Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy on Movement, Vulnerability, and Crossing Genres
This feature originally appeared in the twelfth issue of She Shreds, published in April, 2017. Subscribe here and receive your copy of She Shreds’ 13th issue with your subscription.
It’s hard to describe Clementine (pronounced clem-en-teen) Creevy, songwriter, guitarist, and singer of Cherry Glazerr.
A part of me wants to tell you that her wisdom exceeds her age, while another part of me sees Creevy’s confident outlook on society and her creative expression as a reflection of a generation that is extremely vocal and active against what we choose to not see rather than that which we’re told doesn’t exist. “I don’t know anything more than anybody else does,” says Creevy. ”But I know that, so I don’t pretend to know what I’m talking about. Because I don’t. I’m just bullshit. I’m just a professional bullshitter.” Creevy says what she feels, does what she wants, takes action, identifies injustices—and then she spits it all out in the rock and roll gems that are Cherry Glazerr.
At 20 years old [19 at the time of this interview], Creevy is quintessential Los Angeles: previously described as a teen fashion queen, rock icon, and actress/model. And yet, none of that matters to her as long as she can play guitar. Clementine Creevy is a guitarist. Her passion for the instrument while using her voice for a greater good is undeniable on Cherry Glazerr’s third album, Apocalipstick. Released by Secretly Canadian on the day of the presidential inauguration and written alongside new bandmates Sasami Ashworth (keys) and Tabor Allen (drums), the subtle genre-blending techniques of hard-hitting power chords met with tasteful upstrokes and nuanced melodic riffs caught our attention. On a sunny day in Los Angeles, we met up with Creevy at Mono Records and experienced a chain of freakish events that involved almost stepping in poop, stumbling upon a lost She Shreds hat (what?!), and talking about being as real as possible over Vietnamese spring rolls.
She Shreds: What’s your relationship with interviews like?
Clementine Creevy: To a certain degree, it’s weird because interviews are so based on authorship, and who you are, when really, I just kind of like people to listen to the music and not worry about who I am. And let the music speak for itself, because that’s where my heart and soul is. I also feel like there’s nothing I can say that will make you understand where my music comes from. Because even if I say one thing, the music is an amalgamation of so many thoughts and feelings and phases of my life that, even if you said, “what’s this song about?” and I told you one thing, it would leave out everything else that also influenced the song.
Why [musicians write songs] is actually kind of the question that can never be answered, because most honest art is made from a place of necessity. Not for any grand plan. Not for any reason than purely wanting to do it.
Do you, as a fan, ever idolize and think of art from that perspective?
I totally do! And I understand it. I fan out super hard on artists. But only in relation to their music. When people start to idealize things that are not the music, I’m like, “I’m just a normal person.” I don’t have anything that separates me from that except I have an ability to be musical. And so, it pisses me off when I’ve had reporters ask me, “So you changed your hair color?”
It’s also a women in music thing, you know? Women in music are looked at for things other than their music more than men are. That’s why I love She Shreds so much because it’s all about women being looked at as musicmakers, with a focus on their music and technique, in a way that men have always been afforded.
Do you actively keep those roles in mind, and present yourself in a specific way because of it?
I just like to question everything. Like, “Why are you asking this? Why are you asking that?” People aren’t used to that because we live in a world where complacency and comfortability is the end goal. Homogeny is the end goal. And when people are so set and comfortable in their roles—gender roles, class, race, or whatever—they start to lose sight of the corruption and bullshit.
We can be any type of society that we want to be if we just change our mindframe. It’s hard to do that. I feel like I do kind of try too hard to be like, “This is bullshit, and I know that,” which is kind of an egotistical thing to do.
Because I don’t know anything more than anybody else does, but I know that, so I don’t pretend to know what I’m talking about. Because I don’t. I’m just bullshit. I’m just a professional bullshitter.
Have you ever written music with a timeline in mind?
With Apocalipstick I felt there were times when I wasn’t finished with the songs, but I needed to do them because of the timeline. Whenever I’m writing or working I kind of lose sense of everything, so it didn’t really matter. Even though I was doing it fast because of the timeline, I enjoyed every second of the creation. I never felt rushed while I was writing, because once you get into the writing zone, nothing else matters. You don’t feel pressure. You don’t feel anxiety. You don’t see anything except music. So it was actually kind of a fun experiment, because I had to push myself a little bit harder to finish songs. [laughs]
With the new record and switching of band members, what was 2016 like for you?
