I caught Stacy* Clark’s set at The Knitting Factory last week and was so blown away by her performance that I demanded an interview. Clark, a guitar playing singer songwriter, and her band performed a powerful set of guitar-heavy songs and heartfelt melodies from her album, Apples & Oranges. Clark is the Winner of the 2007 Orange County Music Awards for ‘Best Female Performer’ and ‘Best Female Artist’ 2006 Southern California Music Awards. Her music has appeared on the MTV and CBS television networks, and she has appeared on stage with Jacks Mannequin, and the Amsterdams. Thankfully, she took time out to answer a few questions.
GL: Describe your music?
CS: It comes from the heart. It’s a blend of folk with electronic production and a touch of indie rock.
GL: Tell me about Apples & Oranges?
CS: Apples and Oranges is my full-length album that features 10 songs. It’s called Apples & Oranges because I am from Buffalo, NY and moved to Orange County. It’s a play on words but also it has a personal meaning to me.
GL: Tell me a little about your background?
CS: I am from a small town suburb of Buffalo, NY. I grew up in a really great music environment. My grandpa was in a polka band when he was young. As kids my cousins and I would circle and dance around him while he played his music. My mother also excelled at performing on the accordion and even played one of the larger venues (Kleinheins) in Buffalo when she was a young girl. Unfortunately, my first instrument was the clarinet and not the piano. I always loved to write poems and short stories, however it wasn’t until I saw Tori Amos and Sarah McLaughlin that I knew I wanted to sing and perform. That was the turning moment when I got bitten by the ‘music bug’. That is when I got an internship at a local recording studio and worked two part-time jobs while in high school. I bought my first guitar and began teaching myself to play. I was lucky enough to meet some very supportive people during my first open-mic night that really inspired me and taught me about the local music scene. I was gigging regularly at 15. There where many ups and downs, however I never lost the drive or passion for doing music. Without it I feel empty.
GL: You were out of action for a while with a serious blood disorder when you were younger. Tell me about the organization you helped start called Music Saves Lives.
CS: It’s a nonprofit organization that I helped start and I’m the spokesperson for. It’s a great program that educates high school and college students to get them involved in becoming a blood donor. We also have a program that helps to find marrow matches for people who are in need of a transplant. This program is run by Russel Hornbeek. His work with the American Red Cross is truly a blessing to many including myself. It is great to be involved with such a wonderful program that has such a positive impact within the United States. It is a wonderful program that has saved thousands of lives, with hopefully thousands more to save. Last year MSL raised over 70,000 units of blood and had successful bone marrow transplant matches. You can get involved with this program and make a difference.
GL: What do you see are the differences in the bands and the music scene in LA and NYC?
CS: I’ve lived in California for almost 5 years now so it’s hard to answer this. In my opinion, NYC seems to produce more indie bands that find success, fore example, The Strokes. Although LA has many indie bands made good in Silver Lake, such as Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis, Jacks Mannequin, and The Bird and the Bee, there is also a lot of pop manufactured groups that end up making it to mainstream radio. Most people in LA/NYC are transplants. I think that NYC and LA both have bands in all music genres that are very talented; hence they are music capitals to live in. I do feel that living in NYC is harder and more competitive. I feel the people there work very hard in a fast paced atmosphere with harsh weather conditions most of the year. Where as in LA, I feel its more laid back and everyday is sunny so people tend to come out to more shows year round.
GL: Why did you transplant your music career to OC?
CS: I had a gut feeling that I needed to move to California to pursue music, so I did.
GL: Who are your influences?
CS: My influences are constantly changing and include: Fleetwood Mac, John Lennon, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, The Beatles, Stevie Nicks, Bjork, Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and Madonna, to name a few.
GL: Which musicians did you listen to in your teens?
CS: Ha. Well my first concert was Milli Vanilli if that tells you anything. I loved disco, pop and classic rock. My parents had an 8 track in our basement. In my teens I listened to a lot of Rage Against The Machine, U2, Sarah McLaughlin, Tory Amos, Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, Woodie Gutheris, Pearl Jam, MxPx, Operation Ivy, Snapcase, 10,000 Maniacs, The Cranberries, The Beatles, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, K’s Choice, Everclear, LL Cool J, The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, and New Found Glory. A lot punk and hardcore.
GL: Do you love touring…or not?
CS: Yes. There are always good tours and better tours. I haven’t toured enough to hate it, although sometimes you just want to be home to sleep in your own bed and shower in your own bathroom.
