If Alex Clare is correct when he says "the melody is the pen of the soul," then his soul is drenched in a sound that spans everything from UK garage rock and blues to synthetic bass-heavy club music, evidenced by the eclectic instrumentation and bluesy vocals the UK singer/songwriter delivers on "Too Close," a track from his 2011 debut album, The Lateness Of The Hour. In an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, Clare discusses recording the album, singing versus songwriting, his musical influences, and future plans, among other topics.
"Every song I write, including 'Too Close,' always starts on the guitar," says Clare. "Either I'll hear a song and be inspired or, in the case of 'Too Close,' [I had] something playing on my mind heavily at the time and it just sort of came to a head in the song." "Too Close" was one of the first songs Clare wrote for The Lateness Of The Hour, and was also the track that earned him a deal with Island Records.
Though one of the first albums Clare recalls purchasing is Radiohead's 1997 GRAMMY-winning album, OK Computer, he cites Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life as his favorite album. "That track 'Have A Talk With God' has the most incredible synth parts you've ever heard," says Clare. "That's the greatest record ever made for me."
"I like songs in all different genres and types," says Clare. "My production and songwriting is everything from pop rock to hip-hop and everything in between."
Part of Clare's diverse sound was developed with the help of DJ/producers Diplo and Switch, with whom he teamed for the singles "Up All Night" and "Tightrope," both of which appear on The Lateness Of The Hour. The album also includes a haunting cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry," for good measure.
"I've always preferred writing on my own in the past," adds Clare, "but when you work with Diplo and Switch, people who bring ideas to the table and vibe off what you do while you're vibing off what they do, you create work that's more balanced and moving."
For Clare, songwriting is a way to deliver his opinion and emotions. "If [I] want to get something off [my] chest, [songwriting has] always been so cathartic to me, to an extent."
Presently, Clare is collaborating with UK soul/electronica act Rudimental and is on tour throughout Europe, with dates scheduled through October. He also has plans to begin "recording album number two."