By Harriet Kaplan
Upstate New York pop-rocker Adam Clark made a strong impression on the rock/pop scene with his debut single “Feels So Good” in 2013. Since then, Clark released his first EP “No Sleep, Just Dreams.” His style as a singer/songwriter has been described as “sensible and raw, meticulously well-crafted and still straight from the gut.” Adam’s sound has also been favorably compared to Adam Levine and Maroon 5. The soaring and athematic single released “King Of The Sky” released last October garnered a lot of attention and acclaim. In July, Clark released “With You,” is a romantic catchy pop song that features modern electronic arrangement that is a bit moody, urgent and very accessible. Recently Clark spoke with Black On The Canvas about his musical influences, career, how he became a singer/songwriter, why he wants to focus on releasing singles and more.
What life experiences and musical influences has shaped you as a singer/songwriter and musician so far?
Adam: As far as life experiences, my life has been a series of major highs and major lows. It wasn’t always black and white for me if I was going to do music as a living. For a few years in my late teens/ early twenties I actually stopped pursuing or working on music all together. Which is now ironic to me cause it was actually music that got me back up on my feet. Those few years when I stopped doing music, I think the most have shaped me to become the musician I am today and also the person I am today.
Adam: As far as musical influences, it’s been everything from classic rock (Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Journey, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc) to classical, country, boy bands, etc. I think the real break through in music I had was when I really started studying R&B/Ne-Yo Soul music tho. I heard stories and the passion those singer/songwriters (Lauryn Hill, Shia, Maxwell, etc) brought to their songs that inspired me to want to do the same.
How did you go from wanting to be a singer/songwriter in high school to working on your first EP and getting connected with a well-known producer? What did learn working with David Schuler in terms of arranging the songs and music? What was the process? Did you have material already written before you went into the studio?
Adam: I’ve actually known David since I was in my high school band. I was opening up for his band (The Sunstreak) at their home town shows. I continued working as a songwriter, putting out EP’s and demos and sending them his way, almost as a way of saying “hey work with me sometime”. When I took the first step into becoming a solo artist during recording of my first single “Feels So Good” I literally contacted everyone I knew. It took almost a year for him to listen to the song, but a little after that we began talking about working together. Months after I flew to LA to begin production.
Adam: I feel like I’ve learned a lot from Dave, he kind of opened up a side of me that was always there. I learned how to talk music and in depth, not just technically speaking (saying chords and specific notes and all that) but how to voice my ideas in a way that was understood. During the recording process we switched from working on songs of mine that I had written before, to new songs that were made from scratch. I would sit there with my phone open during the sessions and begin writing down lyrics and ideas that were flying through my head, as he tweaked some of the production. We then went word for word from what I was saying, which is another thing I really got to experience, was taking the time to go word for word to form out exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it.
Did you feel you got a big break quickly unlike many artists that struggle for years?
Adam: I honestly feel like I haven’t gotten that big break, and if I have I haven’t noticed it yet. I think every artist struggles and that’s the reason they become artist; they make the best out of what others would see as a mess and make it art. I think the struggle is where the inspiration comes from, so no. I guess I’m still waiting but I like the wait.
Were you surprised things fell together that fast?
Adam: I honestly feel like I haven’t taken a day off in about 3 years now, and don’t really see myself being able to for another 3 years as well. It’s been a slow but steady process and continues to be just that.
How many EPs have you released and are you focusing on promoting only singles individually, and if so, why? How do you choose those singles to spotlight?
Adam: I’ve released one EP so far (No Sleep, Just Dreams) and am focusing on solely promoting singles until I’m able to get back into the studio to record again. I’m mainly doing things this way right now because I figured instead of putting out a four-song EP, I’d give my audience track by track so we can go through it together. Now and days, people have very short attention spans for up and coming artist so I want to meet them in the middle and give them track by track what I was thinking when.
Adam: For the singles I spotlight, I usually go through about 50+ songs I’ve written before recording with the people attached the songs. After that is done and the songs are recorded, I sit on the tracks for awhile and plan what I’m really trying to say and when I’d like to say it.
I read you may want to do a college tour at some point. Would you be taking a band on the road with you? If you are, what do you look for in the supporting players?
Adam: I’d love to take a band on the road, playing with a band has been something I’ve done since I was first getting into music. But I also love playing acoustic, so it might be a little of both.
Adam: What I look for in a band is people who have the same drive and passion as I do when it comes to music. Talent can only get you so far, but hard work will always beat talent. Music is just like that, you always know who is working the hardest and who took a day off.
What large festival did you play and how did you get on the bill?
Adam: The festival I played last year was called Bonzai Fest. It was before the release of my single “King of the Sky” and my manager at the time was helping book the festival. When he asked if I would be down, I jumped at the idea and began promoting as soon as I was offically apart of it. Actually at the festival, it was nuts, the band and I actually got an encore. Held things up a little bit for the other bands, but it was an amazing experience.
How does it feel to go on TV to promote your music? Is it a new experience?
Adam: That was a totally new experience for me and I loved it. It was really cool to have such an intimate setting be broadcasted live. I went into it with a lot of hestiation and anxiety, but it was a huge thrill that I’m now working on getting on another broadcast again.
Why do you want to do remixes of your songs? I read you’re a closet EDM fan. Does that mean you will abandon pop at some point or take a break from it?
Adam: First and foremost, I could never abandon pop music. Ever. Pop music is in my blood and has been apart of me for a long time. But, I’ve always loved the cleverness of EDM. I’ve heard a few of my friends bands have their songs remixed and it got me into thinking about what mine would sound like to an EDM ear. I’m still waiting for anything official to come through, but I’m excited to hear someone take apart of it.