The first time we talked to Rochester-based pop/rock artist Adam Clark, he was just debuting his premiere single, “Feels So Good” . Now, just eight short months later, he and I sat back down at the interview table to discover the latest and greatest news he’s ever had to spill yet: the who, the what, the why, the how, and the when behind the production of his first full album, coming soon! You can download “Feels So Good” from iTunes for just 99 cents by following this link . Make sure you do, so you can say you had the opportunity to know about this guy before his becoming a major success!
Jonathan Frahm: Hey, Adam! It’s good to have you back. It’s been a good few months since our last interview back in June 2013 upon the release of your fantastic single, “Feels So Good”. How have things been? I’ve heard that you have some exciting news to share!
Adam Clark: How you doing man? Yeah, after months of negotiating I’m finally able to announce that I’m going to be moving to LA for a couple months to record my full length with Grammy Nominated, Multi-Platinum Producer and Songwriter David Schuler (aka BOYBLUE). David’s worked with Pink, John Legend, Daughtry and has a #1 song in Australia by Ricki-Lee Coulter. I’m extremely excited to be working with Schuler. We’ve been talking lately about the influences of the album and what we’re really striving for. It’s going to be an amazing and wild ride.
JF: I’m doing well, thanks, but it sounds like you’re doing absolutely incredible! Wow. Even based just off of “Feels So Good”, I know that you are one artist who wholeheartedly deserves such an amazing opportunity. Mr. Schuler is a force to be reckoned with in the industry, and I think I’m speaking for everyone when I say that you two are bound to make an untouchable, radio-ready pair. How did you two end up meeting and cracking a deal on making your first album together?
Actually, we met back when I was a senior in high school. We grew up in the same city- Rochester, New York -and both played the local scene. Dave’s band was just about to blow and my band was one of the openers for the night. But it wasn’t till a couple years after that show that we were formally introduced by a mutual friend. I was home from a college break, where I spent the majority of my time recording my new project: “The Agenda”. His band, “The Sunstreak” just recently got signed with EMI earlier that year. We talked a little music and he gave me some advice about the industry, but it wasn’t till this past summer after a show, where we talked about working together.
It was a brief discussion, as he was just in town for a couple days before gearing up to move from NYC to LA. I honestly, didn’t think anything was gonna come from it, but was urged to reach out to him again by a member on my team. Around that time, I was busy in the studio putting the finishing touches on my EP. After a few text messages were sent back and forth we went to the studio where I was recording so he could check out the tracks on the EP. I was excited but didn’t know what the outcome would be or if he even really liked what he heard. The next night, we met up and had a conversation about my plans, the music, and the vision I had been building in my head for the past year. It was literally like he was reading my mind of what I wanted to hear. After a few more months of dealing with contracts, managers, phone calls emails, etc. I was finally able to announce what’s been going on and just am extremely excited and humbled to have this opportunity.
JF: If that isn’t what they call fate, I don’t know what it is. That must have been a completely amazing first few steps into the creation of your brand new album, then. Some other artists that I have worked with in the past have always said that really making it in the industry takes one part talent and three parts luck, but it really seems like this was something that you were just destined to do. It must be a completely humbling experience. This is fantastic news, man.
Speaking of the impending album, you mentioned earlier that you were sorting through some potential influences. Is it possible that you could let us in on what sort of potential “sound” you are aiming for, and who a couple of your prime influences are at this point? “Feels So Good” was undeniably pop/rock with a bit of a bite to it. Will you be going for more of that sound, are we looking towards something a little more eclectic, or is it a bit of both?
AC: Well, I don’t want to spill too much. But, after we got the business portion of the production deal worked out, we got to the fun part — a.k.a, the music. We, Dave and I, started with going over some of the songs I’ve been writing in the past couple years, not jumping too far in, but just enough to where he could get where I’m coming from and I could get where he was coming from. From that point he gave me homework “pick your top 10 favorite albums”. And that might sound easy, but it literally took me over 3 days to finally narrow it down and I only got to 16.
