Trail Mix: Claire Hawkins

As a teacher for the last 18 years, I have learned one central truth when it comes to imparting knowledge to my students – kids learn best by doing.

To a large extent, that is true for adults, too. I know it is for me. If I watch someone do something I need to learn how to do and participate in the activity, I know I am much more apt to retain the skills involved.

Claire Hawkins is getting a healthy dose of learning by doing at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, a department of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, in NYC. Having written her first lyrics at the age of nine, Hawkins is now a rising junior at Clive Davis, learning the all of the ins and outs of the music biz.

Last week, Hawkins shared with the world evidence of her learning with the release of Even These Words, a recording project that features both her impressive songwriting talents while showcasing the production and engineering skills she has learned in school.

I recently caught up with Claire to chat about the new EP, studying music, and being a student at Clive Davis.

BRO – You were involved with all aspects of this EP. What part – production, engineering, songwriting – most got you out of your comfort zone?

CH – The production process was really fun because it was new to me. That did make it intimidating in some ways, but I was really lucky to have some incredible teachers and mentors to guide me through it. I really enjoyed the creative control that producing the EP gave me to make sure that the songs I had written reached their full potential on the record.

BRO – Your release party was just last week. How did it feel to get these songs out there to your friends and family?

CH – It was so much fun. It was really incredible to have so many friends and family there to finally hear the songs I’ve been working on for so long. The night was extra special because it was both the celebration of the release of Even These Words and my last show in New York before I move to Europe for nine months. I couldn’t imagine a better send off!

BRO – Biggest takeaway from your time at Clive Davis?

CH – One of my favorite things about the Clive Davis Institute is how the school prepares you for anything by requiring that we learn about all aspects of the music industry, regardless of our individual focus. It’s really taught me to be open-minded when it comes to music opportunities.

BRO – We are featuring “August” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?

CH – This was the first song I wrote for the EP. It came from a place of frustration following a long period of writer’s block. Writing the song was a great moment for me, because it launched me into this wonderful creative period where I finally stopped worrying about not writing enough and I just wrote, which led to the creation of this EP.

BRO – I’ve just gotten to NYC. Give me one place that this folk music fan should visit.

CH – If you’ve never been, I recommend checking out The Bitter End. It’s such an historic venue, and it’s really cool to see all the folk legends who have played there listed above the bar.

With a trip to Europe in the near future, Claire’s stateside show calendar is quiet. Here’s hoping, though, that she totes that guitar with her as she heads across the pond and will be playing some shows over there. Safe to say that, upon her return home, Americana music fans will be waiting to hear her play.

For more information on Claire Hawkins and how you can grab a copy of her new EP, Even These Words, please point your browser towards her website.

Places to Go, Things to See: