CLARA-NOVA shares the Origins of her new single, “The Illusionist”: Stream

From French-American electropop artist Sydney Wayser's new EP, The Iron Age

Photo by Amber Canterbury

Origins is a recurring new music feature in which an artist charts the influence of their latest hit single.

If you attended a music festival at almost any point during the summer, you likely caught a performance by CLARA-NOVA. That is to say, if Lorde was at the festival, then you probably heard CLARA-NOVA’s Sydney Wayser. She was singing backup for the New Zealand pop star, but Wayser isn’t just the support for a bigger star. Around all those tour dates, she was working with producer Shawn Everett (Weezer, Alabama Shakes, Lucius) on her upcoming EP, The Iron Age, which is set for a March 2nd, 2018 release via Kobalt Music Recordings.

The Iron Age marks Wayser’s fourth release under the CLARA-NOVA moniker, and if the lead single is any indication, it may just be her strongest yet. Entitled “The Illusionist”, the track is a bubbling piece of electropop, percolating up on some subtly funky bass and a rising keys. Wayser’s alluring vocals are as captivating as the lyric’s antagonist, a flirtatious inamorato who woos with sweet words that conceal true intentions. “Keep my intention lingering/ Slight of hand/ You had me there in an instant/ Now you’ve tricked me again,” sings Wayser. “I heard that melody, you’re a song bird/ One of a kind/ You’re a song bird and you’re singing in a loop.”

Take a listen below.

To help explain the charming and misleading appeal of “The Illusionist”, CLARA-NOVA has detailed the Origins of the track. From Yayi Kusama’s art to Arcade Fire to Gob, it’s all laid out below.

Yayoi Kusama — Infinity Mirrored Room — The Souls Of Millions Of Light Years Away:

The Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror installation at The Broad is forever sold out or stuck, like our LA traffic, with endless lines that never move. After multiple attempts to get in without success, I finally gave up on seeing the piece in person. That being said, the waiting in line and the desire to get in ended up inspiring me just the same. As most people probably have seen the piece through Instagram or something along those lines, I knew what it looked like. It’s a beautiful repetition of form through mirrors and LEDs. I kept seeing little clips and photos and the lyrics sort of wrote themselves from there. “Follow the light down the hallway, numbered doors/ Keeping my senses wanting, reminding me of a thousand lives and a thousand lifetimes/ We’re anything, anything but ordinary.”

James Turrell — Light Reignfall:

There was a phenomenal James Turrell retrospective a few years ago at LACMA and I was lucky enough to see his installation, Light Reignfall. There were two “scientists” in lab coats that greeted me and helped me lay down on this special bed / cot. They then pushed me inside of a white orb where I laid back for 11 minutes as light overwhelmed my senses. I was floating alone in the orb and time sort of slipped away. The lights were flashing over me, repetitive at times and more free form at times. I wanted to make a song that could hold that space, a song that could float.

Arcade Fire — “We Used to Wait”:

This idea of floating and repetition kept circling in my mind. I wanted the song to feel like it was moving forward, but also suspended. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire is an album that I go back to often and when I re-listened to their song “We Used to Wait” while I was making my record, it sort of took on a new shape or gave new inspiration. The repetition of the piano in their song felt like it did the thing I wanted. It helped suspend but also pushed forward. Shawn Everett (co-producer) and I decided to try some kind of repetitive motion like that. We used drum sticks on a wooden chair and played a straight and simple percussion part to help create that suspended forward momentum.

“Illusion, Michael” — Arrested Development:

I think this explains itself. 😉


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