I practice not taking anything too seriously. Even crazy shit that seems kind of crazy to other people never really seems that crazy to me. Which can be kind of isolating too because I sort of shut down my emotional side and get really rational. I like to think and move through the world rationally, but I’m naturally a very emotional person, so I battle with myself a lot.
Taking things not too seriously was very helpful during stressful times in the band, like when Hannah departed and when Sean left, and I felt like… sad or, you know, weird [laughs]. So it’s helpful in that way to be like, “Look dude, nothing is that serious. You’re still alive and you still have two legs and you have a guitar.” So that’s what I always revert to.
Did you write these songs this year or were they songs you were writing and finishing up for a few years?
A few years, actually. Definitely wrote some of those in 2015 and then 2016. We recorded the album in fuckin’ January of 2016. It’s just coming out a year later. As you know, it takes forever [to get a record out]. The record label is all backed up and blah blah blah. I don’t feel connected to those songs except for a few of them because I wrote them a long time ago. I’m only 19 so I’m always changing a lot, every year, and so I feel like a totally different person who thinks in a totally different way. But that’s why I’m always writing music.
How does the release of the record make you feel?
I’m a little bit excited, but I don’t feel like I can be proud of it and embrace it in the same way I could have six, seven months ago. I can’t totally feel proud of it because it’s just music that I’ve already moved past so much. But I am excited for it to come out because it’s work that we made that hasn’t been released yet.
There’s so much that you don’t see that goes on. It’s just a snapshot of a continuous thing. I try not to be too precious with music—it’ll trip you up. Because no artist is fully proud or finished, if they’re an honest, crazy motherfucker like I am.
What’s your sign?
I’m a Sag. I’m curious and energetic. [A] traveler is definitely true. I feel trapped when I feel any sort of stagnation. That’s why I love being on the road. But it’s also weird because it allows me to run away all the time. Not to get real deep here but to get real deep here, it allows me to run away from constantly reinventing myself all the time. I’m most comfortable when I’m constantly moving, constantly reinventing myself, never feeling like I’m in one place, and that’s just how I function. I’m a happier person when I’m that way. When I have one house, one spot, one boyfriend, I’m like, “Arrrrgh!”
That’s suuuuper real!
It’s very real, and it’s something I’m working on. It’s like, fucked up. It’s definitely one of my emotional walls. I can’t handle tension or fights, and it sucks because that’s the real shit. That’s what makes relationships grow and get stronger even, and I avoid it entirely.
What are you scared of?
I think it’s my rational brain talking. Like, okay, if I’m only here for so long, I may as well have fun all the time. Not allowing myself to be vulnerable and emotional. I don’t want other people to see that, I just want to have fun, and it will distract me from the raw shit.
Do you feel like the raw shit comes out in your music though? Definitely. That’s why all my music is fucking depressing. And I’m not like that in person. My bandmates make fun of me, they’re always like, “Dude, your songs are hella depressing! Like, your lyrics are fucked up!” And I’m like, “I knoooow. What is that?” Every time I sit down at the guitar, I’m like, [singsongy voice] “I feel sad! Alt rock alt rock alt rock…” And I’m like, “Why can’t I stop doing this?!” But I can’t. Anything else feels dishonest. I’ve tried to write other ways. That’s why I really don’t love pop songs. Every time I hear “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” I wanna barf. How does anyone feel that way?! It feels dishonest to me.
What is the fear of? Is it abandonment? Fear of connection?
I think it’s all of the above. I think it’s all of those things, like, we’re scared little animals. It’s hard not to act in fear sometimes, but you do it. I have this fantasy of having like, really close girlfriends and I just don’t have that.
Is that what “Told You I’d Be With The Guys” is about?
Yeah. It’s funny because that’s when I started to get close with girls. I wish I could be as emotionally free as men. Men are conditioned to be emotionally free. Dude, sexism is so deeply ingrained. It’s so deep and everyone deals with ingrained sexism. The people who are able to vocalize what that looks like—Margaret Cho, Sarah Silverman, Ali Wong, Angela Davis, and so many other awesome feminists who are able to put it into words—that feeling that every woman knows but doesn’t understand. And Simone de Beauvoir. To have your experience explained a little bit to you, you’re like, “Whaaaat the fuuuuuck! How did you know that?!?!” It changes your whole life and the way you see the world. I took a women’s studies class and it explained [what] I always knew. Shit is unequal, shit is fucked.
