[INTERVIEW] CLAWZ Discusses Neo Acid Techno, Aspirations, + Advice to Aspiring Female DJs
Making music for the untamed, CLAWZ, (neo) acid techno DJ and producer from LA has already established a stage presence dropping jaws with a 303 synthesizer from Body Language, Twisted Lines, RE/FORM, and now Space Safari. Unrelentingly, CLAWZ concentrates her impact towards crafting her own signature sound of neo acid techno while being inspired by other women in the dance music industry. iEDM implored her to flaunt her claws by sharing her creative processes, her contribution to the evolution of techno, and more.
Read iEDM's exclusive interview with CLAWZ below.
iEDM: What is the meaning behind your stage name?
CLAWZ: I do like to tell the story that when I started raving – a lot of people wear costumes and find a persona. I did always wear kitty ears; I was always a kitty and identify as that which is fun. And, then, I think when I started deciding I was going to DJ, I knew I wanted to play something aggressive and knew I wanted to play acid techno. I’m a small, non-threatening-looking person. I’ve always kind of had an attitude and loud personality about me, so I wanted something that explained, hey, I’m loud, here and ready to go. But, yeah, I’m still like this small girl that usually tries to be kind to people and is still approachable, so I feel like Clawz came to be as it was like the claws are coming out. This persona when I get on there is gets a little spicy and it's unexpected, but the claws are out and we’re having fun with it.
iEDM: You’ve performed so much in the past month. How is tour life treating your right now? What have been some of your favorite experiences while on tour?
CLAWZ: It’s been really good. Tour life is definitely a lot of energy and a lot of patience. But, it’s really exciting when you get to town and I think the coolest part for me is seeing a new town and meeting the kinds of people there and seeing how excited people are. I’m so familiar with the LA scene because I live there. That’s where I’ve grown and became what I’m currently doing, so it’s really cool to see how another scene has grown in their own way and to see what their interests are like, how they found techno, and hear their stories. Then, the moment I do play for them is super exciting because I’m getting to share this with new people in a new town and it’s a really cool experience.
iEDM: Can you tell me about your creative process and the inspiration behind your sound?
CLAWZ: A lot of inspiration comes from being a raver to begin with. I have loved music since I was five years old. I played piano, I was in jazz band in high school, I always took piano lessons and I was always writing music. It’s always been like a piece of me. I think when I was finally inspired by Charlotte de Witt is my biggest inspiration. When I heard her and started hearing other artists, I started going to these shows; it became an obsession. I just never wanted to stop hearing it--it’s in my blood, I’m meant to do this. I strongly wanted to share the sounds that I had found and the way I put them together to share them with people and watch the reaction that they had with their smiles, unrelenting. In the way DJs made me feel in the crowd, that’s how I wanted to make people feel.
I think my creative process is constantly listening. I’m constantly listening; I’m constantly at shows with artists that I like being inspired by, and listening to how they DJ, and I’m constantly on Instagram. I follow record labels, I try to keep up with it. It’s like my newspaper. I’ll go onto Instagram and read my newspaper of who made a release, who played a show, what is that track ID, so I’m constantly digging for tracks and trying to improve my sound, grow, and learn, picking up new mixing tricks, mixing with friends. It’s constant, it never really turns off.
iEDM: Describe neo acid techno for those who are new to the genre. What differentiates neo acid techno from acid techno?
CLAWZ: I’ll start with acid techno. When you hear acid techno, you'd think of Charlotte de Witt. I think acid techno would just be any techno that has that 303 sound in it which is the signature acid that came form the 90s with DJ Pierre, the first acid track with that acid bass line that was around 303. What I have created and envisioned the sound is neo acid. So, neo acid stands for new acid also comes from neo rave which is a big thing in Belgium and Europe. A person that inspires me describes neo rave as any kind of techno that isn’t techno, something that isn’t your typical drum code or something that’s been around for so long that’s been established. It’s kind of like everything else, I feel like it has no boundaries. I have a track that is “My Humps” which is fun. For the new acid specifically, acid tracks that are in my mind, more chaotic than the typical random acid sound here and there. Like something where the main point of the track, the dominant sound in the track is the acid--that’s what you’re paying attention to. As I’m playing neo acid sets, I play neo acid, instead of just playing a few acid tracks here and there. I’m like let’s play acid as the roller coaster and this roller coaster, you’re just rising that bass line with all these different kicks, trance sounds, and other percussion and things like that. Acid is the main roller coaster that’s like taking you and driving you around, if that helps at all.
iEDM: How would you like to evolve or further the sound of neo acid techno?
