“Yeah it’s true, yeah it’s true, I’ve been missing you!” When I first heard “True” by GInette Claudette, I was sold. In addition to her voice that is so soothing and almost exhilarating, the rattling drums and friendly ad-libs brought that extra swag, placing the record in a space where pop, hip-hop, and R&B conjoined. Read more…
When I finally met the New York native, I immediately fell in love with the charm and energy that exuded from her. It was her warm smile, humility, and willingness to speak with me on a personal level that was just so refreshing and appreciated. Although her music journey is anything but linear, Ginette has many accomplishments under her belt, which include performing around the world opening for Far East Movement and more recently, R&B sensation Daniel Caesar in Phoenix.
For those who don’t know, who is Ginette Claudette?
Singer, songwriter, New York City chick all the way. I was born and raised in New York City, so I carry that pride heavily with me. Heavily. And I have it tatted on my arm, just in case. [laughs]
I was just there. I want to move there.
Yeah, I can’t wait to go back there. I’m like counting the seconds where I can go back home.
How do you feel New York plays into your life, and your music?
Just like the upbringing. New York is a melting pot of culture and diversity, and so many types of people, food, music, all that. I think that has a big part in who I am as a person, and then that carries over to my music. It’s like an energy, like you just know when someone’s from New York. It’s funny because a lot of people say they don’t get that vibe from me, but then as soon as I start talking, they’re like, “Yeah, she’s from New York.” [laughs]
How long have you been in LA?
I’ve been here for a year now. I moved out here, obviously, to pursue the music thing. It was just much more easy to do it out here, just because all the creatives are out here. New York is really fun, but that’s just corporate. So I’m in New York whenever I have to see people in the office, but in order to collaborate and really be creative, I found it was probably a better idea for me to come here. So I’ve been here for a year, but I miss home very much.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
It’s super important. Like I said before, New York is like a dry zone in terms of creativity. But I like to go back home to see my family and friends, and get that kind of inspiration and creativity. Then come back here, bring it back and get the music done out here.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip hop and R&B?
Right in the middle. It’s funny because I always say I don’t like to get into any sort of box, because I feel my music is obviously really R&B. It has hip-hop elements, but it also has pop elements too, so I feel like I just play around in the center of R&B, pop, and hip-hop. I grew up around a lot of 90’s R&B, like the Mary J Blige era. She’s one of my biggest inspirations too, so just that R&B and hip-hop fusion, I think you’ll here that for sure. In the single especially, because it’s like hard-hitting drums that are really crazy, but there’s also some pretty chords and deep lyrics.
I love your new record “True.” What was your inspiration behind the record?
That’s just about missing somebody that you had a thing that was so quick with. I think ten seconds into that session — I was with Rico Love in Miami. He had just spit the lines playing around like, “Green martini, blue bikini.” I was just like, “Oh my God!” I thought it was such a vibe.
Is that him on the ad libs? At first, I thought it was 2 Chainz!
Yeah, it’s Rico. I’ve worked a lot with Rico. In 2010, I was signed to Universal Motown, and I did a lot of the bulk of that project that never got released with Rico. So we built that friendship and always kept in touch. When I did the indie projects and stuff, I called him for another song called “Better Love” and he jumped on. So we always kept communication going. Then when I did the deal with Red Music and started this new project, I was like, “Rico, I’m coming to Miami!” So we went, and it was so instant. Everybody in the room was so hyped. I knew this was going to be my second one. Then a year later, we finally got it out!
Can you talk about your journey in the music industry. Is Red independent?
Red is a Sony label. It’s been a lot of up and down, it’s crazy. I say to people, we’re just about to turn the 10-year mark, and I just put out my first official, real single on a major. So it really, really doesn’t happen overnight. [smiles] After school, I would always go to the studio, go to the gym, then go back home and do it over again the next day. It was always music for me.
Do you do a lot of songwriting?
Yeah, just by default. When I was 12 or 13, I was just bored of singing covers. I was over singing other people’s songs, so I decided to start writing my own songs. But then I realized I didn’t have music, so I told myself I was going to start playing guitar. I taught myself how to start playing guitar, and started songwriting. In high school, I was doing plays, musicals, talent shows — wherever I could sing. Then when I got out of high school I was like, “Mom, you got to give me a year to get a record deal!”
So that was always the end goal?
I’ve always had that tunnel vision growing up. That’s when I did the Motown deal. After that fell through, I continued to do music and put out mixtapes.
Can I ask why the deal fell through?
