Atwood Magazine talked to Caroline and Claude about their musical journey, the pros and cons of being in a band with your sibling, and how “Stir the Pot” came to be.
“Stir the Pot” – Caroline & Claude
It’s rare that a debut single can perfectly introduce its band’s energy. Sometimes, the desire to make an impact with numbers or follow popular trends can overshadow the introductory element of the song, but that’s not the case with the Australian band Caroline & Claude. Caroline Claude’s debut single, “Stir the Pot”, happens to be a perfect encapsulation of the sibling duo.
Caroline, aka Hannah, is effervescent and friendly, and answers questions with a smile stamped across her face. Her voice prevails on “Stir the Pot”, carrying the highest pitch of the harmonies with a playful and almost ironic tone. Claude, aka Dylan, is quieter and shy like on the song – his voice blends with the production so seamlessly that it almost seems part of the song’s instrumental. Turns out he’s one of the song’s two producers, and carries musical references so varied that, together, make Caroline & Claude’s sound so unique.
As far as debut singles go, “Stir the Pot” ranks well and stands out in a saturated musical landscape where so many want to purposefully sound original that they lose their essence along the way. Atwood Magazine, captivated by the song, talked to Caroline & Claude about their musical journey, the pros and cons of being in a band with your sibling, and how “Stir the Pot” came to be.
A CONVERSATION WITH CAROLINE & CLAUDE
Atwood Magazine: Congrats on the single, and welcome to this crazy world of music! I wanted to know, with both of you individually, what are your own backgrounds with music?
Caroline: Our family is very musical, our dad plays music and my Nana, my dad’s mom, she was a singer, so we just kind of grew up around it. And when I was pretty young, I started getting into musicals and stuff, in school, and I loved performing. That was kind of my thing, I really loved performing. I sort of wanted to be a triple threat. I only started writing music in year 12. I grew up playing piano and messing around on guitar, but it hurt my fingers. So I was like, I can’t do it. Then in year 12, I had my first heartbreak and I was like, “Okay, I’ll just try and write a song” and then that’s when I started songwriting.
Claude: And I was kind of like, watching her do all this music stuff. And I had an assessment, where I had to produce and create a song just for school. And so I did that. I was like, ‘Oh, this is like kind of fun’ and so I kind of jumped on her bandwagon. We have like a little thing in Australia called like Triple J Unearthed, where you can just like upload your tracks and just get people to listen to it and stuff. So I like, jumped on that bandwagon and started making songs.
Caroline: Yeah, he copied me, but then he really quickly got better than me. And I was really angry.
When did you realise that you should do this music thing as a duo?
Claude: Well, my brother and I, we were in the studio one night – because we have another sibling – but we were creating this beat and then I put some vocal on it. And then we played it to my dad, and he was like, “Oh my gosh”, and Hannah was like, “I have to get on this, like, please let me be a part of this” and so she jumped on it. And when we wrote the song, we were like, ‘Oh, who’s gonna feature on whose song’, because we both had our solo projects. But then we just kept writing more and more songs and realised maybe we should just create something special together.
Caroline: Yeah, it kind of happened really naturally. We weren’t planning it at all. It was more like, we just started doing it and then we just took a step back and we were like, ‘Oh my God, we have a couple of really cool songs’. And then we were like, ‘I wonder if we actually tried, if we actually put effort into it’. And then we’re like, yeah, let’s try it, and it just kind of happened.
What was the step that you took that like you looked at each other and said ‘Okay, it’s official. We’re trying. We’re musicians, and we're trying this out.’
Claude: We decided we should probably just fully commit to this. Rather than just play around.
Caroline: The first step, we were like, let’s make a band name and let’s make an Instagram. And then let’s just see how many songs we can write. Then the band just started to develop and we were like, ‘Oh, this is so us. This feels so good. This feels so right’. And then, yeah, we were just like, we really want to do this.
What happened to the third sibling, because he started off with you and now he’s not here in the interview. What happened?
Caroline: We didn’t kick him out. He’s very routine, I don’t think he wants to do like music like this. He likes doing it for fun, but he has this full-time job.
Claude: I do get him to like, play on guitar, my dad and my brother. I’m like, ‘Guys, I need guitar, can you jump on this?’
Caroline: Yeah, cuz he’s still plays and we jam in the living room and stuff.
How do you balance your sibling relationship with being bandmates?
Caroline: I think it’s kind of good because Dylan and I are very, very similar, but we’re also very opposite in all the right ways. We have a very similar vision for our project, so a lot of those big decisions we’re always on the same page. But I think it’s funny because our project doesn’t stop when we leave the studio, because our studio’s in our house, so that’s where we are right now. But yeah, it’s kind of a 24/7 thing, and it’s cool, because everyone in our house knows about it, so the conversations are always ongoing. I think it’s been a really nice thing for our relationship because we’ve always been really close, but it’s really cool to be working on something together. And I also feel like it was just so meant to be because we complement each other in the best way, like Dylan’s quite introverted and nervous about social interactions and that sort of stuff in the business side of it. Whereas I’m very extroverted, I love talking to new people, and I love meeting new people and understanding the industry and all that.