CLAWZ: That’s a good question. I think I would like to develop the expectation of feel when you get there. Ironically, I think I like people to expect almost different every time. I’m like, you don’t know what you're going to get. I think the theme is chaos, but it would be cool to kind of build more--how to define that sound more to other people, so that they are like "how can I play more neo acid" or "how can I find that style elsewhere". I do like a lot of drops, so I guess just finding and seeing where the genre goes. It’s tough for me to put it in a box yet or explain it because I feel like it’s almost the outside minds of the box. It’s like whatever you can come up with and add something new, so that is a tough question.
iEDM: The techno scene is predominately in Europe, but America's techno scene is growing. How do you want to contribute to the evolution of America's techno scene?
CLAWZ: Yes, I love this question. It's been around in Europe for 30-40 years, started in Detroit, brought to Berlin, and really blew up there. I think LA has had a taste of it, especially because things started in Detroit. LA being the music hub and very creative hub pf the country. I feel like it's a good place for that to blossom. As for my role in that, I’ve been inspired by Europe. I’ve been inspired by artists in LA and all over the US and I think for America, I think it would be really cool to inspire other people to come to like techno. Techno van be scary. It can be very intense. It can be aggressive. To some people, it can be like looking at screamo music and being like, Oh my God, that’s terrifying. It’s too loud for me. And, I think I want to make it friendly and fun for people. I guess make it welcoming for them that it's a cool sound and get them interested into it. I would love for everyone to be into techno or whatever techno means to them, inspire people with that sound, and bring people together so it would be cool to like bring neo acid techno to the main stage of EDC to share. People were so excited, it was something they haven’t heard yet, just to really share that vibe with people and encourage them to create. I think some of the coolest moments to me at shows are when anyone comes up to me and they say, “Dude, this is so cool. I’ve started DJing now. I’ve found this artist". If someone comes up to me and tells me that, I’m like damn, I did my job. So, I think to inspire America to create their own scene and make it whatever they want just like I can say Europe has created their scene and they have a whole thing going on there.
iEDM: Pioneering your own genre is admirable. How do you think self-defining your genre or techno style has aided your career?
CLAWZ: Good question. I think it makes a huge difference because nobody’s done it before and it’s almost like people are interested because they’re like “what is that?”. They want to know. They want to know what’s happening, like what is that sound? So, they come check it out because they’re unsure of what’s going on and they want to know what’s up. It helps as an artist to distinguish myself from the rest and I mean in business terms, it does make it more marketable. I have this sound that not a lot of other people are playing yet which I want people to play, but it’s cool because it’s a very unique thing, if you want to hear this, then you’d have to go to a CLAWZ show, then eventually other people would start playing this in their own style. I think as an artist, one of the most important things I’ve learned is finding something that’s distinguishable because then that sets you apart from the crowd and that makes you valuable to fans because they’re like I can get this one feeling, that kind of feeling that I’m looking for, I know where to get it and I can go here, so that helps a lot.
iEDM: What mix from your discography would you recommend for beginner neo acid techno listeners?
CLAWZ: I think one of my favorite sets I’ve ever done and I think is the most friendly, fun; it was a happy set. It was my live set at Twisted Lines. Either that one or the podcast I did for Rave Alert. I think they’re friendly and playful. I tend to be a little playful with my remixes and things like that. I think those are good intros. They’ll give you a little taste.
iEDM: Which female DJs have inspired you?
