Clinton Kane may not be a household name (yet), despite the staggering maths surrounding the portfolio of the 21-year-old from Perth, including amassing over a hundred million Spotify streams with the single Drown on their collaboration with superstar Dutch DJ Martin Garrix.
Arguably, the success has catapulted Kane to dizzying heights, opening new channels and propelling his latest single CHICKEN TENDIES to cult-like status, and by the time this article is published, it will clock over twenty million streams in its first month of release.
Kane’s latest track may sound like an abstract of a tear-jerker’s diary, a soul-searching rendition of those who have been in love and only to be shattered among life’s cruel chapters. But as the prodigious artist reveals in this interview, the single eschews from the ballad of a broken soul, drawing a “holy shit” moment from the millions of fans.
Signed with Columbia Records (a Division of Sony Music Entertainment) and blessed with the vocals that oozes the palpable sincerity of an Oscar winner for Best Actor, the artist is on his way to becoming a global sensation – if the correlation between talent and stardom holds to its promise.
Sheldon Ang speaks with Clinton Kane from his Las Vegas residence.
Sheldon: I went onto YouTube and it was during the moment that you had just uploaded CHICKEN TENDIES. Within thirty minutes, there were ten thousand views; I had no idea you’re THAT famous!
Clinton: I’m really not. I’m just the regular guy who sits in the coffee shop, who’s so emotional and writes about heartbreaks… but I’m really not. But I didn’t see that… wow that’s crazy, thanks for telling me. I totally forgotten about that upload. I’ll check on YouTube!
Sheldon: Yep, someone even commented, ‘Let this be known that I was here when Clinton Kane uploaded Chicken Tendies.’ Seems like you’ve got some cult-like fans.
Clinton: It’s crazy. I am incredible grateful for everyone who puts up with my bullshit and blackmail and constant need for attention! I am really grateful for anyone who listens to my music.
Sheldon: I assumed CHICKEN TENDIES is about…an ex?
Clinton: CHICKEN TENDIES is about my mum…
Sheldon: What… sorry about that misinterpretation.
Clinton: No, you’re all good! No one expects that. I posted about it on Tic Toc telling everyone and they were like holy shit… what?! This just changes the view. I wrote it in a sense that everyone would be able to relate to. I don’t think everyone has mummy problems. My mum is a Pastor and she was incredibly religious – and she still is. Being a Pastor kid was a lot. I had to go to church about four times a week… (“groan” – the editor) and I had to read the Bible every single day. I felt neglected, so with the lyrics, I hope he treats you better than I ever could, ‘Cause you deserve the world times two… And our simple Sunday afternoons. So it is like, I hope you’re choosing God over me…l ike I hope he makes you happy… And then, I hope he’s home for you, even though I had to lose you, and For you to find who fills your heart, Even if I’m not the one you choose – so it feels like me accepting my mum who chose religion over me and our relationship… and me finally accepting it and like I hope you’re still happy. So yeah, it is actually about my mum…
Sheldon: Right. Looks like I have to change my script now (Clinton: Chuckles)…anyway is CHICKEN TENDIES a metaphor for something?
Clinton: Not at all… my fans think that there is some deeper meaning to everything. Because my songs have a deeper meaning. It came from the first video I posted about CHICKEN TENDIES and it blew out a little bit on Tik Tok. And when I was reacting to the song, I accidently and honestly said, “Chicken Tendies” on the line of my favourite food because I just wanted it in that moment. And when CHICKEN TENDIES became a thing, everyone was like, You have to call it Chicken Tendies now. So I was like f#$k it, let’s call it Chicken Tendies, and why not!
Sheldon: And I noticed that you have a lot of words in this song and your other songs… a lot of words a in a sentence… what it does is that it puts you into a sense of desperation. Do you feel that sometimes?
