Birth name: Claire Cottrill
Also known as: DJ Baby Benz
Born/Date of Birth: August 18, 1998
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Origin: Carlisle, Massachusetts, U.S.
Genres: Lo-fi bedroomelectropopneo-lounge
Instruments: Vocals, guitar,keyboards
Official Website: clairo.com
Claire Cottrill (born August 18, 1998), known professionally as Clairo, is an American singer-songwriter from Carlisle, Massachusetts. Her fame escalated after releasing "Pretty Girl" (2017), a lo-fi-produced song that attracted over 40 million views on YouTube. She attributed the interest in the video to the website's algorithm system. Her professional debut was with the EP Diary 001 (2018), followed by the LP Immunity (2019).
Claire was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of marketing executive Geoff Cottrill. According to her, "Pretty Girl" was inspired by 1980s pop music, and that although she was tagged with the "bedroom pop" label, it was not her intention to make that style of music. After the popularity of "Pretty Girl", Clairo signed a record contract with the help of her family's connections with The Fader magazine. Her presentation of herself as a "do-it-yourself" artist was questioned amid some online controversy, which included her being labelled an "industry plant".
Background and "Pretty Girl"
Cottrill was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of Geoff Cottrill, a marketing executive who formerly held top positions at Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Converse, and MusiCares (a philanthropic organization associated with the Grammy Awards). Between 2015 and 2017, he was president of American operations at MullenLowe Lintas Group. Claire grew up in Carlisle, Massachusetts. She began recording covers at the age of 13 and taught herself guitar from Internet tutorials. She often performed covers at local businesses including Blue Dry Goods. During this time, MTV contacted her to record a song to be used as background music for one of their shows, but the song was never used. She recalled that the Shins' Wincing the Night Away was "the first album I really completely geeked out over" crediting it as her inspiration to make music. Based on the fact that many around her told her that a career in music was unlikely she did not consider it a likely prospect and musically "kind of did whatever I wanted" Under the names Clairo and DJ Baby Benz, she began posting music to Bandcamp while attending Concord-Carlisle High School before beginning to post covers and songs in addition to DJ mixes of rap music on SoundCloud. She also maintained a YouTube channel where she would post covers and short films. In 2017, she began attending Syracuse University.
Clairo first drew wide attention in late 2017 when the video for her song "Pretty Girl" went viral on YouTube. The song was recorded for an indie rock compilation benefiting the Transgender Law Center. According to her, she recorded the track "using the resources around me which were pretty shitty. I used like a little keyboard that I had and I was really into ’80s pop music — my mom is obsessed with it — so it kind of inspired me to do something like that." She attributed the interest in the video to YouTube's algorithm system. The video also became popular on vaporwave-centric Facebook groups. Another video that was uploaded to YouTube a month earlier, "Flamin Hot Cheetos", garnered 3 million views by July 2018.
The success of "Pretty Girl" led to interest from major labels such as Capitol, RCA, and Columbia. Clairo signed a 12-song record contract with Fader Label. According to The New York Times, this was made possible by her father's connection to Jon Cohen, co-founder of The Fader and an executive at the publication's marketing agency, Cornerstone. He signed Clairo to the magazine's associated record label and introduced her to Pat Corcoran, manager of Chance the Rapper. Corcoran's talent agency Haight Brand enlisted her as a client near the end of 2017. Clairo is managed by Mike Ahern and Jimmy Bui.
"Industry plant" controversy
—Claire Cottrill, 2017 interview with Fader
In October 2017, an article about Clairo was published by Fader, in which she stated that she was most inspired by Brockhampton, and cited their "do-it-yourself 'attitude'" as her ethos. Some online communities criticized her comments as disingenuous, arguing that her professional career was born from nepotism, and thus she should not be considered a true DIY musician. They accused her of being an "industry plant," an artist who has backing from the music industry to advance or kick-start their career, but are deceptively presented as an independent start-up. Such discussion appeared mostly on Reddit. One of the widely shared posts lamented that, although the user enjoyed her music and thought she was an "inspiring" songwriter, they could not fathom why none of her articles and interviews acknowledged her father's significant industry connections.
Clairo described the "industry plant" accusation as sexist and denied that there was "a man behind my success". The Ringer contributor Lindsay Zoladz commented that it would have likely been more difficult for Clairo to get a record contract without her father's connections, which "would have likely raised more eyebrows had she been a Gen X–er … but also it is impossible to imagine Clairo's success in a Gen X world, so vital is the internet to her appeal." Of the "bedroom pop" tag, Clairo stated that she had "a love-hate relationship" with the term, as it was not her intention to make that style of music, and surmised that "what makes this wave of artists different or special is the fact we've created a community among ourselves."
Diary 001 and Immunity
On May 25, 2018, Fader Label released Clairo's debut record, titled Diary 001. In her review for Pitchfork, Fader contributor Sasha Geffen wrote that the EP ought to subside the "legions of naysayers who dismissed her as a one-hit fluke or an industry plant." By then, "Pretty Girl" had amassed more than 15 million views on YouTube. A piece written by Joe Coscarelli of The New York Times said that the work: "bridges both worlds, building on the coy, understated bedroom pop of 'Pretty Girl' and 'Flamin Hot Cheetos' toward sturdier numbers like '4EVER' and 'B.O.M.D.'". That same month, she announced a headlining tour throughout North America, opening for Dua Lipa and being supported by Beabadoobee and Hello Yello on multiple dates. Her July performance at the Bowery Ballroom in New York was a sold-out show. In October 2018, she performed at Lollapalooza. She is scheduled to perform at Coachella 2019.
On May 24, 2019, Clairo released a new single, "Bags", and announced her debut album Immunity which was released on August 2, 2019. She would further release two more singles from the album "Closer to You" and "Sofia." Following the album's commercial success, Apple Music named Clairo an Up Next artist in August 2019. Clairo made her television debut performing "I Wouldn’t Ask You" on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in September 2019, before performing "Bags" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show a few days later. In October 2019, Pitchfork named "Bags" as one of The 200 Best Songs of the 2010s.
Cottrill was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 17. Cottrill came out as bisexual to her fans via tweet in May 2018. In an interview with Willa Bennett of them., Clairo explains that making friends in college is what helped her to come out as they were openly gay and she was inspired by "their confidence and their willingness to be exposed."
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