INTERVIEW: Natalie Claro talks about how music has helped her come to terms with anxiety

Natalie Claro is a bold alternative artist based in New York City. Earlier this year, she released “Discomposure,” which is about Natalie’s struggle with anxiety and mental illness following trauma life had thrown her way. She is the sole writer, producer, and instrumentalist of all her music, and her lyrics often address intense topics like politics, existential crisis, mental health, confidence, and more. But what will really resonate with fans are her live performances featuring booming and powerful vocals, crowd surfing, cartwheels, drum solos, and more.

The music video for “Discomposure” finds Natalie in her room alone, struggling to find peace with herself, followed by my personal favorite scene, which is her playing drums in the middle of a mosh pit. 

I had the opportunity to talk to Natalie about struggles with mental health, keeping busy during times of uncertainty, and everything in-between. 

Substream: I know for me, writing and keeping busy has helped my anxiety, how do you feel writing/performing has helped yours?

Natalie Claro: Love this question!! It’s actually a bit ironic that I’m a songwriter, considering writing does the opposite of maintaining my anxiousness. Self-criticism and an unwavering desire to be perfect fill my writing sessions with a lot of stress. It isn’t until I complete the lyrics that I finally feel that release, and a bit of pride in what I was able to communicate through rhyme. For me, my true emotional outlet is being on a large stage. The ability to behave in ways you can’t in normal instances because the audience WANTS a show is extremely liberating. Have you ever felt so much pressure that you just wanted to scream? At a concert, you can… and everyone does it together. Stage fright is simply your fight or flight instincts kicking in, choosing “fight” every time is a truly unmatched experience. Every ounce of worry exits my mind, the end of a tour is like I’ve been drained clean of tension.

Substream: The music video and the lyrics in this release are super relatable- because of this, do you find that a lot of fans have reached out/shared their stories with anxiety, trauma, depression, etc? Seeing that they’re able to relate, how does that make you feel?

NC: YES!! It’s very wild how often random teenagers message me on Instagram with these things. Last fall I actually did Hollister’s “High School Nation Tour”, it was a festival on the football field of schools across the country. After the show, we were able to sit and talk with kids, and most of the time it became a heart-to-heart session about life. I also volunteered as a teacher at Girls Rock Camp last summer, a non-profit for young girls to learn not only music, but things such as understanding mental health, consent, growing up, and more. (They’re amazing, check them out!) It was pure awesomeness being around so many young influential people, as they not only inspired me, but I was able to share advice that I wish someone had told me at their age (lol, I say this like I’m not a clueless 20 year old). To this day they still keep in touch, and I’m always here if they need anything.

Substream: How did the idea for this video come about?

NC: It was about 4 months of being unable to sleep every night that really set me on that theme. I would stay up until inhumane hours tapping into my notepad app, filling it with various muddled ideas for future projects. I finally decided that there’s no better way to represent what I was going through other than to show it exactly as-is, laying in a bedroom at night, unable to stop thinking. I had the cameraman, my buddy “Fergy Films”, record with the song playing at half speed. This way once the video footage was sped up, my mouth matched the original music exactly while body motions were twitched and frantic.

Substream: I’m sure you have heard this a lot, but the drum scene is so cool, probably my favorite- how did that come about?

NC: Thank you so much!! I’m glad you like it. I made a very ridiculous looking invitation to send all my friends in Nashville, stating I need them to mosh in a music video, without much direction besides that. The bottom of the image said ‘if you can’t get punched, don’t come.” It was roughly 3 hours of me waving my arms with directions so that we could hurry and finish before venue curfew. We all had so much fun, and someone even ended up bleeding from their lip. (Don’t worry, I treated everyone with beer and snacks lol… For legal reasons the beer part is a joke.) Watching back the scene is so exciting because they all just look SO GOOD. It could not have possibly turned out better.

Substream: It’s so nice having someone writing about serious topics that come from such deep emotion, what are your goals as an artist/ writer?

NC: That’s kind of you to say! My goal is to contribute to a community without hate, judgment, or fear. I want to speak on injustices and encourage my listeners to involve themselves in change. Life can be really scary, BLM protester’s rights are being infringed upon, dreamers and immigrants are being held captive, there are modern-day concentration camps happening in other countries as we speak. Musicians have such a large responsibility with having an audience, whether it’s an indie audience like mine or an Instagram with millions of followers, it should be a goal for everyone to use their platforms to spread crucial information, and make a positive impact.

Substream: And lastly, how have you been keeping busy during this uncertainty?

NC: I recently moved into my first apartment, and set up my first full home-studio! I’m very excited about what I’ll be able to create here. I had months of writer’s block, I think I’m finally getting back on track. I’m currently working on my next release, “Snow”,  and will have a music video along with that as well.

Keep on the lookout for her next release, “Snow”