Imogen Clark on The Art of Getting Through

Australian alt/pop artist, Imogen Clark gives us a taste of what to expect from her upcoming album, with her latest single, ‘Big One.’ The sultry, synth-laden track, with its intoxicating pop-fuelled chorus and move-inducing beat, signals that we’re certainly in for a treat with the 13-track album ‘The Art of Getting Through‘ which is due for release in May. ‘Big One’ is reminiscent of the likes of Haim and Maggie Rogers, as Clark offers up a love anthem for the masses. 

Trained as an opera singer at just eight years old, it is to no surprise that Clark’s vocals soar effortlessly over catchy rhythms, with her captivating, storytelling lyrics pulling listeners deeper into her world. With each of her songs, the artist confronts some of her most personal and vulnerable experiences, reminding her fans that they are not alone. In ‘Big One’ we witness Clark battling with her self-worth, desperately wanting to be that special person for someone. Providing an outlet for those who may be questioning their emotions while falling in love, ‘Big One’ is the ultimate sing-along anthem to help wash away any of those doubts. 

Noctis Magazine spoke with Imogen Clark about her new single, the upcoming album and her bucket list UK music venue. 

Congratulations on the release of your new single ‘Big One’. How would you describe this track in 3 words? 

Thank you! I’d say anthemic, vulnerable and pop.

‘Big One’ has been described as a love anthem, detailing the rollercoaster of emotions that comes hand in hand with falling in love. It speaks about the desire to be the most important person in someone’s life. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the track and what emotions you hope listeners will take away from it?

A lot of my music is about fighting for your own worth, fighting to matter and be valued. This song is about wanting to be “the big one” for somebody, to be a person who they can never forget, even if things don’t work out. I think it’s a complicated emotional thing to wrestle with and I’ve never heard it expressed this specifically in a song before, so I hope people can identify with it.

I wrote this with Sam Phay, one of my favourite people to write with, when I was deep in the midst of listening to heaps of HAIM and MUNA. I wanted the song to feel like its title, a massive singalong pop anthem. Sam’s demo was so amazing that we ended up using a lot of those original elements in the finished track.

You are known for your deeply personal lyrics. Are there ever any topics that you struggle being so open about, or is it always a therapeutic experience for you?

Every time I start writing for a new record, I try to peel another layer back and really confront the topics and feelings that scare me to explore and write about. Over the past four years, I’ve written songs about alcoholism in my family, losing a friend to suicide and on this new album, I wrote about my eating disorder for the first time. It’s one way I know I am growing as a songwriter and becoming more confident as a person, that I can go into deep and dark places and express those feelings in songs in an honest way.

‘Big One’ is inspired by both the 80’s and 90’s. Were there any specific artists from these decades that you kept in mind whilst writing the song?

Funnily enough, this is one of the few tracks on the album that doesn’t have specific references from those decades. On other songs, we referenced Springsteen, Prince, Blur, Sinead O’Connor, Sheryl Crow, etc. but on this one, all my references were pretty modern – MUNA and HAIM as the big ones. 

I think the 80s and 90s influence came through pretty organically, without it being something we were chasing. My guitarist said it reminds him of Tears for Fears and I can hear that, even though I didn’t refer to them in the studio.

‘Big One’ is off of your upcoming 13-track album, The Art of Getting Through. Can you give us an idea of what we can expect from the album?

It’s an album about learning to grow and change while also learning to accept yourself for who you are. It’s about my journey through life, my struggles in my head and heart and with the people who have fucked with both of those. It’s about how you never get a fresh start or a clean slate, you can’t hit the reset button. There’s no getting past, there may not be any getting over, but if you learn how, you can get through.

Musically, it’s about embracing all my influences. Our aim was to make a classic type of pop record, taking inspiration from the way the Beatles did it, where not every track has to sound the same. Given I have great love for many musical genres, everything from modern pop to folk, classic rock and punk, I wanted it all to show through on this record. This album feels like the first time all of myself has been represented on a record. 

The album is a result of wanting to always push yourself beyond your boundaries as an artist. Do you have any tips for other artists who are wanting to venture outside their comfort zone?

I think a real key is finding safe spaces to try and explore things that make you anxious and nervous, whether that’s finding the right co-writers or producers who will encourage and support you through the process, or just learning that there is no consequence to artistic failure up to a point. If you write a bad song, or a song you can’t let people hear, you don’t have to release it. If you try some crazy production thing and it doesn’t work, take it out of the mix. As long as you feel in control, there’s actually not a lot of risk to taking risks.

You’ve already achieved some incredible things in your career, including a 2022 AIR Award nomination, collaborating with members of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Elvis Costello’s Imposters, Gang of Youths and My Morning Jacket, as well as touring with The Tallest Man on Earth. Is there anything that stands out from these moments and what’s one thing on your bucket list for 2024? 

Those all represent huge milestones for me. Being in the studio with Benmont Tench from the Heartbreakers, a band I’d grown up listening to as these icons of rock music and a huge inspiration to my songwriting, was so validating to me as a songwriter. Any of these amazing musicians who have influenced me and then become a part of my own recordings, it’s like I’m sewn into this tapestry of music that used to feel like this separate, unattainable thing; a distant planet that I couldn’t ever hope to venture into as a little girl writing songs in Western Sydney.

I’m moving to Nashville just before the album comes out, which is a long-time bucket list thing, one of the most momentous decisions I’ve ever made. It’s freaking me out but I am so ready for it.

As an Australian artist, are there any dream UK venues that you’re wanting to perform at?

So many! The Royal Albert Hall is one of those iconic rooms that any artist dreams of playing. I’ve watched Queen play Wembley Stadium so many times, that would be beyond a dream. I am working on some UK shows for later in the year, but I think they might be a little smaller in scale, at least for now. 🙂

If you could host a dinner party with 4 other people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Joni Mitchell, Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen, and then a dead person so I can have their dessert.

With lots more music on the way, what else is on the horizon for Imogen Clark?

The last few years, I’ve been so focused on Australia and touring there, for obvious pandemic-related reasons. So now, I am just so excited to be back in the world, playing shows in the US and UK and releasing this album I am so incredibly proud of. The Art of Getting Through, May 31 baby!

Follow Imogen Clark on Instagram

Words: Alexander Williams
Photography: Michelle Grace Hunder