Artist Feature: Clarke Reid

Clarke Reid is a musician and traveler who we first met in his hometown of Seattle, Washington. He’s played a variety of music, an eclecticism made ever wider by the distances he’s traveled. Whether playing with Seattle-based the Cumbieros or wielding a ukulele throughout Andalucía, Spain, music has been an important common ground for this creator. We welcome Clarke to the Collective to speak on his unique perspective on Reflection and Response, the social nature of music, and other topics from our dude straight out of Pozoblanco, Spain.

Clarke Reid

Response is what just naturally comes out of being in new situations and playing music with new people.

– Clarke Reid

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

CR: I’m from Seattle, in the United States. I currently live in a town called Pozoblanco, which is in the Cordoba province of Andalucía, Spain. I’m doing a yearlong program here where I’m like the native English-speaking assistant in a public high school.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

CR: Deliberate reflection is probably something I should do more often. The Alarm on my phone that wakes me up in the morning is titled “look up, notice little things.” It’s something I got from reading  “peace is every step” by Buddhist teacher, philosopher, etc. Thich Nhat Hahn and its a reminder to slow down and relax and notice what’s going on around me and enjoy it. It’s something I don’t do often enough, but when I do it’s awesome. Especially when I’m traveling or living in another country and running around all the time and trying new things, it’s important to slow down and reflect on things. Like, if I feel like crap sometimes I don’t even realize it until I slow down for a sec and think about it and then think about why. Or if I’m feeling great (often a result of just having eaten a wholesome meal, being outside in nice weather, an unexpectedly pleasant exchange with a stranger, a laugh with a friend, or any combination of many other things) its nice to recognize it and revel in it. Then I have to respond. Like I said I’m still working on it. One thing I’m trying to do right now is sleep more and drink less. And get sick less (like cold/flu sick).

I’ve been traveling a lot recently, so when it comes to music, reflection and response is about noticing what kind of inspiration is around me and really trying to dive into that. When I was younger my dad listened to a lot of progressive rock from the 70s so I got into that. My high school had a really good jazz band so in high school I listened to a lot of jazz and was really influenced by that. In college I had a music professor that was more into experimental music and free jazz so I tried that and learned a lot of new things. I was also part of a hip-hop band so I started checking out more of that culture and music. The story goes on and on like that, including a year living in Chile and some other travels. Now I live in Spain and I’m doing the same thing. I’d like to think that I’m constantly responding and changing and evolving my style and music and stuff, but I haven’t really studied music formally recently so it’s harder to see and measure exactly how I’m changing. I guess the response is what just naturally comes out of being in new situations and playing music with new people. Maybe sometime in the near future I’ll sit down and really reflect and play something or write some material that brings everything together. That would be a good goal actually.

How do “The Other Side of the River” and “Woodle” fit in with that definition?

CR: Firstly, “The Other Side of the River” is written for ukulele, which is an instrument that I bought recently when I discovered it’s a great travel instrument. It’s portable and can be used to jam with other instruments, by itself, or with singing. So it fits with the sort of traveling chameleon approach I’m taking to music in general right now. It also incorporates some elements of flamenco (the clapping) that I’ve been exposed to here in Andalucía. The recording is a bit of a rough draft. It has a fiddle line that I still need to record and I’d like to get some more Spanish ‘jaleo’ on the track too (shouts of encouragement, percussion, etc.).

I’ve also included a live recording of a song, “Woodle,” I wrote a while ago being played with some friends in Valdivia, Chile. It’s not new, but has become my “standard” and I’ve played it with jazz and jam groups in a number of different settings. I’ll be playing it again with a group on Feb. 28 in Villanueva de Cordoba. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

CR: Also influenced by being in Spain, but not entirely, i’d really like to do more with voice. I don’t consider myself much of a singer, but I can carry a tune and I love music with vocal harmonies. I’ve written some arrangements of Christmas carols and some other odd things for multiple voices and I’m singing in the choir in the conservatory here in my Spanish town. I’ve considered off and on trying to get some flamenco singing lessons. I’m also really interested in language and the sounds of voices and I’d like to explore that in an artistic setting. This is all pretty broad and I don’t know really where it will go, but I have a few ideas. For example, I’m going to ask my Spanish friend to write some lyrics for “The Other Side of the River” and another instrumental song I wrote a while ago. 

Who or what inspires you?

CR: Playing with other people: shows, practices, jams, etc. Or even sometimes just listening to music with other people. Music is such a social thing and doing it with other people is the best. And it always gives me new ideas. For example, this weekend I went to see my friend’s carnaval music group compete in a competition with other groups. The music is very dramatic and political and involves intricate costumes and sets and it’s really exciting. After the show I was talking with some friends about the music and thinking about how a cool it would be to start a tradition of carnaval groups in the US.

There is a lot of recorded music I listen to on my own that I like and that inspires me (for example, Uruguayan Jorge Drexler as of late) but it’s not really the same as playing with a group or seeing music live or talking about it with other people. That reminds me – I want to organize a music listening session here in Spain where people get together and share music they like.

Shout out to…?

CR: The Cumbieros! The Chilean Cumbia band I play with back in Seattle just released their album, Cumbiamericana (which I’m on, although I wasn’t around to see the final product be released). It’s very fun, dance oriented Latin American music.

Reflection and Response.

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