So, I think the album that we’re both truly looking to do is something that yes will have that familiar sound that “Feels So Good” carried through ny first year, but also have that classic new school urban feel that’s been surfacing top 40 and rock music in the past few years. To give it that little ‘umph’ so we really carry that bite you were talking about. It’s not that we’re trying to bandwagon on anything but since we are from the same place, we have that common goal and common aspiration in sound we’re trying to add to it to really bring something special to the table. So I mean, it really could go either way, but I personally feel that the cards are definitely in our favor and I haven’t been this excited in a long time to start production. I think I’m gonna be just as surprised as the listeners by the end of the CD.
JF: I definitely get what you mean. It’s important to stay true to who you are while incorporating something new to stay fresh and in the game, so from what you’re here it seems that that’s exactly what you both are doing with the production of the upcoming album and that makes me even more excited for it then I was just at the start of this interview!
It really sounds promising. You have got to be proud of how far you’ve come. Some artists that I’ve worked with in the past have said getting this far in the industry is really “one part talent, three parts luck”, but what would you say has been your number one set of factions that have contributed to your success that you’ve had as an artist thus far? Do you attribute it to hard work? Passion? Dumb luck? All of the above? A guy like you has got to have a great work ethic.
AC: I think it all comes down to a number of things. First and foremost- hard work; that’s what separates the wolves from the sheep, being able to effectively put away anything that stops, holds you back, or doesn’t allow you to perform your best and leaving it behind.
Second, it’s about your network and your networking skills. Everyone is using everyone in this business, the more you are used the more you are getting. The key is to not be used up. That has a lot to do with the individual, trusting your gut and balancing that extra mile for the people who are out there sticking their neck out there for you or not at all.
Third, I’d say everyone should take at least one music business class in their life. There are so many common misconceptions that hold so many artist back that’s aren’t true. For some artist- they see little things as huge major conquest that have no relevance at all. Key is learn the business, especially if you want to be apart of it. It’s like if I wanted to be a plumber, I would work everyday at being the best damn plumber I can. Same as with a musician — and that has more than just being good at the music. You have to know the business.
And lastly, the thing that carried me through — belief in myself. Every time things got heavy I was faced with the choice, give up or keep going. But I could never give up, cause, I truly do believe I’m meant to do colossal things and there’s not one bit in me that feels like I should have to explain that or even apologize for it. I just believe my music is meant to be heard, that’s a fact to me, like how the sky is blue. I’ve had enough road blocks that told me it’d be better to turn around or to stop now. But if I listened to those reason I wouldn’t have even started. You eventually just learn to adjust, you keep that greater love for what you do and let it sparks a fire in your heart every time there’s doubt. You have to be willing to die for what you love, if not, you’re not really living for it.
JF: It definitely sounds like you are a man who knows how to navigate the industry due to pure life experience. Your answer was fantastic, and now I’m hoping that many aspiring artists coming in here to read up on your career’s latest also take the time to really read through to this point and see what you had just said above, because that is some extremely valuable advice for just about anybody. The amount of “musical elbow grease” that you have exhibited is in use here, the amount of time and hard work that you’ve really spent on achieving greatness in your craft, is nothing short of awesome. And let me tell you this: you’re certainly achieving greatness here, my friend.
Now that you’re at this point here, ironing things out to really get cracking on your first big-time, full-length album, what can you say has been your favorite part, or parts, of the experience thus far? Not just in terms of your current experience with Mr. Schuler, but in your career as a whole. What have been some of your most rewarding moments?
AC: I think my favorite part this far has been growing into an artist. Recently I’ve finally found myself walking in the shoes of one: thought, mentality, lifestyle, etc. I’ve experienced a lot of up and downs as a regional artist through the last year, but all the trial and error has really helped me become and develop who I am. And I think the extreme added bonus to all that is not only do I get to grow, but I get to do so with my supporters. Every show, every interaction; I’m constantly getting to learn something new about myself, in the hopes of being able to reach my full potential one day. The fact that fans understand and embrace that is just huge thing to me, it’s really allowed me to break out of my shell and step into the next part of this journey with confidence. I don’t know where I’d be without that.
JF: The music industry in and of itself is one gigantic ecosystem with so many different branches. You have you, yourself, the artist, then you have other artists, fans, producers, and so on and so forth, and it can all be a lot to manage, but it seems like you have successfully found your own personal winning formula in finding that connection with your audience and really driving a show home for them all. That seems like an excellent confidence-booster, in terms of relating with your fans. That sort of relation, to me, is one of the greatest driving factors behind what separates an artists from someone, like a hobbyist, who comes on the scene just to try and inflate their ego. You’re an honest guy making honest music, and if you look at the current radio trend and how things are going in the Top 40, you might notice a lot of honest guys making honest music are lighting up the charts again. I’m talking about your Ed Sheerans, Passengers, Damien Rice’s… but not just them; even music as a whole, beyond just the whole “indie, singer/songwriter” motif is kind of moving in that direction.
