Anyone who knows me will be aware that my total favourite singer/songwriter ( any genre!) is Washington native Brandy Clark, so when the opportunity arose to interview her via telephone for Think Country I jumped at the chance!
So many questions, so little time……a fifteen minute constraint to be exact….. so as much as I wanted to ask about her weekly show on Gimmie Country Radio, performing at Loretta Lynn’s Birthday tribute concert in April, her recent guest appearance at Marty Stuart’s Country Music Hall of Fame residency, having a cut on Reba’s latest album and co-writing with Ashley McBryde , I centred my interview around her upcoming visit to London for Country Music Week and of course her hotly anticipated new album. What came through during our conversation, which I hope you get at least some essence of, is her total passion for what she does, whether it’s writing, recording or performing.
Enjoy the read!
BC Thanks! She’s doing great ! She came to me sick, but I took her to the vets and she spent a couple of night in the hospital but she’s giving Bette a run for her money now!
LH Phew, I’m so relieved to hear that!
2. LH And next I must wish you belated Birthday greetings for yesterday from all the Think Country team! I hope you had a great day?
BC Thank you….and yes it was wonderful!
3. LH To set the picture, where are you right now as while we are chatting? ( I was at home trying to control my dogs who decided it was time for a game of chase, by the way!!)
BC I’m on the West Coast, I’ve just done a photo shoot out at Joshua Tree, California, for my new album which has been pretty exciting! There’ll be something we can all start looking at in a few days ……they’re going to announce my new album pretty soon so they want to have images ready when they do that.
4. LH I’m sure all your UK fans will know EXACTLY where you’ll be on 25th October…..back in London at the invitation of C2C for a one off show during Country Music Week! I know you love performing here, don’t you, are you as excited as we are ?
BC I’m so excited! I think it’s been two years since i was last there. It’s my favourite place to play probably in the world . I’ve just never experienced fans who devour music the way people in the UK do. I’ve played six songs from my new record over two intimate shows recently but I’ll still bet there’ll be people there who will know the words …..i just love that! The first time I ever came over and played C2C I had “ 12 Stories “ out and it blew my mind that all those people knew all the words to all the songs, not just songs that had been singles or focus tracks!
5. LH Are you bringing any of your band over with you this time?
BC Yes! It’s going to be a full band show, we’re even hiring a player from over there to play with us. Vanessa ( McGowan, bass player) still plays with me and my drummer will be with me. Miles ( Aubrey, lead guitar player) has had a personal conflict so he won’t be there so we’re borrowing Scott Patton who plays with Jennifer Nettles who’s stepping in to replace him. Oh and I have a new girl in my band, Caitlin, who plays cello.
With my new record we cut the tracks all acoustic then added a few electric instruments …….we were going to do three songs with the Memphis Strings and Horns but we loved them so much we ended up using them on the entire album so I’ve now got a cellist because it’s so necessary to this new record! Also for the older songs she’s found a place to play that feels pretty amazing.
6. LH So let’s continue with some more questions about the new album as you’ve so conveniently brought it up! The title was recently revealed as “ Your Life Is A Record” …..is that a track name, the concept behind the collection or both?
BC Kind of both! It’s the first line of the first song, “ I’ll Be The Sad Song”, actually. One of my co-writers suggested it should be the name of the album and that sort of put a lot of things in motion for me …..if your life is a record, then people and places are songs and I knew I wanted to start the album with that track. It’s the right place to go from.
It’s a much more personal record, it sort of goes through love and loss and things in life…..it’s not all downers though ! And there’s songs that speak to the political climate. I’m proud that people I’ve played it for, who I really admire, have said things like “ that’s one of the most creative records i’ve ever heard “ …..that makes me feel amazing . I think it lives in a lot of worlds, it’s definitely a singer/songwriter record but it’s also a country record ( like anything I put out there!) an Americana record …..I think there are different places where it can live.
7. LH The entire process of making a record is really lengthy, isn’t it? Which part of that process do you enjoy the most?
