Greetings and Salutations, my friends and music lovers alike! It’s ya girl, OGG Sierra here, and I’ve come over from my little corner on The Arcade to talk to you guys about my amazing experience seeing the band Clipping in concert.
Haven’t heard of Clipping before? Well, luckily you can read up on them and listen to some of their music here:http://clppng.bandcamp.com/ , here: https://www.subpop.com/artists/clipping , and here: http://www.clppng.com/
Essentially, Clipping has been around since before 2010 with the talented trio of Jonathan Snipes, William Hutson, and Daveed Diggs (Seriously, I must have been taking a serious nap for six years to have missed out on this band). All three of these men have a rich background in their field individually, Jonathan and William having many credits in films for their music compositions, and Daveed having been in the rap game for quite some time. Though, more of you may know him from his Tony award-winning role as Marquis de Lafayette/ Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton, and when they come together, they’re like peanut butter and jelly with an ice cold glass of milk. Y’all think I’m playin. Plot twist: I’m not.
SO! I had the opportunity to see these guys up close and personal, due to a dear friend of mine, who flew me out to go see the show in Baltimore at the Metro Gallery with her. At this point I’d been a fan for a year or so, but I love fast and I love strong, so it felt like I was there since the beginning. Took me the first couple of months of discovering them to buy every single album. (I would’ve bought them all in one swoop, but ya girl is poor.)
The Metro Gallery is a small venue. Its max capacity is a little over two hundred people, the space is intimate, has a nice bar towards the back, and a small stage. They have a seriously great lighting designer though, so props to that person! It was a great venue for me, considering I don’t care for huge concerts in the first place.
For me, it is hard to find the words to really describe the kind of band that Clipping is. The noise rap and electronic influences blend together to create a sound that is all their own, because it is clear from having had the pleasure to talk to this creative group of men, that they put everything they are into their sound.
Clipping is currently on tour with the band, Youth Code, and so they gave us a forty-five minute sampling of how kick ass they perform live, and let me tell you, if I could go back to the sampling table I’d grab all the samples and run off.
Listening to Clipping is like a high without the side effects, and seeing them live is like watching them make the product before you buy it. They played a mix of songs from their most recent album, Splendor and Misery, and some fan favorites like “Taking Off”, “Work Work”, and “Shooter”, which recently dropped a new music video which you can check out here .
It is clear watching Clipping perform, that they love it! The energy was high and Daveed knows how to work the crowd and get them even higher. There were great moments when it would be just William and Jonathan working their magic with the soundboard, remixing parts of songs and adding bits that I’d never heard before, but rocked out to like nobody’s business. Daveed’s lyrics with Jonathan and William’s tracks take you on an adventure that left me tired out with a sore throat from singing and rapping, trying my best to keep up with Daveed.
Now, as I mentioned previously, the Metro Gallery is a very intimate venue and there was a small, but awesome, crowd of people that night, because of this I had the huge opportunity to pick the band mates brains and asked them a few questions. Allow me to also say that Daveed, Jonathan, and William, are three of the nicest artists that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. They were all very patient, kind, attentive conversationalist, and I couldn’t have been more grateful for letting me steal away some of their time to answer my questions. They have always been very welcoming and interactive with their fans on twitter, encouraging them to come say hi after their shows, and they do not kid when they say that. Before I started interviewing these fine gentlemen, Jonathan and I spoke about our theatre backgrounds with a couple of other fans. These guys are super chill, so if you ever have the pleasure of seeing these guys in concert, don’t be afraid to say hi!
I had the pleasure of talking to each member of the band at a couple of different times, so I asked them each a few different questions.
How do you prepare for a show? Set up programs? Vocal warm ups? etc:
Daveed discussed with me how he had a hard time during Hamilton and with the help of Jonathan, he was able to get vocal coaching. However, now that he’s left Hamilton (upwards and forwards), he does what he can. His process that night was going outside and screaming and doing vocal warm ups while walking up and down the street a few times. He’s very funny and has a great sense of humor; super easy to talk to.
Jonathan explained that him and William have the easy job when it comes time to prep for shows. After they do their sound check and make sure their equipment is set up, they get to “hang out and have a few beers”.
