X Backstage: Claire


Last January, three Munich, Germany-based musicians/producers decided to join forces, call in a singer and write a tune. They recorded it in a single session and the experience went so well that they decided to turn this one-off into a band and adopt the name Claire. An EP quickly followed. The mix of synthpop and electropop with a touch of old-school new wave attracted label attention and some love from radio stations and blogs -- not to mention the ears of X Games MUSIC staffers, who booked Claire for a June 29 live performance/webcast at X Games Munich.

XGames.com caught up with the band collectively via e-mail recently to find out more about how they came together, where they're going and which attractions you should visit when you're in their corner of the globe.

XGames.com: Let's go back a bit: Three band members, all of whom are producers and musicians -- Matthias Hauck, Nepomuk Heller and Florian Kiermaier -- were sharing a studio in Munich. Were you making music together?
Claire: Nepomuk and Matthias worked together as producers for three years. The first time we worked together in that three-piece constellation ended up [being] the first song of ... Claire.

In the beginning of 2012, you decided to produce a track for Josie-Claire Bürkle. Was it a strict production gig or did you play on the song, too?
After doing several composing and producing jobs for other clients, we finally decided to make our own music again. For that purpose we sat together as three -- we hadn't really worked together [in a group before] that time -- and thought about what it could be that we really wanted to do. So we started with one song and got to the point where we needed a singer. Luckily Flo knew Josie from years ago, so he called her and she was immediately in ... we recorded her and everyone knew that we should do [more] songs [together].

Christoph Schaller

Claire will take the X Fest Stage at X Games Munich on June 29, webcast live on XGames.com from 8:30-9:30 a.m. ET.

But to answer your question, when we talk about producing, it's in fact everything: writing, recording, performing, producing and mixing. The thing with the style of music we make is that there isn't a difference between writing, playing and producing, because it's one process. Sometimes a song depends on the harmony, sometimes on the bass sound, etc. So we couldn't do this without doing all these different fields.

From everyone's description, that evening went really well. Can you describe the magic that went down in the studio that night?
We really had a precise idea of how everything should sound, but it's very hard to express it. When Josie came down to the studio the first time, it was clear that she had understood what we meant, without talking about it, and that was amazing! We started to discover Josie's voice and how it fits with the music, so when we finished the last take early in the morning everyone knew that these [special collaborations] might not happen too often in one's life.

When did you decide to form a band?
It wasn't really a decision. It more or less just developed that way. After we put the songs online, people were asking us to also play them live. I think starting to rehearse and getting a live show together made it feel more and more like a band and not like a project. Of course, we also got to know each other better and better, so we knew at some point that we [were] no longer just a project, but a band.

You spent about three months in the studio to write your EP. What was that experience like?
Writing the EP was really relaxed from a present-day perspective, because in that period we tried to find out how we wanted to sound and where the barriers are. The only pressure we had was the wish to get some good songs.

We just finished our debut album, "The Great Escape," which definitely swallowed far more time than the EP, but I think the guys [in the band] are those who can talk about the experience the best. At the end of the production [period] they were sleeping in the studio and took turns [with] who [was] allowed to sleep in the bed; there only was one, and believe me, it didn't look very comfy.

Who are your influences?
Every one of us has different influences because we all listen to different music and artists, so I would say in our music there are not particular artists that influence us. Of course there are always artists that we all like -- actually [it happens] very often -- but no one special where we get a big influence. It's more like taking a bit of influence here and there.

What were you listening to when recording the EP?
I just found an old playlist we made back then. Here are the first 10 songs of it:

What's the music scene like in Munich?
I would say it is quite good. There are a lot of really great bands and a lot of opportunities for them to play concerts. Also the local radio stations help bands from the region to start off, giving them a platform that actually helped us along a lot.

How do you feel about playing X Games Munich?
Great! We are all really into action sports and the X Games are, I'd say, one of the biggest events with the focus on these disciplines.

What should visitors to Munich know about the city?
Go with Augustiner Hell or Tegernseer Hell. Now reading it in an English context seems quite funny, but in fact it is what we think to be the best beer in the world!

Similarly, name three non-touristy spots every visitor should check out.
There are some really nice spots. If the weather [is good] you should buy a beer on the little market on the end of Fraunhoferstrasse and search for a calm spot on the Isar (the main river in the middle of Munich), or/and if [you're] interested in surfing, the Eisbach wave, right beside [the] Haus der Kunst [art museum] ... would be the second spot. And even if it's crowded and maybe touristy, Allianz Arena [the home stadium to FC Bayern Munich, the city's soccer team].

Where did you get the name for your band?
It is Josie's second [middle] name, and as we had to decide quite quickly because we wanted to put our stuff online, we went with Claire. It developed really fast from a personal name to a band name and now we can all identify with it.

What about the name for the EP?
The EP was called "The Empire" because our first rehearsal room was across the road from a new office block called the "M-pire," having the "M" stand for Munich ... [W]e drove past that every day and somehow it caught our attention, and as we needed a name for the EP, we realized that "The Empire" would fit perfectly.

When did you pick up a fifth band member?
We picked him up when we started playing live because we wanted to have live drums. It always makes a performance a bit more energetic. He's called Fridl and is a friend from Flo; they previously played in a band together. Flo asked him and he liked our stuff even if he actually was more into hardcore at that time. So he said yes and now we're five.

Anything else?

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