Clara Baker, originally from Portland, OR, grew up around music. She sang harmonies with her mom in church, learned fiddle from her dad, and spent summers camping at bluegrass festivals and fiddle contests. It wasn’t until she turned 18 though, that Clara really found her own voice and passion for music. At just 22, her collaborations with veteran songwriters and performers in the acoustic/americana scene are impressive. She’s shared the stage with Chicago bluegrass outfit Henhouse Prowlers and Americana flat picker Eric Lambert. Her first stint in recording original work featured internationally acclaimed celtic singer Ashley Davis, and last fall, Clara guest sang harmony with the acclaimed singer-songwriter The Reverend John DeLore on his latest album.
Join Clara as she continues on her bright journey in music
Hi Clara, we are curious to know how long have you worked on the album “Temporary Things”?
I wrote the songs for the album between Fall 2010 and Spring 2014. mostly while I was an undergraduate at Beloit College in Wisconsin. As I was writing them, I wasn’t necessarily thinking about making an album. I was just writing songs as they came to me, as a way to express myself through a period of a lot of growth and self discovery in college and the first year out of college.
The actual process of recording happened pretty quickly. Last fall I contacted Dale to set up a time to meet and talk about what it might be like to record at his studio. I drove up there in November for what I thought would be a 30 minute meeting to talk about logistics– recording rates, potential timeline, etc. Three hours later, I had played through 12 of my songs for Dale and Suzanne, and they were already on the phone with Josh and Martin to ask if they wanted to play on my album. We started getting dates on the calendar for recording before I left the studio! So then I had a pre-production rehearsal with the musicians in December, and did the bulk of recording in January. We finished up the final harmony tracks in March, and then went through several rounds of mixing and mastering. We released the album June 27th in Portland, OR.
Where did you end up recording it? Who was on your team?
I recorded the album with Dale and Suzanne Adkins in Salem, Oregon at their studio, Big Owl Studio. Dale is amazing– he has been recording since 1999, and is also an extremely accomplished musician. He is one of my favorite acoustic guitar players, and he played lead guitar, banjo and octave mandolin on the album! The other musicians on the album include Martin Stevens (fiddle, mandolin, octave mandolin, harmony vocals) who is a contest-winning fiddle player and an overall amazing multi-instrumentalist and performer, and Josh Adkins (bass, octave mandolin, harmony vocals) who is also very talented at multiple instruments and at arranging songs. I’ve known Martin, Josh and Dale for about 7 or 8 years through the bluegrass scene in the Pacific Northwest, so it was really exciting for me to collaborate with these guys, who I have always looked up to musically. I also was thrilled to have Kelly Bosworth sing harmony on six of the songs! Kelly and I took piano lessons together in middle school, and sang in the same high school choir, though at separate times. About a year ago, she decided to pursue music full-time, and after launching a very successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her first album, she’s been busy playing all over the U.S. Kelly is such an inspiration to me, and I was honored to have her sing with me on my first album.
“My plan is to continue to play more and more shows. There is nothing more thrilling than playing my music to a room full of people”
“I resonate with the title of the album itself– “Temporary Things”. I think I go through a lot of phases and that’s great for me in my growth and development as an artist and a person right now.”
Who designed the artwork for the album?
Brittney West, an artist and activist from Corvallis, Oregon (where I live) did the album artwork. It was a very collaborative process, and she was really patient with me! Her goal as an artist is to “enhance the welfare of people, animals, and the environment” through her art, which I find really inspiring.
Her work is online at: http://www.brittneywest.com/ and on Facebook as Brittney West’s Art.
How are you promoting it at the moment?
Right now I’m playing shows in Oregon to promote the album. In September, I’ll be working with a promoter, Sue DuMond, to promote my album to radio and blogs. I’m also currently planning a mini-Midwest tour for October. My plan is to continue to play more and more shows. There is nothing more thrilling than playing my music to a room full of people, so I’d like to continue doing a lot of that and would love to take more time to travel the US and one day internationally. I want to continue sharing my music and meeting folks all over the world.
A part from the funds, did the Kickstarter campaign help you in other ways?
Yes, definitely! First of all, Kickstarter gave me exposure to many people who would have otherwise not heard about my album, so it was a great platform for reaching and connecting with new audiences. It was also a good way to connect with family, friends and existing fans, and show them what I have been working on, that I’m taking my music seriously, and that I was truly invested in pursuing this dream. Personally, it was really humbling to have the support of over 200 people. It boosted my confidence to know that so many people were eager to invest in me, and it also lit a fire within me to make the best album I possibly could. One more great thing about being a part of the Kickstarter community is that I have discovered several amazing musical projects and I’ve been able to back a few, so my collection of independent music is growing and growing.
How has the response to the album been so far?
So far it has been great! I’m personally really happy with how it turned out, and am still in awe of all the creativity and professionalism the other musicians brought to this, and the amazing job Dale Adkins did in producing, mixing and mastering the album. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from many of the Kickstarter backers since they have received the album, and that is really important to me since they were the ones that made this possible. The best compliment I’ve received is when people have told me that my music touches them or resonates with them. I write what I feel are really personal and honest songs– so I am honored when my songs and stories connect with the experiences of other people, too.
What is the song that most represent you at the moment that is part of the album?
Honestly, these songs are all really representative of who I was through the past 5 years as I was writing them. The album as a whole is something I’m really proud of and feel represents me right now, and I definitely feel as a young person just starting my career, I resonate with the title of the album itself– “Temporary Things”. I think I go through a lot of phases and that’s great for me in my growth and development as an artist and a person right now. I’m excited to continue to perform all of these songs, and I’m also eager to write new songs to keep telling my story as it unfolds.
What’s next, a music video maybe?
Not planning on one at the moment. I’d love to do some radio spots/interviews and some live videos along with that. Mostly, I’m busy planning shows and tours, continuing to write songs, and to connect with new and existing friends and fans through music!