CLAWZ: Great question. Charlotte de Witt is absolutely my biggest inspiration being two-time mix mag DJ of the year. Amelie Lens, Nina Kraviz, Sara Landry has been a big one, I got to meet her and she’s even more inspiring in person. VTSS, she’s amazing too. There’s a lot of really strong, kind, powerful women in the techno scene right now, especially people like Nina and Charlotte; I respect them a lot because they did it when men were pioneering that already. It wasn’t that women weren’t pioneering it, I think it’s harder for women to break through because of that. There’s already so many men doing it which is fine, but it’s cool to see Charlotte and Amelie do it and they’re up there with boys beating them sometimes, so I think it’s great to have them as examples of the top right now is super inspiring. Females have a different energy up there (on stage) neither good or bad, it’s really cool to see them. I feel like women tend to be more welcoming or playful; they dance differently and smile a lot. They dance with more feminine energy, more comfortable sometimes–kind of letting their guard down a little bit. With men, they still have that fun, happy energy and sometimes they are more intense, going harder with fist-bumping and hype energy. I think those are the differences I found. I can feel a presence, I saw VTSS and her presence was so cool up there; she looked like a sassy girl up there and I was loving every minute of it. I feel like they’re big inspirations for me.
iEDM: DJing is a male-dominated profession. What you think needs to happen within the dance industry to make it more inclusive for women?
CLAWZ: I think there needs to be more of us. The more we see other women in techno, more women will want to come forward. I don’t think men have done a bad job of not including us, but I think sometimes for females to step into their power and understand they need to be up there as much as any other person regardless of who or what they are to step into that power. I think that makes a huge difference and I think men encouraging them or making it a safe space if you have the skills, if you have the drive to do this, then come up here. Be welcoming to have people stepping into that would help all around, so being encouraging as well as being good examples for other women and stepping into your power.
iEDM: If you could give aspiring female DJs a piece of advice that helped you along your career, what would it be?
CLAWZ: I would say to be confident. Be confident in your abilities. Be confident in your taste and have a good voice when you want to do something, reach for it. There’s no reason why you should stop yourself. Be kind. Meeting Sara Landry, such a kind a woman, she was inspiring. I told her about how I had done her production class and she remembered. Be confident and know you can do it and there’s other females that are cheering you on. I think that’s my biggest piece of advice.
iEDM: What has been the most memorable moment or milestone in your career?
CLAWZ: That’s tough. I swear every crowd I play in front of is the best crowd ever; it’s hard to choose. I think one of my favorite moments has been when I played a block party in Atlanta which is a recorded set. At that point in time, that was the biggest crowd I played in front of and it was chaos. I played for an hour and a half, everybody was dancing on the speakers. It was very raw. I say European energy because in Europe and in videos, people are everywhere, which I want to bring to the LA scene by literally placing speakers in front of the stage so people can dance on them. Atlanta was cool because it had good energy, other people that came after me were late so I ended up spinning for two hours. I think another memorable moment was performing at RE/FORM. That was a huge accomplishment in my story so far, because like I said, I got to be on a lineup with Sara Landry and people that are my idols that I’ve been inspired from since I started this. My set went amazing, the room was packed, and people loved it; it was a big moment for the LA scene too as the biggest techno festival in LA.
iEDM: Where would you like to perform next?
CLAWZ: So many places. Everywhere. I think in Berlin, Berlin is the capital. One day, I want to perform in Berlin. I’m actually playing in Belgium this September at Space Safari and potentially Switzerland. I really want to perform in New York.
iEDM: How would you like to perform at Berghain?
CLAWZ: That is the top as well as playing at Awakenings Festival. Awakenings Festival is my number one dream goal and Berghain; those would be equal.
iEDM: What goals do you hope to accomplish in 2022?
CLAWZ: I’d like to release my first EP; that’s the main goal. Then, performing in Europe which is booked, but it’s still a goal because it will be an accomplishment when it actually happens and the performance goes well.
Photos courtesy of CLAWZ
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about the writer
Read More...Mary is an artist based in Phoenix, AZ. Her favorite mediums to practice are confessional poetry and hula hooping.
When she’s not hula hooping at a local bass and riddim show, she’s at the beach or San Diego Art Museum. Mary’s adoration for EDM (culture & community) inspires her to perform. One of her many ways of celebrating art is attending festivals with her friends.