Getting To Know Joey Clarkson – by Lesley Hastings

Canada seems to be a hotbed of talent when it comes to female country music artists, with the likes of Lindi Ortega, Meghan Patrick, Terri Clark and Lindsay Ell all hailing from its shores. After coming across the infectious, upbeat song “ Go Right Now” by Joey Clarkson (along with its fun girlie video)

research revealed that she too comes from there, Vancouver Island to be exact. But I could find limited information about this lady online so asked if she would kindly answer a few questions for us here at Belles and Gals which she was only too happy to do!
It makes great reading, particularly hearing about all the amazing female country artists that have influenced her and how the genre is doing so well in Canada (she has given us a lot of names to check out which as she mentions have been collated on a spotify playlist).
But let’s get back to Joey herself and her interview….

Hey Joey, can I start by asking you about your latest single please? In particular, what was the inspiration behind this nostalgic song about your love for the simple things in life? 

“Go Right Now” is a song that was kicking around in the back of my mind for ages before it actually managed to escape in full form. It started out as more of a concept, on a sunny, but cold, spring afternoon. I was driving down Island with my windows down, heat turned up and the skeleton of the chorus just started to fall out. I was at a strange place in my life at the time, distracted by things I shouldn’t have cared about, and for lack of better words: I felt stuck. I don’t even think I knew it at the time!

Anyway, I sang it at nauseam on that drive, hoping that the rest of the song would follow, but I could never make it past the chorus. It wasn’t until months later when I met up with my co-writer Kevin Fisher in Los Angeles, that the song actually came to life! Kevin is a phenomenal writer, and I really admire his work. I brought the chorus into the writing room, and less than 2 hours later we walked away with the stripped down demo. I think it helps that I’m at the age where we start to realize what things are really important in life, and that I knew a lot of my friends resonate with the context of the lyrics. We drew from that inspiration. 

I gather it is taken from your next album….as was your previous single “Loving You is Breaking Me”…..how is the shaping up and when can we expect it to be released?

It is taken from the next Album! I don’t think I can properly articulate how anxious, excited and impatient I am about releasing it. My producers, Steven McClintock and Kevin Fisher are incredibly accomplished and down to earth people. They are so easy to work with, and have really helped me find a new respect for my craft, and potential. 

The Album is very much in the production stage at the moment. We’re laying down tracks, trying out new sounds and finding the best way to deliver the stories. There’s a few new songs that I’ve never played live on it – it’s been so hard to keep these ones a secret! I don’t want to say too much about it at this stage, but the majority of the album is pieced together around the theme of movement, both literal and figurative, and the act of being aware and taking control of that movement. We’re aiming for a June release, but the actual date is TBC at the moment. 

You’re a bit of a nomad aren’t you, describing yourself as a “ Drifting Canadian heart”. Do you actually have anywhere you call home these days?  

I have definitely called myself a “Nomad” in the past. I spent the majority of the last 3 years bouncing back and forth between touring Western Canada, Europe and the U.K. – a great deal of that time was spent living out of a suitcase, or my car! I’m really lucky to have a broad support network throughout various countries, who graciously took me into their homes and allowed me to be part of their family during this time. Thank you to my adoptive families if you’re reading this!

I’m now residing permanently in London Victoria (U.K.) with my husband Peter and our adorable pomsky pup Whiskey. He’s originally from Ireland, which is why his name is spelled with an “e”. Whiskey, not Peter. Peter’s from Dorset, and you can’t spell his name without an e…

Can you tell me a bit about growing up on Vancouver Island  and your musical journey so far?

I grew up in Grantham, on the side of my Grandma and Aunt’s Heritage farm, which is located just outside of the Comox Valley. The farm has been in the family for over 130 years – and I can genuinely say that it is one of the most beautiful areas in the entire world. There is nothing like waking up in the morning to crisp grass, fog on the fields, cows grazing freely, and the sight of the Comox Valley Glacier and Mount Washington towering over the tops of the tree lines on the far side of farm. We actually shot the music video for “Loving you is breaking me” in the lower fields if anyone is interested in checking it out!

