People need blowing away to appreciate modern-day soul, but when you're blessed with a voice like that of Alain Clark it's easier to do than most.
We caught up with Warner Brothers' latest musical import for his UK showcase at London's Pigalle Club for a chat about awards, international recognition, and how he plans to conquer the world.
Hi Alain, great performance last night at your UK showcase. How did you think it went?
AC: It was great, I had a lot of fun and hopefully we projected that on the audience. It was my first proper gig in England. It felt like a first gig even though it was only five songs.
The stand-out moment was probably 'Father & Friend', which you played with your dad onstage; would you agree with that?
AC: Oh yeah, it usually is. He isn’t always around when I play live, but when he is it’s just real emotion. I get asked if I ever get bored playing it, but each time is like the first time.
So after having played London, what’s next in terms of the UK audience?
AC: Well I’m staying in London for another week in which we’re going to visit some big cities like Liverpool and Manchester, mainly visiting local radio shows. My dad’s coming and I have my guitar so we’re going to play some songs. The goal of course is to get a tour going in the summer.
You’ve forged quite a career in Holland, both in singing and producing. Your first self-titled album didn’t do so well and was in Dutch. How has life changed and do you think the linguistic change has affected that success?
AC: Life has obviously changed a lot. Live It Out [album] came out in 2007 and 2008 was my big year in Holland. It’s been going outstandingly well, but I still feel that I’m still doing what I have been for five years - I love to make music every day. I think the language change has a lot to do with it, as my first album was more of a project – expressing myself in a different way. I was getting out ideas that I couldn’t do while I was writing songs for other artists. It was very concept-driven, whereas Live It Out is more about writing and singing what I feel.
Did you produce Live It Out yourself? What would you say is your favourite track off the album?
AC: Yes I did - I had the people and funds in place to do everything right and when you produce it yourself you don’t need to make any concessions. I would have to pick ‘Father & Friend’ for the obvious reasons. There aren’t many artists that can do what I do and get to do it with their father. I realise how special that is. I’m proud of the fact that I have someone as close as him to share these experiences with.
Who would you say were your biggest musical influences?
AC: When I started to take an interest in music my favourite artist was Michael Jackson, especially the early albums like Off The Wall and Thriller, which are albums that I still listen to. I also discovered the likes of Stevie Wonder and also great songwriters like Bob Dylan. There are so many different artists that influenced me.
Soul singers have traditionally had to work doubly hard to succeed. What are your hopes for this year and do you think it’s harder for artists of your genre?
AC: International recognition is one of my biggest dreams and I hope to do as well here as in Holland. I will work my ass off to achieve that dream. I think you could say that that’s almost a fact [having to work twice as hard] and a year ago I would have agreed with you. On paper, my music shouldn’t work at all but it did massively and it surprised a lot of people. I didn’t expect what happened to happen so quickly.
‘Father & Friend’ is due to be released 23rd February through Warner Music with the album, Live It Out set to follow.