By: Lydia Wong, Josh Trapp and Miray Bakaroglu
Criminal lawyer by day, and music diva by night. For university student Lily Richardson, lead singer of the emerging band CLEWS, this is about to become reality.
With only two singles to their name, sisters Lily and Grace Richardson form the extremely fresh band, Clews. Recently signed for worldwide management by UNIFIED Music Group, the girls are writing music, performing live shows and shooting music videos, all alongside juggling their university degrees.
Lily and Grace grew up south of Sydney in Mollymook. Having been raised in a musical family, both sisters learnt the piano as kids and have had an interest in performing from a young age.
“Our dad is really musical … a lot of the first guitars that I played on were his. Just sort of lying around … and Grace! Grace is a really good piano player … she’s probably better musically than I am,” said Lily.
While Lily writes the majority of the songs, Grace helps structure chorus melodies and pulls her sister out of creative roadblocks. The collaborative effort between the two has made the song writing process smooth sailing.
“I’m so glad I didn’t try to make a band by myself, it’s sort of just like the natural thing. I wouldn’t do music without her now.”
However, well before their inception, Richardson admits to being drawn into the folk music genre and spending time playing acoustic guitar whilst living down the coast. As a fifteen-year-old Lily released a seven-track EP called ‘Falling and the Leaves’. Somewhat embarrassed about her music as an early teen, Lily gasped at the question of the EP, “Oh my god … I thought I deleted that off everything! Where’d you find it?”
Though the girls grew up on a variety of music like The Beatles and Crowded House, in more recent times their musical palate consists of bands like The Strokes, The Stone Roses, and PJ Harvey. There is a clear sense that the Brit rock scene is a major influence on Clews.
“It’s weird because I feel like I listen to a lot of guy bands, which is interesting because I want to be the girl component of what guys are doing.”
Since moving to Sydney and finishing the HSC, Clews have released two singles, ‘Museum’ and ‘Feel’. On their most recent track ‘Museum’, it is clear their music has taken a heavier turn.
“After I moved to Sydney, I was like ‘ok I want to start making music, we’re going to do this, CLEWS is a thing.’ I really knew what sound we wanted … ‘’.”
“I reckon we’re getting really close to the exact sound that I want … [In] ‘Museum’ you can tell I’m singing normally and I’m not really holding back.”
Given the current context of the music scene, with all-girl bands becoming increasingly popular, Clews slot into the scene perfectly and take inspiration from other bands that are leading the way for female musicians.
Drawing upon personal experience in her songwriting and spin on nineties rock, Lily describes the lyricism of Clews songs as ‘self-reflective’ and about a slightly retrospective view of herself.
In 2016, Clews released their single “Feel”, which was the song that got them signed and opened the door into the music scene.
“Out of nowhere last year, Eddie, our manager now, just emailed us … and was like ‘I like Feel’. He came to a show, we had a meeting with him and turns out he’s just the biggest legend ever”.
UNIFIED Music Group manage international artists like Vance Joy and Amy Shark and have recently signed Clews. Since then, the girls have had a clear pathway toward producing an original sound and playing shows. They’ve opened for various musical acts including Middle Kids, and have recently been announced as an opening act for Maddy Jane.
Despite all the positive attributes that have come along with entering the music realm, the girls have found juggling their university lifestyle to be quite difficult.
Lily is currently a second-year criminology student at UNSW, whilst Grace is studying Music and Sound Design at UTS. However, it turns out balancing two jobs, seems harder than it looks.
“So my first year was pretty cruisy, it was fine, and now I am in my second year and I’m like ‘oh no I actually need to like go to all my classes’…”
“I’ve already missed all of my tutorials for the first few weeks because we’re doing a few live sessions. I don’t know, maybe I should just be a bit more organized. I want to finish my degree though”.
On a typical night, while most university students are at home cramming for an exam, Lily and Grace look out at a crowd, whilst singing choruses reminiscent of the 90’s; proving that they can manage both lifestyles.
Through their determination to dominate their music career, but to also succeed in university, it is obvious that the sisters have big plans for the future.
With increasing playtime on Triple J after being unearthed, Clews are booking themselves into more shows. “We’ve got a few shows coming up, we’re playing Big Pineapple Festival (QLD), which is our first festival slot.”
Now signed, unearthed and the fillers of a festival slot, the Richardson sisters are infiltrating the Sydney music scene. Though in a not too distant future the big choruses from Clews may well be distracting the minds of masses across the nation, as the girls work on new music.
“We really want to put out another single now, like in the next couple of months.”
“I want there to be more music for people to hear”.
Podcast with Lily Richardson