george clanton’s 2018 opus ‘slide’ is an epic. a glossy, cathartic fusion of electronic pop, trip-hop, and, of course, vaporwave, the project earned him a new level of well deserved notoriety both within and outside of the vaporwave subculture he came up in.
clanton has put together and is co-headlining the inaugural 100% electronicon fest happening 8/31 at Elsewhere (already sold out but tickets to the after-party are still available). the festival, named after the label clanton runs, is a multi-stage day into night celebration featuring some of the most exciting and sought after names in vaporwave, dream pop, and alternative electronic music.
when i first heard about you, i was surprised to learn that george clanton was your real name! can you go into detail about the decision to drop your mirror kisses alias? does it have any impact for you to be writing and performing under your own name?
Mirror Kisses was tongue in cheek band name for a joke album of 80s-revivalist songs I made in 2008. When one of my songs “Kameron” got the tiniest bit of blog attention in 2011, I was afraid to change my name and lose my 100 listeners! It seems ridiculous now.
I really just hated saying “Mirror Kisses” every time someone asked me my band name. I knew I would never get sick of saying “George Clanton,” a name that has been with me for my whole life. For people who think its a “pun” on George Clinton, I say that is not what a pun is, and I am way funnier than that. I think it does have an impact in that I used to think about appealing to this 80s vibe on the Mirror Kisses stuff, but now I just make music without thinking much about what I’m doing, and I think the music is a lot more interesting as a result. I’m free!!
your compositions create vast and vivid imagery that can take any listener out of the room. what thoughts, feelings, images etc. go through your mind when you’re in the inception phase of a new song?
Even though I’ve dropped the 80s revivalist theme years ago, the constant thread in all of my music is evoking nostalgia. So when I’m starting from scratch I try not to think about anything too much and just put my fingers on the keys and randomly press notes while I cycle through patches and effects until it triggers a memory or emotion. So I might be thinking about listening to a mysterious song on the radio with bad reception and recording it on the my cassette tape, which was a favorite childhood activity before we had Shazam (app). Or chilling at the pool. Childhood memories, mixed with complex adult emotions.
tell us a bit about 100% Electronicon. How did the event come about? has this been an idea you’ve been kicking around for a while?
This is an event I (and many others for sure) have been saying needed to happen for years. There was a time where it seemed like every few months a different 15 year old would email me asking me how much it would cost to get ESPRIT (another one of my projects) to perform at a TBA vaporwave festival. But the reality is its very complicated to put on an event like this. As I got more experience with performing and booking, and my profile grew inside and outside of the vaporwave subculture, it occurred to me that I might be the person with the best chance of successfully putting this together and just went for it.
i’ve read that you put a lot of sincere emotions into writing ‘slide.’ has it always been your intent to write from a place of vulnerability, or was there a specific to focus to bring sincerity to your songwriting on ‘slide.’
With earlier Mirror Kisses stuff I would specifically write from a place of insincerity! So, even today I don’t set out to write something sincere. I just don’t think about what I’m singing anymore, and a lot of “Slide” is written freestyle. The lyrics are really vague and come from deep down sometimes from a subconscious place. I think thats why the people who “get” George Clanton get emotional when singing along at the concerts even though we are just shouting “you lost me there where did you go!” I don’t know exactly what we are tapping into but we are all on the same page.
you’re a pre-eminent figure in the vaporwave genre, have made tremendous success crossing over into the dreampop realm, have your own record label, and have just sold out elsewhere with 100% electronicon. what part of the journey feels most rewarding to you?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a rock star like I saw on TV, and I have been making music with no one listening for a long time. The kid version of George, and the 20-year-old directionless sob-story version of George would both be proud of how big this has become. The most rewarding thing is always the very end of playing a show that really popped off, when everyone is screaming. In those moments I stop thinking about whats next and feel very present. I know I’m not a big famous rock star, but it can feel that way in those moments. I can get a bit teary at those times, realizing how lucky I am that my wildest dreams came true. I think ElectroniCON is going to be one of those times.
Interview by Jake Korolev
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