Tea Time With Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy
Decidedly, Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy and I are not tea connoisseurs. But on a peculiarly warm day in January, we’re learning a lot about the aromatic beverage.
Creevy meets me for a tea ceremony to discuss her band’s forthcoming album Stuffed & Ready. It’s somewhat strange to discuss her politically pointed and clamorous rock music while undergoing a formal tea ceremony. She’s wearing a bright, technicolored striped polo tee, like something out of That ’70s Show, with her blonde hair tied in a pony and her big, brown eyes framed with glasses. We sit down curious and thirsty.
Although the woman running the tea shop is stressed at the idea of people interviewing in the small beverage hideout, Creevy and I are excited at the prospect of a small ritual. Neither of us seem acquainted with the notion of a “refined tea palette,” a phrase which is used a few times, with its five points, or really any part of the traditional service. The server describes each tea as if they have different body highs, some I imagine are as intoxicating and strong as Cherry Glazerr’s music.
And then would you prefer to pick your own tea pet or would you like me to pick one for you? The first part of the tea process is a ceremony so quick, but the pet is required.
We both light up at the idea of a “tea pet.” Mulling over our options — a laughing piglet, a puppy, a lethargic frog — we decide to go with the strange, spheric furball that our host suggests is an owl, but more resembles the Susuwatari from Spirited Away. Either way, we’re both elated with this odd, comforting choice.
“Wow,” Creevy modestly exclaims as our server bathes our pet in tea. With tea, it is believed to have a soul and clay has the potential to have a soul. Every time you pour tea of your tea pet, it gives it life, she tells us. You’re more than welcome to smell your vessel as well. We both lean in to the warm steam. The peculiar venue of our conversation and our naivety at the art of a tea ceremony humorously remind me of Stuffed & Ready’s press bio, which basically discusses how none of us humans know what we’re doing. Alas, we learn, create, fail, and enjoy the cool crevices of life.
The 21-year-old is quite the creative industry veteran, with two albums under her belt, a recurring TV role, and experience with the fashion industry. However, despite her extensive resume, Creevy acknowledges her struggle with burgeoning adulthood on Stuffed & Ready. “The record is an expression of a well of feelings that I have, my most visceral feelings really. I wanted to get raw with myself and figure how am I feeling really,” she begins. “I didn’t realize until after I finished the album that I’ve been struggling with growing up. I thought I wasn’t, but then I realized that I do.”
Stuffed & Ready describes the anxiety of not living one’s best life, always contemplating what the best choice is for living. Self-care becomes more of a self-conscious chore. The notion of should looms. Over supercharged guitar growls and infectious chattering riffs, Creevy and company exorcise worrisome demons. Stuffed & Ready feels like Cherry Glazerr’s most transparent (no pun intended) and introspective album to date, fixating on life’s gnawing growing pains and the impossibility of having all the right answers. The album’s dark moments turn to self-destruction on “Pieces,” indulgent isolation on “Self Explained,” and even the embrace of Trump’s carnage on “Juicy Socks.” But there is still a fair amount of lip-curling humor. “I don’t want to try to pretend, like I know what’s happening,” she resolutely calls out. Quoting one of the new album’s songs, she continues, “I’m a stupid fish and so are you.”
Our now cleansed and enlivened tea pet stares at us as we discuss the anxieties and heavy sentiments on the album. At one point, we’re discussing the importance of being gentle with ourselves, even when it comes to performing hackneyed notions of self-care. Sometimes the action of doing things and just living life is more important than the intent — this takes the pressure off. Life’s uncertainty, albeit difficult, proves to be motivation on its own, and it might even lead to enlightened conversation in the company of a tiny clay pet.
Read our conversation below.
STEREOGUM: An old interview said that Apocalipstick was written a while before the album was released or recorded and you were mentioning how you felt distanced from the songs. Is it different this time around?
Clementine Creevy: Yeah, exactly, that’s how Apocalipstick was, and this record is way more fresh for me. I was writing it and then going into the studio and recording it. I don’t like to write in the studio, but I like to record what I have and then listen to it and then go home and then listen to it a million times and play a bunch of different stuff that I can add on to it. That’s definitely what I did with a lot of the stuff, but it was cool because so much of the new material was new stuff I’d written a few days before recording or a week before the recording session.
STEREOGUM: Do you improvise a lot in the studio or no?
CREEVY: Definitely, I improvise my solos in the studio. I remember the solo for “Ohio” is just this four-note solo. [mimics guitar playing and makes guitar squeals] I could not figure out what should be the solo part of there. All day long, my bandmates were in the studio, Carlos (De La Garza) was there, and I was laying on the floor in agony like, “I can’t come up with the right solo. This is not working out.” So they were like, “OK.” Sometimes my bandmates and Carlos would have to wait for me to come up with the right thing. It would take some running around or handstands. We went to lunch. We’re sitting and I’m like [starts singing again].
STEREOGUM: You vocalize notes?