GL: What’s your favorite moment on tour and which venue has been a stand out night for you and the band?
CS: One of my favorite performances was in Buffalo. I opened for Jacks Mannequin and played with Phantom Planet, Paper Route, and Treaty of Paris. Sadly my band wasn’t there, however it was really special to me because my mom was there and it was in my hometown of and at the Town Ballroom.
GL: How did you meet your band and could you list their names and backgrounds and what they bring to the mix? I was observing your guitarist and The Cocteau Twins sprang to mind.
CS: I met my band through friends. My drummer Tyler DeYoung was a friend with my old drummer. Luke St.Hilarie (bass) is a friend of his. I have been friends with Brad Smith (guitar) for almost ten years. We met through a friend while he was touring in Long Island and I was living there. We’ve always stayed friends and played in different bands and it just worked out that we are playing music again. I feel very blessed because they are not only very talented, but also very genuine guys.
GL: What is your favorite song to play live?
CS: I really like Peppermint Patties. The guitar part is a lot of fun to play.
GL: What will your fans expect at a Stacy* Clark show?
CS: A good time with some good music.
GL: Which musicians do you most admire right now and why?
CS: Minus the Bear, Fleetwood Mac, and Jacks Mannequin. I just saw MTB at the Music Box in LA and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. They are so tight and have such control of off beat tempos. Watching their performance makes me want to challenge myself even more while writing on the guitar. I will always admire Fleetwood Mac because their music is timeless and most of them are still together playing shows after so many years. I saw them in concert a few times and each time I cried. Its pretty crazy when music can move you to tears. Some of their songs represent times in my life and remind me of memories that I still hang on to. Jacks Mannequin is another band that I really admire. No matter how many times I see them perform, I still want to see another show. Andrew is a master of his craft and a great person. He is one of the nicest, smartest people I have ever met. Also as a survivor of Leukemia, he works hard to raise awareness and funds to stomp out cancer. His philanthropic work includes raising funds for CHOC and over $100k for his own nonprofit, “The Dear Jack Foundation”.
GL: Which song sums up your music?
CS: I don’t think there is just one, because each song stands on its own.
GL: When you’re not playing music, what else makes you tick; what hobbies?
CS: I love playing soccer, snowboarding, the outdoors, traveling, riding bikes, art and hanging out with friends. I also really enjoy working with MSL and other charities.
GL: Do you have any favorite eating and watering holes in the City of Angels?
CS: I love Urth for their salads and their apple juice is amazing! I also enjoy Tanta for their amazing Indian food and Malo in Silver Lake, for their chewy chips..
GL: How into fashion are you and where do you like to shop?
CS: What girl doesn’t like to shop!? I like everything from designer to vintage. I’ve always had a style of my own, but wasn’t really into “fashion” until a few years ago, I learned that it’s an art of its own. There’s much to it- fabrics, fit, and form. I have learned to try on lots of clothes before just settling. My appreciation for fashion really came after watching Project Runway. It’s amazing to see all that goes into making a piece. I would make my own clothes, however I really suck at sewing.
I shop at many many places – American Apparel and Gap are great for basics. Urban Outfitter’s, Zara, has cute items that last. H&M and Forever 21 are great for seasonal trends. If you feel like digging you can also find great buys at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. I really like the accessories from Betsey Johnson, BcBg and J. Crew has some great headbands. I have a bunch of cute Betsey dresses that I love dressing up in. They just make you feel pretty. I love shoes. My favorite shoe store is Steve Madden. I also enjoy shopping online – one of my favorite sites is www.buyhollywood.com
GL: Do you think 2009 will see a lot of changes with a new president?
CS: I don’t think we will see changes immediately, I think they will be gradual and over time. Our country is in good hands and I believe that Obama has the strength to bring the United States to where it needs to be economically and environmentally.
GL: What are your plans for 2009?
CS: Touring, writing, recording, eat, sleep, and repeat.
GL: I’m from London. Do you plan to tour this great city?
CS: I hope to someday.
GL: You have enjoyed a lot of success in a relatively short time. Did you expect this?
CS: I have no expectation. I just work really hard and try to enjoy myself along the way.
GL: What do your family think of your career?
CS: Supportive and excited for the possibilities.
Stacy* Clark’s full-length album, Apples and Orange will be re-released next spring on Shangrila Music.