The Journey of Imogen Clark

From the humble beginnings of Western Sydney bars to the iconic studios of Abbey Road, Imogen Clark’s journey as an artist is a testament to resilience, vulnerability, and the pursuit of authenticity. Nashville-based and Australian-born, this singer-songwriter crafts music that delves deep into personal pain and triumph, capturing the essence of human experience in her powerful, anthemic sound.

Drawing from an eclectic mix of influences—ranging from the rock legends her father introduced to her in childhood, to the poignant folk melodies of Joni Mitchell and the modern pop sensibilities of Taylor Swift—Imogen’s music is a unique blend of raw emotion and polished production. Her latest single, “Big One,” and the upcoming album, “The Art of Getting Through,” are a reflection of her growth as an artist, both lyrically and sonically.

Imogen’s songs resonate with those who have faced life’s adversities, offering a cathartic blend of strength and vulnerability. Her ability to translate personal experiences into universally relatable music has garnered her a devoted following and critical acclaim. As she continues to evolve and expand her musical horizons, Imogen Clark remains a compelling voice in the landscape of contemporary music, inspiring listeners to find strength in their own stories.

Hi Imogen, how are you doing? Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I’m a Nashville-based, Australian-born singer-songwriter. I write big-sounding songs about the things that have hurt me and how I’ve found ways to be strong and get through life.

Growing up, were there specific musical genres or artists that played a significant role in shaping your early musical tastes?

I listened to a lot of English rock, particularly The Jam and Led Zeppelin, which was a lot of my dad’s influence on my taste. In my teens, I discovered Joni Mitchell, my folk hero, whose songs are like magic to me, and Taylor Swift, who has become one of my biggest inspirations as an artist and as a woman taking on the world in the music business. That blend of rock, folk, and pop is still the core of the music I make today.

How has your family been involved in and supportive of your musical journey? Are there particular family members who have had a significant impact on your career?

Both my parents have been beyond supportive. My dad was a school teacher, but he also played in punk bands when I was a kid, so he was happy for me to mess around on his guitar and thought that music was a totally legitimate career to pursue. My mum is my best friend and still comes to any gig of mine within driving distance from my hometown. She’s been my rock through all the hardest moments of my life and career.

Can you tell us more about your latest single, “Big One,” and what inspired you to create this particular track?

A lot of my music is about fighting for your own worth, fighting to matter, and being valued. This song is about wanting to be “the big one” for somebody, to be a person they can never forget, even if things don’t work out.

I wrote this with Sam Phay, deep in the midst of listening to heaps of HAIM and MUNA. I wanted the song to feel like its title, a massive singalong pop anthem. Sam’s demo was so amazing that we ended up using a lot of those original elements in the finished track.

This was one of the first songs we recorded in LA at East West with Gus Seyffert on bass, who’s played with Lana Del Rey and Adele, and Griffin Goldsmith from Dawes on drums. They put so much punch, dynamism, and electricity into the song; we were whooping and hollering in the control room when they took off on that last chorus!

“Big One” is a blend of surging alt-pop with classic ’80s pop elements. How did you approach incorporating these influences into the song?

The ’80s elements of “Big One” were so organic; it was just the sounds that came naturally to the subject matter. The ’80s was a decade when everything sounded so big – the drums, the keyboards, the vocals – and that was exactly the emotional vibe of this song.

Your new album, “The Art of Getting Through,” is set to be released on May 31st. What can listeners expect from this album in terms of themes and musical style?

It’s an album about learning to grow and change while also learning to accept yourself for who you are. It’s about my journey through life, my struggles in my head and heart, and with the people who have messed with both of those. It’s about how you never get a fresh start or a clean slate, you can’t hit the reset button. There’s no getting past, there may not be any getting over, but if you learn how, you can get through.

Musically, it’s about embracing all my influences. Our aim was to make a classic type of pop record, taking inspiration from the way the Beatles did it, where not every track has to sound the same. Given I have great love for many musical genres, everything from modern pop to folk, classic rock, and punk, I wanted it all to show through on this record. This album feels like the first time all of myself has been represented on a record. It’s this exciting fusion of organic sounds and amazing players, with really interesting textures and production elements that are the furthest into pop I’ve ever gone. I think there’s stuff in there for people who love rock anthems, sad girl pop music, and just big melodic widescreen songwriting.

How did the recording process for this album differ from your previous work, considering it was done in various locations such as Los Angeles, London, Sydney, Melbourne, and Nashville?

