Clairo describes the viral success that followed her video “Pretty Girl” as the “googly-eyed, deer-in-headlights,” years of her career. “I was so desperate for validation in the beginning,” she told Rolling Stone in her recent cover story. “I just really wanted to be liked.”
Claire Cottrill reflected on that period on “Amoeba,” a gem from her new album, Sling. ” ‘Amoeba’ is essentially me scolding myself,” she says in latest Breakdown video at Electric Lady Studios, accompanied by her producer Jack Antonoff.
“When I first started making music and just being starstruck by the entire experience, I got wrapped up in the wrong things…I didn’t know what was going on in my friends and family’s life. Not because they didn’t tell me, but because I didn’t ask. This is a song where I’m just being like, ‘You son of a bitch!‘ “
When Antonoff mentions that the whimsical melody adds humor to the themes of selfishness and self-hatred, Cottrill makes note that the song wouldn’t have worked if it was about anyone other than herself. “It was mean,” she says, while Antonoff adds, “It would be horrible! It would have been like a Steely Dan song!”
Cottrill and Antonoff dissect the track apart, explaining how each piece came together — from the piano intro Cottrill first played at Allaire Studios to the funky Charlie Brown-esque loop it intertwines with. The sonic structure gets even more interesting when they reveal that they added a glass breaking, which they smashed out of a milk crate.
The duo also attribute layers and layers of the song’s wacky elements to a night where they were drinking. “This is what being drunk feels like,” Cottrill says. She explains the song’s greatest line — “I show up to the party just to leave” — with how she literally felt at gatherings early in her career.
“You get caught up in a conversation with somebody at a party and you’re trying to leave the conversation, but they just keep talking,” she says, breaking out into a laugh. “I feel like I’m that person in this song!”