Songwriter Claud Mintz Makes Strides In A Solo Career

Photography by Michael Salisbury

Photography by Michael Salisbury

A lot can happen in a year…

RING… RING…. “Hello?” replied a soft (and slightly raspy) voice. It was a Wednesday morning and Claud Mintz was “just hanging out” awaiting a show they had later that evening. They were set to open for The Marias and Triathalon in Denver, CO.

Within the last year, Claud’s life took quite the exciting turn. Influenced by their best friends and a lively creative community, Mintz now stands in a fresh phase of their solo career, and their genuinely joyful approach with their art will surely attract the plentiful opportunities they have to look forward to in the years ahead.

During the fall of 2017, Claud found themselves traveling over 700 miles from the Highland Park suburb they grew up in to a campus of 15,000 plus new faces. “I really loved it, honestly”, they commented on attending Syracuse University. They took the semester off and added they most likely would not return to school this year.  “Other than that”, they continued, “... it took a minute to find my people.”

A minute might not have been much of an exaggeration. On the first day they arrived at Syracuse, Claud met their best friends (and fellow musicians) Josh and Claire whom, since meeting, all haven’t gone a day without speaking to one another. “We were in this music industry program called the Bandier Program…”, which was a program Syracuse offered, specifically with a focus on music business. Claud shared that around December/January of their freshman year (2017), a musical collaboration would blossom between them and Josh.

They explained they were “lurking the internet” in search of Josh’s Soundcloud and stumbled upon a short instrumental of “Onetwothree”, the song that would eventually be their first single. Intrigued by the guitar in Josh’s instrumental, Claud asked their friend to send them the piece as it was. Once they had their hands on it, they curiously began to rearrange Josh’s creation, turning the track into a complete song structure, and finally, adding vocals. “I sent it back to Josh... we opened it [together], and we were like, ‘Woah. I think we have something...’”

That first completed song would lead to more collaborations between the two, officially marking the beginning of Toast (Claud’s former alias). “We actually started Toast together as a duo… [Josh] produced and I’d write the songs and perform them.” Toast was also the title of Claud’s first EP. Over sentimental production from Josh and silvery vocals from Claud, their Toast EP was an impressive first project: a collaboration that represented a harmonious relationship held between two friends. “...[Josh] basically helped me find my sound”, Claud added wholeheartedly. “He’s my biggest influence for sure”.

By the time the school year was closing out Claud’s sound had sharpened. Soon came Claud’s next milestone, their introduction to New York’s DIY and indie scene. “[While] I was living in New York this past summer, I was introduced to… an amazing group of queer people that I never had before. I didn't know how I could grow as an artist in an environment other than that… It became really apparent for me [that] if being an artist is something I really wanted to pursue, I would have to put myself in a space that would allow me to grow.”

Upstate New York’s vibrant and diverse artistic community revealed itself to Claud. The environment was energetic, thriving with the presence of musicians funneling in and out of the city. “It was cool, I was playing with bands from all over [the country] but I never really left upstate New York”.

One notable supporter Claud emphasized their personal admiration for was The Marías. The story of their developed friendship with the LA based band begun with an online exchange and would later progress in the quintet asking Claud to open for them on six of their (fall 2018) tour stops.

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“[Maria and I] had just been talking… over [Instagram] DM’s… she messaged me every time I [had] a show wishing me luck… and then one day she just asked me if I was available to tour with her.” Supported by friends Jessie (keys) and Adam (drums), Claud and company hit the road, ready for their first tour in their Toyota Rav-4. “It’s actually pretty comfortable” they responded when I asked how their travel arrangements were treating them. “We have a bunch of fruit snacks and we just drive and go for it.”

They were scheduled to make stops in 3 states: California, Colorado, and Texas. We got to talking about their first two shows in Sacramento and San Francisco, which Claud described having been “surreal”. Lines flooded out the door, merch nearly sold out on only the second night of tour and both city’s audiences sung along with Claud during their performance. Excited about the successes of their first two stops, they had 4 more to look forward to before tour wrapped up, including the show in Denver they were awaiting.

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An eventful 2018 wouldn’t lose momentum after their run with The Marias finished. Claud closed out their noteworthy year strong with more shows (including a headlining bill) and the release of their latest offering “Never Meant To Call”, which gave a first look at their raw progression since the release of Toast EP.

“Never Meant To Call” shows an outside perspective of Claud’s arrival to a birthday party, a gift of toast in hand, then finding a sense of comfort amidst the glittery gathering they’ve stepped into. A shy arrival is followed by spotting a dream girl, only to have their short-lived thoughts of approaching their crush abruptly, well, crushed. Even so, they make the most out of the situation, happily finding their place and never having needed the dream girl to do so. The video comes full circle giving viewers a sense of the sentiments that come with Claud’s position, adding to “Never Meant to Call”’s comprehensibility. It’s a fun visual to follow as some of us can (probably) relate to experiencing such debated thoughts of approaching someone in a social gathering.

On a final note of our conversation, I asked Claud if there was anything specific they wanted to focus on as they looked to progress with their music in the years ahead. Aside from wanting to experience tour again, they shared one final thought: “I’ve been really, really focused on my songwriting, more so than my voice or my guitar playing on any of my songs. Songwriting has been the biggest thing for me… I really want people to listen to my music and [recognize] (whether or not they like the production or the way my voice sounds) that [my songs] are undeniably well written…”