North Texas Daily

Q&A: Claire Morales brings a little Denton to Austin at SXSW

Q&A: Claire Morales brings a little Denton to Austin at SXSW

Q&A: Claire Morales brings a little Denton to Austin at SXSW
March 19
09:25 2019

Between being named one of 10 “new country artists you need to know” by Rolling Stone magazine (although objectively speaking, her sound can’t be reduced to country alone) and releasing a new album, the last year has been a breakout era for Denton-based singer/songwriter Claire Morales.

Her momentum hasn’t shown any signs of pumping the brakes either — at least not for the week of Austin’s international music/film/interactive festival South By Southwest. Morales and her band brought her thundering yet hard to be pigeon-holed sound to two different showcases at SXSW before she commanded the room on her own with nothing but her amp, guitar and powerful, dusky voice at Austin Taco Project.

In the midst of the chaotic SXSW comedown, we caught up with her to talk about her time at the world renowned festival and find out what her next move looks like.

How was SXSW for you this year?

It was really good. It was really crazy and hectic, but awesome. It’s kind of like everyone you’ve ever known who is in a band, all in one place at once. It’s amazing to see people from all across the country in once place.

You were really busy. Tell us about the shows you played.

We played three shows. Two were official — one was the South By second play at Taco Project where they have you do a pared-down version and the the one the night before at the Hideout was the other official showcase. The other one was from [Dallas’] State Fair Records with their bands and some friend-bands, so we played that one too.

Claire Morales plays her third and final South By Southwest Showcase at Austin Taco Project on March 15, 2019. Photo by Alec Spicer

Was this your first time playing as an official showcase artist?

It was not. We played officially in 2017 and then we kind of took last year off because it was pretty overwhelming the first time, so this is our second year as official artists.

There were a few artists representing Denton’s music scene at SXSW this year and the biggest acts out of Denton at the moment, including you, are women. How does it feel to be a part of that?

I think it’s really great. Women have always been in music and people are starting to pay more attention and notice it. I’m really good friends with the Pearl Earl girls and they, in my mind, are another big Denton female act that’s doing great. So I think it’s great to have friends that you can be inspired by and just have that appreciation and acknowledgement of something that’s already been there for a long time.

And it’s more than ‘you’re good for a woman.’ You’re just good.

Yeah, that’s something that’s happened more and more over the last few years for me personally. It’s always weird, the woman in music thing. We really do just want to be considered good musicians — and like you said, not just ‘good for women.’ I’m glad people are starting to maybe move away from that. What I feel more than anything though is that when I perform under a girl’s name, people have certain assumptions of what that’s going to sound like. People think you’re going to be an acoustic act with certain types of folky songs. We’ve moved away from that and it’s more rock ‘n’ roll. So the only thing I can say is that I feel like it’s a bit of an uphill battle sometimes to convince people to give this a chance, and that just because it’s a woman’s name doesn’t mean it’s a certain type of music.

Speaking of that, your sound is hard to pinpoint to one genre. How would you describe it in your own words?

I would say it’s dreamy, melodic rock ‘n’ roll music. But I think you’re right — I definitely feel folk influence sometimes, it can sound indie at times. I think we have a lot of different sounds going on. I like psychedelic music and I feel like that kind of bleeds into it too.

I like the idea of not having just one easy-to-pinpoint sound. But it does make it a little harder to convince people to hear it because it’s harder to describe in a succinct, simple way. But I kind of like being a little trickier to pin down.

*Cliché question alert* Which of your songs is your favorite to perform live? 

Usually whatever song is the newest is the funnest for me because I’m just kind of in it the most. All of the stuff from the new album is fun. I really like playing ‘No Telling’ because it’s the part of the set where people move and you can tell they’re really getting into it.

The last year has been a pretty big year for you. Rolling Stone mentioned you, you’re playing SXSW and you’re all over local radio like KXT. Has it been overwhelming? Do you feel more pressure?

It’s definitely felt like growth. It’s been exciting. I think I’m realizing how many moments there are going to be where you have to make decisions that can kind of change things like ‘do we want to go with a label? and which one, if so?” And we’ve been touring more, so it definitely feels exciting and a little overwhelming at times but mostly I’m just happy that things are happening.

So what’s next for you?

We’re working on a new album. We’re going to record it this year and release it next year. We’re just kind of learning the songs as a band right now, but I’ve got them all written and ready to go.

Will it be another new sound for you?

Yeah, definitely. I never want to make the same album twice so I feel like it’s going to be a new sound.

Aside from chipping away at a new solo album, Morales will be also teaming up with Denton’s Dale Jones of  New Science Projects to record a collaborative album but not before embarking on a west coast summer tour. Does she even sleep?

For now, you can catch Morales’ next show in a return to Austin with a set at Hole In The Wall on April 28.

Featured image: Claire Morales by Ellie Alonzo.

About Author

Alec Spicer

Alec Spicer

Alec is the Editor-in-Chief of the North Texas Daily.

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