The music of Clementine
It is the first word that comes to mind when I sit down to write about Sarah (Clementine) and I immediately second-guess it because I haven’t actually seen her in a while. Our interview took place over an email.
But there it is again: presence.
I close my eyes and remember the room when I saw her perform a few years ago; how when her whispery vocals passed through the P.A. speakers - shutting up suddenly seemed like a great idea.
Her tiny frame, carefully dressed, softly picking the strings on an empty stage was magical.
It felt like the thoughts swirling around in her head which were responsible for the words being sung out her mouth had a rich and imaginative home in her brain.
And something about that made me lean in a little further.
When did you first pick up a guitar?
“I first picked up my Dad’s guitar when I was nine or ten years old and begged him to teach me how to play.”
Does your guitar have a name?
“I have never named one of my instruments, but in a way, I think they name me. They build me.”
Something that strikes me about Sarah is her style; both vocally and aesthetically. It is more than just pretty - It seems to be saying something. And depending on the show, the song or the place where she’s at in life, that wildly changes. How important is style to you? How does an outfit for example marry a performance? “My clothing and music function to carry out the same purpose, which has ultimately always been self-exploration and healing. (...) I write to unpack my mind, and I find that letting go of divisions and categories, whether it be what constitutes a melody or what constitutes an outfit, is extremely rewarding. Dressing elaborately and consciously for a performance is part of my process, it helps me compartmentalize my vulnerability – I’m aware that I’m performing, and it helps me enjoy it fully.” ‘Enjoying it fully’ is important no matter what you do in life but as an artist it can greatly influence your creativity. That is why many musicians are now bringing the recording studio to them instead of the other way around. “I recorded my EP up at my family’s cottage. It’s a water-access place, which added a level of challenge and excitement to the whole experience. I’m really close with my family and that place is where I did (and continue to do) all of my hardest thinking, and writing, and playing, and growing. It was important for me to have my parents be very present during that process – they were there on the floor (with my dog) listening quietly through every song. ~ I grew up there, I recorded there, I’m getting married there. I have seen a good chunk of the world, but it will always be my favourite place.”
But no matter how perfect the setting - making a record is a lot of work. It involves scheduling, budgeting, gear hauling and a team of people who are able to utilize their individual talents while keeping the artist’s vision in mind. “Recording “Thaw” was an entirely new experience for me because it was deeply collaborative. Where my songs once would have ended with my simple chord progressions and finger picking, I entrusted them into my closest friends [members of the band Big Lonely, Taylor Lucas - mixing & engineering] and let them reconstruct and engineer and breathe new life into them. I was nervous to let something so close to me be laid out and poked at, but it really wasn’t as invasive as I had imagined! It was incredible...” What’s the best thing about being an artist? “I think the best thing about being an artist is the ability to connect with people through shared experiences. I care deeply about lyrics, probably to a fault, and while I love hearing what people see or feel in mine, I love being moved by the lyrics of others. I am in constant pursuit of good writing and I love having opportunities to talk process and thoughts with other musicians.”
What’s the hardest thing about being an artist? “Figuring out your relationship with social media – finding the balance between being and seeming. I will always write songs, but it’s hard to keep going sometimes when you are constantly surrounded by this pressing need to maintain a constant social presence...” Why is music important to our society? “Music is tremendously important – both writing and listening are such valuable processes of understanding and commenting on the human experience. It can be a very powerful vehicle for change on both the personal and the community level. Right now is a politically exhausting time, and listening to a great album is a way to shut the blinds and breathe comfortably, but also a way to connect, respond, and act.”
It’s 10:25pm. I place a pair headphones over my ears and lay back in bed. When I listen to music, I go to it. I leave where I am and arrive at it’s plucked notes, its tiny breaths between lyrics and it’s body-filling crushendos. I close my eyes and I treasure it. Sarah’s music is something to treasure. And just like her, it requests your presence. It invites you in with a loving softness and asks nothing but your ears in return. What is your dream venue? “My dream venue is a small room full of people listening.” What is the most memorable thing someone has said to you after a show? “I am always blown away by intense listeners. I can’t think of a specific phrase, but I am always moved when someone says, “thank you” and shakes me hand. My songs are transformed hurt – it means a lot to me when people communicate in some way that listening is helping them find solace in some way, big or small.” Thaw is set to be released this fall with plans to intimately tour and share it with her closest admirers - welcoming new ones of course. (That’s you) It will be pressed to vinyl - something important to Sarah as it is how she enjoys listening to music. Heck, I think everybody’s down with the needle-in-the-groove these days! My hope is that you the reader feel compelled to give this artist a like, a share, an ear, a gig, a smile, a book. (She REALLY likes those: check out Peach Reads) And go buy her record when it comes out. Thank you for coming this far with us. For being here.
Sarah, how do you carry an amplifier?