Songtrust Spotlight: Claud

CLAUD (fka Toast) is the solo project of Claud Mintz. Standing at 5 feet tall with turquoise hair (hair color subject to change), Claud enjoys late night snacks and going to the movies with their friends. In 2018 they released their debut EP inspired by dorm room mac n cheese, dreamy synths and a janky microphone. In the last few months you may have caught Claud on tour with The Neighbourhood, girl in red, Bleachers, or girlpool. You may have also caught them bopping around the streets of New York, usually with a warm beverage in hand.

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Who or what was your inspiration to start writing music?

When I was in middle school Miley Cyrus was riding a wrecking ball, Justin Bieber released Believe, and Youtube was flooded with ukulele covers. I was awkward and wore pigtails and felt like I had something to say but didn’t have the nerve to speak up in real life. I lived vicariously through confident internet celebrities, wanting so bad to be able to get up on a stage and sing like them. So my uncle gave me his black acoustic guitar and I practiced endlessly until I felt like I was good enough to share my thoughts with other people. 

What is your creative process like and what has influenced your writing style?

My creative process revolves around my tendency to get super fixated on one style or idea for a period of time, obsess over it, and then move on. I see my style as a never ending collage of random pieces and influences I pick up as I grow. But I’m mostly influenced by my friends. They introduce me to the most incredible music and push me to be better.

You’ve toured with creators like The Neighbourhood, girl in red, Bleachers, and girlpool -- what was touring like for you? Did touring teach you anything or was it what you expected?

Each tour I go on feels super different. One thing I've learned to do while on tour (especially touring in a minivan) is to go with the damn flow, which is something I’m not so good at. I’m a stubborn taurus and when things don’t go as planned, I get nervous. But on tour, nothing ever goes as planned so I’ve had to learn how to accept what I can’t control.

How did your time in Syracuse impact your choices to become a songwriter and performer?

College was the first time I ever felt completely accepted for who I was. I didn’t have to hide or change any part of me to be loved, and that feeling gave me enough confidence to put myself out there to other people in the world, especially to those who can relate to feeling sick of hiding pieces of yourself.

You’re an active member and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community -- what advice would you give to aspiring songwriters that identify with the LGBTQ+ community on how to best navigate the music industry and stay true to themselves?

Oh gosh, I don’t know! A lot of queer people understand the feeling of constantly growing and changing and discovering new things about themselves. My advice to musicians who identify with the LGBTQ+ community would be to embrace the ever evolving side of you and show it to others instead of suppressing it.

You were described as “leading the charge for LGBTQ+ representation in popular music” by Ones to Watch in 2018 and you often use your songs to address topics such as sexual orientation and relationships -- what is your hope or goals for the music industry and the LGBTQ+ community?

It’s been really hard proving to people in the music industry that I belong and that there’s space for me when the list of musicians who are openly non-binary is shockingly short. My goal is to provide much needed representation of course, but also to get us to the point where no one has to sacrifice being open about their identity for fear of being labeled or categorized or considered niche.

How can the music industry as a whole be a better advocate or support system for LGBTQ+ creatives? What organizations or programs do you suggest people be involved with?

I think it just starts with supporting artists you know personally who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Bring us on tour and put us on playlists that aren’t just queer or pride playlists, because the more visible we are the more that people like us will feel accepted, not only in the music industry but in their everyday life. 

How did you hear about Songtrust and what ultimately influenced you to work with a music publishing administrator?

I have a few friends who use Songtrust. I think it’s by far the most artist-friendly MPA.

How are you coping with the current climate and what advice do you have for other creators struggling with isolation?

My coping mechanism for everything has always been songwriting, so that’s how I’ve been getting through isolation and the constant influx of bad news. My advice for creators would be to try and create something completely outside of your usual realm. 

What’s next for you -- any upcoming projects, albums, or tours?

I’m finishing up my first album! I was supposed to be doing a bunch of touring this summer but now show’s are quite uncertain. I do have some live streams this week with Noisey and the Smithsonian though, which is exciting. 

Lastly, what’s your go-to playlist or song right now?

Dijon’s new EP, “How Do You Feel About Getting Married?"

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