The Paly Voice collaborated with KPLY, Palo Alto High School’s podcasting publication, to create Rising Artists Episode 4 which features French-Korean indie-pop artist Spill Tab. In this episode, host Amy Yu analyzes Spill Tab’s production and explores her path to music.
Hi, welcome back! This is Season 2 of Rising Artist, a podcast about up-and-coming musicians. I’m your host, Amy Yu. This podcast is brought to you by KPLY and The Paly Voice.
In this episode, we will be talking about the French-Korean bedroom pop artist, Spill Tab also known as Claire Chicha. Claire’s musical career kick-started shortly after the pandemic began. She was working as a merchandise tour manager for another bedroom pop artist, but like the rest of the world, she had to take a break. This song took off during the lockdown and launched her into the spotlight. This is “Calvaire.”
Claire and her music embody the new generation of musicians — independent artists who create music without the boundaries of genre in their bedrooms and apartments. “Calvaire” is no different with an eclectic mix of sounds. It features a soft and dreamy introduction that meets an electronic chorus. The distorted voices and strong bass complement the crushing narrative Spill Tab sings.
Spill Tab (translated): Calvaire represents the unfortunate circumstances in life, like realizing the infinite compromises you’ve made for the quote love of your life. It’s funny because you recognize just how much you’ve put up with them, your calvaire, your suffering.
“Calvaire” illustrates that life can start out as a dream, but it can quickly turn sour. Claire, like many other young adults, grew up during the 2008 recession. In an interview, Claire spoke about how her parents’ production studio went bankrupt during the recession and her family had to split up. Her parents were both musicians who immigrated to the US, and she said that watching her parents lose everything greatly shaped her.
As someone with entrepreneurial immigrant parents, I understand. Seeing my parents go through rough patches in their business has definitely shaped my perspective on finances, career aspirations and more. Like Claire who majored in business to appease her mom, my parents want me to pursue a stable job. But, it’s about finding the intersection. Claire’s degree focused on the music industry, something that she loved and wanted to pursue.
Claire said that her parents have always been supportive of her desire to pursue music, but as musicians themselves, were cautious of it. However, I’m sure that the 4.7 million streams on her third single should at least partly reassure them. Here’s “Cotton Candy.”
“Cotton Candy” clip.
“Cotton Candy” follows a similar pattern to “Calvaire.” It starts with a light intro and gradually incorporates distorted elements to illustrate a very clear narrative — unrequited love and the complicated feelings which accompany it.
I’ve mentioned unrequited love many times before on this podcast, but Spill Tab’s production is a fresh take. Instead of relying solely on the lyrics, the warped voices and distorted vocalizations further illustrate that sometimes, as Claire puts it, it’s a “totemized” version of someone. Your perspective of them is distorted to show the highlights.
In addition to her novel production on unrequited love, Spill Tab ventures into areas that aren’t usually included in songs about love or heartbreak. It’s more than just heartbreak, loss, and loneliness. Spill Tab’s song, “Name,” talks about the bumps, rows, and quarrels in a relationship.
Claire depicts a story of a couple in the middle of a fight. Miscommunication, distrust, and honesty are common things that we can find in more than just romantic relationships, but platonic ones as well. We all know the feeling of “not wanting to start something” or pick a fight to keep the peace. Some of us know it well, and I personally can relate to not being completely honest to show the best side of me or to avoid getting hurt.
“Name” reveals more about Spill Tab and the broad range that she can create. It still includes altered voices and dynamic layering, but it ventures into the RnB indie-pop scene that, for lack of better phrasing, just hits differently. There are the soft acoustics of “Cotton Candy”, the indie-pop vibes of “Name,” and to round out the other side of the spectrum, the dark electro-pop of pistolwhip. Here’s “Pistolwhip.”
With hints of EDM, pistol whip creates a sense of distortion, chaos, and pain that pairs with the narrative beautifully. According to Claire, pistol whip is from the perspective of someone who found out that their partner is cheating on them. There’s a conflict between the betrayal and the love that they still feel for the person.
The strong kick drum in pistolwhip establishes the affair subtly and mimics a racing heart. The metronome beat reminds me of water dripping. I can see a young girl sitting in a dark hotel room, listening to the thuds from the room next door. Her heart and mind are racing, and she focuses on the dripping of the faucet to stop her rumination of their relationship.
These subtle sound effects used as percussion and rhythm help to create a vivid and heart-wrenching story. For me, sometimes it’s easier to focus on a distraction than to deal with what’s at hand because what I’m dealing with is too heavy to handle at that moment.
To end on a more positive, let’s shift gears to Claire’s newest single. It’s a light-hearted, cheesy “I love you” song. Here’s “Anybody Else.”
“Anybody Else” clip.
This indie-pop single has all the signature features of Spill Tab — the vocal alterations, multi-layered tracks, and Claire’s dreamy voice, but the centerpiece is the music video. It’s filled with colors, purple, pink, yellow, blue, mint, and orange, but it starts off in a dark grey room. Claire starts off in a plaid blazer, but throughout the song and video, we see her in these monochrome outfits of pink, mint, yellow, and more.
As the video illustrates, life can be bleak, going through the day-to-day, but when someone new comes into your life, whether it’s a friend or significant other, it becomes a pop of color.
Spill Tab music sheds a new light on relationships. Her musical production and oddly specific scenarios paint the most vivid and crushing stories. Claire Chicha is the epitome of bedroom pop artists today, musicians that have no boundaries for genre. Claire is definitely someone to watch out for. You can find Spill Tab on all music streaming platforms.
Special thanks to Megatrax and Spill Tab for providing music.