The most uncomfortable circumstances force growth. Rather than being a choice, evolution turns into a need. On her new album Nightmare On Elmfield Road, CLOVES vaults over sonic and emotional walls in her music, melody seeps through the cracks of discordant electronic production and off-kilter bleeps as lyrical self-deprecation breaks under the weight of newfound confidence in her delivery.
“The album is a series of songs that to me represent the complexity of emotions you experience when you can’t pull yourself out of a spiral—or an entire other world going on behind the eyes that only you know about” CLOVES explains. “There was a lot of genuine sadness in my life, and it’s easy to feel frustrated by your own negativity and lose all effort to care.”
While making this record, CLOVES was at the start of a mental health journey, whether she knew it at the time or not. She found herself often struggling to make sense of how she was feeling, and those experiences provided the inspiration for the songs on this album. She hopes her music can work towards destigmatizing the idea of mental illness and the notion of asking for help.
“Before this album I had never worked to try and understand myself and how I process thoughts and emotions, instead I had always turned to coping mechanisms and was defensive of help, it became debilitating, I was unable to compartmentalise a real threat from a poisonous train of thought, this record is purely made from necessity, it’s taking all my darkest thoughts and feelings I have about myself and saying them, it’s the start of taking their power away.”
Born Kaity Dunstan in Melbourne, Australia, music always provided solace for her. At just 18 she relocated to London and released her debut One Big Nothing. The album generated 100 million-plus streams, she played Late Night TV, graced stages at Coachella and Lollapalooza and garnered critical acclaim from music tastemakers around the world. But by the end of the cycle she was burnt out.
“The first album was really difficult to make,” she admits. “By the end of it, I felt really down and quite lost in myself. So much of my self-esteem revolves around my work and how well I feel I’m doing. I wasn’t in a good place. I started understanding what I wanted out of my second album before the first album cycle even ended.”
Now CLOVES is back with her most impressive and honest album yet.
“I wanted the anxiety portion of my internal dialogue to feature throughout the album as another character lyrically, that felt like the best way to express how tangible these thoughts feel.”
To execute her vision sonically she enlisted Clarence “Coffee” Jr (Dua Lipa) and Detonate (Sia, Diplo) as well as Hudson Mohawke and Jake Portrait from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Seeking inspiration, she obsessively curated playlists of nineties favorites such as Portishead, The Cardigans, Sneaker pimps, Nelly Furtado, alongside more obscure choices like Morcheeba, Zero 7, and FC Kahuna.
I’m trying to poke myself throughout this record and ask, ‘Hey, are you still alive?’ I put the negativity into something productive. For me, it proved to be the best way of coping.”