Clinton: Definitely, I am definitely really needy (chuckles)… No, I’m not needy. I feel that I’m really bad at expressing my feelings in words. So, for some reason having the piano… having the guitar and some sort of instrumentation, along with a free mind when I write helps. I don’t really think about how I feel, I don’t really think about the words… the words just burped out of my mind… so it’s naturally therapeutic for me. It’s actually really cool to see how the words come out of me and I don’t even know how it came up.
Sheldon: And you’re only 21 year old. But your songs are very deeply connected. Perhaps it was from a personal experience?
Clinton: Growing up, I’ve gone through a lot, like everyone has, and we have done a lot of moving and all that… and as a kid, and it was very annoying. So, with family relationships it all adds up…so I had to write about it.
Sheldon: Speaking of writing, you’ve worked with Martin Garrix on Drown – who’s one of the world’s top DJ’s having worked with the likes of Usher, Dua Lipa, Khalid… and with other DJ’s like Tiesto, Avicii… how did your relationship with Martin come about?
Clinton: So Martin found one of my originals on Instagram. And he reposted it. He followed me and I followed him back. And he loved it and we DM’d a bit. We connected and out labels connected, and we wrote Drown together.
Sheldon: What was it like to work with him.
Clinton: It was f#*king crazy mate. Sorry you can blip that out. It shows that I’m just so passionate about it. I can honestly say he’s one of the best human beings on the planet. He’s extremely vibrant, so sweet, so caring, he’s so generous and talented and just being in the room with him, I was mind blown… and the way he thinks is just confusing; I was like, where are you going with this… where did you hear that you weirdo. I just don’t understand. He’s extremely talented. He’s basically family to me now. That was the craziest experience for me ever.
Sheldon: The fact that you had 100 million hits with Drown. Do you reckon that this was a big break for you, among the big breaks?
Clinton: For sure. It helped a lot with my career. I call him every day and I tell him that I’m incredibly thankful for putting me in a really large spot. Because, before Drown, I had around 100,000 monthly listeners and when Drown came out, it rose up to 5 million listeners. And now everything is happening with CHICKEN TENDIES… So yeah, that’s one of the biggest things that has ever happened to me. (Sheldon’s edit: It has gone to 8 million listeners a month at the time in writing).
Sheldon: Any other artists you have in mind that you’d like to collaborate with?
Clinton: Yes sure, but I don’t have anyone in mind right now. But I would like to do another song with Martin. That’s one thing I have in mind. As soon as I’m somewhere on that level, we’ll do another song. But I’m definitely down with working with a lot of people.
Sheldon: In your first EP, This is What It Feels Like, the singles are very deeply connected songs. So, growing up did you listen to a lot of ballads or tear jerkers?
Clinton: I was only listening I was listening to Christian music…
Sheldon: Finally, are we expecting an album in the near future?
Clinton: Definitely sometime this year.
Sheldon: Can you use give us a clue to what it might sound like?
Clinton: It is definitely going to sound like me. With every song I want to push the boundaries as far as sonically, emotionally and relatability… so is going to be the same thing but a little spice.
Sheldon: Let’s go back. When we think of YouTube sensation, we think of the likes of Justin Bieber. So, tell us about your journey from YouTube to where you are now?
Clinton: I started doing covers on YouTube. I never wanted to be a singer-songwriter or a song writer. That was never on my mind. When I was growing up, it was never like, Oh my God, I want to be a big singer. And I had never written a song in my life. And then I was doing covers for fun. It didn’t get crazy traction. And then two years ago – September 2018, I wrote my first song in my life ever, and it’s called, This is What Anxiety Feels Like, and that song came about because I had my first anxiety attack in my life… and I sat down and picked up my guitar and I when I finished writing my anxiety attack got less. It was a bit crazy for me. So, I kept writing songs. And then the third day of my second song I woke up and there was like 800,000 views on YouTube. So, I kept writing and I kept posting and then the emails started rolling in. So, I landed in L.A and I worked with the best label in the world… that’s Columbia Records and it has been an honour to be working with them.