Born out of lockdown in early 2020, fast-rising Edinburgh-based artist clarq has now returned to deliver the spellbinding new EP 'Again Before Since'.
Featuring the much-loved initial single 'Home', 'Again Before Since' makes for a warm and captivating listen. Taking cues from the sweeping alt-pop scene and adding a distinct flair to every track, this feels like the beginning of a promising career to boot.
So with the new EP available now, we joined clarq in a quick chat to find out more about the origins and influences that inspired this new collection.
What was the first instrument you learned to play?
Piano. I was lucky enough to have lessons from a really young age - 7 or so - and from there, for the next ten years I learned how to play classical music (with varying degrees of success). I was always pretty terrible at reading sheet music but I still use music theory when writing songs to this day, I still think of chord progressions in terms of piano keys, and I still feel more comfortable behind a piano than any other instrument.
What was the first album you remember owning?
I like this question because people usually give a cool answer - I will not be giving a cool answer. ‘Let Go’ by Avril Lavigne, when I was 10 years old. I listened to it every day and read the lyrics from the sleeve and basically just wanted to be her. I’ve been listening to it again recently and a lot of it still holds up! It’s cool to see the pop punk resurgence that’s slowly happening again recently. Growing up on that, and then jumping over to Paramore during the truly angsty years, I have a real fondness for that whole vibe.
Did you ever form a band when you were younger and if so, what did they sound like?
A couple. Being a mid-to-late teen in the mid-to-late noughties means your bands are all indie and land somewhere between Bloc Party, Vampire Weekend, um… The Wombats? A lot of fun, bouncy guitar-led stuff. I only ended up joining any bands because I put my solo music on Bebo (I am 83 years old). It was mostly just acoustic Smiths covers but people were very supportive and it ended up resulting in me joining a couple of bands. In one of them - “Hunting for Melvin” - when I wasn’t pining romantically from the recesses of my gay heart, we sang indie pop songs about our teachers and Hans Moleman from The Simpsons. I have not continued to explore this subject matter in later projects.
What is a song you wish you had written yourself?
Most of them. If it’s successful, and fun, and has an earworm chorus, then I’m seething with jealousy that I didn’t write it. Billie Eilish, bad guy, is probably the most infuriating in recent memory. If you gave me 100 years I could maybe have written that. But I didn’t, so. Ugh. Thanks for reminding me.
What has been the most thrilling moment about creating your own music?
Even just writing and building the songs was great - I love the feeling when you lose sense of time and forget to eat because you’re so busy working up an idea, usually just from a single melody, into a full blown song. Besides that, one of the most exciting parts, for me, was pairing this music project with genderqueer aesthetics and beginning to explore my gender identity. I’m not quite sure where I’ve landed with it, but I love women’s fashion, throwing together looks, and presenting in a non-gender-conforming way. Like the songs, drag is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. And having a lot of time in quarantine and a lot of time to scroll through the internet looking for cheap, tacky clothes has been brilliant.
And what about the most frustrating part?
I started this project only a couple of months before the first lockdowns of 2020 in response to coronavirus, so I haven’t had a chance to perform live yet. I loved doing that in the before-times so I miss it a lot. Working on the songs and bringing them to life with my co-producer, James, is great, but it also takes months and months. The immediacy of singing them at people’s stunned faces is kind of a different thrill altogether. So I miss that from time to time. That said, I am yet to grace a stage while presenting as female, so I do wonder if I’m destined to faceplant within minutes after dancing too vigorously in my platform heels.
Which artist would you most love to share a stage with?
I’m gonna say Tegan & Sara. I have loved their music and listened to them for close to a decade now. As queer songwriters that love a foray into pop and a tasty collab, I reckon we’d have a lot of fun. Although if they even knew who I was I would probably die on the spot and ascend to Gay Heaven.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Still working my office job, still making music, still dressing up, still still still. For me, music doesn’t need to be a full-time career, and I’m not sure if I even want it to be. I just want it to be where I express who I am and connect to other people. If that’s a boring answer, then living on a capybara farm with my boyfriend, having a pint out the back with Noel Gallagher and Carly Rae Jepsen.
clarq's new EP 'Again Before Since' is available to stream now. Check it out below.