Alex Clare on ‘Tail Of Lions,’ Amy Winehouse… by Uinterview

British singer-songwriter Alex Clare found inspiration close to home for his new single, “Tell Me What You Need.” “I got married maybe five years ago. And after a couple of years of marriage, if anyone’s in a relationship, they’ll understand that the hard work actually begins.There’s a lot of hard work to be done to maintain a healthy relationship. A lot of work on yourself, and your spouse has to work on themselves,” Clare told uInterview exclusively.

Alex Clare’s Inspiration For ‘Tell Me What You Need’

“I wrote ‘Tell Me What You Need’ after we had a little, not really a falling out, but we weren’t quite seeing eye to eye on something,” Clare continued. “From that frustration, I wrote a song called ‘Tell Me What You Need.’ Like ‘oh my goodness,’ what do you actually need? Can you talk to me?”

On his new album Tail of Lions, the singer describes, “The album deals with a lot of offense happening in the world right now. Big, big shifts.”

“For instance, ‘Open Your Eyes,’ I wrote that after the notion for a Brexit vote was first passed, which I couldn’t believe, and I was very sad about,” Clare lamented.

“Another song, ‘You’ll be Fine,’  was written as a homage to all those people who find it frustrating dealing with the books on mindfulness and self-help and everyone’s going to be so positive and growth oriented and sometimes people are just frustrated and they can’t get out of the rut they’re stuck in. They need help to get out of the rut they’re stuck in through many different ways and means, but the trick is to not get frustrated,” Clare said.

On the title of the album, the artist elaborated, “The title of the album itself is based on an old Jewish proverb, which is: it’s better to be a tail to a lion than a head to a fox. Which is something that I always thought was amazing. Be a small part of something great, as opposed to being the head and leader of something morally corrupt and ridiculous.”

The artist also described his musical influences as coming from a wide range of places.

“My influences come from everything from UK drum and base and jungle to Bob Dylan and Donnie Hathaways, Stevie Wonder, Leonard Cohen, very diverse,” he said. “From electornic music, to soul music, to folk music, to rock music.”

The singer also discussed his past relationship with Amy Winehouse, whom he dated for less than a year in 2006. The pair met while Clare was performing at a bar the soul singer frequented in North London.

Clare recounts for us the memory of hearing Winehouse play the guitar.

“When I first heard Amy play a song on the guitar, I was sitting alone with her, in a bar, and she was just writing the album ‘Back to Black,’ and she played me a song. And I didn’t pick up a guitar or sing for a month, I was like, what is the point? How can you touch that? It blew me away so much. She’s an incredibly gifted person,” he praised.

“But like a lot of incredibly gifted people, they come with baggage,” Clare said regretfully. “And she didn’t have the ability to deal with it in a healthy way. Emotionally very draining if you have someone you care about who has problems like that.”

“But she’s an incredible musician,” he added. “A big heart and a big soul, that’s maybe just a little too big.”

Tail of Lions was released worldwide in November 2016 to high acclaim.


Q: What is your new single about? -

Tell Me What You Need. What is Tell Me What You Need about? You know, I've been married a few years. I got married maybe five years ago. And after a couple of years of marriage, if anyone's in a relationship, they'll understand that the hard work actually begins. When you actually get past the infatuation stage of your relationship, and you're like, wait a minute, we started a family and we have so many shared responsibilities. And there's a lot of hard work to be done to maintain a healthy relationship. A lot of work on yourself, and your spouse has to work on themselves. One of the things that came up, in my relationship with my wife, is that we have very different ways of dealing with stress. I'm from a very emotional family, everyone waves their hands around the screen, and my wife, she closes up. I wrote 'Tell Me What You Need' after we had a little, not really a falling out, but we weren't quite seeing eye to eye on something. And like I said, we have very different ways of dealing with it. And from that frustration, I wrote a song called 'Tell Me What You Need.' Like 'oh my goodness,' what do you actually need? Can you talk to me?