My last record was an EP called “Bastards,” and it was mostly done over Zoom. It was great to have that option when everything was shut down, but for this album, I wanted to turn the dial way in the other direction and record in all the places that I love, where the music that made me the songwriter I am was made. We did a song in Abbey Road, tracks at Peter Frampton’s studio in Nashville, I got to work with heroes of mine and the peers that inspire me. I really wanted the process of making this album to be a massive adventure, and that’s exactly what it was.

Your music is inspired by a range of artists, from HAIM and Maggie Rogers to Bruce Springsteen and Sheryl Crow. How do these diverse influences come together to shape your unique sound?

I spent a lot of my early career with people trying to narrow my sound or put me in a genre box. It always felt like it was limiting my creativity so much and just stopping me from making the best music I could make. When I was writing for this record, everything was on the table, all my influences as a songwriter and an artist. I think what they all have in common is strength and sincerity, emotional vulnerability, and big emotions. They’ve all got singalong or scream-along choruses, songs that make people cry, and a kind of timelessness to their music. Those are all north stars I’m aiming at.

Are there any specific elements from the ’80s pop era or the empowering female singer-songwriters of the ’90s that you consciously aimed to incorporate into your music?

Definitely a level of scope and also quality of production from the ’80s. Not a slickness, but the feeling of people at the top of their game really going for it in terms of playing and creative ambition. Plus, there are lots of really cool and interesting keyboard sounds and parts on this album that feel inspired by that era.

The ’90s definitely inspired the big wall of guitars on songs like “Natural Predator” and some of that snarly punky girl power attitude on tracks like that and “The Noise.” Something like “Squinters” has a bit of that Tracy Chapman wistfulness to it, I hope.


In the creation of “Big One,” you collaborated with Sam Phay in Melbourne. Can you share more about your collaborative process and how it contributes to the overall sound and message of the song?

I love writing with Sam. We’ve been working together for a few years, and it’s this perfect dynamic where we can discuss the vibe and references; he will start building an amazing-sounding track, and then I’m coming in with what the song is about and finding a melody and lyric that works with that, and then we’re in it together, building the song.

He’s so incredibly talented but also such a great collaborator because he always comes at it from a supportive and creatively open place, where he helps me draw out often really difficult emotional stuff for the song and never judges my ideas. We both knew “Big One” was special as we were writing it; it just sits in this sweet spot of both of our tastes, and he nailed the demo so much.

“Big One” was recorded at EastWest Studios in Los Angeles, known for its association with The Beach Boys. How did the studio environment and its history influence the recording of the track?

You really bring your A-game in a place like that. The way the studio looks and feels too, all that history is really in the room with you, but in an inspiring rather than intimidating way. They look after you so well in there; there’s a dining room where you can take your lunch and dinner breaks, and of course, as a studio, it’s as good as it gets.

Your songs are described as deeply personal and diaristic. How do you approach translating your personal experiences into relatable and impactful music?

I really think to be universal, you have to be specific in songwriting. If it’s too generic, it feels fake. If you have details from your own life that matter to you in a song, people find their versions of those same things – the car, the piece of clothing, the bar, etc. – and can find a way into the song. I think Taylor Swift does this better than anyone.

I don’t really know how to write songs that aren’t personal, unless I’m writing with someone else for their record. It’s really what inspires me to write, what is happening to me in my life.

“Big One” is referred to as an epic love anthem. Can you share a bit about the emotions and experiences that inspired the lyrics and overall theme of the song?

It’s funny how songs can so outlast and outlive their inspiration. This song came to me in the middle of a very short-lived situationship I was in a couple of years ago. I can honestly say I never think about the guy I was with then, but this song will be with me forever.

Of course, that was the starting point, but it’s a feeling that had been percolating within me for years, through different dynamics with different men in my life, the feeling of wanting to be cherished by a partner. This was just the moment it finally came to

come out as a song.

“The Art of Getting Through” is your most ambitious artistic statement yet. In what ways do you feel you’ve grown as an artist throughout your career, leading up to this album?

In more ways than I could list probably. The biggest one is the confidence to be in charge, to stand up for myself in the creative process and earn the respect of the people I’m collaborating with, even the ones with decades more experience than me. The songs are about my life and it’s my name on the album, so I’m the one who has to be able to stand by the final product.

I’m so much more confident, forthright and honest in my writing now too. I don’t disguise what I’m singing about, I come out and say it, although hopefully still in a poetic way.

The album explores the theme of shouldering life’s baggage and moving forward. How do you navigate the balance between vulnerability and strength in your songwriting?

I think they are intertwined. You have to be strong to let yourself show vulnerability. Joni Mitchell really taught me that. If you’re not strong enough, you’ll put on a front and not show the hurt, not show your ugly side, the feelings that make you look your worst and the ways you’ve let yourself be hurt. But if you have strength, you don’t define yourself by those things and so you can let the world see them in your songs. 

