In the past two years, Clinton Kane has emerged as a talented pop singer/songwriter who is building a large international audience. Just 23 years old, Kane has had success on several continents, and he is currently on a major concert tour which has taken him to the U.S. and Europe, with upcoming shows in Australia and New Zealand.
In July (2022), Kane released his debut album, Maybe Someday It’ll All Be OK, on Columbia Records. This is an excellent album that features his recent hit singles, “I Guess I’m In Love” and “Chicken Tendies,” as well as the key songs “14” and “Cold.” Notably, Kane is also known for being a strong, soulful lead vocalist, and his vocal performances add emotion and depth to his songs and recordings.
Kane has a unique, multi-ethnic background. He was born to a Filipino father and a Norwegian mother, and he has lived in many countries. When he was growing up, he spent years living in Perth, Australia, and in the United Kingdom. He’s also resided in Asia.
Early on, Kane learned to play several instruments (guitar, piano, drums), and began performing in churches because his mother was a pastor. Interestingly, due to his mother’s strict guidelines, he was only exposed to Christian music until he was 15. At that point, Kane began to explore pop, soul and rock genres, and he began to write and record his own songs.
When Kane was 19, he had a breakthrough that was surprising. He suffered a panic attack, which inspired him to write a song called “What Anxiety Feels Like.” He then posted his song on YouTube, and it immediately went viral, attracting 500,000 views. Soon after, Kane released his other songs online, and it wasn’t long before his videos caught the attention of record labels. He subsequently signed with Columbia Records.
Here’s the video of Clinton Kane’s hit, “I Guess I’m In Love.”
It was in the past year that Kane had major success with the release of his songs “Chicken Tendies” and “I Guess I’m in Love.” Both singles debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, and his heartfelt, romantice ballad “I Guess I’m In Love” has been certified gold, and its video has been viewed 12 million times.
In addition to releasing his debut album in July, Kane has recently put out a new single called “Mexico,” and he’s released his rendition of the Chistmas classic song, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Clinton Kane. He tells how he got started with with music, and how he wrote his songs “I Guess I’m In Love,” “Chicken Tendies” and “14.”
DK: I read that you’re Norwegian and Filipino, and you grew up in the U.K. and Australia. Can you talk about your early years, and getting into music?
Clinton Kane: My mom was a pastor in church, and she had a couple businesses; that was the reason we moved around. She had to set up churches here and there. And growing up, I was very big into music. Music was all around me…church had so much. It was music all the time. The fuuny thing is, I wasn’t allowed to listen to pop music from the radio until I was 15. I was only listening to Christian music. I was worship leading, playing the drums and guitar, and keyboards in church. At the time, I didn’t have a crazy passion for it. I was just having fun as a kid and it was a nice hobby.
When I was 19, I wrote a song for the first time, about a panic attack, while I was having a panic attack. When I finished writing it, everything just worked and started from there.
DK: You play several instruments including guitar, piano and drums. How did you learn to play all those instruments?
Here’s the video of Clinton Kane’s hit, “Chicken Tendies.”
Kane: When I was 10, I would sit in the front row of the church service, and I’d see the people play the instruments. I was just fascinated. I looked at how they played the gutar, and I would pull my Mom and go, “Can you buy me a guitar?” I got one, and then I taught myself by looking how they played guitar, and the drums and piano. I looked at what they did, and then mimicked everything.
DK: In 2019, you released your EP, This Is What It Feels Like, and then a year later you recorded the song “Drown” with (hit DJ/producer) Martin Garrix. Can you talk about this period, and then signing with Columbia Records?
Kane: When I first started songwriting, it was weird…it kind of fell into my lap. I had the panic attack and I wrote the song “What Anxiety Feels Like”, I put it out on YouTube, and I woke up and it had 500,000 views. And I was like, “What’s going on here?” Then the next day I wrote another song, “This Is What It Feels Like,” and it had a million views. So it kept on rolling. Then two weeks later, I found myself in Los Angeles meeting with labels.
After that, I moved to L.A. and kept writing, and then I wrote a song and put it on Instagram, and it caught Martin Garrix’s eye. We ended up writing “Drown” together. Then I flew to Amsterdam, finished it up, and released that in the next two months.
DK: Last year, you had a hit with your song “Chicken Tendies.” How did you write this song?
