Ahead of his debut album launch later in the year, country artist Clark Hill released the new single Perfect To Me last month.
The track co-written by GRAMMY-nominated artist Chris Young and Hill’s producer, songwriter/musician Mike Rogers, has already gained positive attention from country radio.
The Florida native, who recently performed the National Anthem for the Jacksonville Sharks, is now gearing up to release new album People Like Me with a steady line-up of performances and shows.
I spoke with Clark about making sure his songs have a strong message, the legacy he plans to create and helping others along the way.
How did you come to work with Chris Young on the song Perfect To Me?
Chris pitched it to me, which was pretty cool, but I do happen to know the process. Chris and my producer were overseas on a USO tour and (they met) a wounded warrior who was injured, he ended up losing his leg, and he went back as part of this special event. So, Chris Young and Craig Morgan were part of the show that did it and basically he mentioned the idea of his wife and their love and Chris and my producer just ran with it. Not to be too cliché, but the rest is history.
I obviously fell in love with the song, and since then, Chris and I have gotten to know each other a little bit and it’s been pretty cool. But he pitched the song to me by basically telling me it was the worst song ever written.
What have you learned from Chris as an artist?
A couple of things. Number one, he’s a very good genuine country artist and I also think for me, I’m a pretty competitive guy, but I’m naturally competitive, it’s not an awkward thing. For me, competition is something that brings an amazing thing and what it does is it also offers respect. So, Chris being such an amazing singer, and me being so competitive, really brought out a lot in me because I can’t sing like that. Chris is so genuinely humble. He doesn’t walk around saying he’s such an amazing singer, or this great songwriter, but he is. My thing I’m trying to bring back into country music is genuine stories, not just love songs, but something that’s real and that you can relate to. Chris’ songs are very relatable; they’re not just a bunch of catch phrases rolled together with a cool hooky melody. I think his influence made it more comfortable for me to think, ‘well, he’s doing it, so I can, too’.
What is it about the message of this song that really captured your attention?
The organic feel of the song. It connected to me, because I’m 31, but I’ve actually been married over 13 years now and my wife and I have been through a lot, but at the end of the day, we’ve found a way to make it this far and we’re going to continue to.
When I got into the song, I related to it because it’s real. I like to have fun too, like I’m a quirky character sometimes, but at the end of the day, when it comes time to tell a real story, I like something that stands the test of time. This song’s a little deeper, they may like it in 10 years, and they may like it in 50 years, and that’s the goal.
Looking to the future, what are you plans for achieving longevity in the music industry?
It’s kinda complicated to explain, but my vision is this; I feel like my life experience, the good and the bad, has given me an opportunity to change people’s lives. And when I say that, it’s not that I’m doing something amazing, because I don’t feel that I am, but I always talk about the words transparency and vulnerability. Through my life, through some of the things that have happened to me, and some of the things I’ve caused myself … one of them is I got in trouble when I was a teenager and my big thing is, that’s not who I am. I used it to grow. My family, my community and my friends helped me, so how can I use that experience in my life to change someone else’s life?
Think about it, if I end up becoming a huge name in country music, what better opportunity than to go, ‘hey, 15 years ago, I was as far low as you could get and look what I’ve accomplished and how and why’. You talk about how am I going to get there? That’s really where it comes from, my passion. I’ve had a great life, but I’ve also had some things happen to me and that kind of made me this person that can maybe do something special. So, to get to that end goal, I look at every element of my life. Like, when somebody wants to bring up something that’s happened to me, it’s another opportunity for somebody to learn from my life. If I change one life along the way, then it was all worth it.
How’s the new album, People Like Me, coming together and what’s the vision for it?
It’s centred around finding a way to show my personality, because I’m always a little bit of everything. I have all these different characteristics that play into who I am. Sometimes in music you have one shot, so I’m trying in one shot to give the fans as much of me as there is and I came decently close to capturing that. We’ve got one song on the album called, Don’t You Worry Bout’ Me, it’s a really fun song, it’s got a poppy, almost reggae feel to it. One of the songs I wrote has got my Southern rock element. I grew up in North Florida about 15 miles from a really famous band that you guys loved over there – Lynyrd Skynyrd – so with that and gospel and in early high school I also loved Boyz II Men. So, all these things that played into my song choices, I tried to get in in the album.
Last year you played more than 300 shows, what does that do for your performance and the way you connect with your fans?
It just makes it good. My big thing is I’m an entertainer more than I’m a singer. My bread and butter is I know how to entertain people, but it comes with experience. The more you play, the more you get out in front of people… it’s like football, you kind of get in a groove and everybody knows what’s going on and it just works better. I got in to this because I love performing for people. Doing a lot of shows is where it’s at. Like, my goal is to be that workhorse artist and I can have 10 number one hits and I can still want to tour 150-180 times a year. There are plenty of countries and cities in this world to tour everyday if you want to.
Clark’s single Perfect To Me is available to download and stream now. Find out more information about Clark by visiting his website www.clarkhillmusic.com.