With a sound firmly steeped in the best traditions of Motown and classic sixties soul, Alain Clark the Dutch sensation has already received a prestigious Rembrandt Prize and has inked a deal with Warner Records. Contactmusic.com chatted it up at the exquisite Landmark hotel. Clark wearing his obligatory hat seats comfortably, legs stretched out seeming unaffected by the weather outside as he grins brightly.
The new album is called 'Live It Out', so what is your life philosophy?
Well I think there are two really important things to follow in life. Love is number one and to have a good time in number two. From love there are a lot of categories to take from it - you have your friends and family and you need all those people to have a good time. Everyone is running around concerned about doing their own thing, which is a good because it keeps the world moving but it's those moments when you are with friends and family, it doesn't matter if you are the President, an artist or you work in a bakery. It's those moments you hold on to. That's my philosophy.
How would you describe the general sound of 'Live It Out'?
I always describe my music as funky pop soul.
Trying to cover everyone huh?
I have stolen sounds from different genres. People tend to say that it is a soul record. I wrote a lot of songs on guitar, there are some funky elements because of the electric guitar. I don't mind if people categorise it and even put it in a box as long as they enjoy it and it gets out there.
I've always felt that modern fame gets in the way of artistic expression, what is your take on this now that you are likely to gain international success with this album?
Well obviously I haven't experienced international success, so I really don't know. I'm hoping to do well and I hope that I will still be as artistically free but I can see how it can become a challenge. You think that one rainy afternoon you write this song because you feel so down and it's a true emotion that you translate to music, capturing a moment but then you have to go out and play that song, then if it becomes a hit you have to play it over and over and over again even if you don't feel it straight away and that alone is a challenge to get into a certain mindset and reach that emotion that you had.
You have a large fan base in Holland, but how have your Dutch fans responded to this English album?
People there are very excited about me wanting to go internationally. When I signed to Warner a few months ago it was a big thing in the media out there. I feel the love and that support gives you a good extra push.
How do the songs on the album differ from your first album?
It's like apples and pears, you can't even compare. The first record I did was concept driven and that came from a place when I was producing a lot for other artists and I just wanted to get ideas out that I couldn't filter through them. So I just came up with the concept that had to be in Dutch and that wasn't happening on the radio at that time. It was popular with a certain group but not at all like 'Live It Out' is now in Holland.
Who are your musical influences?
Pretty much every style I can find something that I like. I grew up with the young Michael Jackson with 'Off The Wall' and I really lived those records and for a long time I thought that his was the only artist around. Later I discover Prince and Stevie Wonder and also bands like The Beatles and The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, just a lot of different styles. The last album I brought was Al Greens new record 'Lay It Down'.
Love songs make up the majority subject of the album where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration is mostly personal, especially on this record. When I try to write I write from my heart, from what I have experienced and that has to be from an emotion that I know. Fortunately, I do not know and haven't experienced every emotion. I don't know what it feels like to be real low down to the ground so that is way my songs at least have a happy vibe to them.
Soppy romantic then?
(Laughs) I guess I could say I am. I think songwriters are, don't you think? All songwriters I know at least have written songs for their girlfriends or boyfriends.
You father is featured on you next single 'Father and Friend'. Was it intentional to tap into the older crowd?
No not at all, I just wanted to record a song with my dad and I hadn't even planned it for the album. It's a dialogue between me and him which is personal but we chose to share it. My father has always sang in a band as a hobby and I knew he was a good singer so I called him and asked if he was interested in recording a song with me and as the song took shape it turn out to be a good enough song to go on the record.
Are there any people you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Many. I like Duffy, working with her would be great. One of my biggest dreams would be to work, in whatever way, I would even carry his keyboard to the stage - it would be Stevie Wonder. He is one of my big heroes.
There are two types of artist, those who listen to their own music and those who don't. Which are you?
I guess I would be the type that doesn't. That doesn't mean I never do but after its finish I leave it alone.
Apart from the album are you working on other projects?
Right now my main focus is the record. During the recording of this record and even before it I did a lot of production in Holland for different artists and song writing, I hope to be doing that again soon, however right now I am putting in a lot of time and energy on this project.
Alain Clarks single Father and Friend is released on March 30th 09 and debut album Live It Out is released on Warner Bros. Records on April 6th.