What is the process of creating a song or album like for you all?
Jonathan is the one who spoke to me the most about this question. Clipping’s sound is very unconventional and creative. Jonathan and William do their best to find a lot of different sounds and sit down trying to figure out what else it could sound like. Jonathan told me about how he would take his students (he works as a sound designer and teacher in the theatre department at UCLA. Y’all thought I was playing when I said these men were talented individuals) and they would play with different sounds, like dropping things down a well, or gate doors squeaking.
William elaborated more on their team efforts, inserting things and working together on the sounds that they would like from their own ideas, to figure out what would work. You can really hear a lot of this in the Splendor and Misery album.
Any advice for aspiring artists?
There was a great moment in the night that I got both Jonathan and William together to talk for a bit, and being an artist myself, I thought it would be the perfect time to ask this question and I was not disappointed.
Jonathan and William joked around with me about the field, “If you can do something else, then do that.” We discussed the huge amount of artist out there and there is value in people who don’t do art. Which is true, art also isn’t for the faint of heart either. Both men urge artists to really think about the art. “Answer your questions, why this, why now?”
The guys also discussed their own growth having worked together and learning from each other to push them forward musically. William talked to me about Daveed’s success in Hamilton and how their fan base grew because fans of the musical started to discover them more and more, which they’re grateful for.
William also added to pay attention to scholarships and educational programs for the arts. Sharpening your skills is very important and you have to do it in art just as much as any other field.
We also discussed the importance of their work. I keep talking about Splendor and Misery because this album hit me hard. Splendor and Misery is a full story about the escape one man, taken and made a slave, who takes over the cargo spaceship that he is on, and tries to escape from his captors, meanwhile the AI of the mothership, arguably the one who saved the man, falls in love with him. It is one hell of an album that puts you on this ship with this man. You hear the ship’s parts working, you can feel the isolation that slave feels. This story has been open to many interpretations, I’ve been listening to it nonstop since it came out and I’m constantly discovering something new about it, but its main theme is something that hits hard for not just black people, which is the case for the protagonist, but all of us at one point or another. Escape. Freedom.
Splendor and Misery is a prime example of how a story centered around a person who is non-white, can have an experience that we can all relate to, no matter what our background. Clipping purposefully designed their music in a way to be able to spread this message so that everyone could feel something from it and it shows. The demographic of the concert’s audience ranged from people from ages of eighteen to people in their forties, from all genders, black, white, brown, there was someone their representing a wide spectrum of people, and it was a beautiful sight to behold. This is a feat that mainstream media keeps trying to express they cannot do.
Now for my favorite question that I asked all three of them that night…
What is your favorite part about creating and working together?
The reason that this was my favorite question to ask was because of the reaction I got from Daveed, Jonathan, and William, was exactly the same, and I asked them at different times, they were not together when I asked this question.
They all made a small sound with their eyes looking upwards for a moment, filling me with anticipation every time it happened. I waited and let them think, and I kid you not, each one of them gave me the same answer at first, “I don’t know.”
These guys have been friends for quite some time, Daveed and William have known each other since grade school, and William and Jonathan have known each other when they went to college together. This is a tight-knit trio.
After discussing it a bit more, each of them still came up with the similar answer. Being able to create art with your friends is enough, it is their favorite part. William expressed how they all had a shared language together and they all had their own strengths that they could all meld together to make something great.
All in all, this was easily my favorite concert experience. Clipping is a great band and I hold their music very close to my heart. This trio of friends are passionate artists, together and apart. When they’re together making music, they don’t just make music, they aim to write epics. Seriously, Jonathan and William’s musical genius matched up with Daveed’s practical Shakespearean writing and rap skill allows these men to take you on a journey with their music. Their imagery, their sound, their stories. When you listen to Clipping, you’re not just listening to music, you’re experiencing it.
So if you haven’t checked out Clipping after all of this, then your homework for tonight is to check out their stuff. I’ve literally given you all the sources; this is an open book test my friends. Give Clipping a listen and if they’re in your neck of the woods, go check out their shows. They come back around to my neighborhood, y’all best believe I will be there to say hi and experience their music again!