Q: What's the theme of your new album? -

The album deals with a lot of offense happening in the world right now. Big, big shifts. Every generation goes through big shifts, so I'm not going to make a big deal about it. The world is definitely a changing place, and it's very alarming. It's changing at a rate of speed, and I don't think a lot of people are able to deal with the...progress or regress, however you want to look at it, and that inspired a lot of the songs on the album. For instance, 'Open Your Eyes,' I wrote that after the notion for a Brexit vote was first passed, which I couldn't believe, and I was very sad about. The things that were being said by run-of-the-mill, center, right or center politicians were becoming outrageous and very scary. That was a big inspiration for the album. Also, another song, 'You'll be Fine,' was written as a homage to all those people who find it frustrating dealing with the books on mindfulness and self-help and everyone's going to be so positive and growth oriented and sometimes people are just frustrated and they can't get out of the rut they're stuck in. They need help to get out of the rut they're stuck in through many different ways and means, but the trick is to not get frustrated. And beat yourself up if you feel emotionally and intellectually stuck in a place that isn't particularly healthy. And there's lots of things and topics. The title of the album itself is based on an old Jewish proverb. Which is: it's better to be a tail to a lion than a head to a fox. Which is something that I always thought was amazing. Be a small part of something great, as opposed to being the head and leader of something morally corrupt and ridiculous.

Q: What are your musical influences? -

My sound is extremely diverse. My influences come from everything from UK drum and base and jungle to Bob Dylan and Donnie Hathaways, Stevie Wonder, Leonard Cohen, very diverse. I consider myself a singer-songwriter. This last time was written with my base player, Chris Hargreaves. We recorded the album on a boat floating on the river in East London. I wrote my first album also on a boat, I have a bit of an obsession with boats. On the same piece of water, in the same part of London. Yeah, just like water. So we sat on the boat and wrote an album, recorded it, and when we had to bring in other influences and other instruments, we tended to get in a studio. But the whole album was recorded from start to finish on a boat, and it really encapsulates the whole gamit of my influences. From electornic music, to soul music, to folk music, to rock music.

Q: Why did you become Orthodox? -

I loved Jerusalem, I've spent a lot of time in Jerusalem, going backward and forward. I became Orthodox in my 20s. Big moment was that, when you're working in the music industry, and you're surrounded by people who aren't necessarily that altruistic, and people are so focused on materiality and physicality, in the music industry, you have everything laid out for you. At the bottom rungs, you can go out and party, and get as high as you want, and go home with whomever you want. And I was finding that my social settings in my group of friends, that people weren't particularly happy. They didn't have much fulfillment in life. I'm Jewish, and I love the idea of the Jewish Sabbath. Like that was always something I really enjoyed and loved. And one week, I just really needed to get out of the mentality and the group I was in, because it was just bringing me down. So I went to a very Orthodox family in the East part of London, kind of the equivalent of Williamsburg in New York. And I ended up staying for a long time, with this family. And it really changed my life, and my perspective. But slowly and surely, I was learning more about it. And after a while, I was keeping Jewish Sabbath, and keeping kosher, and I was traveling backwards and forwards to Jerusalem and London on a plane. I was going there a lot. And eventually, my wife and I were like, we're here. It doesn't really affect my work, I can travel anywhere in New York. It doesn't take me much longer to get to America. So yeah, it seemed like a good thing to do.

Q: What do you remember about your relationship with Amy Winehouse? -

I met a lot of amazing musicians. I had the privilege to work with and be friends with a lot of amazing musicians. When I first heard Amy play a song on the guitar, I was sitting alone with her, in a bar, and she was just writing the album 'Back to Black,' and she played me a song. And I didn't pick up a guitar or sing for a month, I was like, what is the point? How can you touch that? It blew me away so much. She's an incredibly gifted person. But like a lot of incredibly gifted people, they come with baggage. And she didn't have the ability to deal with it in a healthy way. Emotionally very draining if you have someone you care about who has problems like that. I mean, it's harder for them, but you end up trying to help. But she's an incredible musician. Phenomenal. A big heart, and a big soul. A big heart and a big soul, that's maybe just a little too big.