Clay Rendering – We Are Aware 12” + Q&A
There is something about Clay Rendering that just seems to linger long after the tracks end. It’s a haunting romanticism that feels both powerful and delicate at the same time. Husband and wife duo Mike and Tara Connelly have a distinct electricity between them that is evident not only in their live shows, but on their records as well. Following up last year’s stellar full length, Snowthorn, the band returns with their fifth release on Hospital Productions and perhaps their most dense and complex offering yet.
We Are Aware is a three track, vinyl release which exposes the couple’s far reaching musical tastes. Often described as fusing dream pop with black metal, that is not telling enough of the story. Clay Rendering is much more than that and this EP couldn’t be better proof. The title track blows through your speakers with a fast-paced, goth rock fuzziness that is seething with cold wave and 80’s rock. Next, Never Pass Away moves into a painful anguish on the folk and shoegaze inspired hymn. Side B is maybe the most memorable as the duo downshifts to an ice cold electronic composition with Towards Motionless. When you take a step back and revisit each track, the whole release gets more impressive as you realize just what’s happening. Dominick Fernow (Prurient, Vatican Shadow) is back on production and that is essentially the nail in the coffin.
We were fortunate enough to speak with Mike and Tara and discuss how they approach music and get a few words about We Are Aware.
The Brvtalist: I want to talk about the inception of the band. Talk about what it was like coming off another successful project (Wolf Eyes) and starting this with your wife, Tara. What is her artistic background and is this something you guys always talked about doing or was it inspired somehow later?
Clay Rendering (Mike Connelly): Clay Rendering began pretty naturally, without a lot of discussion. Tara and I have done more experimental/noise work as The Haunting, so we were used to working together. Tara was home for an extended period of time due to a hand surgery. With her good hand, she started making some cool songs on an electric piano we had. I started playing guitar over it and before long Clay Rendering was born. We knew we wanted to work on something as a duo..something new..and it snowballed from there.
TB: There’s a melancholy, yet strikingly romantic current that runs through all of your material. That is also the case with your live show. Is that just part of the chemistry between you and Tara? Also, talk a little bit about your approach to songwriting and creating new material.
CR: I think that, yes, it’s a part of our chemistry in life. The way we are on stage is an unrestrained version of ourselves. It is not a “performance”, but an extension of us and how we are together.
We are constantly working on new ideas. The approach varies. Sometimes I’ll come with a guitar riff or lyric and Tara expands and adds to it. Sometimes she will come with a keyboard or accordion riff, and other times–the best times, I think–is when we write together. There is no formula really. You have to jump on inspiration when it comes.
TB: With We Are Aware you return to Hospital Productions with Dominick back on production. The tracks really cover a wide spectrum of genres from the black metal infused anguish on “Never Pass Away” to the extended electronic gem “Towards Motionless” on the B side. Are you
both constantly trying to expand your musical reach and was that the goal on this record?
CR: Yes, we are always trying to expand what we can do musically as well as what we can do with the art and images. We love working with Dominick and I think this record is the perfect representation of our work with him.
“Never Pass Away” was actually one of the earliest songs we ever wrote. We just didn’t have a recording that captured what we wanted until this one, and that is very much thanks to Dominick’s production. We felt this format — a standard 12″ — would be the right fit for songs like “Toward Motionless” and “We Are Aware”. Dominick took these songs to a new level with his production.
TB: What’s coming up next for Clay Rendering?
CR: We are currently booking an autumn west coast tour. We also have another EP coming out this fall. It’s called “Fires That Cleanse” and it’s 6 songs. It was actually already released as very limited special packaged tape by Hospital for a record fair earlier this year. We like doing smaller run tapes or vinyl after a “wider” release. This will be one of those. It will be on vinyl and will be mostly available at shows or directly from us.
Thank you to Mike and Tara of Clay Rendering for speaking with us. We Are Aware is a limited run of 500 copies cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin with the first 200 pressed on transparent wax. If you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to check out Clay Rendering and Brvtalist favorite Black Mare supporting Thrill Jockey recording artist Helen Money on August 16th at Complex To purchase the record, visit Boomkat. For more Clay Rendering, visit the band’s official site.