With her debut album ‘Winter Trees’ gaining industry attention for its strong melodies and contemplative lyrics some are wondering what’s next for this up-and-coming Indie songstress. We caught up with Debby Clinkenbeard at New Wine Sound Studios in Southern California while working on her second release, Valley, Wind and Sea.
All Access Magazine (AAM) This is your second album- how has this experience been different from the first?
DC: I think the first time you’re out to create an album you’re just star struck at the very idea of it all and maybe a little intimidated. You’re like a kid seeing Wonka’s factory for the first time. You probably believe a lot of what Hollywood shows you about the music industry. I mean, some of it may hold true, but at the end of the day it’s work. It might be unconventional work and it may be creative work, but the days are long. If you really get in there and roll your sleeves up, you have sore throats, bleeding fingers, headaches and ear fatigue. But if you love it it’s oddly satisfying. So the second time around you know what you’re in for, I guess. You have a sense of direction…like you’ve earned your sea legs to a degree. You’re on more familiar territory and can branch out and explore more…but ask me again when this album is done. I might say I’m just as ignorant as when I started.
AAM: You talk about the Hollywood image of the music industry- is that something that influenced your decision to get into music?
DC: Yes and no. I confess I’ve had a slightly cliché obsession with the movie Almost Famous. Yes that WAS based on a real-life experience and you know it’s shined up and ornamented, but that moment when William steps back stage for the first time. It’s just that AAAHHHHHH moment that makes you think- THIS is what it’s all about. But Cameron Crowe has a way of integrating music into films like no other, in my opinion. So to call him ‘Hollywood’ isn’t really fair. Wait, who brought this Hollywood thing up anyway?? Next!
AAM: I can’t remember. Ok, Next! I’ve heard some preview tracks from the new album and they’re amazing and still stuck in my head days later. Is the sound of this album different from your first?
DC: I think so. At the moment it’s more stripped down and has a more organic feel. It has some blues, bluegrass, old country and some other ingredients.
AAM: Your writing has been compared to Joni Mitchell- what do you think about that?
DC: That’s very flattering, but I don’t even know how to respond to that. Do you?
AAM: Well, I think the comparison is somewhat valid in your vocal quality at times, your melodies and lyrical direction.
DC: Thank you.
AAM: You’re welcome. So, you’ve had some interesting people in the studio with you. The album isn’t out, but can we talk about that?
DC: I was lucky to have caught Neal at a time when he wasn’t on the road and the next thing I knew we were in the studio. His contribution has been more than I could have imagined. He’s lending lead guitar, backing vocals and keys, but his style is the thing. To me—and this may not be the case to everyone—but when I hear Neal I KNOW it’s Neal and it’s always great. His musicianship is just wholly impressive. And I must say, it was a rewarding moment to have an artist I admire really like my music.
DC: My influences are eclectic. I love classical, movie scores and of course the greats like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, The Black Crowes etc. But there are others like Jimmy Martin, Gregory Alan Isakov, Paul Brady, Ryan Adams and, of course, Neal Casal. Then there are unsung greats like Tim Easton who have influenced me greatly. I saw him at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace outside Joshua Tree, Ca. What a place- it’s a renaissance honky tonk. I live in the desert and it’s a mixed bag of old country, new hippie, poetry and tumbleweeds. I can honestly say the desert has been my biggest influence. When you get such a mix of delicate and harsh there’s much scope for the imagination.