She-tar Column

CLAY: The Alternative Crown Of A Nigerian Rock Goddess

Photo By: Anny Robert

My diaspora research for Rockers of African descent landed upon Nigeria in 2017 on Instagram. Her intriguing vibrato captured me. Her enthralling riffs moved me. Her vivid lyrics captivated me and her lively presence made me want to know more. Who is this force of nature rockin’ out culturally; all the way on the other side of the world? As I dug deeper I unveiled how bright the crown of CLAY’s extraordinary music career shines. She is like a shooting star adorning her place in Rock-n-Roll history. 

Photo By: Anny Robert

Samantha Hollins: What is your native tongue? How does your language intertwine with your music?

CLAY: My native languages are Igbo and Yoruba (this I speak more fluently). These languages are part of the three major tribes (there are over 300 tribes and 500 languages spoken) in Nigeria. It’s a natural thing for me to infuse Nigerian elements in my music, be it subtle drums or my dialect . It’s who I am. I’m Nigerian.

Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock-n-Roll?

CLAY: I don’t think I remember the exact time. My Dad listened to a lot of the classics when I was a child and in my early teens. When I could barely afford to buy CDs, I would go scouting for Soft Rock, Grunge, Punk and Power Pop music.

Photo By: Anny Robert

Samantha Hollins: Most parents in general are not as welcoming to the rebellious nature of what their children are listening to and wearing. Culturally speaking, how did your family respond to the first time they saw your alternative attire?

CLAY: LOL! My mom is a sweetheart. She supports us; no matter what we decide to do. I don’t remember her complaining or anything. She just makes jokes about how I’m always dressed as if I’m going to a war front, lmao!

My Dad initially didn’t like it. I remember my first discussion with him on my style. He didn’t sound too ecstatic (although in retrospect, I believe he was a little proud on the inside 😂) . He’s all for it now. Encourages me and proudly tells everyone ‘Clay is my first daughter’ (how embarrassing 🤦).

Samantha Hollins: Your guitar tone is very enchanting and edgy at the same time. What was the defining moment that made you yearn for the six string instrument?

CLAY: OMG. I had to read that again. I mean, I couldn’t hold a candle to you when it comes to playing the guitar. Thank you ☺. To be honest, I initially picked up the guitar a few years ago out of necessity. I couldn’t afford to pay a guitarist everytime I had a gig ( and God forbid, I perform with a backing track 🤢) . The very first time I performed with a guitar, was at a charity event for orphaned kids. My playing was absolutely terrible. I don’t think anyone really noticed (I mean, I hope they didn’t 😂). Now, I’m grateful I started to learn to play. It’s such a beautiful thing: the guitar.

Samantha Hollins: I love your band (The Misfits). What is the environment like being the only female amongst your male counterparts? What’s a typical rehearsal like? Please introduce us to them all (names and what they play).

CLAY: Thank you! Aaarrgh! It can be pretty hectic. Human management is such a chore! But we get along and get by eventually. We all have some mutual respect for each other and absolutely love to play together. Once the music starts playing, all negativity is let go.

Every rehearsal starts with them coming late 😂. I try not to scream, I really try 🤦. It’s always ends on a high note and every one is happy.


@Jheri_jay – Drums

@beststrings_musiq – Rhythm and lead

@orange_naijarockstar – Lead

@D_groovy2unes – Bass

@isonil – Electric Violins

Photo By: Anny Robert

Samantha Hollins: You are full of upbeat energy when you perform. What gets your mood amped for a show? What’s a typical meal before or after a show?

CLAY: I’m mostly nervous and antsy before any show. I’m prayerful and hopeful too. I try not to eat before performing. Maybe a fruit and lots of water. Of course, I gorge down everything I lay my hands on right after performing. The better the performance, the more I eat to, you know, celebrate.

Samantha Hollins: You play as astonishingly as you sing and sing as astonishingly as you play. Do you have any rituals to stay sharp as a singer/songwriter/guitarist?

CLAY: Thank you, again. I try to vocal exercise every single day. Sometimes 10mins, other times 40mins…BUT I try to do it everyday. I am constantly on the look out for ways to improve my voice and performance.

Samantha Hollins: Your lyrics are very emotionally expressive, so are you speaking from experience?

CLAY: Yes! I’m mostly writing from something I’ve experienced, want to experience; thoughts I’ve had or stuff I’ve seen happen.

Samantha Hollins: I saw a BBC piece that captured you very well. How does it feel to know your passion for Rock is traveling the world virtually? Will you ever do an international tour?

CLAY: It feels great everytime an international/foreign news company wants to share my love for my music. I just can’t get over it. Very grateful. Of course, how can I not do international tours? If I died before I did several, I would have to get my dead self up and get to it 😂.

Samantha Hollins: Is there a market for Rock artists like yourself to thrive in Lagos? How do you create your audience?

CLAY: Sincerely, there’s little market here. We have tiny communities here and there. There’s also a thriving expatriate community in Lagos. Between this and that, we get an audience. However small, the joy is in the music.

Photo By: Anny Robert

Samantha Hollins: I love your rock star attitude! What is next for Clay? Where can we hear your music and witness your amazing video’s?

CLAY: Rraaaaaghhh! 🤘

Currently gearing up to drop a new single.

Working on a long long awaited album.

Samantha Hollins: Thank you very much, I truly appreciate your amazing presence in The Culture Rock Griot!

CLAY: Find my music on all streaming sites by searching ‘clayrocksu’ , same as YouTube and social media.

On all streaming sites search ‘clayrocksu’

Instagram, twitter, tiktok, facebook -@clayrocksu

Samantha Hollins: Thank you very much CLAY for sharing the narrative of your phenomenal Rock destiny. I love it and you are truly Rock Her-Story!

DESTINY (remix) feat KEL – Clay

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One thought on “She-tar Column

  1. Great interview as it is always a blast to discover that R&R is not some monolithic genre inaccessible to urban youth or even those not nurtured in a eurocentric world view. And equally it is hip to see a woman, particularly ba woman 9f color wielding an electric guitar and redefining the power of such a phallic symbol. Thank you for enlightenment and for turning expectation on its ear.


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