Posted May 11, 2021 by Jeff in Tunes

CLOVES Crafts Dystopian Atmosphere on New Album

CLOVES photo by Furmaan Ahmed
CLOVES photo by Furmaan Ahmed

Australian-born, London-based artist Kaity Dunstan — is releasing her sophomore album, Nightmare on Elmfield Road, on May 21.

“Here, we see CLOVES put her own experiences with anxiety, depression, and inordinate introspection under a microscope,” reads a press release about the album. “Each track offers a glimpse into her inner monologue as she spirals within herself and embarks on a mental health journey for the first time.”

Dustan enlisted the help of Clarence “Coffee” Jr (Dua Lipa) and Detonate (Sia, Diplo) as well as Hudson Mohawke and Jake Portrait from Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Alongside the announcement of Nightmare on Elmfield Road, CLOVES just teased her upcoming release with a new single, “Nightmare,” a tune that shows off her soulful pipes.

“’Nightmare’ is about being gaslit by your own Brain,” explains CLOVES. “ I think a lot of the time when people talk about gaslighting they are touching on how it feels to be manipulated by others, I wanted ‘Nightmare’ to represent how it feels to be getting that same kind of toxicity from conversations with yourself.”

BBC Radio 1 premiered “Nightmare” as “Hottest Record In The World” on Radio 1’s Future Sounds with Annie Mac, who called it “brilliant.”

Throughout the album, CLOVES crafts a glitchy, dark and dystopian atmosphere which reflects the emotional landscape she navigated as she created the album. The epic and heartfelt “Manic,” a collaboration with Hudson Mohawke, is a song which would make any Massive Attack fan’s heart soar. She has also dropped new singles “Dead” and “Sicko” giving fans a preview of what they can expect come May’s release. It’s this kind of intense and at times brutal self-examination where we see CLOVES at her most vulnerable but flourishing as a songwriter.

“The album is a series of songs that to me represent the complexity of emotions you experience when you can’t pull yourself out of a spiral — or an entire other world going on behind the eyes that only you know about,” CLOVES explains.

There was a lot of genuine sadness in my life, and it’s easy to feel frustrated by your own negativity and lose all effort to care.

While making this record, CLOVES was at the start of a mental health journey, whether she knew it at the time or not. She found herself often struggling to make sense of how she was feeling, and those experiences provided the inspiration for the songs on this album. She hopes her music can work towards destigmatizing the idea of mental illness and the notion of asking for help. “Before this album I had never worked to try and understand myself and how I process thoughts and emotions, instead I had always turned to coping mechanisms and was defensive of help, it became debilitating, I was unable to compartmentalise a real threat from a poisonous train of thought, this record is purely made from necessity, it’s taking all my darkest thoughts and feelings I have about myself and saying them, it’s the start of taking their power away.”

Music always provided solace for Dunstan, who was born in Melbourne, Australia. At age 18, she relocated to London and released her debut One Big Nothing. The album generated 100 million-plus streams, and she played Late Night TV and made appearances at Coachella and Lollapalooza.

“The first album was really difficult to make,” she admits. “By the end of it, I felt really down and quite lost in myself. So much of my self-esteem revolves around my work and how well I feel I’m doing. I wasn’t in a good place. I started understanding what I wanted out of my second album before the first album cycle even ended. I wanted the anxiety portion of my internal dialogue to feature throughout the album as another character lyrically, that felt like the best way to express how tangible these thoughts feel.”

Seeking inspiration, she obsessively curated playlists of nineties favorites such as Portishead, The Cardigans, Sneaker pimps, Nelly Furtado, alongside more obscure choices like Morcheeba,
Zero 7, and FC Kahuna.

“I’m trying to poke myself throughout this record and ask, ‘Hey, are you still alive?,’” she says. “I put the negativity into something productive. For me, it proved to be the best way of coping.”

Photo credit: Furmaan Ahmed