Written by David Haynes
Pop songs are ultimately about sheer joy. Though there are Top 40 numbers about heartbreak, the packaging of the music and melody are usually transcendent. From The Beatles to Diana Ross to Lady Gaga to Stevie Wonder, good pop songwriters find a way to create an atmosphere that leaves the listener wanting to return to their song over and over again.
Partnering with famed producer Jesty Beatz, Clemont has released a debut EP that teems with infectious melodies and grooves. In The Beginning also references the storied past of pop music, referencing modern artists like Doja Cat and SZA as well as bringing in influences from 60s Motown to 00s R&B.
From the get-go, Clemont proves her skill as a vocal performer. The aptly-titled “Number One” opens with Clemont singing “Put me on ice / Put me on ice / Buy me a Rolex.” The harmonies she provides are reminiscent of early 90s groups like TLC or Destiny’s Child, while the lyrics are absolutely 21st Century. It’s a dichotomy that Clemont creates so well; combining musical trends of the past with lyrics firmly rooted in modern language. Also,Clemont imbues the lyrics with the swagger and charm of a star. She sings, “I know you see me in your wildest dreams / That’s the only time you’re dripping you know what I mean.” Clemont’s writing here is just clever.
Moving right along, “High With You” is a perfect blend of modern and classic R&B tropes. From the loping beat to the smooth electric piano chords, the track is the perfect backdrop for Clement’s mastery of the melodic language. It feels almost like a 60s Motown track, but smoothed out and compressed through today’s production tricks. In the second verse, there’s a palm-muted guitar line that mirrors the bass, and really showcases the detail in the production.
Clemont’s triplets throughout “Bubblegum” might be a highlight of the EP. Pop music really depends on convincing vocal performances. And Clemont never disappoints on this EP. “Bubblegum” really shows the control she has over her voice. With its smooth, chorused-out guitar and seventh chords, “Sunset” feels very early 00s. For millennials and gen zs, the music of the early 00s is deeply nostalgic. Clemont and Jesty Beatz capitalize on those memories here. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to pair vocal performance with lyrical content. Clemont makes it look easy. With a voice full of longing and regret, Clemont sings, “Oooh I know you’ve been busy / Hangin’ out with your friends / Tell me that you miss me / Even if it’s pretend.”
The last two songs, “On My Own” and “Emotion,” feature more sparse mixes and lyrics that feel more personal. Clemont lists Miley Cyrus as a major influence, and that influences can be heard in her vocal performances on these two tracks. In “On My Own,” she sings, “Baby, baby I was wrong about you / But you still make me fall to my knees.” It’s a line that perfectly encapsulates the complexity of human relationships. Clemont moves the listener away from the parties of the first three songs into the more personal in the latter half. She really showcases the width of her lyrical ability.
Usually when I write about a record, I listen to it once and try to write off of my first impressions of a group of songs. While I was writing this review, I listened to In The Beginning over and over again. There’s something about melodies and vocal performances on this record that is truly enthralling. Clemont has managed to make six songs that truly showcase her as an up and coming pop sensation. At the end of “Emotion,” she sings, “I want this forever / Me and you and together / I want it, I want it, I want it all.” This also feels like a perfect lyric to end a debut EP. As she continues to grow and expand as an artist, I truly hope she gets it all.
Listen to In the Beginning on the streaming platform of your choice, and check out an exclusive interview with Clemont below!
Hi Clemont, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
-Good, thank you! Glad to be here.
Can you talk to us more about your latest video “Sunset”?
Sunset was really fun to film. The location for the shoot was in Pasadena, which was awesome. I’m from Ohio, so California has always been a dream destination for me. It’s so beautiful and different out there. Anyways— both the song and video were meant to be reminiscent, simple, and nostalgic. I’m glad JR Strickland and Jesty Beatz were able to help me make that happen,
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
-Just life in general; it got pretty rough for me at one point. I’ve shared before that I was prescribed anti-depressants— it took a while to find one that worked. It was that era of my life really inspired Sunset. I wanted to paint the picture of pure happiness and bliss being achievable by something so simple, like watching the sunset with someone you love. It was me attempting to be optimistic, when everything in my real life seemed to be the opposite. It’s little moments like that make all your problems disappear for a while.
The single comes off your new EP – why did you name it “In The Beginning” ?
-Well, to be honest I’m new to the industry. This is my first ever EP so I felt it’d be a fitting way to kind of introduce myself to the world.
How was the recording and writing process?
-These songs were actually written a few years ago and recorded on GarageBand on an old iPad. I was just typing up my feelings and life experiences on the Notes app on my phone. I posted these songs on SoundCloud a while back, and eventually they got Jesty from Holy Mattress Money’s attention. We re-recorded and polished up the songs and gave them a new life. Those songs would eventually become the bulk of my first ever EP.
What was it like to work with Jesty and Holy Mattress and how did that relationship develop?
-Jesty is really awesome. His talent is seriously unmatched and he’s had a lot of success throughout the years, so granted I was nervous meeting him at first. Our first meeting was at Akron Recording Company. He was leaving for LA the next day and had a tight schedule — but I insisted on making the drive and meeting him on his free day. I called off work and drove 2 1/2 hours to meet Jesty, who at the time was just this dude I didn’t even know, but I knew was a big deal. I’m glad I met up with him that day and made a good impression because he ended up signing me 6 months later.
How did they influence the album?
-Jesty and Holy Mattress Money are really the backbone of the album. The producing, mixing, and making sure all goes well is done by them and their team. I just provide a blueprint and vocals, and they make my ideas a sweet-sounding reality.
What role does LA play in your music?
-LA is my all-time favorite place to be. I come from a small Ohio town, so I love the diversity and culture out there. It’s a whole new world. Being there really inspires me to be creative, I don’t know if it’s something in the air, but when I’m in LA I’m a brand new person. I feel like I can be my true self out there. I also got to shoot my first ever music video, “High With You” in LA so I’ll always hold that memory dear to my heart. You’ll see that video soon!
What aspect did you get to explore on this record?
-I got to explore aspects of being kinda screwed up, but making something beautiful out of it. This record reminds me that even though times get rough and life sucks sometimes, there’s always a healthy way to express yourself. You don’t always have to destroy yourself. Find your passion, stick with it, perfect it, and let it heal you.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
-My life and phases starting from the age of 16 were my inspiration. It was a whirlwind of hurt, excitement, trauma, bliss, and a thousand other emotions that just somehow found their way into my music. I also really looked up to artists such as Doja Cat, Rihanna, Tame Impala, The Strokes, M83, and Sleeping with Sirens- I know I don’t sound like any of them, but listening to them on repeat inspired me to start writing my own music because I appreciated theirs so much.
What else is happening next in Clemont’s world?
-I’m still in school, but I’m constantly brainstorming, writing, and recording music. My goal is to finish school, get a degree, and get enough exposure for my music so that I can do this for a long time. I have a lot going on right now— and life is constantly moving, but I can always make time for music. It’s my absolute passion. I plan on releasing a lot more music soon and eventually doing live shows whenever possible.