Claud portrait Dazed 100
ClaudCourtesy of Claud
“I would create a series of queer-prioritised parties that are inclusive and safe

Claud

Age - 21
 New York, United States
@claud.mp3
“I would create a series of queer-prioritised parties that are inclusive and safe

Claud, the artist formerly known is Toast, is full of optimism. Their romantic synth-pop songs are introspective but often upbeat, and provide love stories for non-binary and genderqueer people in a way we haven’t seen nearly enough of before. (See: the crush-worthy “Wish You Were Gay”, complete with a video that queers the ultimate twee indie rom-com 500 Days of Summer).

They’re also optimistic that their music is just one part of a wider change in pop culture. “Right now, Sam Smith is giving me hope!” Claud says. “They’re an openly non-binary artist being played on mainstream radio. This is really exciting to me because whether listeners know or not, they’re opening their ears and giving space to a genderqueer person who has the power to pave the way and provide a voice for so many genderqueer people.”

Claud’s debut EP, Sideline Star, was made in their college dorm room and released on Terrible Records (Solange, Dev Hynes) before they dropped out of their course at Syracuse University to pursue music full time. Since then, they’ve opened shows for Clairo, fellow Dazed 100-er Girl in Red, and Bleachers, taking their place in a movement of fresh, frank young voices who are shifting gender and sexuality norms in the indie genre – while also writing songs that sound totally timeless. Their most recent, “My Body”, could easily soundtrack a wistful montage in a teen movie; it’s all prolonged glances, sparse drums, heartache, and dusky synth chords. 

How is your work unique to you, or informed by your perspective, experiences, or identity?

Claud: My songs are informed by the daily life of someone who undergoes constant rejection of their identity. It’s not unusual for me to be misgendered or for people to (intentionally or unintentionally) make me feel like my sexuality is invalid. Being queer forced me to look at my life from a perspective I couldn’t have understood before recognising and accepting who I was. 

“Music is heavily dominated by cis men, and it can feel like your voice is being talked over” – Claud

What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?

Claud: I’m passionate about LGBTQIA+ representation in music. Music is heavily dominated by cis men, and it can feel like your voice is being talked over. In creative zones like the studio or backstage at a concert, I have a hard time feeling welcome and sometimes feel like I’m in the way. Last year, I was offered a tour because I was ‘just the girl the band was looking for’. That frustrated me so much because, 1. I’m not a girl, and 2. booking non cis-men just to book us isn’t productive – believing in the importance of our voices is. Also, I couldn’t believe that I was the first femme person they have ever welcomed onto their line-up. Experiences like these opened my eyes to the lack of knowledge people have as to why representation matters in music. 

How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected you, your work, and/or your community?

Claud: Being trans in self-isolation at my parents’ house in Illinois is one of the most invalidating experiences of my life. I am constantly misgendered and left feeling completely misunderstood. On top of it, my friends in New York have lost their jobs, can’t pay rent, and can barely afford groceries. The only thing that’s keeping us all going is the fact that by isolating ourselves now, we are keeping others safe and can all be back together sooner. 

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Claud: I still would use the grant to create a series of queer-prioritised parties that are free, inclusive, and safe to those who are usually excluded from mainstream nightlife. This would also bring business back to clubs and venues that have been hurt financially by the pandemic. Recently, I curated a night at a venue in Brooklyn, and worked hard to make sure the party-goers felt as safe and welcome as possible. It was the time of my life and I’d love the resources to do this on a larger, more accessible scale when it is safe to gather in large groups again. 

Aimee Cliff

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