It was about time to e-meet Alain Clark, a soul artist from Amsterdam. Due to COVID-19 and the lockdown, he is hosting daily episodes of “Alain’s safe space” via his social media. During these episodes Alain sings, discusses and shares his thoughts with various guests, whether artists or friends from a distance. It is an opportunity for mutual support, but also for communication with his fans.
As he has been active in the music industry since 2004, Alain Clark has already released seven albums. His most recent album, entitled “Sunday Afternoon” premiered in January 2020 and he shares with us an interesting, recording process with the producer Justin Stanley. What does he have in mind while he creates new material and what promise did he make to himself before the recording sessions?
He may have started his career back in 2004 with soul, rock-and-roll and pop songs, but 16 years later Alain chooses to maintain only the soul and R&B elements. What are the most vivid memories from the beginning of his musical journey? And what is his relationship with his fans? Also, Alain shares with us with great sincerity a story with his father, with whom he recorded the song “Father and Friend”.
So, if you want to learn more about his career and his episodes “Alain’s safe space”, read the interview he gave to SounDarts.gr.
Hello Alain and welcome to SounDarts.gr! What have you been up to these days?
I’ve been keeping busy hosting daily episodes of ‘Alain’s safe space’. I started inviting colleagues since the day we heard we couldn’t do concerts in venues anymore, to have a small chat about the new reality and play a couple of songs for us. So far it’s been an amazing way to bring some positivity to my days and hopefully to everyone who watches. I host the episodes on my instagram and facebook accounts. Pretty soon on youtube as well.
What are your feelings about this global pandemic due to COVID-19 and what is your message to the people?
I am very moved and touched by all the horrible stories of people getting sick or families having to say goodbye to loved ones over a screen. There are so many brave people who are going out of their way to help the rest of us get care, food and the ‘small’ things we need to keep our world going round. My message would be to look up to those people who have been working in the shadow. It would make for a kinder and less entitled society.
Despite the difficulties we are experiencing, do you think that something good will come out of this situation?
I can only imagine that having to spend more time with ourselves will give us many insights. I believe we get to learn and experience what is truly important to us. I just hope we’ll remember once all the circus lights go back on
At the beginning of 2020, you released your album “Sunday Afternoon”. What is the most precious moment for you through its whole recording process?
The incredible thing for me is that we only had five recording days for the whole album. Producer and friend Justin Stanley helped me put an incredible band together in his studio in Los Angeles. Each time before recording song we were sitting in a circle. I played them the idea on a guitar. Ten minutes later we were cutting the song live like we were on stage. Usually it was the first take that had the most magic and made it to the record. Such an inspiring method for any songwriter, because it shows you how simple a small idea can turn into a big song.
Did you want to do something that was more about creating a mood or setting up a specific “plot” or concept? What’s the idea behind the album?
When I started writing I made a promise to myself to never think during the process. In other words there was nog good or bad. No right or wrong choices. I just wanted to capture the inspiration that was there at that moment.
This allowed me to really sit back, not worry about radio or formats. Just honest, simple unbiased expressions.
If you had to choose only one song from your career, which one would you choose and why?
It would be “Father and Friend”. I recorded and released that song with my father in 2007. When we were listening back to what we had just recorded we could have never imagined that that very song would give us so many great memories of doing concerts, festivals, radio- and tv shows and countless bus and airplane trips around Europe together. I owe a lot to that song and I will treasure those memories for ever.
What are the most vivid memories from the beginning of your career?
A big and changing moment for me was when I went from playing small bar-type gigs for forty people on a Monday to opening for Amy Winehouse at a five thousand seater that next Friday. That was also the day I heard my single ‘This ain’t gonna work’ made it to number three in the top 40. It was working after all.
As time goes by, your audience keeps on growing. Does that make you feel more focused on your music?
No, not really. I have always had a pretty consistent focus on music. If anything I try to focus more on the spaces between. That is where so much of the magic is. The stories of people. The adventure that comes with the changing of the tides. I will always stay in love with making music but we have an open relationship.
Are you writing for you or/and your audience? What is your main source of inspiration?
More and more I realize that I’m not unique enough to think that I’m the only one who feels something. Of I write because I am sad, there are always going to be thousands of people who feel what I sing about. That is such a wonderful thing to me. We all get to tell our own stories from our own perspectives and people with different lives and realities will connect to us. So my aim is to write as close to my life and heart as I can.
And what was the most difficult song to write and why?
That’s an easy answer: the song I’m writing next. There is beauty and pain in not knowing if your last good song will always be your last good song.
As we see, you are really active on your social media during the lockdown. What messages do you receive? Is it something you will keep on doing?
It is such a positive way to start my day every day. I’m getting lots of reactions from people saying they look forward to it every time they wake up. I am definitely planning to keep it going for a while. So many great artists and friends that I haven’t invited yet!
What are your future, professional plans? Maybe a tour when the lockdown is over?
I was in the middle of a tour in The Netherlands when the lockdown started. So we plan to finish that as soon as the venue doors open. I definitely dream of being on the road with the band again and having people in front of us share in the music and singing. I really miss it.
What’s the biggest dream of Alain Clark about his musical career?
For there to always be a heart to touch. I’ll follow that path and open my arms to any adventure it brings.
Interview: Elektra Limnios