Why Clairo Passed on Major Label Offers And Built Her Own Team



From: Carlisle, Mass.
Age: 20
Label: FADER Label

Self-Taught: Born Claire Cottrill in Atlanta, Clairo taught herself guitar by watching live videos of her favorite bands on YouTube, but she never thought she would be an artist herself. At 13, she started uploading covers of soft-spoken indie acts like City & Colour and Daughter, and Mumford & Sons. Three years later, she was writing her own songs.

Going Viral: She posted her first original pop song and homemade video, “Pretty Girl,” to YouTube in August 2017, immediately igniting interest from RCA, Columbia and Capitol. “The internet gave me all my resources to get big,” she says. But it left her with a tough choice: “Do I go to school and be a student, or do I be a rock star?”

Close-Knit: Instead of signing with a major label -- Clairo felt it was too soon in her career to take a specific path -- she sought guidance from family friend Jon Cohen, co-founder of FADER and an executive at the company’s marketing agency, Cornerstone. “It’s like night and day when you’re exposed to the world before you’re ready for it,” she says. Adds Cohen: “Our goal was to give her the freedom to do things at her own pace.” In late 2017 she signed a 12-track contract with FADER, which she partially fulfilled in May 2018 with her debut EP, Diary 001, and landed a new manager in Mike Ahern.

Making Friends: Clairo is readying the release of her first full-length, Immunity, out Aug. 2. She wrote lead single “Bags” after listening to Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album “a million times,” she says. Bridgers has since reached out on Twitter to say how much she loves the track. Clairo teases that “Bags,” which was co-produced by Rostam (Vampire Weekend, Carly Rae Jepsen), is a small sample of the LP’s wide-ranging palette, saying: “Every song has its own world.”

This article originally appeared in the June 29 issue of Billboard.