Words by Keane Fletcher
I don't know what's so auspicious about today's date, but it seems there is a tidal wave of new Australasian music dropping. Between new Lorde, Angus & Julia Stone, and Holy Holy, you could spend the whole day taking in new releases, laying on your bed with your headphones on and your eyes closed, whiling away the hours. (In fact, if you're in one of the many locked down areas of the country you might spend your day doing exactly that). Well, we here at Hipland have another track to add to today's listening party: 'Letting Go', the debut release from indie-songstress Claira J, a Delta Goodrem-meets-London Grammar power ballad smash that was inspired by ‘a full blown mental and physical breakdown’ she suffered after the abrupt end to a relationship.
‘The first lyric came to me at a Leon Bridges' concert in St Kilda,' says CJ. 'I had just had a really tough conversation with my partner at the time...I could feel something big was shifting and the words "letting go is the hardest part" kept going around in my head. I got my phone out during the gig and just started to write...it kind of just fell out of me without me realising it.'
Emboldened by a shift in mindset, and taking her cue from artists such as Adele and Dido, CJ set out to spin her heartbreak into radio gold. And what gold it is. Described as 'the fight song for our time' and shifting seamlessly between ethereal and anthemic, intimate and commanding, 'Letting Go' is the perfect showcase for CJ's dynamic vocals, bolstered by Xani Kolac and Anita Quayle's evocative string-playing, and Ben Edgar (Gotye/Missy Higgins/Matt Corby) on guitar. Not to mention the immaculate production by Robert Upward of Upward Studios in Melbourne.
‘Rob and I have been friends for many years; we met through mutual friends, and I had wanted to work with him for a long time… [he] is such a notable producer with experience beyond my years, but is also an epic musician, songwriter and just all-round beautiful human. We both have a very similar nature which makes for a really easy working environment, especially in the creative space.'
Though 'Letting Go' marks the first official release from CJ, don't be fooled into thinking she's green. On the contrary, Janine Atwill, the woman behind the pseudonym, has been treading the boards for over 15 years, featuring on screen in shows such as Neighbours, Wentworth, and Bogan Pride, as well as earning her indie-music cred playing music and gigging locally when the time allowed. This time however, it's different.
'Even though I had always been a relatively high achiever and extreme optimist, there was always a part of me that was still playing small. I had these deep-seated unconscious beliefs [...] that always made me feel unworthy of much greater success in doing what I truly loved. That being: my own music.'
And to think it all happened while the country was/is in the midst of a pandemic! I suppose it's true what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Not only do we get a killer debut track from an artist who has her sights set firmly on the big time, we also get her equally impressive music video for the song, which will be released this time next week. When it rains it pours I guess. (Note to self: slow down on the aphorisms). Until then, get those headphones out, go find a quiet nook/bed/park bench and get acquainted with the soon to be newly crowned queen of indie-pop. That way, when she's touring concert halls and winning awards, you can be one of those people who were with her from the start.
'There’s so much more to come...I’m just so excited to finally share this music and art with the world.'
You can listen to Claira J's ‘Letting Go’ on all good streaming platforms now. And check back with us next week as we take a deep dive into the song's official music video.
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!