On a recent trip through LA, Kaity Dunstan, aka Cloves, made her way by the Uproxx studio for a chat on our music discovery show Heard it Here. Dunstan has already been racking up comparisons to greats like Billie Holliday, Amy Winehouse and even Adele, which can be big shoes to fill for a new artist. After all, those three all earned the right to break our hearts with massive success and critical acclaim, and it takes a full dose of life to fuel those voices — just ask any singing TV show contestant that disappeared after the season wrapped.
Real voices need real experience, and Dunstan is just 20 years old; how is Cloves managing to pull these comparisons so soon? Spend a few minutes with her, though, and it all becomes clear. I walked in to find Cloves flanked by her two managers that could have easily doubled as security. They were just pleasant enough so that I didn’t forget this could go wrong. The hoodie between these two sentinels leaned forward and smiled, then somehow managed to welcome me to my own conference room. That’s Cloves.
As a teen, Dunstan and her sister put their father to work driving, loading gear and setting up the shows in bars and pubs throughout Melbourne, Australia. They’d play a few covers, but Cloves was intent on writing her own material. Those early shows were packed with new song debuts to drunken Aussies. That’s a tight rope act. Respect.
“I just want to be a great writer, those are the people I look up to,” she explained, while casually shrugging off her vocal talent and the accolades it has already garnered her. Fair enough, humility is a great complement to natural gifts. Her voice is incredible, yes, but she doesn’t take credit for good genetics.