Kane: The writing of “Chicken Tendies” was very special. After my This Is What It Feels Like (EP) era, when I was in my bedroom writing by myself, I think being in L.A. and doing sessions, I forgot what that felt like. To just have the music and the lyrics drive me, instead of me driving it. And what was special about “Chicken Tendies” was that me and (co-writer) Steve Rusch, it was like I was back in my bedroom and the music was leading me. We were writing it about some imaginary girl, which I’ve never done before. Everything I’ve written has been about a specific situation or person. But it was so easy to write. Then we left that song on the shelf…it wasn’t supposed to come out.
Here’s the video of Clinton Kane’s song, “14.”
Then a month later, I was in my bathtub. I was enjoying my little bath salts and my rubber ducky and my candles and books. And then as I was listening to my unreleased songs, that one popped up. And mid-song, I started crying out of nowhere. I was like…What was happening? Then I listened to the lyrics, like “I hope he treats you better than ever I ever could, ‘cause you deserve the world times two,” and it just hit me. I thought…Oh shit, I wrote this about my mother without even knowing, with our relationship being difficult. And that was honestly the most refreshing thing I’ve ever known. It was spccial.
DK: How did you come up with the unique title, “Chicken Tendies”?
Kane: With the title “Chicken Tendies,” people like to believe that there’s a special meaning behind it. But honestly, there isn’t (laughs). I made a TikTok about it, reacting to the song, and that line “In our kitchen where I cooked your favorite food,” I was just really hungry at the time (laughs). I hadn’t eaten anything all day. And I accidentally said “chicken tendies.” Then people said, “Name it that,” and I said “Okay” (laughs).
DK: I also like your song, “I Guess I’m In Love,” which is your biggest hit so far. What inspired you to write this song?
Kane: I was going through a relationship at the end of 2020, and it was the first time I fell in love. It was someone who’s kind and had a heart, and was the sweetest thing. And everything was amazing. Then two months into it, I was sitting down in my living room with my piano, and I started feeling happy. I was so happy that I wanted to bounce off of my seat…it was so beautiful. I ended up writing that song, but I honestly never thought it would see the light of day. I thought it was more of a therapeutic thing for me. Then I put it out on social media and everyone was going, “Oh my God, this is amazing.” So that’s what happened.
DK: Another song I like is “14,” where you talk about how you felt at different ages in your life. Can you tell me about this song?
Here’s the video of Clinton Kane’s song, “Mexico.”
Kane: That song was the longest one to write. It was essentially the story of my life, from the age of 14 or younger. It was the culmination of everything I’d gone through, with teenage angst and the emotion I felt. When I was growing up, I felt out of place, that I didn’t belong. I think that a lot of other people felt that way, too. Every time I moved, I wouldn’t make friends and I didn’t know how to. It was really rough, and I didn’t want to be me. Every day I dreamed about being someone else who was normal and was able to socialize properly and make normal friends and have a good time in school. And until we finished that song a year-and-a-half ago, I felt that way. I felt my self-esteem was nagging at me, and that song is about wishing I was someone else…that I wasn’t good enough for me.
We took two years to finish that song, and I think we finished it at the perfect time. The song was perfect to me—the moment I realized that I wanted to be me. It’s a little corny, but that’s genuinely what happened.
DK: I looked at your album and song credits, and you’ve written many songs with your producer, Steve Rusch. What makes you and Steve a good team?
Kane: We just understand each other. It’s the chemistry between our personalities. He gets me—we’re best friends for a while now. I think I was able to bare my soul in front of him and have no problem with it. I write a lot of my stuff and have so many ideas, and I’m always strong-willed about that. And I think he does a perfect job of taking that out of me and helping me form that into a song. We’ve been writing since I started my career.
DK: You’re currently on tour, playing shows in many countries. When you’re not on the road, where do you live?
Kane: I live in Las Vegas. I lived in L.A. for a year, and I realized that I’m too outgoing and whenever I’m in L.A. the focus goes away. There’s so much stimuli. So Vegas is perfect for me—it’s quiet, at least during the week,. It’s peaceful there, and it’s just a 30 minute flight to L.A.
DK: How is your concert tour going?
Kane: It’s been quite lovely. We’ve done two tours in the past, and those tours have been a process to learn what I want my live show to be, and what I want it to feel like and sound like. I’m slowly growing into myself and growing into my element. And a tour is a great part of the job…touring and writing is what I like. The live shows have been incredible. I’m finding so much confidence onstage, and it’s been a great period of time.