Claire-Ann was struggling with social anxiety and awkwardness when she, alongside Varley bandmates Joschka and Matthias, began writing “The Pressure.” “I found myself in a situation that made me feel really awkward, and in my head I started singing, Don’t mind me / I’m just waiting here for the world to make me disappear,” recalls Claire-Ann.
“We wanted to describe the feeling of the pressure rising, feeling your cheeks turning red, and wishing you could turn back the clocks and just not say anything at all,” the singer, songwriter, and musician tells American Songwriter. “I spend a lot of time in my head, replaying and rewriting certain social situations. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle because the more you start thinking about these things, the less you want to put yourself out there.”
Finding a line between small talk and DMCs never fit well for me / I just shouldn’t speak, Claire-Ann laments, trying to disappear into the mix. I feel the pressure / I fail at first impressions.
With “The Pressure,” the trio hopes to give people “a sense of peace knowing that they aren’t alone and that many people struggle with social anxiety/awkwardness. For the people who can’t relate, we would love to help them understand the inner workings of the anxious mind. We are all different, but if we can respect each other and try to see things from other people’s point of view, it’s all good.”
Originally from Dublin, Claire-Ann’s entry point into music was her father’s side of the family. “[They] are quite musical. Once I started showing an interest at a young age, [my dad] got me into guitar and piano lessons, and it wasn’t long after that that I started singing,” she shares. “I lost interest quite quickly when I was just learning pieces of music.”
When she was 13, things changed again. “I started keeping a diary where I would write little poems, and after some time, I started to put them to music, and that is when I really got interested in songwriting,” she says. “Songwriting for us is almost like a form of therapy. It’s a way to get all of the doubt, fears and worries out of our head, and it gives us a chance to actually work through how we’re feeling rather than just pushing things to the back of our head.”
“The Pressure” is the latest single from Varley’s forthcoming debut LP, Small Talk & DMCs, out September 17. An accompanying music video for the song, directed by Jen Krause, is forthcoming and “follows the daily life of a man who has cut himself off from the world and has no contact to his family or friends. Out of pure loneliness, he comes up with a very interesting way of making new friends.”
In describing their music, noting it as “vulnerable and honest, heart-on-sleeve type of music,” Claire-Ann offers a bit of insight into the record’s tone. “It’s full of contrasts. The music on one hand, sounds light-hearted, but through the lyrics, we talk about a lot of uncomfortable topics─such as loneliness, social problems, anxiety, insecurities─but speckled throughout, there are hints of hope, self-love, and admiration for fearless women that we look up to. We view our music as a safe space to talk about our deepest thoughts, fears, and doubts.”