Claude: Even in our songs, they’re very honest, because we’re quite comfortable with each other with writing about honest things and creating stories that are almost childish and fun.
You mentioned how you’re very similar but very opposite, and that was a big thing in your press release, how you’re diametrically opposite. So I wanted to know, what are the best and worst parts of working with someone who’s so different from you, but with whom you have to make so many important decisions?
Caroline: Dylan is so introverted. He does have some really beautiful friends but he just doesn’t really prioritise hanging out with them 24/7 like I would. So I think a lot of the time Dylan’s texting me “Get back, I’ve got an idea, get in the studio”. I’m like, “No, for me, I need to recharge with my friends, that’s how I get my energy and my motivation”.That sort of thing, we butt heads a bit. Or it’s the other way around, I’ll be like, “Dylan, we need to go out. It’s such a nice day, you’ll feel so inspired”. And he’s like, “No, I’m in the studio”. We do complement each other in the best way, even with performing live, I guess. Dylan’s a lot more nervous to do that, whereas I’m really excited about performing live. It’s cool to know that we’ll be by each other’s side. Dylan does really ground me and remind me how “No, we have work to do, we really need to get this done” and then I’m like, “Okay”. I’m great at following directions, so if he tells me what I need to do, I’ll do it.
What is the characteristic that the other has that you want?
Claude: I reckon just being super social, and wanting to call everyone.
Caroline: I would say, Dylan’s motivation and his creativity, I’d say, I’m very creative. But he’s really got something special. I feel lucky to be working with him.
I’m interested in why you chose to incorporate alter egos to release your music. How do Caroline and Claude differ from Hannah and Dylan, and what was behind the decision to actually not be Hannah and Dylan in public?
Caroline: Well, we never wanted to use our real names, we never have even in previous solo projects. I think we like having a bit of a mystery.
Claude: It’s fun to have a different name. It’s like, Oh, I’m this person.
Caroline: Yeah. And when we were deciding a name, we wanted it to be really us. And we wanted it to have like a Bonnie and Clyde kind of feel, names that just sound really good together and are really timeless, classic, beautiful names. Our great grandma, her name was Caroline, and then our dad’s dad, his middle name was Claude and those are the musical side of the family. We were like “these are such perfect names”. It took honestly months for us to decide on a name, but when we came up with Caroline and Claude, straightaway, everyone was like, “Oh, that’s so nice”. Actually, my mum was like, I” think that’s too long. How do you spell it?”, but then in the end, she came around and was like, “Oh, no, I do love it”.
Do you feel like these characters are becoming different from you? Or is it rather just stepping on stage with a different name but you feel like the same person?
Caroline: What do you feel?
Claude: I think it gives a bit of confidence. I don’t know why, but you get to become someone. But I don’t think it changes us that much, we’re still very true with our alter egos.
Caroline: I think for me it doesn’t change, I just love having another name and another way that people can know me. But with everything I do, I’m very transparent. I don’t feel motivated to do it if I’m putting on a front or having to be someone that I’m not. So I think it’s still very much us, just with cute names.
Who are your main musical influences?
Claude: We have many different influences with very different styles. But The Marias, for me, are the biggest, I love their music so much. I love Phoebe Bridgers, but also like, some childish stuff like Steven Universe, the show, their music is super inspiring. So I love music that takes influences from everywhere, because we have such a wild taste. We listened to quite old music, and then I listened to quite new music. But I think in the studio, they all come together, like a timeless kind of thing.
What is it about these artists that you want to incorporate into your own work?
Claude: I think a lot of it is the feeling that songs give me. If a song makes me feel a certain way, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I want to try to create something that can give me a similar feeling”. But also lyrically, how these artists like frame lyrics is really inspiring. It’s almost like teaching, in a way, how to write I guess.
“Stir the Pot” is so original, and energetic and fun. Even though it’s not even three minutes long, we get to know a lot about your identity as a band through the song. Why did you choose that song to introduce yourself to the world?
Caroline: It was so hard to decide, because we have been writing for a year so we’ve got so many songs. It was not an easy decision.
Claude: But I think, because it’s almost upfront and very fun, it shows our personality, because we’re quite silly a lot of the time. Yeah. You don’t have to be serious all the time, you can just like being silly, and I think that putting “Stir the Pot” out first was a great way to show that.
Caroline: We had so much fun writing it. It was just so many laughs and, we’re not gossipy people, we’re not really. It was just a really fun concept we came up with and you know, sometimes you do actually do shit like that with your friends. And it’s just funny and you all have a laugh and yeah, we’re really, really glad we went with this.
What’s the perfect situation in which to listen to your music?
Caroline: Totally with your mates. It’s such a good track to, in our opinion, listen to with your friends, and just have maybe a drink in hand.
And what are the next steps for Caroline & Claude?
Caroline: More music!
Claude: more music!
Caroline: We have so many songs we want to release. Don’t be surprised if on the next song you’re like, ‘Well, I was not expecting this, it’s nothing like “Stir the Pot”’. I think our voices tie everything together, and that’s kind of the only linear thing in our music.
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📸 © Andrew Fawcett
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