A Q&A with Imogen Clark


Nashville-based, Australian singer-songwriter…

What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
My new single is called ‘Big One’, it’s from my upcoming album The Art of Getting Through. A lot of my music is about fighting for your own worth, fighting to matter and be valued. This song is about wanting to be “the big one” for somebody, to be a person who they can never forget, even if things don’t work out. I wrote this with Sam Phay, deep in the midst of listening to heaps of HAIM and MUNA. I wanted the song to feel like its title, a massive singalong pop anthem. Sam’s demo was so amazing that we ended up using a lot of those original elements in the finished track.

What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
The hardest part was just being so purely vulnerable and needy. We’re told so much as women that being ‘needy’ is the worst thing you can be, it’s such a turn-off, but this song is about just opening up about what I need, what my heart needs. Sam Phay, my co-writer, is so brilliant at creating space for me to be honest and create without judgement.

Who produced the release – what did they bring to it? 
Sam Phay produced the demo, and a lot of his stuff survived into the finished track. I worked on the main recording with my producer Mike Bloom, who I’ve been working with for five years now and who produced my last two EPs. This was one of the first songs we recorded in LA at East West (where the Beach Boys made Pet Sounds) with Gus Seyffert on bass, who’s played with Lana Del Rey and Adele, and Griffin Goldsmith from Dawes on drums. They put so much punch, dynamism and electricity into the song; we were whooping and hollering in the control room when they took off on that last chorus!

What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
I hope some people, especially young women, realise they aren’t alone. They aren’t the first people to go through these things, and they are all survivable. You can move forward from them, even if you don’t get even or fully get over them.

How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
It can really vary so much. Sometimes it’s me alone at the piano, sometimes I’m writing with a writer-producer who is building a full track as we’re writing, and sometimes it’s me and another writer with two acoustic guitars sitting opposite each other trading words and chords. I like doing real preproduction before I go into the studio, having a plan and references for the structure and the sound and knowing exactly what I want out of the musicians, which means we can get it down efficiently and have room to try fun ideas or things that spark out of the recording process.

What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
I saw Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift and Maggie Rogers live while we were making this record, and that is a pretty bang on cross-section of the inspiration for this record. Intense emotions, really deep connections with the audience, big widescreen songs that people cry to and carry with them. That’s everything I’m going for on this album.


What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
There are so many places I’d love to tour, ones I’ve never been and places I’ve been to before I’d love to come back to with this new music. I’ve just announced a London show at the Green Note on July 10, which is so exciting, and we’re trying to lock in more US and UK stuff for the rest of this year. Hopefully next year will get me to Europe and beyond. It’s such a big world and I want to see it all and connect to people everywhere.

If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
Aside from ‘Big One’, I think ‘All Hard Feelings’, the previous single, is such a representation of who I am in all my pettiness. It’s also a real vibe for my Sheryl Crow / Tom Petty influence and a great example of collaboration with two amazing ex-pat Aussies who also live in Nashville – Sinead Burgess and Blake O’Connor. I got to cut it in LA with Harper Simon, Davey and Pete from Elvis Costello’s band, Ben Alleman on keys and Mike Bloom producing – a bigger crew of legends you cannot find.

What ambitions do you have for your career?
I want my music to be the soundtrack to people’s lives and a true record of who I am. I want to sing with my heroes, play to strangers whose language I don’t speak, write songs in my bedroom that go around the world and learn to play the theremin.

Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
No one dies wishing they had been less sincere and honest in life, or wishing they’d settled more. Fu*k irony, say what you mean and chase what your heart needs.

For more info about Imogen Clark, check out imogenclark.com.au
Images: Michelle Grace Hunder


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