SXSW 2023 Interview: Clarence James

SXSW 2023 Interview: Clarence James

April 15, 2023 in Features

by Brianna Gonzalez - bbrigo

Living only a couple hours away from Austin, TX, Clarence James gets ready to conquer SXSW for the second time. Excited to bring his “alternative” music to share with the audience, he stopped by to talk to us about his music and everything that goes into producing a Clarence James song.


As mentioned earlier this is his second time as an Official SXSW Artist, but he was actually named an Official SXSW Artist in 2021. This would have been his third time as an Offical SXSW Artist but during 2021 COVID caught everyone by surprise causing SXSW to cancel all the performances. As everyone was locked down Clarence James took this time to think about his music.

“It made me think a whole lot more about myself and how I see things with my own music because I had so much time to sit there and look at it. There are so many really good projects that people were constantly putting out music and inspiring me to be better with my own music. I think I started putting a lot more pressure on myself over the whole COVID pandemic. And, like just the newer stuff sounds way better than the older stuff, I guess. Yeah. I had a lot of time to reflect and think about why I do the art.”

Having time to reflect on his craft. It gave him time to listen to many artists and their different sounds. It inspired him to write music and even change up his sounds throughout the writing process.

“I like Dijon a whole lot. It's like one of my favs, Smino has been inspiring me a whole lot. I love the kind of trap/ neo-soul type of thing, there's a lot of rap. Honestly, I was mostly like indie rock earlier releases, but it's been like half the new album I worked on was hip-hop based, so it's going to be interesting to see how people take it in my fan base that I have right now.”

Clarence James' sound has changed over the years. He got into music at a young age and he started releasing music his junior year of high school

“When I was around, like 12, or 13 I just was bored, I live in a very small town. My friends played sports and stuff and I didn't really play sports like that. So I picked the keyboard up and I was kind of, I guess, always entertained by it. It was the one thing that like, even now like, I can go to my room, my production room and I can sit there for hours. I guess being so bored that I'm always doing it. I still don't even see myself good at music theory, or I guess like music in general. I just kind of find out how to like make stuff sound good.”

As he takes time to carefully craft his songs, he tries to make sure his songs are ready to be released by getting input from friends but sometimes even after a song is out, there might still be things he might want to change.

“I never really liked “Ronson Princess”. I made that big post about like, how I'm kind of unhappy with it. Even after they're out, they're not really. I'm always working in my head thinking about the released songs. It's kind of done when there's nothing I can even think about. Like, if I am sitting down. I'm like, well, there isn't anything I can change. I know it's getting to a point where it's like nearing completion because I am ready to show people.”

“Ronson Princess” being one of his first releases, he mentioned that he would like to change some things in the song. He tells us about how he wrote this song while he was in high school.

“I love talking about "Ronson Princess" because it is such a different song than any of my other songs. The young energy, I was in high school, I was like, always hanging out. So I had so much in my head to write about, especially just with my, my friends and what we get into. It was written about a gift that my friend gave me. It isn't anything like any of the stuff that I make. It's like 3, 4, or 5 chords. And it was an easy song to write. I think that's why it resonates people resonates with people, really just because it was easy.”

Being one of his most popular songs, Clarence James mentions it has a different sound compared to his other music. People love “Ronson Princess,” because they can resonate with it but Clarence James reveals it was written about a lighter.

“A lot of people, you know, wouldn't realize that upon just listening to the song for the first time, it could be about a girl or anything like a breakup. But it really is just like a song about losing a lighter. And it was so simple that it wasn't like it's there's not really worth talking about sometimes it's funny, like, I don't like the song that much. It's a simple song. It's a lovely song, I appreciate that time period. I kind of liked when I listened to it from a personal standpoint.”

Even though the song was written about losing a lighter, Clarence receives heartfelt messages from fans thanking him for writing the song because they found a deeper meaning. He uses this support to motivate himself to create new music.

“I wanna make music that people like me that are getting into more like experimental sounds, or that wants to hear something they haven't heard before ever. I guess. I want to make something that resonates with people that will appreciate that because “Ronson,” for instance, can't show it to a lot of people. They’ll appreciate it for what it is, but like, a lot of the newer stuff I guess for me listening to something over and over again, I have to be in awe by it. And I think that “I'm Melting” I've heard a lot of people's response from it like, personally if people do listen to it, I think they will think that it's better than most of the like the old stuff.”

Clarence James is a very creative person from writing his own music to making his own graphics for song covers. He has new music coming out very soon, keep an eye out for his new single called “Be Fu*cking For Real,” it’s about “being fu*cking for real.” Many new music and cool graphics coming out very soon along with an album sometime in the near future. Clarence James performed at Higher Ground on March 17, 2023, for his official SXSW showcase.

Thank you to Clarence James for being such a chill and cool dude to talk to. You are so down to earth and I can’t wait for the album to come out!!!

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