Clint Breeze, take two

Carrington Clinton

Carrington Clinton sits leaned back in his computer chair, listening to a track he's mixing in his parents' home. As it plays, a look of approval unwinds across his face as he bobs his head to the rhythm of the track.

It's in this home office-turned-makeshift-studio that the sounds of Clint Breeze, Clinton's solo project, come to fruition.

The night before, Clinton played drums at the Sirius Blvck album release show at The Hi-Fi at the request of Blvck. His drumming was praised by many audience members after the show and reciprocated with many bashful "thank yous."

The success of that kind of show could infect an artist with a bit of hubris, but I detect no ounce of it in Clinton as he sits mixing. All that can be found is a desire to finish Listen, his sophomore album as Clint Breeze. In this project, Clinton plays producer and electronic musician under a stage name that is a combination of his last name and a plaque his father created in high school engraved with the words "cool breeze."

Clinton's roots in music lie in church performance, jazz bands and local groups like State Park. Playing drums in a multitude of genres has been vital experience, which he has drawn on to develop his musical identity. For Listen, Clinton collaborated with 13 local artists over five months to create a 12-track album which ventures into many genres such as hip-hop, jazz, indie rock and dance.

"My music is a product of all the kinds of music that I like," Clinton say. "If I make a song and I can't just sit and listen to it at my own leisure, then it's not good. I just try to create stuff that I would think is really dope."

Clinton doesn't collaborate in person with artists; everything is created by sending music back and forth between him and collaborators electronically until songs are finished. This method of collaboration isn't by choice, he says. It's due to the lack of a proper studio and equipment.

In the makeshift studio, mixing levels, adding percussion and synth to songs, Clinton operates like an observer, pulling his influences and styles together to create a cohesive product. Though he's a drummer, Clinton has to rely on his MIDI keyboard to make drum beats since he doesn't have the equipment to record his own drums.

"I was reluctant to get a microphone and voice my own self, whether it be rapping, singing, spoken word," Clinton said. "With Listen and Clint Breeze, you're listening to me whether it's projected through an instrumental or projected through someone else's voice."

Clint Breeze released his debut album, Evolve, five months ago. It's an album that brought Clinton some success and fed a drive to release his follow-up album in the same year.

"Once I started getting positive feedback from Evolve, I got really hungry," Clinton said. "I got on a huge binge and I wrote five or six songs for Listen within a few weeks."

A key difference between the production on Evolve and Listen is the focus on the bass levels in Clinton's songs, something one of his Listen collaborators, Dominique Glenn, pointed out was lacking in the artist's debut album. In Clinton's eyes, Evolve had a more experimental aesthetic. But with Listen, he wants his hip-hop and soul influences to shine through. He thinks that an emphasis on bass levels will help showcase those.

Emcee Devin Dabney has collaborated with Clinton on both Clint Breeze albums. On Listen he's featured on two songs: "No Sleep" and "Cookin'."

"He's not trying to be popular with the music he creates and I think that's the greatest thing about him. He's just trying to be himself and I believe that's the best way to be an artist," Dabney said. "His sound is really unique, it actually inspires me to write something I haven't written before. Or to do something I haven't done."

When I sat with him in the studio, the production of Listen was nearing its end. Clinton dropped the album officially on December 30. Tape label Holy Infinite Freedom Revival plans to release both Evolve and Listen on cassette. Clinton hopes to start a crowdsource fund and release his music on vinyl in the future.

"The way I write, it blooms like a flower. It's not short, stagnant and choppy. I'll come up with something and it's just rapid fire from there," Clinton said. "I'm just trying to put out something that's very organic and straight from the heart."