AC: Yeah I’ve noticed that too, it’s a really cool time in music. People are getting to hear the authentic artist instead of just the sellable one. There’s no real destined path, just like success, and that’s what top 40 has been showing. Everyone just wants to hear who the artist really is. And that’s an important part of being an artist, knowing your inner truth, the thing that makes you, you. It’s an ongoing search, for me, but it’s one that has genuinely amazed me away the way. And that’s made it easy to follow my heart and take big chances. I think that’s the most important part, the inner truth of someone. I think once an artist discovers that, they’re unstoppable.
JF: Even artists generally recognized for standardized pop fair are embracing the idea of writing or co-writing their own heartfelt pieces lately. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have both gone out on a limb, I think, to show off more of who they are in their latest records more than they have in the past, and for the most part, they have been reaping the benefits. Finding who you are and sticking to who that person is all while extending your sound into what’s marketable, what will really have an impact with people to relay that message can be hard at times, but it’s something you’ve done and are doing, and that in itself is remarkable.
Strangely enough, this all reminds me of how I asked you last time what animal you would be if you could become any type in the world (other than a human!), and you answered with “komodo dragon”. I’d say that was a nice commemoration to the type of aforementioned “bite” your own specific sound has: something fierce, something pure, something rock , but also something relatable and easy to enjoy for a lot of people to enjoy. You seem to really “get” this industry and how to make an effectively memorable track through and through. I’d even go as far as saying that there ‘s no arguing that your music would fit right up there with that aforementioned crowd of current stars simply for coming from the heart. It’s what really counts. Speaking of Top 40, though, what and who are some of your favorite songs and artists on the radio right now, or, say, within the realm of music in general? Anyone we should be watching out for?
AC: Thanks man, that’s a huge compliment!
As far as top 40, I would say artists like Lorde, John Legend, Imagine Dragons, One Republic, Aloe Blac and Passenger are some that have definitely caught my ear either recently or through this past year. I’m all about people who continue to walk that line of commercial and artistic without flaw. That’s something I aim to do in almost every track to have that relatable nature, but without skimming or disrespecting the music just for sales.
As far as artists to watch out for there’s a list a mile long. It’s strange nowadays ’cause the artist you or I are just hearing about have been marketing their scene for years before anything credible actually happens. I think that’s why those artist are usually closer than they actually think to making it in the big time. As far as artists to check out, I gotta give a shout out to Joywave, Shawn Turner, Barbarossa, Eli Flynn, DJ Keyyo, Anthony J, Dre Strrz and New Archery. These are the same artist I grew with for the past few years or so and they’ve shown me a lot. Whether it be who I am or where I fit or what it means to be committed and how to continue to give back either it be the local community or fans nationwide. They are definitely some of the acts that have continued to stick out like a sore thumb (in a good way) to me throughout the past year or so.
JF: You’ve made some great picks there. I’m impressed, actually, at how diverse your list is. It really goes to show that we can make our favorites and pull our influences from all sorts of genres all to comprise under one singular version of ourselves. I’m a huge fan of what Lorde is doing for the industry right now, shining a light on stereotypes with “Royals” and reinventing the system. Imagine Dragons were one of the biggest discoveries in the past several years; “Radioactive” is still going strong. Then Passenger, to me, is definitely in my Top 5 favorite foreign acts I think I’ve ever had the opportunity to listen to.
You definitely have all of your ducks in a row, and I think I speak for all of our readers as well as myself when I say we’ll be checking out all of those lesser-knowns who you recommended. No doubt do they have the ability to come out on top if they were recommended by you. Would you consider collaborating with any of those artists? Who are your, say, ballpark top three artists you’d like to collaborate with if ever given the opportunity? If you could have your pick of absolutely anybody, ever.