I’m not sure if you remember, but there was a major shift in music where all the presidents fucking left. [laughs] It was right in the middle of that time, so I got caught up in that whole thing. I was a teenager and super stressed, but looking back now, I’m so thankful none of that music ever came out. Because I was pulled in so many different directions and I wasn’t even sure of the kind of artist I really wanted to be anyway.
I just didn’t know it yet, because when you’re young, you think you know everything and you want to put out music. Now, I’m so sure in what I have to say and where I’m at in my life, I just feel the timing is perfect.
Being that you’ve been surrounded by music your whole life, at what point did you realize this was for real?
My mom was a singer, so that’s kind of where I got introduced to it. She was a big pop star in the Dominican Republic. I always saw her always getting ready for TV and stage, and I was always like, “Oh my God!” She tells this story that when I was three, she had a song called “Muñeca” that she used to practice. It’s a really sad song in Spanish. She says whenever she sing it, I used to ball and start crying like crazy.
So she knew I was going to do music because I was emotionally connected. But I don’t think it really clicked, clicked for real for me until I was like 11. At 11, I was like, “I need a record deal, tomorrow!” I thought I was going to be 13 with a hit record, like JoJo! [laughs]
What do you want fans to get from your story?
I just want them to be able to feel like they have a homegirl in the music. Just be someone that can sit down and be like, “I’ve been through that.” Just some relatable friend. Most of my music, I try to make as personal as possible to myself, but also general so that when people listen to it, they can attach whatever memory or emotion that it brings up in them. That’s my main goal, I just want people to feel understood. That’s it.
What’s your end goal? Now that you’re with a new label.
For me, I don’t know what the end goal is. I know my very immediate goal is to just get on tour. I really, really, really want to hit the road. My favorite thing to do is sing, so everything that I do happens because I love to sing. I write songs because I love to sing. I dance because I love to sing. Everything is a byproduct of me loving to sing, so my favorite thing to do is perform. I can’t wait to fast forward so I can just be on stage every night and connect with the people in a real personal way.
It’s one thing to record it, and think about how people are going to feel when they listen to it, but then when you see it in person and how it affects people — and you get to have moment with people — that’s what I look forward to the best. That’s the goal, big arena tour!
Speaking of, what was the best part of touring with Far East Movement?
Those are my brothers! I love them so much. I’m actually going to Korea with them in two weeks. In August, we have a show. I still tour — whenever they call and ask me to go with, I’m there! I’m always there. That was so amazing, because that actually came into play right when I had left the Motown situation and I was still trying to figure myself out. Just to have that opportunity to get on these major stages all over the world. I just got thrown in — it’s like, “Okay, we’re going to go perform!” And I get there and it’s 10,000 people in Asia.
That experience carried over six years from just doing shows with them, and being able to know what it’s like to touch stages like that even before I can do it as a solo artist. Now I’m just so thankful that they basically trained me for that tour life. I’m always going to be so grateful for those guys, and I’ll continue to perform with them forever. They’re the best, and the funniest!
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
It’s so hard because I have NO idea. It can’t be musically-related at all? I don’t know. I feel like maybe I would’ve gotten into some sort of medical field. I had a sister growing up that was sick, so we spent a lot of time in hospitals with her. You know when you’re young, you want to do a million things, like “I’m going to be a pop star, and a doctor!” [laughs] So maybe it would be that, but I can’t even see it.
Did you study music in school?
I studied music in all of elementary school and high school, they were all performance schools. And then I would do a lot of extra curricular stuff, but I really can’t picture anything other than music. You know what, I think I have a new one. Maybe radio, like an on-air personality.
Three things you need in the studio?
My phone. I know that sounds stupid, but I’m the type of person to dig my head into my phone and write on my notepad, and do it that way. And I’ll be on social media just drawing inspiration and stuff. I think coffee too. Always coffee, no matter what time of the day. Lastly, a hoodie. I get so cold, because it’s always freezing. [laughs] My perfect session is sweatpants and a hoodie, for sure.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Ooooh. Right now, Post Malone! [laughs]
I just saw him at the Hollywood Bowl. I forgot how much I love Beerbongs & Bentleys. Every song….
Every song! And the Drake album obviously, ‘cause it just came out. But I’ve been listening to the Post Malone album a lot. Like a lot.
Who’s your dream collab?
This is going to sound left field because there’s a lot of new artists, but I have a dream in my head of doing a 2018 R&B version of “Lady Marmalade” with H.E.R., Kehlani, SZA, Ella Mai. I have this weird little vision — how dope would it be for all the new R&B girls to get together and do one crazy record?
What’s your favorite part about LA?
The weather. I think that’s everybody’s answer. [laughs]