16-year-old California native Claire Rosinkranz has been writing songs since she was 8.
Filling notebooks and iPads with lyrics, turns of phrase, and poems, the homeschooled artist would spend hours writing lyrics to songs that didn’t exist yet. Sometimes, she’d help her musician father, Ragnar, with melodies and lyrics for songs he’d been tasked to compose for TV shows and ad jingles. Coming from a family with deep musical roots—her paternal grandmother an Icelandic opera singer who toured Europe, her maternal grandmother making a career out of writing books and songs for children, and parents who had similar melodies running through their blood—Claire was, in every sense of the word, predestined for musical greatness, which is why the overnight success of her recent debut EP comes as no surprise to those who know her best.
Written, recorded, and produced with her dad at their home studio, BeVerly Hills BoYfRiEnd is a four-song project that Claire describes as “alternative-blues-pop,” equally as inspired by early influences (like The Beatles’ Help!, Frank Ocean, and the Jack Johnson songs the family would listen to around the house) as it is by the singer-songwriter’s contemporaries, like Benee, Bruno Major, and Still Woozy. Though only 16, Claire says the discipline and work ethic she learned from years of classical ballet training translated into a desire to be the best at everything she does—including making music, which she decided to pursue full-force several years ago. Early in 2020, leaning into the spare hours quarantine allowed her, Claire combed through songs she’d already written and performed on her Instagram, finding “Tough Guy” in her feed and adding three more to the final track list in the process.
Claire traffics in lo-fi songs with intricate yet totally relatable lyrics about friendship, crushes, family, and feelings. They plumb the depths of the human condition in very short bursts, exposing the songwriter’s remarkable emotional maturity and strong, singular grasp on her sound. Narratively, tracks like “Tough Guy” and “Seriouslaaay” follow Claire’s stories from start to finish while Ragnar’s clean, crisp production buoys his daughter’s crystal-clear vocals. “He totally captures my vision and if I don’t like something, I’m not afraid to say it,” Claire says of her dad. “Because we’re able to communicate so well, the process happens so quickly.”
The “star of the show,” Claire says of her catalogue, is “Backyard Boy,” the final song she wrote for the EP and one that grew legs of its own shortly after release, achieving massive viral success all on its own. “I was getting DMs from people telling me that ‘Backyard Boy’ was doing really well on TikTok,” she remembers. “Then, friends started texting me. Then more people were texting me. So I opened TikTok and I had 300,000 videos under the song and realized, “Oh, this is a thing!”
Signing to slowplay/Republic Records this summer, Claire realized the work and dedication she’d been putting into music for half her life was coming to fruition. In August, she shot the “Backyard Boy” music video but kept things close to the family, as she’s done for years (it’s directed by her uncle, the first AD is her cousin, and close family friends star alongside her onscreen). “I think people are connecting to that song because it’s about a feeling you long for, especially during this time,” she says. “Everyone wants to have this experience but it’s something we can’t have right now because of COVID. But ‘Backyard Boy’ makes you feel like you can.”
Claire has spent the last few years drilling down on her craft by refining her songwriting and learning to play instruments like the ukulele, the piano, and the jazz electric guitar (“that’s the one I absolutely enjoy the most,” she says), which have helped her turn her lyrics into fully imagined soundscapes. “I consider myself a writer first and foremost,” she’s quick to note. “I’m super fortunate to be able to sing all my songs, and I want to sing them, but writing is my favorite part of the entire process.”
As for what’s next for Claire Rosinkranz? “I just want to put so much music out,” she says with a laugh. “It just keeps coming. I want people to hear it. And I want people to hear what I have to say.”