INTERVIEW: Craig Clark | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by John Egdell

Craig Clark’s new record Sometimes Bewilder is a beautifully arranged, lushly melodic piece of work; articulate and emotive in the way it addresses memory, travel and relationships. Five years in the making, Craig’s Americana-indebted songwriting recalls Neil Young and Wilco. “About 70 or 80 per cent of the album is about two or three trips, and the rest of it is quite minimalist songs that expanded with the help of others. In terms of the songs on the record it covers eight or nine years. I then realised what the album could be, and that process took about five years. Initially I had the idea to take the songs to the studio and just have a very minimal arrangement, but happily that isn’t what happened. Dave Musgrave, who played drums, and John Egdell really contributed to the richness of the arrangement.”

What is striking about Craig’s songwriting is his ability to capture the minutiae of experience. “A song like Edinburgh for example, is specifically about a train journey I took to Edinburgh to go to a job interview. It didn’t work out, but at the time I was just thinking, ‘do I even want this job?’ I suppose it’s important for me to have vivid references to my past that mean something to me; that is the thread of the record, and probably one of the most important things for me about writing songs in the first place.”

Craig writes very well about the relationship between people and place, and his fluid associations with both. “City Scene is a song about corruption and manipulation; the seediness of certain times of your life, not knowing if certain facets of a relationship still exist. Relationships with people and with places are always changing. On the record if it’s not me going somewhere it’s someone else!”

It’s a travelogue, and I think the point of songwriting really is to help you handle memory

Craig also cites a great deal of cinema as an influence on his songwriting. “The song Hello New York is inspired directly by the film Tootsie, the Bill Murray scene at the party. I think everyone has got a memory of being in a kitchen at a party at four o’clock in the morning and there is just one person dominating the conversation.”

The album artwork features Craig’s own photograph of a plane flying against a moody, cloudy background. “I’m a real plane buff! I really like use the flight radar app, this one plane had taken off in Texas and it was just circling…I don’t know if it was having problems with the weather. We had a few ideas, but that image was very minimal and seemed to sum up the feel of the record.”

Craig is obviously galvanized by travel and talks about how a subsequent American road trip has inspired a handful of songs for his second record. “I strongly suggest that everyone goes travelling solo at one point in their life. I suppose that’s what has really inspired this record. It’s a travelogue, and I think the point of songwriting really is to help you handle memory.”

Craig Clark releases Sometimes Bewilder on 15th April. He plays The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Friday 12th April.


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