AC: Actually, I’ve written for a few of them (Anthony J, Dre Strrz), either on hooks or whole songs. As far as collaborating, I have a few rules for myself. One, I have to be drop dead in love with the artist. I’ve got to believe in what they say, how they say it and know why they’re saying it. Two, it’s gotta be professional. That’s how I am with everyone I work with. At the end of the day, it’s a business and there’s no way around that. You’re either on board or you get left behind. The train’s not waiting.
Besides that, the only other rule I have is they have to be open to trying new things and thinking outside of the box. I want to be inventive in my words, sounds, all that. I want to make listeners think, “wait a second, what did I just hear?” or “that was totally out of left field.” I think that’s something that can either make or break a song, how you push the envelope. That’s actually something that drew me to working with David Schuler, is because he’s on that same wave length and is willing to take risk that a lot of other people would shy away from. If you’ve ever heard his band, “Pretty In Pink”, you understand. By the way, that’s definitely a band that everyone reading this needs to check out.
As far as top three artists to collaborate with; that’s a hard question, there’s a lot of artists I would love to work with. Throughout the years my taste has broadened a lot, but for the sake of picking, I think my first choice would be Eminem. Em comes across as the kind of guy where he’s gonna not only going to make his personal mission to kill the track, but also make sure you get just how he did, why he did and then challenge you to top it. That’s the kind of artist I think every performer wants on a track with. The guy who is guaranteed to push the envelope and show raw uncut emotion. Second, I think it would be, Kid Cudi. Cudi has always been one of my favorite artist since he put out his mixtape, “A Kid Named Cudi”, he’s someone who continues to dive deep into his art and is able to relate it back to fans exactly how it effects him as a person. So it’s a cool thing to see how his imagination balances out with his everyday life. And third, Travis McCoy. Travis and I grew up in the same area and his music has always resonated with me cause I get where he’s coming from. He’s inventive in the way he say’s certain things and has continued to show he has the right mind set, even though his life has completely changed from the 315 days.
JF: That’s great that you’ve been able to collaborate with a few of them already! Camaraderie is one of the most important things in life, I think. Whenever you have the opportunity to share something special musically in a professional manner that benefits all parties and elevates a track to an even greater height than it could’ve achieved had it been written solo… that must be a very good feeling. Your business ethic is truly on the money. I’m very impressed with how thoroughly you’ve thought it through, and it’s no wonder why you’ve made the strides that you have made and will continue to make in this industry, paired with your talent. Even now, between yourself and Dave Schuler with the impending album, that must be nothing short of an awesome, unique experience.
You’ve chosen some excellent MCs for your collabs, too! I could easily see your work crossing over easily with the rap scene. It’s something that needs to happen more often between hip-hop and pop/rock. It really helps bring two musical cultures together and give fans a better understanding of the other side. I remember how groundbreaking it was for Em and Elton John to perform together during the Grammys, for instance. Travie McCoy kind of displays how that works in and of itself, working with Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and producing two hit records out of it. I hear his collab with Jason Mraz is pretty hot right now, too, and no doubt would a collaboration between a couple of people as real as both you and Cudi are be nothing short of groundbreaking in itself. You really, again, have a great ethic. I’m proud to be interviewing you, really!
AC: Thanks man, glad to be had! It’s been a truly crazy experience, I’m just holding on tight and enjoying the ride so far. But I can’t lie, I’m just excited to get to get to work and get into the studio again! By the way, as a little exclusive info- I just received the final cut of my music video for “Feels So Good” while we’ve been talking. So that’s definitely something I’m looking forward to finally releasing.
JF: It seems like this interview is almost ready to come to its close, man. Thanks so much for your time, but before we go, it has to be asked… Speaking of that animal question from our last interview, if you could be any food, what would you be, and why?
AC: Hahaha! Well, I’m gonna go with the obvious choice: pizza. ‘Cause everyone loves pizza.
JF: And one more… What is the one thing you would like listeners to remember about you and your music? As in, what message, through your music, would you like to convey? Furthermore, do you have any additional closing statements that you would like to make?
AC: I want listeners to be inspired. I want to inspire that 15 year old kid whose just getting onto the scene, like the bands and artist did before me.
And yes– shout out to Magic City… Rochester, NY! Also, thank you man for chat and the support you’ve been giving me.
JF: You are very welcome, but really, thank you sir for giving us this exclusive and just being a great artist! I wish you the best of luck moving forward. You deserve all of the success that is surely coming your way.