Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
Singer-songwriters are known for inspiring audiences to get in touch with their feelings. One night three years ago, Clair Reilly-Roe found herself in touch with her own, when she began to cry while performing.
“It was the first time I played ‘Island in the City’ in the same city that I wrote it,” she remembers. The song, which is about living in New York, and finding your inner island of peace, is something she penned while visiting her sister, who was pregnant at the time.
What Reilly-Roe didn’t realize was she had an audience while she was practicing. “I had been playing outside, and the neighbors started listening to me while I was playing, and they learned all my songs, and they would drink wine on their porch. I didn’t even know they were listening.”
The neighbors eventually made their way over, brought a bottle of wine, and asked Reilly-Roe if she could come back to perform a house concert. Reilly-Roe accepted, and the neighbors had 150 of their friends over for the occasion. It turned out to be more than just another party, however, as Reilly-Roe explains, “When I did end up going back to play for them again the woman was sick with cancer.”
Although no one could have known the woman would lose her battle with cancer a year later, Reilly-Roe was still emotionally struck by the evening. “I cried on stage because I was just so moved by the whole thing,” she says of the night. “It was such a beautiful experience, and I still check in on her husband to see how he’s doing.”
While on that particular evening Reilly-Roe was inspired to shed tears, with her latest effort, an EP titled #Cuddlebear, she hopes to inspire some affectionate physical contact. She says while she was writing the album, “I was really into a snuggling period of my life. I kind of still am. It’s winter, it gets cold, and that’s really all a girl wants, snuggles and warmth.”
A seven year resident of NYC after living a nomadic childhood, Reilly-Roe also wanted to record the album without calling in any favors. The Canadian transplant says that, “Living in New York, you gotta maneuver, and kind of barter ... It’s a lot of favors and trades, and I was like I want to make it how I want to make it, without any favors or trades.”
She accomplished this goal with #Cuddlebear, but is quick to admit she still routinely barters with her peers, and was even once paid in coffee.
The bulk of the recording of the snuggle-fest occurred in Reilly-Roe’s home studio, which, although she’s a self-described minimalist, features a lot of equipment. Walking into Reilly-Roe’s home one will see a plethora of musical instruments, and gear, including a home recording set-up.
All of this is positioned specifically by Roe, who says that despite needing all her equipment, “I need space and openness.”
Having moved almost annually as a youth because of her mother’s constant desire to have more space, Reilly-Roe explains, “I like space, and minimalism, because it’s in my DNA, but I live in New York, so I have to be really crafty. I have this closet that has gear, and I know how to get everything to it, everything has its spot. The dream is to have a place with a studio set up where I can walk in without having to be a magician about it.”
For the time being she’s OK with snuggling up with her equipment, as her occasional spooning of an amp has led to #Cuddlebear, and plenty of spooning amongst her fans.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.