Do you have any favorite memories or experiences from your early days of performing in Western Sydney that continue to resonate with you today?

I learned so much about winning over an audience during those years, playing sketchy bars as a teenage girl, and it still serves me well when I open for other artists. The crowd isn’t there to see you, they might not know who you are, you can’t take their attention for granted. You have to really perform in a way that grabs them, brings them in and gets them on your side.

But also, you have to know when to duck behind your stool if the bottles start flying from the punch up happening at the other end of the bar, that’s something I learned from those days.

You have an upcoming tour, including performances with The Sons of the East and INXS legend Andrew Farris. How does the experience of performing live compare to the creative process in the studio?

I couldn’t do one and not do the other. Sharing these songs with people on stage is when I feel most connected to the world. The shows with Andrew have been great because his audience are such great listeners, I can play with more dynamics, bring out some of the more subtle songs and they will go along with it. I have been finishing each set by unplugging my guitar and stepping out from behind the microphone, which is magical if everyone is quiet and listening, which they have been without fail.


There is a full live band performance of “Big One” at Golden Retriever in Sydney. How does the live rendition of the song differ from the studio version, and what can fans expect from your live shows?

You build the songs in the studio in layers and stages, so it’s so fun when the band gets their hands on them and you get to play them together for the first time, and things transform into their live incarnations. Each band member always brings something a little different and new to the live version as opposed to the studio version – a different drummer might change up the fills a little, or the electric guitar tones might change a bit in the live version – that’s always part of the fun of it.

The band shows and acoustic shows are so different, but equally fun. I love the freedom to feed off the crowds with the acoustic shows, change up the set when I can tell they’re in the mood for something. I try and make all my shows cathartic experiences; have a sing and a shout and maybe a cry, we can all do some feeling together and then have a wine.

Looking back at your career, from playing Western Sydney bars in your teen years to touring internationally, what have been some standout moments or milestones for you as an artist?

Opening for Shania Twain in my early 20s was a major milestone. I’d never supported such a legendary artist before, especially someone who was such a trailblazer for women in music. At 17,000 people, it was the biggest crowd I’d ever played to.

I think the session at Abbey Road is a core memory for me now. To step into the most iconic recording space in the history of music to record a song I wrote by myself, a session I was producing, and be treated with total respect and deference from everyone involved, I felt like I really earned my place as an artist.

You did a 100 Shows in 100 Days tour in 2022. How did that experience shape you as a performer, and what did you learn from such an ambitious undertaking?

I learned that I should never do that again! Well, maybe someday but that thing almost killed me. It was a kind of ‘lockdowns are over’ celebration thing after so many gigs had been canceled or postponed, and I just wanted to get all this pent up energy out. But that was a crazy few months, I was playing sometimes three shows a day – I’d do a pop up in the afternoon, a support slot in the evening and then guest with someone afterwards. I did a livestream show while walking between my hotel room and an awards show red carpet I was hosting. I did a show outside the then prime minister’s residence to protest his policies ahead of the election. I am very proud of myself for getting through it, but I think this year is more of a ‘100 shows in 366 days’ vibe.

Your songs capture moments, memories, and confessions from your journey, including battling anxiety and insecurity. How has your personal journey influenced your approach to music, both in terms of songwriting and performing?

My whole life journey is in my music, especially this album. This record is even sequenced in a way where you can kind of see what I’ve gone through and how I’ve grown through it. The opening song is about growing up in my hometown and needing to get out, the second song is about my teenage struggles with disordered eating, and so on. 

I think telling people they need to go fuck up their lives to be an artist is bullshit, but the kind of people who get inspired to make art are the people with something to make art about. So all of the stuff that has happened to me has made it into my music, or will in the future.

Are there specific messages or lessons you hope listeners take away from your music, especially those who may relate to the challenges you’ve faced?

If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will. You have to fight for your dreams and make yourself really believe you deserve what you’re looking for in life. 

Your songs capture moments, memories, and confessions from your journey. How do you hope your personal stories resonate with your fans, especially those who may connect with your experiences or challenges?

I hope some people, especially young women, realise they aren’t alone. They aren’t the first people to go through these things, and they are all survivable. You can move forward from them, even if you don’t get even or fully get over them.

With the release of “Big One” and the upcoming album, what are your plans for the future? Are there specific goals or projects you’re excited to pursue in the coming months and years?

I’m so excited for people to hear this record, to understand how all the songs feel in context and the full journey of the album. I’ve got so much more touring planned for this year and I can’t wait to share these songs with people all around the world, including a show in London at Green Note on July 10.

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