For Evan H. Clarke, the consistent process of creation is the gift that keeps on giving. The 29-year-old is back in the new year with the release of his first project for the year, Nighthawk USA, Pt. 1.
“I think I’m never ever going to stop releasing music no matter what happens, I find I’m happiest whenever I’ve got a music project on the go, I’ve been moving back and forth… having something like that on my laptop that stays the same always makes me feel comfortable so I’ll always be making music and I think my next project after this I wanna go into potentially some ambient electronic stuff,” describes Clarke about his creative ambitions.
Clarke’s latest project marks his first project since 2020’s Maverick, his debut to Spotify and a release that was meant to be played live prior to COVID-19 lockdowns. For Clarke, Nighthawk USA, Pt. 1 marks a maturation in sound and technique in his approach to the craft, “I think my songwriting has gotten better, I feel in terms of Maverick being good practice for me, I listen back to it now and I’m happy but there’s still lots of things that I would change now if I could.” He contrasts his last release with his latest, saying, “I wanted to improve upon that and be cleaner and I think that has happened with the new recordings.”
Clarke cites his influence for this release from living just minutes from the Canadian/American border near Osoyoos, British Columbia. This state of rural living is something that Clarke has thought about, saying, “It’s definitely informed the music.”
Glide walked through each track of the project with Clarke…
How did you arrive at opening up this project with a sound that’s like waking up
I’m sort of mildly obsessed with the west, I love the rocky mountains I love all that, and I was living in Austria this summer for four months, and when I was there it made me really nostalgic for it so what I wanted to do was to connect the songs via ambient sounds from the Rockies so I found this website like the Montana National Park site which was free to use, they put up all these ambient recordings of all these places in the Rockies, so i was in Austria feeling nostalgic, threw em in, and then I fell in love with the Castilleja flower, this wildflower that you find in the Rockies and I was writing this piece I kept imagining this flower. I guess it all happened at once.
“White Hat / Black Hat”
This second song feels like a night out driving with friends, what’s that all about?
To get to the community that I live in here in BC, you have to go on this road called a black sage road, and it’s through the country, there are cows on one side, you see massive eagles, and I wanted to write something that I would want to listen to while driving on that road. So musically it’s about that, in terms of the name, I love westerns and the idea of the white hat and the black hat, where the good guy wears the white hat and the bad guy wears the black hat. I guess I was thinking about every person has a little good and little bad so I incorporated that but there’s this pretty part with the acoustic guitar that’s the white hat and there’s the more driving electric is the black hat. It’s just playing with the opposites. I had fun doing it.
There’s a lot going on in this one, what was your process for it?
I think I started writing that song a few years ago but didn’t really know how to finish it, I just had essentially one verse. So I thought I’ve got one verse I should do the most I can with it…I wanted to have instrumental and vocal songs, with some songs I don’t have vocals, but when I do vocals I should go hard, I wanted to fit as many harmonies in there as I could.
As for the horn there’s this guy who lives here, he’s a vineyard manager, super cool guy, and I went over to his place one day and he fiddled around on the sax to come up with the part and that’s what that is. He made it up on the spot and then it kinda changed the direction of the song, because initially it was kinda jazzy it was just kinda groovin, but then I heard the melody and I thought it would be so much\ fun to have a whole bunch of voices, so I reached out to friends and family – anyone who had a microphone, and they recorded themselves singing that part, they emailed it to me and I compiled it all into really fun sorta party piece of music. Paul McCartney is my absolute songwriting hero and I really wanted to approach it like his album RAM, for example, “Uncle Albert” is made up of three or four separate songs and I love that idea because it allows you to pack as much creativity into one song as possible, subconsciously I was inspired by that as well.
“A Vase of Fresh Flowers”
This one was super folky, sounds like being on a farm, is there violin in there?
“I wrote that song about two years ago [in British Columbia], when you’re in a setting like this you can’t help but wanna listen to country music or folk music. It’s about sort of a daydream of what it would be living on a ranch, coming home from work and seeing your girl has put some fresh flowers on the table. What’s nicer than that? That’s where the song came from, the violin actually is one of my Irish Studies professors. She’s incredible, she taught this Irish music in Canada course, and I asked her if she’d want to contribute some violin so she recorded it and sent it over to me and it just fit perfectly.”
“And Bob’s Your Uncle”
This track’s guitar has swagger, and the title, what’s this one about?
“I just had so much fun with that. I love albums like say The [The Beatles’] White Album, for example, where it’s a collage of different styles of music, like you can tell it’s the same artist, potentially the same instruments, same sounds, but different styles. I wanted to do something that was a little funkier, a little groovier, and I love the idea of having two separate records of drums. So I think it started with that, and through experimenting with the guitar it led to the piece. [Bob’s your uncle], I don’t know if it originated in Ireland but it’s just a saying, it’s sort of like, if you do this, then Bob’s your uncle. But I wanted to have something light and fun that people would laugh at if they get the reference.
“A Lemon Tree in the Front Yard”
The drums on this one deserve to be heard live, reminded me of Anderson .Paak, how do you conceive this whole thing?
“Lemon Tree in the Front Yard” started when I was in San Francisco with my fiancée. We were walking around the city and I saw this beautiful hall, this beautiful view, and there was a lemon tree in the front and I thought ‘how incredible would it be to have a lemon tree in your front yard’ So I kept that in the back of my mind until I got back to Canada had a guitar, and wrote the song. I remember waking up at two or three in the morning, couldn’t sleep, I picked up the guitar and wrote the song in half an hour…I wanted [this song] to be a little bit of a journey because the song itself is about going on a road trip. Driving from Calgary down through the Rockies sounds like an awesome road trip and I was inspired by thinking about driving to California.