Singer/songwriter Clark Hill is back in action, y'all! He's been out of the spotlight for awhile since his last single (a personal favorite of mine, "Perfect to Me"), dealing with the hands that life has dealt him and now after tiring of trying to be what everyone else wants him to be, he's decided that it's time to just be Clark and do things his way and put himself back out there with a great new single being released tomorrow, March 23 called "Drink in My Hand." I had a chance to talk to Clark recently and I can honestly say that he answered my questions with a personal, raw honesty that I haven't found with any other artist I've ever interviewed. Check out our interview below.
I really hope that you will take the time to get to know and see the Clark Hill that I've gotten to know and that you'll connect with him and support him on his new journey. GO CLARK!!!
Who is Clark Hill? What makes you tick? Who are you personally and as an artist/songwriter?
There are tons of things that make me tick really… I would be hard pressed to explain any of them thoroughly but If I had one place I would want to show how I tick the most is how reflective I am. I constantly have this unusual push to get better at whatever it is that I am doing. Some would see it as competitive drive but honestly I don’t know exactly what it is yet. I think one of the things that interests me most about building a fan base and connecting with people for years at a time is that we all get to find that answer together. But to start the journey, we will start with that. Every day I wake up with something to prove and it’s not always a good thing… honestly it can be a negative things frequently but for some reason I have this push that has me wanting to prove myself at something. I also am relatively self conscious as a person. This revelation is kinda new to me but I am starting to see it more and more and I see how I overcompensate or how it shows itself in negative ways. So now I work towards finding the positive and find myself working towards it. All of these things define me as a person at the core and ultimately show themselves in my stage presence and my writing.
Tell me a little about your background, your previous job as an EMT and how you got from where you were to where you are now in your personal life, your mindset and tell me about your journey to country music and what obstacles have you encountered alng the road and how have you overcome them?
I found my self behind the 8 ball, per se, very early in life. I found out I had a kid on the way at 16 and its been up hill ever since lol. My short lived EMT/Fireman career was what I did right out of high school. I made the decision to not go play college football and instead I focused on what I thought would be my future. Ultimately I found my self getting in some trouble early in life and I had to step away from the career and focus on my life. I have spent years and years trying to overcome bad teenage mistakes and they all seem to kinda play together. That would be why my mindset plays towards country music. I have a story to tell that I think others need to hear. They need to hear that others have fallen flat on their faces and hurt others in the process and, more so, they need to hear that when you fall, it ain't the end! I know I enjoy that part of music and entertainment more than anything. Connecting with people and them getting to find out who I really am, not who the internet says I am, is and unexplainable joy. There are definitely moments that the obstacles feel too much, even right now, I am trying to find out how to get back to fans. It seems like an easy answer, but sometimes it just doesn't feel easy. I am learning that in entertainment sometimes past decisions, of all types, hurt you more than current ones and being personality that constantly seeks affirmation from others… that’s a hard spot to be in to be looking to others for my confidence and sense of belonging, only to find that people aren’t quick to do that nowadays. As for overcoming these issues, I go back to what makes me tick. I wake up, and find a way to prove that I belong, even if just for a few hours.
Your last single, "Perfect to Me" was released in 2017 and now you have FINALLY announced a release date of March 23 for your latest single,"Drink in My Hand." Why has it taken you such a long time to release a follow up and tell me about how you decided this was the right time and the right song to come back.
Short answer … I mentally and emotionally got lost in the crowd, and by crowd I really mean my own head. I have had a lot of changes in my life in the last few years… from my wife and I divorcing to adapting to being a single parent (although I do have an awesome fiancé that helps with the kiddos as well as my family), the pressure just came from a different angle so I’ve had to adapt. Also I think if I’m being honest, I lost focus of just putting out great music and wanting someone to hand me something. I had really hoped that I would get into a magic situation I guess and find the help I need. As an independent artist is so easy to get persuaded that someone can help you and then you find your self making the wrong business decisions that then trickle down to your personal life and then finally into your writing. Now seemed to be write because all the people that support me personally kept asking when new music was coming and when I realized that I didn’t have an answer, I finally decided that I needed to stop procrastinating and release it …. even if only a few people listened to it. If I was going to be true to who I was, I needed to release my music to folks so they could hear the story, not because I wanted to be famous. If this song reaches one person then it did what I wanted.
Since you started singing, has there been a moment where you were just done and something or someone really pulled you up by the hand and inspired you to keep going?