BC Great question! In a way I enjoy all the creative parts, probably the most favourite part to me is the process of the studio. I’ve had the good fortune to work with two highly talented producers, Dave Brainardand Jay Joyce. Talking specifically about Jay, he made my last record and he said “ Let’s not make the same record twice, If I’m going to work with you again let’s do it differently”. I feel like the producer is the last writer on all the songs. And i like to give them that space to do that. If I could produce my own records I would but I can’t , it’s not my passion, it’s not my strength. What I love most about the recording process is giving someone like Jay eighteen songs, all of which I obviously love, and saying we’re going to cut twelve. Often the choices, and what I think is the centre, is not what he does. “ Love Can Go to Hell” is a great example from the last record…. I’d written it as a straight up ballad , he figured out a way to make that song move and make it something different to what it was. That’s a REAL producer. And Dave Brainard who I worked on “12 Stories” with worked the same way. So my favourite part is probably watching a song that went from one thing I thought it was turn into something else. On this record that’s probably the song “Who You Thought I Was” .
LH Oh yes, i’ve heard that one!
BC When you hear the recorded version you’re going to love it ! Jay figured out this way to record it where it’s basically all acoustic guitar , he recorded several acoustic guitars tuned down and used a process to make them all sound different .Watching that come together was pretty amazing!
8. LH And who have you co-written with this time around? I’m sure the names some of your favourite collaborators will appear on the credits, but is there anyone new?
BC Yes! There’s people who are my core, Jessie-Jo Dillon, Shane McAnally ….I wrote a couple of the songs with both of them….and then there’s people I haven’t had songs on records with , Chase McGill, Jesse Frasure, Clint Daniels, Jonathan Singleton, Barry Dean . I have a song with Adam Wright on this record which in fact Randy Newman ended up doing as a duet.
9. LH So what’s the timeline now, are we going to get any singles prior to the album…..and is there an album release date?
BC Yes, the album’s coming out at the end of February and you can maybe see a single as early as November, maybe the end of the year, those are all conversations that are happening now with the record label ….but sooner rather than later!
10. LH And I guess next year is going to be a big touring year for you? How are those plans coming along?
BC Yes…..really good, I think I’ll be keeping the road really hot !
11. LH Touring is a pretty gruelling undertaking isn’t it, do you have to do much preparation to get “ tour fit”?
BC You know, it’s just getting into the rhythm of it! This year has actually been harder because I chose to not tour and focus on writing and recording . And the shows that I have had have been harder because you’re not in that rhythm of playing, there’s not always the luxury of having a dedicated band at every show, so you’re sometimes throwing things together with players you’re not used to playing with and aren’t used to playing with each other. But that’s how I found Caitlin , the girl I now have playing cello…..sometimes you find people who make sense in your world who you wouldn’t have if you hadn’t been put in that position!
12. LH What do you miss most when you’re away from home for extended periods?
BC. Oh man…..well if I don’t have my puppies with me I miss them! You know, it’s my friends, like being in the groove of songwriting, ‘cos that’s a whole community that when you’re on the road your touching but you’re not immersed in it. But I get fed a lot from a live performance, i remember why I’m writing songs in the first place which is always a great thing.
13. LH AW, I’ve been told I have just one more question……do you have any message for your fans, wherever they may be in the world?
BC I just want to say thanks for being patient with me on this new music! I hope you agree it’s going to be worth it. I just love that they love me and my music, this is a harder career than it looks like, to always be creating …..it’s a blessed career but there are things about it that are hard, especially for me mentally and emotionally…..there’s a lot of doubt within myself, am I really any good, and when I get reminded that there are people who think what I have to say is worthwhile, everyone who comes to shows or buys records, talks about those records on social media, it’s a big deal.
LH Thank you so much for your time, Brandy, I look forwards to seeing you on 25th and I’m even more excited about the new album now, if that’s possible!
BC See you in a couple of weeks!