Former Syracuse student Claud reflects on their new album

Former SU student Claud releases their debut album

Claud Mintz discussed their debut album Super Monster, how their band began and the Syracuse music scene
Published: February 19, 2021
Claud performing at WERW in 2019
Claud Performed at a WERW event in 2019.

Though they’re a ways away from basement shows in the Euclid neighborhood now, Claud Mintz still recognizes the Syracuse community for helping them develop and hone their musical chops.

The 21-year-old known by their stage name Claud, released their debut full-length album on Feb. 12. The 13 tracks on the bedroom pop album Super Monster are far funkier, upbeat and joyous than the title may suggest.

The project features a slew of other young talents including Clairo, Blu DeTiger, and Nick Hakim, but Claud’s ethereal vocals invariably steal the spotlight. Two years ago, the support of Syracuse’s music scene helped them find confidence in their voice.

“I was not good at music when I started, but everybody still came to the show and supported me as if I was like the greatest musician of all time,” Claud said. “And that definitely gave me the confidence boost for actually putting out my music.”

Before those first house shows, Claud was just a 15-year-old living in the Chicago suburbs, playing guitar in their room. They taught themself to play by jamming along to NPR Tiny Desk performances, strumming an old black Yamaha given to them by their uncle.

At first, Claud learned guitar as an act of rebellion against their parents, who wanted them to continue playing sports rather than pick up an instrument.

“They were so disappointed that I wasn’t going to do the sport, and I was like, ‘No, I just want to do music, I want to dedicate all my time to music,’” Claud said. “But now, now I think they get it.”

Their parents have since come around to Claud’s musical interest, and Claud has since branched out beyond guitar and developed a jack-of-all-trades instrumental prowess since entering Syracuse University’s Bandier program in 2017.

At Syracuse, Claud met their soon-to-be music partner, Josh Mehling, and the pair began making music together.

Claud's new music video Guard Down.

After texting tracks back and forth, they soon chiseled out the songs that would eventually become the duo’s self-titled Toast EP. Released in the summer of 2018, the project — and Claud’s propensity for gigging — garnered recognition far and beyond the Euclid neighborhood.

“I played so many shows at Space Camp and other house venues on campus,” they said, “and then I would even drive to other schools and play their house venues.”

In the fall of that year, pop group The Marias invited Toast to open for them on tour. Mehling, who never shared Claud’s appetite for performance, opted to continue their coursework in the Bandier program, but Claud chose to take a semester off for the tour.

Then one tour led to another, and Claud eventually made the decision to pursue music full-time rather than returning to their studies at SU. Choosing to leave couldn’t have been easy, and the choice is reflected in the album. Super Monster is embedded with memories of Syracuse and the friends they left here, including references to Oakwood Cemetery and Day Hall in one track ‘Cuff Your Jeans.

The choice to leave SU paid off last October when Claud became the first artist to sign with Saddest Factory, Punisher artist Phoebe Bridgers’ new record label. Even before signing — which they were hesitant to do — Claud would grab coffee with Bridgers and listen to her discuss her vision for the label, while the elder singer/songwriter, in turn, listened to Claud’s vision for Super Monster.

“We eventually really aligned,” Claud said, “And I just love working with the label, it’s so awesome.”

Claud quietly celebrated the release of Super Monster by heading to a park with a few friends. The young artist, however, is anything but complacent and has filled their days since the release with Zoom interviews, answering emails, and working through ideas, (both visual and audio), with their friends and creative partners.

But for all their love of collaboration, Claud is an individual talent unto themself, and that talent is the foundation of Super Monster.

“I can’t pick a favorite — I’m pretty proud of ‘In or In-Between,’ and ‘Rocks at Your Window’ is one that I produced myself,” Claud said, “and I don’t do that often so I’m proud of that one.”

The final seconds of Guard Down, symbolizes the project as a whole: its production is simple, vibrant and downright intoxicating. But strip back the glowing synths and insatiable drum grooves, and it’s just Claud, their guitar, their inimitable voice and simple melodies — back where it all started, in a bedroom strumming away on their guitar.