It’s hard to pick any one thing. The biggest issue I keep having within music is financial. It’s such a tough business because of the strain of the financial burden. The sleepless nights, tough drives/rides, the soul searching, etc, etc - those things aren’t what bothers me, but looking for the formula to do what I believe God wants me to be doing AND to provide for my family and balance my emotional responses to the ups and downs have been by far the toughest thing. As far as what’s pulled me up, it's ALWAYS been the people. I am a people person and as much as social media and our current culture has changed things, PEOPLE are still the center of the world. Think back to 2020 and the first few months of 2021, I don’t think that anyone being honest would say that music was normal. Not because we couldn’t write or produce great content but it was because the people were missing! So sometimes it was a show, sometimes a memory. Recently it's been friends that I’ve made in music that have accomplished great things or some of us would consider “famous” reaching out at just the right time… but again… it simply and honestly comes down to PEOPLE.
How do you think the music industry has changed in the past few years? What do you see as being changed for the better and what about for the "not so good"? What would you do if you could make one change?
The biggest things I’m seeing is the reliance on social media followings. Sometimes they equate to ticket sales and sometimes they don’t, but it does appear that the larger following you have, the more likely you are to get support from the marketing and financial support systems that ultimately push artist to new heights. I struggle with that primarily because my strongest moments are the "face to face, looking into peoples eyes" moments. That’s why I personally don’t see it as good because it’s hard to get someone to give you a chance just off of “it factor”, now I have to figure out the metrics as well. If I could change that, I don’t know that I would though because it also helps us artists that are as raw as it gets and are willing to say “Hey, I changed and I didn’t mean to but the real me is coming back.” It helps us to be able to connect, REALLY connect with people on a deeper level.
Who are your personal and musical influences and why? It's ok if you include me :-)
Obviously you! All kidding aside, your kindness and acceptance is a positive influence on me as an artist! Elvis, Garth Brooks … that's the short answer. I am drawn to the legendary artists, the folks with deep stories that ultimately may never be told. Garth interests me the most in that capacity because of how guarded his brand is. I know there has to be something so deep that makes him who he is. I would love to become close enough to him one day to share a moment with him that might reveal that deepness within. Personally there are too many to tell. My family is my biggest influence. I also have a deep spiritual side that kinda moves in the background too.
Is there any piece of advice that someone’s given you that really stands out in your mind and has been a motivational factor for you? Likewise, what advice would you give to someone just getting started in music?
Don’t give up! Not trying to be too simple, but honestly that's the best advice I’ve gotten and the best I could give. We simplify that statement sometimes but ultimately it is at the core of all things difficult. The difference between those that make it and those that don’t is sometimes just that simple.
What does your music say about you to the listener?
I think It says that I have a story to tell and that I want the chance to share it and I also hope that it’s coming off in a way that shows that I want people to share in the evolution of it.
Is there an album and video in the works? What’s coming down the pipe that we can look forward to?
I don’t know yet to be honest. I wanna see how fans respond to this one and go from there. I will definitely be releasing some more stuff soon, mainly because I have some good stuff that people haven’t heard and I’m dying to see if y’all like it.
If you could write a letter to your 16 year old self, what would you tell yourself?
My hardest thing in life, even right now, I would tell him to live for RIGHT NOW, not yesterday, not tomorrow. Most of my biggest mistakes in life have come from the absence of that very mindset. Right now is the most important moment of my life.
If you were to write a biography of your life to this point, what would you title it?
So I’m actually writing one believe it or not, lol. I have so much to tell that is heard to tell in short answers so I have been working on it as the urging of a TV Personality/Writer friend of mine. She’s a huge inspiration at perseverance and I started writing my story because of her, but so far I have been working with the name “The Label That Defines You”. I fight so much to define my life and that of others by labels. Doctor. Lawyer. Preacher. Singer. etc. yet I spend every day trying to prove to folks that a label doesn’t define me. I felt like this was an awesome opportunity to show my struggle with a core belief and how I wanted to change it for myself and others. It's kinda like my response of living for right now.
What is the most important personal attribute that you bring to your work?
Vulnerability. It hurts, but it’s ultimately who I am.
There is a lot of criticism in the music industry, especially now with social media. How do you handle criticism and online negativity?
I’ve slowly gotten better about realizing that those that criticize honestly don’t know me. I try to work from an angle of empathy and carry myself in a way that I believe will when people over when they finally get to know me.
What one word best describes Clark Hill?
How can fans connect with you online?