Growing up, I was always surrounded by music, and art. I have strong memories of my dad strumming the guitar by the fireplace, and my mom and aunts singing “streets of London” – which is funny, in a way, because I live here now! Music was never something my family actively pursued as a career, but it has always been in my blood. 

The Comox Valley is full of opportunities, and inspiration for young artists. I was very fortunate to be surrounded by this talent, and to be welcomed into the community with such open arms. A dear friend of mine Susie McGregor (singer/songwriter) took me under her wing when I was 17, and helped to guide me to where I am now. She connected me with my current producers, gave me opportunities to grow, and taught me how to fiercely go after what I want. 

Are there any particular artists who have influenced you?  

I can’t watch an interview of Ed Sheeran without crying. It’s a little bit pathetic. I firmly believe that even if you don’t like his music (I love it), you can still appreciate just how hard he has worked to get where he is today, and that he has earned his accolades. I respect that more than anything, and hope that when I get to the point where I’ve received substantial success and recognition, that I can look back and say that I worked hard for it.

Shania Twain and Dolly Parton were the first cassette tapes I ever bought for myself – I think I was 7 years old, and I must have listened to them on repeat for months. I love their tenacity as female performers, their hooky melodies and their lyrical content. I think they had the earliest influence on me as an artist, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. 

Ani DiFranco was an obsession of mine for the longest time in my teen years – because of her humanitarian efforts, and how she paved her own path for her music. While I don’t think her musical influence is audible in mine, her determination and do-it-yourself attitude has helped to create my never back down approach in this industry. 

A few more… Joni Mitchell, The Spice Girls, Lily Allen, Taylor Swift, Hey Ocean, Ward Thomas, Miranda Lambert… There’s  common trend you’re probably noticing there. I hear the argument from radio/media about how females don’t like listening to female artists, which is why we receive lesser airplay. For me, I’ve always preferred to listen to women. I don’t think I’m the only one!

What is your career highlight to date? 

What a tough question to answer! 

I would have to say that it was probably my performance at the Sunfest Country Music festival on Vancouver Island in 2015. I loved being a part of their line-up and getting the opportunity to play on a big stage! Hoping I get the opportunity to return to that festival again in the future. 

What is the country music scene like in Canada at the moment…..as I mentioned in my introduction there are some great female country artists coming out of there these days! 

The country music scene in Canada is BOOMING. It is full of strong writers, performers and workers. There is a huge market for Country music at the moment, and some incredible festivals to play at if you’re lucky enough to break into the circuit. We’ve also got some fantastic, commercial and local country music stations that are helping to pave a path. 

A lot of our kick ass Canadian country girls have relocated to Nashville to write and record, but you are right in saying that there are some great female country artists coming out of Canada these days. Mackenzie Porter, Madeline Merlot, Livvy Jeanne, Twin Kennedy, Erin Kay, Ajaye Jardine, The Heels, Danielle Marie, Alannah Clark, and so many more than I’m probably forgetting off the top of my head. 

If you get a chance, I’ve made a playlist on Spotify that highlights my favourite female Canadian country artists. It’s featured on my Spotify Artist page – follow it for some new, and old, favourites 🙂 

Are there any UK concerts in the pipeline and what can we expect if we go to a Joey Clarkson show? 

I’m just about to head back to Canada for a 6 week term, to teach some music workshops with the Wild Heart Music program for the school district on Northern Vancouver Island, so nothing in the direct future, but when I get back there definitely will be!

I’m in the process of booking a some dates in Northern Germany, The Netherlands and the U.K. as full band for the end of April/ Beginning of May, with another Canadian singer/songwriter who’s flying all the way over to join us! She’s still a secret, so I won’t spill the beans on that one just yet. 

In April/May, you can expect to hear a lineup of original songs as they have never been played before! I’ll be joined by a Cellist/Keyboard Player (my super secret Canadian friend), and top notch Military session players Tom Allison (Drums) from the Band of the Irish Guards, and Peter Dixon (Saxophone/Bass) and Rhona Carse (Trumpet) from the band of the Scots Guards. 

Well I’ll look forwards to your UK dates and your album, Joey, safe travels back to Canada and thank you so much for taking time out to answer my questions! 

For more information including all her socials and to join Joey’s mailing list check out joeyclarkson.com

Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)

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