Clark says that he was quiet growing up, reserved, and a 2006 move to Miami from North Carolina offered him the chance to party and let loose. Despite the transition to our cynical corner of the globe, our interview with Clark proved he remains a romantic and an idealist.
New Times: Are you nervous or excited about your album's release today?
Steven A. Clark: I've been ready for a long time to put this out. I think I'm more ready at this point than nervous. A little bit of that. But I have complete faith in it.
I was just listening to it, and the first song, "F.U.C.K. Pt 1," it has a real P.M. Dawn sound to it, and I think your singing sounds a little like Seal. The album has a nineties sound. Do you remember the nineties?
I grew up in the nineties. That's probably my biggest influence musically. I love P.M. Dawn. P.M. Dawn is one of my favorite acts of all time. I know they didn't have the most glamorous career. Seal is amazing too. Lot of nineties.
Were you in high school in the nineties?
I was a kid.
It's interesting, 'cause, there's a lot of music now that takes its cues from that decade, especially hip-hop and R&B. How do you think your music takes this influence and makes it more modern?
I think what makes it modern nowadays is that influences from R&B from different decades come together. Like eighties, nineties, some artists inspired by the seventies and sixties. I think all of that stuff together is what makes it modern. Pulling from every influence that you have. It's not limited.
What about older R&B singers?
I'm inspired by older soul singers. I like classic rock. I like Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, Al Green. I like good music.
Stevie's great. Would you ever do a Stevie cover song?
I actually am not a fan of cover songs, I hate them. I don't even want to tap into that greatness. I want to make my own, but I would be honored to sing with Stevie or something like that. That'd be cool.
That would be cool. I was reading in Rolling Stone that you were watching
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind while writing "Seashore." Is the sadness of breakups what usually fuels the music?
Yeah, I mean, I haven't experienced complete happiness yet. I get like little happy moments that I write about. I think for the most part, I'm still dealing with the struggle sometimes, but I'm dealing with my own issues as far as life and love, and not knowing what I want. I think that's where I'm still searching. That movie at the time just spoke to me. It's a good movie.
It's a good movie, but it's so sad.
It's a little sad, but it's real though. It's a real emotion that we all need to experience to grow in life.
In the same vein of miserable love songs, you mentioned Ian Curtis' "Love Will Tear Us Apart" as like your personal quote. What's your relationship to that song?
I don't know, the idea is kind of like fascinating to me. A lot of the time, people love so much that it's kind of like, I don't know, that passionate, fiery relationship. [Curtis] had a very tumultuous relationship. I don't know. I'm into it. I have a destructive thing to me in relationships and I don't know why. There's something about that quote, I'm learning to understand why those lyrics mean so much to me. I'll eventually understand why I feel that way.
Your lyrics are very candid emotionally. Are you always in love or falling out of love?
I guess right now, there's part of that definitely. Being single and all. It is my main source of inspiration. Things I couldn't really say in person, I just feel better putting it in a song.
Miami New Times interviewed you at La Sandwicherie on Miami Beach. What are some of your other favorite local spots?
I love La Sandwicherie, I love Lemoni Cafe in Midtown. I love going to Peach Fuzz on Fridays (at the Garret). That's probably the best party I've been to. I'm over South Beach. I like Chocolate Sundays at Purdy. I'm not really a LIV guy.
J. Nicks rapped on the album. Do you have anything to say about him?
Yeah. That's one of my favorite Miami guys. That's why I reached out to him. I just think his voice is incredible. His writing is just dope. He's got a vibe, he knows himself. I think that's super important for any artist, to know how you feel so you can put it on a record.
What's been the highlight of your career so far?
I think on a personal level, it's been being able to put myself out there for people to enjoy it, critique it. Years ago, I never thought I'd be at the point to do that. I've always been kind of quiet. I guess opening up for the Roots (at the Arsht Center) was awesome, South By Southwest. I just think it's been big for me on a personal level.