And at the same time it’s difficult, because having that mentality or that idea and being too radical with it is seen as being radical. There’s a certain demographic that isn’t going to listen to you when really it’s the demographic that needs to listen to you most. There’s such a fine line of how you talk about it.
I know. Radicalism versus moderate people—it’s something I talk about all the time. People who are moderate activists try to do small incremental change over a long period of time, [versus those] trying to aggressively change the whole system all at once. MLK was moderate. Malcolm X was a radical. And you need both! I fluctuate all the time between being a moderate and a radical.
The new Cherry Glazerr record came out on January 20th. Was that on purpose?
No. I’m so glad it [came] out that day though, because to me music is what’s going to be the most powerful, effective thing. I feel lucky to be a musician right now because I have an outlet to speak my mind and unleash my anger that I bet a lot of people feel.
I’d kind of like to say that Donald Trump is the best thing to happen to feminism, because it’s going to make people realize that our work here is not done. You have to be loud. You have to be radical. The fact that a rapist is our president just shows you how important feminism is. You could see it as defeating, or you could see it as a newfound need to be even louder and stronger and more radical than you were before.
Tell me about what you were getting into when you first started playing guitar.
I started getting into Jimi [Hendrix] and the Who and the Rolling Stones and all of that shit, and then I sort of moved into funk. I listened to a lot of Parliament Funkadelic and I think that’s where a lot of my style derives from. I’m kind of obsessed with upstroke funk grooves. I was obsessed with Eddie Hazel, Curtis Mayfield, Al Green. Soft R&B, soul, that’s where that shit came from. And then, punk after that. I went from funk to punk, and was listening to Bad Brains on repeat. Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Crass, Red Kross—all that shit.
I can totally hear that collaboration of genres. Listening to different genres is the best thing you can do to your creative brain.
I always loved practicing having an open ear. I could listen to Bob Dylan and I could listen to Slayer. I wanted both. I wanted to be open to all types of music whether it was super poetic meditative minimalist music or aggressive maximalist rock music. I love prog rock, too. I’ve become more into prog rock since I started getting more into technical music. I want to be really technically good, so I’ve started listening to Zappa and King Crimson and shit like that. That was kind of a more recent thing.
Tell me about your Rickenbacker.
I would love to tell you about my Rickenbacker! Ugh, so, my Rickenbacker is from 1966, hollow, a 330. It has a Bigsby bridge and I put flatwound [strings] on it. I just wanted to make it sound even weirder than it already was. It’s warm but twangy at the same time. I recorded with it for Apocalipstick and have been touring with it nonstop for the past two years. I found it at this awesome guitar shop called Old Style [in Los Angeles]. It was expensive as hell. I spent my whole life savings on it. [laughs] It’s a really great fucking guitar. It’s got a thin neck and I’ve got little hands so it’s easy for me to play.
What else do you use?
I usually write on my Mexican Strat, and I just got a gray American Strat standard with two humbuckers. It’s a new guitar but it sounds kind of vintage. I love how vintage guitars sound but not how they travel because they’re fucking fragile. My Rickenbacker has a crack down the middle, the nut falls off all the time, and that’s an expensive studio guitar. I shouldn’t be touring with it, but I do anyway because I love it so much. But I’m gonna start touring with my Standard Strat which I’m a little sad about, but I don’t want to be tied to one guitar, as much as the Rickenbacker is a part of my identity. It’s on the cover of our record.
Imagine losing that or breaking it forever.
That would be the end of my life. I would die. I remember playing with my Rickenbacker for the first time after I had been playing with my Mexican Strat for the beginning of Cherry Glazerr. We played shows with that Strat for like two years and then I finally got a Rickenbacker. And I played with it, and it was like the world opened up. I was like, “Holy shit. This sounds incredible.” But you have to know that something is bad in order to know when something is good, too. I didn’t realize how shitty my Mexican Strat sounded until I started to grow with it, and I was like, “This isn’t what I want to hear. I want something better.”