"I think social media is the only thing that's gonna keep your music alive these days."
Jumping on a Zoom call, I find Clinton Kane sitting on the ground in a sunny white living room in LA, his laptop or phone presumably propped up on a coffee table. He fidgets with a thread on his pants and I notice his nails are painted and he’s wearing some flashy rings, embodying the Gen Z rockstar look. When I ask how his day has been, he replies with, “To be honest, It’s just been ok. I wouldn’t say great or terrible, just ok.”
With a response like that, it seems his new album, MAYBE SOMEDAY IT’LL ALL BE OK, has an apt title. A keen pessimist, Kane writes songs that are both beautiful and tragic, detailing his different youth-centred experiences through heartbreak and pain. Much like his previous singles, the album is planted firmly in pop and sounds similar to the likes of early Ed Sheeran or Alessia Cara, but maybe a bit sadder - if that's possible. Either way, fans have flocked to his sound over the years. That’s why, when it came to the debut album, he wanted it to feel as organic as all his other releases have felt.
“I didn’t want it to be like a thing where we sit down for a couple of months and come up with a whole structure and a whole thing," Kane tells. "This is three years' worth of writing, coming from very key moments in my life,” he explains. “So each song has had a really powerful lesson, either positive or negative - I mean, If I’m being honest, there is one positive song on the album and everything else is fully negative - so you can see how my life has been going for the past three years.”
Kane places a massive emphasis on mental health. Most of his songs centre around themes of love, lust, and heartbreak, and are driven heavily by his lyrics and breathy vocals, both of which inject emotion like no other. His fans, who are of similar age to Kane, love the idea that they are experiencing these new feelings at the same time he is, creating dramatic TikToks that he reposts with glee.
Starting on YouTube in 2019, Kane began to write music to help with his mental health, but now things are a little different. With a big team behind him and others relying on him, there is a lot more pressure to succeed.
“You have people who wanna listen to the music, you have A&R guys, you have all the people giving their opinions and it's hard sometimes to tell those people to shut up and leave me alone you know? I just wanna write down my feelings.
“As far as my mindset, it hasn’t really changed anything. I’m still the same person as I was before. I just have people come up to me in the street - also I’m an attention whore, so any sort of attention from anyone, I love,” he laughs, before getting serious. “But no, nothing has really changed, I just have more responsibility now. I have people to look after and I guess it's just added pressure. As far as myself though, I still feel like the same person.”
When asked how he deals with the pressure, he holds a long pause.
“Ah, I probably sit down five nights a week on the couch and cry,” he laughs. “Nah, just joking. My most useful tactic is therapy, that's super important. Other than that, I mostly just bottle up my feelings,” he says, laughing again.
The ebb and flow that Kane puts on through the interview is stark. He switches erratically between the cocky jokester to someone who’s deeply sensitive, constantly second-guessing himself and the truth. It’s possibly the outcome of shooting to superstardom at a vulnerable age. However, he might argue that it started long before that.
“I’ve written like two songs about the pressure that I'm under but honestly I feel like there are so many other things I'd rather write about. I have so much trauma, I’m not gonna lie to you. Just so much fucked up shit,” he says.
Kane’s honesty throughout the interview is uncapped, especially about his trauma-filled childhood and his ongoing issues with anxiety, but that's no real surprise. His social media profiles are littered with videos of him talking about his trauma in his classic trademark way; filled with sarcasm and angst.
In a recent TikTok, promoting a song on his new album titled I Wish I Could Hate You For Breaking Me And Calling It Love, he openly admits that, “Everyone seems to think that this song is about a girl but it’s actually about my mum.”
The taboo of talking openly about family trauma obviously skipped a generation. Similarly, his YouTube channel originally shot to fame after his song this is what anxiety feels like struck a chord with the thousands of people who watched him weekly.
He argues that his social media presence changed his career, but originally he wanted nothing to do with it.
“In November 2020 I just realised that this whole too cool for school mentality isn’t gonna work. Back then, I didn’t show my personality, didn’t engage. I didn’t really understand that - everything single person who follows me - they’re the reason I’m fucking here. They’re the reason I get to do what I do. Artists that don’t wanna do that need to get over it. I think social media is the only thing that's gonna keep your music alive these days.”
Indeed, his new album was ultimately decided by his fans. Throughout the recording process, Kane would add snippets to social media and then release songs depending on what ones did well.
“And then I would just post ten TikTok’s a day about the release [of the song] and annoy the fuck outta everybody,” he chuckles.
Luckily, fans in Australia will be able to see the new album in the flesh later this year.
“I’m back home baby!” Kane says in relation to his return to Australia, his home country. “I haven’t been back in five years and no hate to America, America has done me great, but I haven’t left this fucking country in three years. So I’m just excited to be home and just feel at home.”
Sun 11 Dec, 2022 The Princess Theatre, Brisbane
Tue 13 Dec, 2022 170 Russell, Melbourne - 18+
Wed 14 Dec, 2022 Metro Theatre, Sydney - Lic. All Ages
Fri 16 Dec, 2022 Freo.Social, Fremantle - Lic. All Ages*
Ticket and more info here
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