EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE + Q&A: Artist To Watch Clara Mae Exemplifies Individuality in “I’m Not Her” Acoustic

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Photo: Jimmy Fontaine

In today’s oversaturated Instagram culture, it’s nearly impossible to scroll through your newsfeed without becoming engrossed in a world of seemingly perfect bodies, relationships, and careers–especially when they belong to your ex’s new lover. To counteract the inevitably negative impact this has on your mental state, it’s time to shift the focus to a new obsession: Clara Mae. The rapidly emerging Swedish singer/songwriter preaches messages of self-love, confidence, and individuality in her latest single, “I’m Not Her,” and Ones To Watch has the exclusive acoustic rendition today. 

As Clara Mae’s debut original single, “I’m Not Her” was released in November 2017 via Big Beat/Atlantic Records. The catchy track was a clear sign that the young singer was poised for stardom, accumulating nearly 5 million combined streams and establishing her electro-infused pop sound, rich vocal prowess, and empowering lyrical style.

By replacing all pulsating productional elements with light and airy strings, the acoustic version of “I’m Not Her” provides a more precise reading of Mae’s untouched talent: still 10 out of 10. Her delicately sweet vocals rightfully take center stage, singing of the universal plague of comparing one’s self to a former partner’s new object of affection. While witnessing an ex sharing a bed with someone new is inevitably painful, Mae’s self-assured proclamation that she’s “never gonna move like her" has the power to send a ripple of confidence from the speakers and into the hearts of listeners. As she shared the track’s underlying message, “You are your own person and no one else is like you. Embrace who you are because that is what makes you special.”

Born in a small Swedish town called Gävle, Clara studied jazz vocals and piano for three years before moving to Stockholm to immerse herself in music full-time. Early in her career, she had the opportunity to work with two of the most influential electronic producers of our time, David Guetta and Tiesto. More recently, she co-wrote on KREAM’s “Taped Up Heart,” which has garnered 80 million streams and counting.

With “I’m Not Her” to pave the way, it’s time for Clara Mae to tell her own story as a gifted songwriter and a solo musician. Get hooked on the new live acoustic rendition below, then get to know Mae in her first-ever interview as a solo artist.

OTW: I’m Not Her” is a very empowering song that seems to hold a personal significance to you. Do you mind sharing the inspiration behind it?

I was in a writing session with Cassandra Stroberg and Nicki Adamsson, talking about our own experiences with love, and from that ”I’m Not Her” was made. Personal experiences are always reflected in my lyrics. Growing up, I compared myself to others and as I got older, I learned from my relationships. Falling in love is incredible, but breakups are inevitable, and it can feel like you lost the world. I learned to take from my experiences, learn from them, and more recently, put them into lyrics. Figuring out who you are and being confident in yourself is the biggest step. So, that’s the true meaning of the song – that you are like no one else, and you are perfect the way you are.

OTW: Tell us about the making of the acoustic live version of “I’m Not Her” and why you felt it was important to showcase that side of the song. The strings are a really nice touch! 

The acoustic video felt like a ”must do” with this song. Stripping down the production showcases the lyrics and the melody in the beat. It enhances the lyrics and allows listeners to absorb the meaning in a stronger way. An amazing guitarist, Darius Kaya, and a talented cello player, Alexandra Markman, recorded this version with me. The cello was a perfect choice for this song, adding a special touch. I’m so happy with the result and hope my fans will like it too!

OTW: What message do you hope fans pick up from “I’m Not Her”? 

You are your own person and no one else is like you.

Embrace who you are because that is what makes you special.

I love reading social media comments and seeing how they relate to the song.

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OTW: How did you transition from studying jazz into this electronic/pop sound? Why do you feel that this particular sound is true to who you are?

I’m inspired by so many genres of music, which has led me to do some identity searching and experimenting to see what showcases my style the best way. The more I explore, the more I connect with electronic music, and pop music as they come so naturally to me.

OTW: Tell us about your favorite collaborations and how they came about? 

I co-wrote ”Taped Up Heart” with KREAM and was the vocalist on the song. I was sitting on a train one day, and saw a sign for heart disease. It was a picture of a heart with a bandage on it, so I wrote it down in my phone…”Taped Up Heart.”  I was inspired by this imagery and a week later I wrote the song in Stockholm together with Sara Hjällström and Nirob Islam. A few days later Big Beat Records received the song and connected me with KREAM to produce the track. We were all so happy with the final outcome!

As a songwriter, I’m also excited about songs I’ve written for Mugisho called ”I Will Never” and Martin Jensen called ”Wait.” I have new collaborations coming in the New Year that I also can’t wait to share with everyone too!

OTW: What is your #1 advice for love and heartbreak?

Heartbreak can hurt like hell and feel as if you’ll never smile, laugh or enjoy life again but I promise you it begins to hurt a little less every day that goes by and after a while it will not hurt anymore. Write your feelings down – and if you are inspired, turn them into lyrics or poetry. It helps let go of the pain easier and opens the door to meet someone new. I did this recently and have been smiling, laughing and enjoying life more than ever!

OTW: Name 3-5 artists on your Ones To Watch (up & coming) list?

Tove Styrke: Love her new sound, she’s on fire right now.

Khalid: He’s already blown up. But if you missed this guy, go check him out. Really like his music!

Wrabel: He’s known for his writing skills. But wow, his voice is crazy and the lyrics are SO good!! Check him out!

Sasha Sloan: Also known for her genius writing. But check out her own stuff! It’s great.

OTW: What can we expect from Clara Mae in 2018 and beyond? Can we expect more originals and collaborations or will the focus shift fully to the solo project?

This year l will release more original music including a few collaborations in the works, but the focus will be my own music for my solo project. Stay tuned!

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