Clay Priskorn: “Being patient in this industry”

Being patient in this industry. It takes time to build your image and build your band. A lot of artists come out of the gate thinking like “Oh this is gonna blow up. This is gonna be my big song.” Not saying it won’t, but get 5 songs and keep moving on. I think that […]

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Being patient in this industry. It takes time to build your image and build your band. A lot of artists come out of the gate thinking like “Oh this is gonna blow up. This is gonna be my big song.” Not saying it won’t, but get 5 songs and keep moving on. I think that patience is a really important thing.

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Clay Priskorn from Friends of Clay.

FRIENDS OF CLAY, aka Clay Priskorn, is an LA based indie music artist who, during Covid, casually picked up clay animation as a new hobby over the quarantine. He is now welcoming listeners into the FRIENDS OF CLAY universe through his audiovisual lens, which features his original songs set to claymation graphics.

FRIENDS OF CLAY debuted with the single, “What Percent Are Monsters,” which received early support from the LA Daily News, who notes: “Priskorn is heavily influenced by the Beatles and that comes through in the song with a melody reminiscent of the more psychedelic side of the Fab Four, think “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, the singer, songwriter, musician and director/producer introduces his genre-bending, mixed media world through his new singles and upcoming self-titled EP (date TBA). Self-produced, performed and directed; the project is an introspective journey through every creative facet of the artist. The result is an indisputable signature that is evident both sonically and visually throughout the project.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a small town, small suburb called Agoura Hills. It’s about 30 minutes outside of LA. I have two amazing parents and I have two older sisters. I’m the baby. I was very into sports at a young age. Basketball was obviously my favorite. I played that one a lot. I really got into music at the age of 10. I think I was able to truly get inspired by music because of my dad. When he would play 95.5 and I would listen to the Beatles and Crush with him, that had a big impact on my music.

When I was writing “Growing Up,” I was 19 attending Santa Barbara Community College. When I wrote the first line “I’ve been growing up, faster than I ever could,” I was thinking about my childhood and dealing with a couple of deaths in my family. Thinking just how quickly life can flash in front of your eyes and how to take advantage of every moment you have with the people you love. That’s kind of how the first lyric got started and how I morphed it into the song.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve had a lot of cool and interesting things happen but the coolest one was probably after I released my first album at 18. I went on tour with Olivia Olson, who worked for Adventure Time, she’s one of my closest friends. I played guitar for her, in Europe especially, and I was able to book acoustic shows for my own music while I was touring with her. While I was playing music in LA, I didn’t feel like I was really connected to the music scene. So when I went to Europe I didn’t really have expectations… I was like “Oh I’ll give this a shot.” And I got a really good response there. People were listening to my music over there. Especially in London. It was refreshing to see people attentive while I was playing all my own music. And that really helped my confidence grow and to know that I need to keep pushing. There are people that want to hear my music in the world.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I tried to do Claymation without learning the basics of it — had to do a lot of trial and error. I looked up some YouTube videos and really learned the foundation and mechanics of Claymation. You can seriously learn how to do anything on YouTube!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The most exciting project is the newest Friends of Clay single “Livin Time,” which is coming out November 6th. The video was inspired heavily by “Fear of Loathing in Las Vegas.” It was one of my favorite books growing up and I just loved the movie with Johnny Depp. The video is a really crazy, trippy world of dinosaurs living in Las Vegas.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in music, film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

In the industry, diversity is great because you get to learn about other people’s cultures and it can really mold you, your creative ability and how you write your music. You can learn new melodies and styles from other cultures. Artists are inspired by everything around them, so why should inspiration be limited to a person, place, ethnicity, etc.

We live in such a blended world and I think that should be reflected in the industry. Everyone deserves a fair chance. There shouldn’t be anyone or any group that has a disadvantage, it should be open to the best person for the job.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • Being patient in this industry. It takes time to build your image and build your band. A lot of artists come out of the gate thinking like “Oh this is gonna blow up. This is gonna be my big song.” Not saying it won’t, but get 5 songs and keep moving on. I think that patience is a really important thing.
  • Consistency is key. I was really pushing my career, but I took a year off to write and produce for other artists. In that time, I stopped doing my own music and the consistency kind of hurt my career. I think that if you continually post and you’re very consistent on your image, then that builds the narrative.
  • I think that no one is going to work harder than you. I wish someone told me that no one is going to work harder than you do on your own stuff, so don’t rely on other people to push you. You have to be the leader, especially if you’re an artist. You lead by example. So if you’re sitting around, no one is really gonna bat an eye. But if your stuff starts going and people know that you’re putting in the work, they will gravitate towards that.
  • You can find or learn anything on YouTube. I learned Claymation through just looking it up.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Always do something that you are passionate about and that creates fire. I have a lot of friendswho are artists and they get uninspired quickly because they have to do stuff that they don’t want to do. One of the great things about the FOC project is that everything I’m doing I’m so inspired to do, that it comes off naturally for me and I’m so happy to be doing it.

I think I’d recommend that my colleagues take on a project that inspires them over a project that they think they have to do.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If you are a good person, deep down, things work out for you and people want to work with you. That’s really what I pride myself on. I always respond to people who are interested in my music. I really want people to engage with me. Because if I’m helping them out, they’re also helping me out in the same way. It’s important to be nicer to people. Just say “hi” to someone or be nice to someone who looks like they’re having a tough time. Very simple, just try to be good.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My dad was someone who got me my guitar and showed me the beauty in music. I really appreciated that at a young age. For some reason it just clicked with me really early, I don’t know maybe I was just an emotional 8-year old, but I really connected to his music and to this day it’s still the music I play.

Someone else is my high school Jazz teacher. He was this outrageously crazy, but like genius jazz teacher. He would berate you in class if you were slacking off. But as high school kids, we were all under achieving and I feel like that really helped to push me and realize “I have a gift that I want to continue to give people and I can’t slack off.” I feel like he pushed me the most. In 9th grade, I was this hot shot guitar player who thought he was so good and I came in and played this solo that he wasn’t impressed about and he made me cry in front of the class. I was so humiliated but at the same time he was right and I built tougher skin because of that. I knew that it wasn’t personal but he wanted the best for me. His name was Mr. Moseley — I really respect him to this day because he pushed me to be that way.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Don’t take any day for granted. I know it’s a simple thing to say, but every day you wake up, there is someone else who’s going through so much crap. If you can wake up, you’re healthy, and you just try to make an impact in the world — it will make you feel better if you are more positive about life and live it to the fullest. I know it’s hard, but just try to enjoy your life because you only get one.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Probably Dave Matthews. I like how genuine of a person he is. He’s really inspired me. Back in the day when I was 16 / 17, I really tried to start my singing/songwriting career. I played guitar at a high level, but I wasn’t a good singer. For the next two years, when I was in college, I had a lot ofpeople tell me I shouldn’t sing. People I respected were saying “you should tell Clay not to sing, like he’s really not good.”

I started listening to Dave Matthews. He has a really has a unique voice and he’s self-taught. He was just such a brilliant artist that I started singing a lot of his songs too. I got so deep into his music. I would sing along with him and he helped me to become a better singer and find my voice. He’s such a genuine person, and I think he’d be the dude I’d want to sit down and talk with.

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This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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