‘Running’ is a melancholic and evocative collaborative track which marks the second time that Lutalo and Claud have come together creatively. Lutalo also joined Claud for a decent portion of their tour back in September of last year, which the former described as a “surreal experience”. With ‘Running’, their musical synchronicity is even more apparent. Both from the Midwestern US, their single about a strained parent-child relationship – featuring 00s-esque guitar riffs – will probably earn them comparisons to indie-folk darlings like Big Thief. Incidentally, it’s Big Thief’s Adrienne Lenker that invited Lutalo to tour with them in 2022. ‘Running’ feels like something you might have heard on the soundtrack for the film Juno: it’s bittersweet, nostalgic, and has visuals to match its stripped back, intrinsically retro feel. Premiering yesterday, it saw Claud take on the role of a track star, with Lutalo as their trainer. Again: Juno.
While it’s their collaborative efforts that are at the forefront with ‘Running’, Lutalo and Claud also have impressive solo careers. The Guardian named Lutalo as “one to watch”, and that’s probably down to his pitch-perfect blend of lo-fi folk melodies and introspective lyricism: as well as the pains of childhood, Lutalo has taken on everything from substance abuse to structural inequality in the US. Though Claud’s still wrestling with their music being dubbed “bedroom pop”, they clearly have mastery over the genre, and in 2020, they even formed a band with Clairo. That same year, they also became the first artist to sign with Phoebe Bridgers’ record label Saddest Factory Records.
Here, HUNGER sits down with Lutalo and Claud to discuss not just ‘Running’, but sharing the same birthday, their inspirations, and playing for the Pope.
Hey Claud and Lutalo, thanks for chatting with us! Could you tell me a little bit about yourselves and your upbringing?
Lutalo: I was born and raised in Minneapolis in Minnesota, but I currently live in Vermont. I’m a producer, songwriter, and I like Legend of Zelda, the woods, and nature. And I like music. I think that pretty much sums me up.
Claud: I don’t like nature. No, just kidding! I like nature. It’s cool. I just don’t live in nature like Lutalo does. I grew up in Chicago, and I’ve always been a fan of Lutalo’s music.
Lutalo: I was a fan of Claud too. We recently found out that we have the same birthday. Same year. Similar position astrologically.
What star sign are you both then?
Claud: We’re both Taurus’!
How did you guys come together to create ‘Running’?
Lutalo: I’m pretty sure I reached out to Claud. I wanted to make an indie or indie rock kind of song. And Claud just had the right voice and the right, like, style. They were willing to do it, which was awesome, and I was just like ‘cool, let’s do this’.
Claud: It lined up well because at the same time I was looking for artists to open my tour, which Lutalo ended up doing too. Like a big chunk of it, anyway.
Could you tell me a bit about the message behind ‘Running’?
Lutalo: We just hopped on Zoom and started writing. Claud had said a couple of the first lines and was like ‘I want this song to be about a parent-child relationship of some sort’. Then it started to morph into a song about a strained relationship between a parent and a child: this child seeking admiration and attention from a neglectful parental figure.
Claud: It’s hard to co-write, especially when you’ve just met somebody for the first time. It’s like ‘what do we write about?’ But this time it came together really fast.
Lutalo: That’s my favourite way of approaching writing because it feels like the song uncovers itself rather than having to be super focused on one thing.
How did you find working in this collaborative way compared to doing projects by yourselves?
Claud: I love collaborating. I co-write a lot of my songs. I love being alone and I love working alone, but my preference every time is to be around other people. Lu, you’re kind of the opposite, right?
Lutalo: I do work alone a lot. It’s not because I specifically like it. I think it just helps me to channel one specific voice. But I actually really enjoy playing and writing with other people. Especially when they have something to offer that I wouldn’t have thought of. That’s what interests me in music: finding things that my brain doesn’t instantly go to. Working with other people is what gives me energy in life. I got that working with Claud. And I don’t think I would have written the song the same way if I’d done so by myself.
Was coming up with the visuals for ‘Running’ a collaborative process as well?
Lutalo: We had conversations together. I tossed out the idea of Claud being a runner or a track star.
Claud: Which obviously I said yes to. I don’t run though. I was very sore after filming the music video.
Lutalo: Yeah, it’s funny how it worked out because we were both doing all the things that we didn’t want to be doing. I’m not crazy into acting or being on camera in general. But doing it with Claud definitely made it a lot easier. If I was just doing it by myself, I would have wanted to crawl out of my own skin.
What have been some career highlights so far?
Lutalo: Touring with Claud was a surreal experience. We travelled most of the Midwest together. Like, all the way down South. That was really cool. Other than that? Travelling to Europe the first few times was amazing. The first time I went to London, I played at Union Chapel in Islington, and both my Dad and my best friend were in the audience.
Claud: They’re being humble. They left out the time they played for the Pope.
Lutalo: That was crazy. There were fireworks and jets flew over emitting red, white and blue… I’m not sure why the American colours were used for the Pope, to be honest.
Are there any artists that either of you look at and think “these guys have done amazingly and we want to be like them”?
Lutalo: I’ve been loving Mount Kimbie. And this band Double Virgo.
Claud: I have a lot of bands and artists where I’m like ‘I want to be like them’ but I don’t make the same kind of music as them. Paramore and Hayley Williams, for example. I just love the way they’ve approached their career and the way they’re doing things. I’d like to be in the same sphere as Boy Genius, on, like, an ethical basis. They’re just good people.
Are there any other sounds or genres you’d like to experiment with in the future?
Claud: I’d love to make a full blown pop record. Not like Charli XCX pop, but Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey pop.
Lutalo: I love me some Lana. I just want to make as many different types of music as possible, because I love all types of music. I can take influences from Bossa Nova and traditional West African drumming. Even classic Japanese music and ambient stuff. It’s all really inspiring to me sonically.
What would you say are your end goals within music?
Claud: To not end.
Lutalo: Yeah. I’m just gonna tuck myself in the woods and keep making music for as long as possible.