Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kara Clark Interview, From Kudzoo

There are a lot of reasons for someone to write music that resonates from within the soul. It could be the burning need to get the ideas out of your head, that create a temporary paralysis resulting from not letting the ideas flow. Or it could be like many folks, an inborn addiction to which there is no known cure, except for hard work and dedication to your craft.

From the amount of material that is sent over to us from Kara Clark, we know this songstress puts her time in and is constantly writing new drafts. Kara's approach is refreshing, as we can sense her ideas evolving and becoming something greater than what an mp3 allows. Damn stoked to hear the full breadth of the new material and to be able to put a release date on it later this year.

Keep up with Kara Clark on Facebook

Kara Clark, new material in the works
Check out original interview in the online magazine Kudzoo

"Nashville is filled to the brim with country music hopefuls. Young men in cowboy hats and sexy young girls who made their way to Music City from far-flung cities in California, New York, Ohio and Nevada. People with heads full of dreams. Dreams of country music stardom. Dreams of packing arenas and standing beneath the warm glow of the spotlight and singing their country-pop hearts out, selling millions of CD's and even more download's. Artists who would sell their very soul for the opportunity of becoming one of those cookie-cutter country stars who all look the same and sound the same.

However, if you dig down just a tiny bit, past those layers of generic wanna-be's, you will find some genuine talent tucked away in the dim recesses of Nashville. Something fresh, something different. Something honest. Something called Kara Clark.

Kara has been called everything from gothic country to outlaw country. Fact is, she kind of defies classification. She is a little bit country and little bit rock n' roll, all wrapped up in shades of black & gray and covered in tattoos and lipstick. Her's is a unique voice. A wake up call in the city of musical sheep.

KUDZOO caught up with Kara Clark to find out a little bit about her background, what turns her on and her thoughts on the bizarre music business of today.

Tell us about where you were born and where you grew up.

I was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. I also spent a lot of time with my grandparents in Logan County, West Virginia where my sister and I played in creeks, pumped water into the sink to wash dishes and sat by a coal stove at night. My mom and dad divorced when I was three, I think, so she raised us and we had a great stepfather as well. My other grandparents lived in Huntington. My grandfather was a politician so my sister and I experienced two different types of living, it was good. I had a good child hood. Yes, I know the whites, we all knew of Jesco years ago, we didn't think anything out of the ordinary about them. I get asked that a lot.

When did you first become interested in music?

I didn't do any music growing up. I got kicked out of glee club in junior high for being a smart ass. I did what you do, graduated, went to college, got married, had kids. It wasn't until I was drunk singing karaoke one night that people kind of stopped and said, "where did that come from?" I responded with "I have no idea."

I entered some silly contests in West Virginia and won. It was bizarre to me. I got a used guitar and taught myself to play and started writing songs. I think everyone thought I had lost my mind. To be honest, they probably still think that.

Looking back on my life, I think it was always there. I wrote poetry and I used to sing when nobody was looking. I can remember singing Juice Newton like a fool. Also, as my grandmother aged, we found a hope chest full of keepsakes and there was a drawing I had done at 6 years old. It was a guitar and a microphone. My mom and I got chill bumps. Of course, I lost the drawing in typical Kara fashion.

Before that, were you a fan of music?

I have always loved music. I have gone through so many phases, some are too embarrassing to even mention. I was lucky to have seen Waylon with my dad when I was little. I was also lucky that my mother let me go to my first concert in the 4th grade. I think it was Rod Stewart. I was a rocker in junior high and high school. I remember seeing KISS in the 8th grade and my best friend and I were scared to death when WASP opened. I've seen Metallica so many times that my neck is permanently injured. After my metal phase in high school, I switched back to country. I love the classics, always have.

During high school, what were your future plans?

In high school, my only plans were drinking and drugs. That was my wild phase, not my college years, I was settled down by then. I barely made it through high school, I was so wild that there was no way I was thinking about my future. My poor mom, I worried her to death, I am sure. My senior year, I was shipped to my dad, a state trooper and I straightened up.

What made you move to Nashville and when did you arrive?

To be honest, my marriage was on it's last leg, we gave it a shot. I had been writing and making horrible cassette tape demo's of cover tunes. A musician friend I had made online had lived here for 25 years and knew this town. I had never even been here. She told me to send her a demo and she would be honest and let me know if I should, up and move here. She got with me when she heard it and told me to move if I could. She said I would stand out. That I am different. So, my then husband said he would move us here if it was what I wanted. I sat on it for a few months and then just packed up and moved here. I had never even sang in a band. It's kind of funny now.

Did you visit and "check it out" before hand?

No, my sister and I came to see about houses, but we ended up on Broadway and got nothing accomplished.

How do you find Nashville as far as from the perspective of a writer/performer trying to be heard?

That is a tough question because a lot of my own struggle has been my own fault. It's taken me years to realize this, but I do now. I have been lucky because I do think I stand out, so people know who I am. But at the same time, I have boxed myself in to an extent. I didn't do it on purpose, all of my songs are from the heart and just who I am, but I think people assume, it's all I can do and that is just not true.. I write a ton of different stuff, but have been so stubborn, way too stubborn. I have recently decided as long as I have true to myself, it's not a sell out. I have had several very important people tell me lately that I am missing the boat by being so stand-offish and by being so dead set to change the opinions of alternative country. I have many radio friendly songs just sitting here and that is just stupid.