CREEVY: Yeah! A lot of my songs come from just a melody striking in my head and then I’ll record it into my voice memos. That can happen in a lot of weird scenarios such as Christmas Dinner, Hanukkah dinner — my stepdad’s Jewish — out at the bar with friends, at a show, while I’m sleeping.
STEREOGUM: But you have that self control where you had to write it down or record it?
CREEVY: If something is stuck in my head like that, then it is probably worth writing down.
STEREOGUM:Do you ever get stressed that you’ll lose an idea?
CREEVY: I don’t get stressed that I’ll lose an idea because I always do that. But, I do get stressed sometimes that I will never write again. It’s sort of my form of existentialism where my greatest fear is that I will never write another song. This is something that I feel every day, yet I continue to write songs at least a couple times a week. I’m just terrified that I’ve lost all creativity, and it’s something that I am scared of.
STEREOGUM: Is it prompted by anything? Are you afraid that you will lose the passion or your brain will stop working?
CREEVY: Yes, that my brain will stop working. I’m not afraid of losing passion because I think if I’m not passionate about it then I won’t do it. If I am passionate about it then I feel lucky and I am going to do it. I’m not going to force myself to try and be passionate about something if it’s not working out. That seems like hell on earth.
STEREOGUM: I’m intrigued by the idea of being stuffed. Where did that idea come from? Is that something you think about a lot — being so full and incapacitated?
CREEVY: I thought it was a cool theme for the album. It struck me in the middle of recording the record. I was driving around by myself. I came up with the title and the concept came with it. Stuffed & Ready is this idea that despite being incapacitated or unprepared to do anything besides laying on the couch, nothing is more rewarding than working.
STEREOGUM: Do you have ways of thinking or rituals to get you to that point, to motivate yourself? Was this meant to be an inspirational record even though the lyrics are very heavy? The concept written in that bio is so different from the album’s tone.
CREEVY: For the first part, I think the greatest motivation is to be kind to myself. I find that if I don’t beat myself up, work and art comes naturally because you’re not putting any pressure on yourself. I think that is the most important thing because making stuff is supposed to be fun. What I do is fun. It’s supposed to be fun. If it’s not fun then something is wrong. I find that usually the only reason it’s not fun is because I’m beating the shit out of myself mentally. Everything I do is awesome. When I take a step back and look at what I’m doing, I’m really, really grateful and really lucky and really excited.
STEREOGUM: My two favorite songs on the album I would have to say are about isolation. The idea of being conscious or anxious about how people perceived your loneliness is a strange concept.
CREEVY: Totally, it is! It’s something I struggle with and I think most of us struggle with. I think we suffer from feeling we have to do these things to better ourselves. We have to eat healthy so that we feel better. We have to hang out with people so that we feel better. We have to be social because it’s good for us. This sense of doing certain things because society says it’s good for us is an interesting concept to me. What about doing shit for no reason at all? I don’t know how often I do that nowadays. I always feel everything I’m doing is for a reason. Whether it’s getting up before when I want to or going out to a function. I’m often telling myself, “Oh, this will be good for me. This is going to help me with my mental health if I do this.” Something about that seems a little bit wrong to me.
STEREOGUM: Do you think that is prevalent recently in culture or just a part of growing up?
CREEVY: I think it has to do with society’s norms that we have constructed over the past thousands and thousands of years as a way of control and as a way of grappling with our consciousness or something. I wanted to talk about how I feel isolated because I don’t feel comfortable saying that to a lot of people so I had to put it in the song. Most of my material is stuff that I can’t articulate with conversation. The reason it’s fun for me is because it’s a massive release. It’s just this massive weight off my shoulders. Writing for me is euphoric.
STEREOGUM: I was curious in the idea of solitude as self-love or self-hatred. It comes across both ways on the record.
CREEVY: I think I like my solitude. I love it. But I feel guilty about it. I feel I shouldn’t ever be alone and that guilt turns into self-hatred. If there was no social pressure to not spend a significant time alone maybe I would feel differently about it. Maybe I wouldn’t, but I do feel guilty sometimes and that results in this feeling of self-hatred for sure.
STEREOGUM: It seems that with all your records the emphasis is on unfiltered emotion or observation whereas as opposed to theme, even though they all have themes or concepts. Was this album the same process wise compared to the others?
CREEVY: I’m really excited about Stuffed & Ready, which I hadn’t felt about with any other record.
CREEVY: Yeah. I feel more so than any other album, I have made the record that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. I have the ear for it now. I have the communication skills now to craft the album that I wanted to make, which I hadn’t ever experienced before so in that way making the record was kind of different. I was never surprised with how anything turned out, which is I think a different experience than what I’ve had in the past. I feel excited about it.
STEREOGUM: Do you have to force yourself to sit down and write?
