, with a voice like Etta James, her childhood was one bursting with love and creativity. She was singing before was able to talk, performing to her audience of stuffed toy animals: “I would drag a chair out into the middle of the living room [at] age three … and sing to them for hours.”

“My parents raised me as friends along with a big eccentric, diverse, chosen family.”

After high school, Clay honed her craft at Boston’s Berklee College of Music – an opportunity to not only enrich her own instrument, her voice, but to watch and learn from other live instrumentalists. “I spent my time studying my peers, going to jams, listening, observing, asking questions and eventually collaborating,” she explains. “Live instruments are essential to any song, even while building in the studio.”

“If you tap into the right spaces [in L.A.] it’s overflowing with a creative collaborative spirit. Sometimes it’s lonely, which is great for song writing, and sometimes it’s overflowing, also great for song writing.”

The music she writes is lyrical escapism: her recent single Follow Me Down found its inspiration in the sirens in Greek mythology. She frequently uses her voice as a platform to highlight social injustices, to help those who may not have the power to help themselves by “creating safe spaces where people can be themselves, listen and learn from one another, help each other grow and lift each other up.”

“I feel my purpose on this earth is to expand safe space. I am attempting to create … an all-inclusive community through my music and beyond.”