Andy Clockwise Introduces "The Socialite", Influences, and More
Thu, 19 May 2011 14:52:09
"I try to let it roll," says Andy Clockwise of his creative process.
For Clockwise, that approach definitely works. His latest album, The Socialite, comes to life with a true alternative charm and an elegant vaudevillian bombast. The Socialite sounds like refined Beck with a tad of Morrissey's wit thrown in for good measure. This is the kind of "indie" that speaks to more than just hipsters. It's genuinely hip with a bewildering brilliance that warrants numerous listens. Once you meet The Socialite, you may never be the same, and that's a damn good thing.
Andy Clockwise spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about The Socialite, how a title can inform an album, his other inspirations, tricking Truth & Salvage Co., and so much more in this exclusive interview.
Was incorporating various genres and styles into The Socialite an intention from the beginning?
I feel like I'm quite easily bored [Laughs]. I don't have the greatest attention span of all-time. I'm one of those people who listens to a lot of music, so I don't really like to pin myself down to one thing I suppose.
Did you have one vision for the album from start to finish or did it come together track by track in the studio?
The album was recorded over such a long period of time. I moved away from Sydney, and I went to England. I went away on tour, packed a bag, and left everything behind in Australia. A lot of the music was recorded over a certain amount of time, but by the time it came to actually putting it together, it was knocked out in seven days. I think the art to making a cohesive thing is to give it a title first. The title really helped me [Laughs]. As long as I've got a title, I don't stray too far off. If I've got something along the lines of an aesthetic and an original idea that I go to, I write songs in a lot of different areas of that subject.
When did the title come to you?
It came during my first couple of days in Los Angeles [Laughs]. Yeah…
That makes sense. "The House Always Wins" stands out. What's the story behind that song?
That was a song I wrote towards the end of the album. The guys who sing the backup part are in a band called Truth & Salvage Co. I was becoming really good friends with them, and I was lying to them over a matter of weeks while I was recording the album. I was saying, "I have this magnificent track I want to get you on. I've written it, and everything's ready to go. Will you come up to the studio and help me finish it?" They went, "Yeah! Can you send us the track?" This is the day before they came into the studio. I was out the night before at a bar. A friend of mine who was incredibly intoxicated said to me, "The house always wins, Andy. The house always wins!" So, I had to go home and frantically write this track for these guys to perform it the next day. I wrote that song in about twenty minutes [Laughs].
Is it important for you to tell stories with your songs?
Yeah, I think albums are always somewhat visual. It's like reading books. Not everything is totally attached me. I write from other people's perspectives and experience in these sort of things. I think small details and little pictures are a lot better than long words and long-winded philosophical things sometimes. I don't try to overthink a lot of things.
What fosters your creative process?
It's a bit of everything. Other things inform my music just as other music does—especially film, books, and conversations. I came from Sydney, which is a very different place from Los Angeles. L.A. is a very different place from Britain. That's a very different place from Texas or New York. All of this album was written over this span of time. I went from recording the album in garage to suddenly being in a studio and in all of these situations really informed how the schizophrenic aspect of the album came to be.
Which artists shaped you?
I have a real affinity for a handful of solo artists who are just the greatest to me. I just love pop music. I've loved it since I was a kid. You always have that time of year you come back to a certain artist all the time. It's people like Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and Prince. When I was 13-years-old, all I listened to was punk rock. I was one of those little bitchy indie kids [Laughs]. I discovered Beck then. That first Beck album, Golden Feelings was totally different to me, and I'd never heard anything like it. That record shaped me. I can't pin it down to any person.
Do you come up with the video concepts?
I come up with a lot of concepts, and I flesh them out with friends. I've got a lot of talented friends who are very close to me musically. I'm starting to get more into it now. I want to try to make a video for every song on the album. I'm sort of writing the album out as a movie. I'm releasing that script with a bunch of pictures and rare little videos.
Who is the most interesting socialite you've met?
There are too many! They're all magnificent [Laughs].
Have you heard The Socialite yet?