Hailing from the windy plains of Oklahoma, singer-songwriter Mcclendon has transformed the boundaries of indie-folk in his mesmerising debut EP Room 33.
Twisting and contorting the traditional parameters of acoustic, country, and folk music, this project outlines a revolution in the artist’s life, mapping out a period of definite change and reflection, from psyche and religion to love and self-identity.
Harbouring a soft yet melancholic essence, each and every element of the record was entirely orchestrated by the artist himself, allowing room for instrumental experimentation to influence each creative choice. The end product is a fascinatingly dynamic voyage into the fragmented mind, layered with mystical vocals and delay-drenched guitars that render you powerless to its unrelenting charm.
It comes as no surprise that this debut EP has already gained a healthy amount of exposure in the US and beyond, so we caught up with the creator to discuss his journey into music and the origin of this masterful new offering.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, it’s always exciting to get sent something undeniably original. For those who are unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe your sonic output and what or who inspires it?
It’s always been difficult for me to self describe with genre, it feels like trying to bite my own teeth. I think the word “indie” loosely fits me the best. As far as who inspires me, specifically in music, I’ve found different bands and artists at different growth points and I really listen to so much, but there have always been a few constant figures like:
Wally De Backer, Ben Howard, Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley and Bon Iver
In general, I’m a big reader and I find inspiration in whatever strikes me. Films, literature and art always break open new thoughts that lead me somewhere.
Throughout the setlist the vocal processing on your voice serves as a profoundly dynamic instrument in itself, drawing comparisons to Bon Iver’s 3rd instalment, 22, A million. Is there a specific meaning behind using the vocoder or was the choice purely based on trying to achieve a specific sound.
I appreciate the comparison as I would be wrong to say that record hasn’t been in a healthy rotation for me since it came out. It took me a long time, especially initially when producing various demos to land on that vocal sound for the project. I wanted it to mean something, the subtle feeling like I wasn’t singing alone. Also, to bring a new feeling when you hear those raw moments without it. I felt like it achieved making the vocals have another layer of contrast.
Previously part of a country-folk band, this project represents something far more electronic and experimental. Do you write the instrumentation first and then match the words to it or do you have a set process that you follow?
I’m as scattered as they come. “Dreams” and “Carnations” for instance were written to completion with just my guitar before I brought anything else to it. “Room 33” was the later, I had a certain feeling I was chasing and the words came on top of the track rather quickly.
I wrote and recorded that one in under an hour and haven’t touched it since.
You’ve stated previously that this EP outlines a period of transformation in your own life and within the melancholically sincere lyrics you can really feel that sentiment. Do you strive to portray your own experiences into each song or are the topics loosely subjective?
I don’t think I would know what to do if it wasn’t about my personal experiences and thoughts, or at least a theme driven by something personal. I’ve co-written a lot at different points and times in my life and I think you can achieve something special and honest there as well, if you’re all going after something. But the process of writing something completely external, I think I would come up empty.
Nashville has an unbelievably rich music history. What’s it like to be a part of such an incredibly diverse and dedicated community of artists and musicians?
It’s really special, I’ve been coming to Nashville since I was 13 so this town really has shaped and molded me. There’s a certain lightning type feeling you get from hearing a new song or seeing a band live here. There’s so many great bands always playing, always writing, always creating that it brings a sharpness and makes you want to be better.
This is an incredible debut release and we can’t wait to hear the next installation. What can we expect from you as we move steadily into 2021?
I really appreciate that! It feels like the first scratch on the stone to be honest.
There’s so much I want to do. More music, more visuals and hopefully (COVID willing) some debut “Mcclendon” gigs next year.