CREEVY: No, it just comes into my head. I’ll always be playing guitar. I’ll be playing guitar and watching Adventure Time and then I’ll think of something when I’m playing. I’ve always just got it strapped on when I’m walking around my house and stuff. Or I’ll just have a nice afternoon where I’m just jamming with my Gibson Falcon 1963 amp because I love how it sounds and then I’ll come up with something. Or I’ll being listening through my voice memos and I’ll listen to a melody and I’ll jot it down on the guitar. I don’t have a daily routine. I probably should.
STEREOGUM: No, I think it’s whatever works for you personally. I’m constantly questioning my routine or if I should have a routine creatively, but I don’t know if I can actualize that in real life.
CREEVY: How does that make you feel?
STEREOGUM: It makes me feel guilty for not doing it in real life, or I’m doing the wrong thing or going to be a failed creative person because I can’t force myself do that.
CREEVY: Yeah, I totally feel that.
STEREOGUM: You do have to be nicer with yourself and gentler.
CREEVY: I find that’s the best tool ever. Every great thing comes after that. That’s what helps with the guilt and what helps with the creative flow. That’s what helps with “Hey, you know what, I didn’t make anything today. All gouda! I had a sickass day. I hung out with my friends and I got drunk and it was fucking fun, fuck you.” [Laughs]
STEREOGUM: Why were “Juicy Socks” and “Daddi” the first songs to be released?
CREEVY: I wanted to put out “Daddi” because I thought it was a cool song on the record that shows our growth as a band. It’s one of the weirder songs on the album so I wanted to go for that first. It’s just a nice little taste of all the weirdness of the record in one song.
That song is 100% a satirical song. We were performing a version of that songs a year ago. We wrote a different version of it for the record, but we performing a different version a year ago. A lot of people in the crowd would be like, “Oh, so sexy! Yeah!” And I’d be like, “Ugh it’s not, though! [speaks in strange, creepy old voice] It’s really not.” But that’s OK because I want people to feel confused about it. However you want to react to it is great. If you think it’s sexy, good for you. I’m glad you think it’s sexy. That’s awesome. I don’t want a listener to respond in any particular way. That’s never a goal as a songwriter.
I want people to choose their own path as far as relating to a song or being struck by a song. That’s why I don’t really like to talk about what each song is about because, I mean I like to do it to a certain extent because I don’t want people to feel my feelings about the song should be their feelings about the song. But that being said, “Daddi” is about how I felt in a relationships, and in all the relationships of my life, where, despite having a feminist education, when it came down to it, I still put myself in subservient roles. It’s easier said than done.
STEREOGUM: Internalized misogyny!
CREEVY: Exactly. The internalized sexism is really…it just makes me laugh sometimes because it’s so fucked up. I’m like, “How can things really be this way? How can I really feel this bad even when on the outside I am doing cool things?”
STEREOGUM: Were the two singles related in that way? There’s also a small wink to Naomi Klein in the video. Was that song specifically about Trump?
CREEVY: The song is about Trump, and the book is about Trump too. For some reason I don’t write explicitly topical stuff right now. Maybe that will change. My stuff is political inherently because I am a product of the society and I’m a feminist and have been since I was 17. It’s funny because I think what makes for the best material in my opinion is when I just kind of spill out all of my feelings about something. It seems random and scattered when you look at it on paper, but to me it makes sense with all the weird avenues in my brain. I’m OK with that. I don’t feel the need to craft it to be something that it doesn’t want to be.
I was thinking about Trump when I wrote the song. The “don’t be nervous” chorus is about saying how you feel about him and not normalizing him because it’s not normal.
STEREOGUM: Yes! But it’s sadly become weirdly OK.
CREEVY: Yeah, I don’t think anyone thinks it’s normal that he’s our president. [Laughs] It’s important for me to talk about him in an uninhibited way even if it’s violent. I don’t want to glorify violence, but that’s just how I feel about it. That’s what I’m going to talk about.
STEREOGUM: There’s a video where Naomi Klein uses the phrase “daddy will fix it mentality” to describe a dictator. Is that parallel something you noticed, or was it just coincidence?
CREEVY: I read that book on tour. It was so awesome to read on tour because I felt so known when I was reading it. She’s so rational, and I think I really am looking for that right now. I’m drawn to a lot of rational people and just rational thinking because of what we’re experiencing right now.
I love that that book showed up in the music video because it tied in perfectly with the song. “Juicy Socks” and “Stupid Fish” are probably the least personal songs. Those are songs that are about something. “Stupid Fish” is about this theory that I have about how we all don’t know anything more than each other even if we pretend that we do. That we’re all just shooting in the dark and that we’re all idiots and every day when we wake up we’re put on an equal playing field as far as what we know about the questions of life.
STEREOGUM: I totally agree. That’s the funniest song on the album for me, not just because of the title but the lyrics.
CREEVY: Hairy People Trying Not To Die, that was an album title contender, but then I decided Stuffed & Ready had a better feel to it. Hairy People Trying Not To Die, maybe that’s the next record.
Stuffed & Ready is out 2/1 on Secretly Canadian. Pre-order it here.