Critically-acclaimed, self-produced artist Clairmont the Second describes the creative process for his latest album as “naked and unfiltered”, arising from a period of personal growth during which he was “forced to fall back in love with music at its root”. At age 25, the Toronto rapper has an impressive six albums to his name, culminating in a deftly crafted EP entitled Full Circle. After a sold-out August 25 show at Drake Underground, Humphrey sat down with Venue Operations Manager Shawn Murphy, discussing what shaped him as an artist, and reflecting on the challenges of the past two years.
+ With your most recent release being called Full Circle, how does it feel performing at The Drake Underground again where you headlined July 2016? How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist and how important is this Full Circle moment to you?
Performing at The Drake Underground for Full Circle was perfect. There was another venue I had in mind, but it just didn’t work out in time and the fact that The Underground was available, and everything just fell into place, it was clearly something that was meant to happen. In regards to how I’ve grown as an artist, I think it’s important to mention how much I’ve grown as a person first. One of the biggest ways I’ve grown is being more understanding. I’ve been put in many bad situations over the past few years, and these were situations I thought could never happen to me. I’m talking about things that I only saw in movies or heard stories about, and I thought this could never happen to me. That taught me to be more empathetic and understanding towards everybody’s lives and not to judge based on what I saw on face value. You never know what someone is going through. Because of what was going on with me I was literally forced to recalibrate and reset. I was forced to fall back in love with music at its root and not the extras that came with it. In doing that and my mind being even more open I’ve learned in regard to my music and my art that all I need to do at all times is just let go and just let things speak through me.
+ The last two years have been very difficult for artists in Toronto, but it seems you’ve really used it as a time to reflect. How has that shaped this project and your attitude towards future releases?
I was forced to reflect. There were no distractions. I couldn’t go anywhere. I realized I had more issues than I thought, and I wasn’t really in the best space. There’s a lot of pain that went into the creation of this project and the next one. It’s crazy because there are still a ton of things, I haven’t written about yet that I’ll have to talk about a couple years from now. Ultimately because my brain is restructured, I’m a lot more patient with my projects now, and extremely patient with myself. As mentioned above I’m just letting go when it comes to creating. There’s no outside opinions playing a part in what I play. I’m doing more of what I want to do now, naked, and unfiltered.
+ Full Circle really paints an image of growing up on Weston and your lived experiences. How has the city of Toronto shaped you as an artist?
All my stories are from the city and some of my references would only be understood by people who lived here or been here long enough to know what I’m talking about. Just like anyone’s environment, that plays a huge part in who that person is. My music sounds like I was born in Toronto with Christian, Caribbean parents and lived in the hood. You dig? Being from Eglinton West originally and moving to Weston, the west side shaped my personality a lot, but I was also kept from the madness of the areas by my parents and older siblings. It also helped that I was really into the arts but because I’m still from where I’m from and know who I know, I have a unique point of view that I like sharing with people. Toronto taught me a lot. The good and bad. I just move in a way I think is necessary even though it might be different from a lot of people from here.
+ I admire how you self-produce your projects and are very involved in the whole creative process of your brand, content, and vision. What would you say the biggest benefits and setbacks are with your approach to art?
The biggest benefit of how I approach art is the cohesion. Every body of work sounds like it belongs to that body of work. All my videos are essentially one long video. If you go back and watch them, you might catch references to other videos or things I’ve been teasing for years that are beginning to rollout now. Also working with myself is so easy and I don’t have to rely on people. In regard to business it’s cheaper too. Ultimately, I’m just blessed by God to be able to execute my ideas with the skills I was given. That’s not to say I’ll never expand my work circle either. That being said one of the setbacks is how busy it can get. It can get overwhelmingly busy, but the problem is I have issues with not being able to see or hear my work as it’s being worked on. The thought of delegating my work to someone gives my anxiety. It’s a constant battle. I get overwhelmed when it gets too busy then I end up shutting down. It’s not super healthy but I’m working on it.
+ It’s beautiful that your creative partner is your girlfriend, Bee, and how the two of you have grown creatively together. How has that dynamic been a factor in your output?
That’s Beee with 3 E’s by the way, ahaha. It’s been really great and easy working with her. I know I can do what I do without feeling awkward. She took a bigger liking to doing photography and really only does video for me. It’s not something she’s currently interested in walking into bigger. Over time though I’ve been telling her to take the helm on a lot more things from actually being in photoshop laying things out to directing a future video I have coming out at a later date. Our dynamic is perfect because she’s literally just down to help me execute my ideas and do whatever she needs to do, especially knowing how I am with my art. It’s the same for her and her photography. Whatever she needs me to assist on to help her execute her vision, I’ll do. I’ve been heavily pushing for her to take bigger roles in regard to my work because I feel like she has a touch that she doesn’t know about yet and she also understands me the best. It’s still new for her so I’m still handling majority of conceptualizing, but I like the collaborative aspect of us going in on something together rather than just tagging her along when I figure it out. I think we’ll just continue to grow and continue pushing the bar.
+ Seeing you and your brother, Cola from the OBGM’s, really start to receive your much deserved flowers has been great to see. How has your family influenced the way you create?
Yeah man! They’re on tour right now which is amazing. It’s been so long since any of us has seen the road for an extended period of time so it’s great. Cola was major influence on my music as a whole. I was with him the most and he taught me how to make beats and taught me about confidence on a mic. Even before that I used to make music with my Dad and Cola on this old Atari computer he used to have. He had the program called Notator. That was the first time I’ve ever made a beat. I was around 4 or so. My Dad is a top 10 singer, my old sister sings, paints, makes all types of visuals, my little sister sings, acts, dances, and you already know what Cola does. Art was all around me, so it was meant to happen. What’s crazy is as I got older, I started seeing a ton of similarities between my family and I. The way I love to do setups at my workstation with all types of gear and how DIY a lot of it is scarily similar to the way my Dad works which I didn’t even realize until these last couple of years. He was the first one I ever saw print labels directly on to his own CDs. I forgot that I helped with that until I started printing my own. The types of film work I do is similar to the stuff my old sister was doing in college. They stopped for a bit and during that period that’s when I started getting into it. The influence was subconscious at first and now that I’m older and my mind is a bit more open, I’m able to recognize all of this. Long winded answer but yeah.
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