You have written some great songs already. Have you been pushing songs to the publishers of Music Row?

I have never pushed for a writing deal. I think I have been so focused on the artist "Kara Clark" that I just let the songwriter take the backseat. I knew nobody was gonna cut anything off my records, so I just would write "pitch" stuff and let it sit here. I taught myself piano, mainly because I wanted to play "I'm Not Lisa" and after I learned it, a flood of songs came to me and I really like playing the piano. It also brings out a different style in me. A more vulnerable Kara and that is okay with me. I am ready to pitch songs now.

I hear you have done a bit of co-writing. Who are some of the folks  you've written with?

The majority of my stuff, I write by myself or with David Walker, who plays in my band. I wrote "Relapse" with Travis Meadows, he is amazing. I have written a couple with Jeremy Bussey. Again, I fault myself for not being in the "Nashville writer circles." I haven't networked or reached out to other writers, but all this is changing now.

Do you do the songwriting sessions, where you go into a room with others at a designated time and hammer out songs? What is your approach to songwriting?

I have done that once with Karen Staley, it went well. Sort of surreal, one of the first songs I ever "covered" was "Let's Go To Vegas." She wrote that and I was in a room writing with her. Up 'til now, I just get these hooks in my head and I run with them. I am primarily a lyricist. Every song on my records are all my own lyrics. I struggle with melodies, but not as much lately. I generally start at home and write it. If I can't get the melody, I will got to someone to help with the part. Hell, I have hummed melodies to people just because I am not a great guitar player and can't get them to sound right. My nephew helps me sometimes with that.

Who are your favorite or most influential songwriters?

Anthony Smith, Edwin McCain, Karen Staley, Chris Wallin, Jeffrey Steele, Leslie Satcher

Same question, but musicians?

My influential musicians are all over the map. I love everyone from Edwin McCain to Tool, to Journey, Cash, Waylon, Shooter, Hank III, Little River Band, Linda Perry (laughs), that sounds crazy. To sum it up, I am influenced by people who do their thing, stick to it to be true, be different and not give in. It's easy to sound or be like someone else already doing it it. It's tough as hell to be who you are and be successful. But all the ones who were true to what they believed in, will always last through time.

As far as performing, you still do solo stuff right?

Yes, actually acoustic gigs are far easier for me. Less overhead, more freedom to play a lot more material.

And the band? Who all plays in your band?

Right now, it depends on the gig, who I hire for it. Keeping an original band together at my level is tough and stressful. My piano player, David Walker is always with me.

Kara Clark will be building a huge fan base in 2013 with her new material

What have been some of the high points for you in your career thus far?

I am fortunate that my very top favorite artists or writers know who I am and I have met them all. I am lucky to have had press quotes from Shooter Jennings and Edwin McCain and Anthony Smith. Not many people get down here and actually get to know their main influences.

Tell us about your CD Southern Hospitality. Who produced, who played on it, all about it. Enquiring minds want to know.

I was lucky to make that record. I was lucky to be able to choose the songs that went on it. I wrote it all, had co-writers on many of the songs, but that record was all me — and being told "go make it, who cares what anyone thinks" was a great feeling. I had some of my band play on it. I played acoustics on it. Kenny Olsen, Wayd Battle, Dave Macafee, Mark Lambert all played on it. I called Brent Mason to play on two tracks and my engineer said, "you just don't call Brent Mason" (laughs) I do. I got to use Peter Keys from Skynyrd, I had great players on it.

What are your future plans?

I have a few things to think about right now as far as this latest record and the artist side of my career. I am not sure which road I am gonna take. Right now, my main focus is gonna be songwriting, getting my catalog organized, really concentrating on co-writing and pitching songs. I have way too many to just sit here and wait for someone to knock on my door.

I am also getting ready to start a new project, but I'm not allowed to talk about it. Get me drunk and I might.

And now, the important questions... What is the average air speed velocity of an unladen sparrow?

Shut up.

What is your favorite television show?

I love all true crime shows. I love Grey's Anatomy, I know, I know — I don't even care who knows it. I have love trash reality tv. I feel like I write such sad songs, I am allowed to watch that Honey Boo Boo and I wish she had a Kara Clark tshirt. Oh, turtle man is awesome to. The Kardashians are idiots.

What is the greatest record album ever recorded in the history of the world?

No pressure huh? I don't think I have just one favorite. The first thing that popped in my head was Rumors (Fleetwood Mac).

Name your five favorite musical acts?

Drive by Truckers, Hank 3, Journey, Edwin McCain and Shooter Jennings

If Carly Rae Jepsen got into a fight with Taylor Swift, who would win?

Who the fuck is Carly Rae Jepsen? Taylor Swift is perpetually 14, but I think she may have a mean streak deep down. I'm kidding.

What is the most important thing in life?

My children, period."

 - Michael Buffalo Smith