“Too Big, too strong,” available now. Clifford’s vocals are clear but infectious; they have a hint of radiance and a particular kind of appeal that bestows upon us a positive outlook and the idea of proving yourself to no one but yourself. Or “emerging into the light when aspiring toward something,” as the artist puts it.” The JPGCHIEF
Speaking English, French, and Arabic, Clifford is a US/UK citizen living stateside with a small studio producing large sounds. He crosses genres, so neither he nor you will ever become bored. Check out the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
CLIFFORD: I grew up in rural Maryland on a small farm. My father’s English so we traveled to England quite a bit visiting family. I began playing drums at 8, acoustic guitar at 11, first band at 13…and I haven’t stopped adding instruments ever since. Later when I studied languages I found that singing helped me in learning those languages. But it wasn’t until an unfortunate soccer accident where I tore my achilles tendon that eventually lead me to music. I was laid up for 13 months, so I began a Twitch channel where I played games and sang covers for followers. This eventually lead me to writing and producing my own music.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
CLIFFORD: Lots of both! I started drumming in elementary school where my teacher put me on the bass drum because I was the best at staying on beat. Later when I got my first drum kit I learned from anyone who played drums. I also took a guitar class with a great teacher who taught me how to play “Zombie” by the Cranberries. My final formal instruction came from a hand drumming teacher. We later performed “Habibi Ya Nour El Ain” by Amr Diab on stage. He played the riq while I sang and played guitar.
Beyond those great people, it’s just been me and YouTube. 🙂
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘CLIFFORD’?
CLIFFORD: Nirvana, Presidents of the USA and Mozart
Clifford’s my name! Actually I was named after my Uncle who I never met. He passed away at the age of 14. It had a profound affect on my Father’s family. I feel extremely fortunate to have been named after him.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
CLIFFORD: I genre bend and my music is about epiphanies, when an idea evolves and you realize it’s time to make it a part of you. “Too Big Too Strong” was the epiphany of strength, worth and of walking with confidence because you know your purpose.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
CLIFFORD: Throughout history music has served people in many ways that society didn’t and sometimes couldn’t. Musical lyrics can tell stories that empower, bring joy, and even bring sadness. I think it’s important to continue this and as for me, I do a bit of all of it in my musical compositions.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
CLIFFORD: Wow! Great question. Music definitely beats me up sometimes, but I think that I do the same to it. I read recently about how art is practically all psychology. From that perspective, you’re really just working out things in your head and creating a projection of how you feel at any given time. Really in the end I think that’s all I hope to get back from my music.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
CLIFFORD: My creative process is full of multiple sprints. When I have ideas I work on them for short periods of time. The last stages of mixing/mastering are more like marathons, or so they feel when I’m going through them. I usually begin with a melody and I sing gibberish until the lyrics unfold. I’ve only collaborated with a few people thus far, but none with the music I’ve published thus far.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
CLIFFORD: I published my first few songs just six months prior to the pandemic, and so the option of performing live disappeared. It’s easy to begin thinking you’re not good enough when there’s a whole part of what you’re supposed to be doing not available. It would be like a Scientist without a lab. Actually, that’s part of what inspired “Too Big Too Strong”.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
CLIFFORD: Working with a Grammy Award Winner was an eye-opening experience.
New Release coming June 22 “Can We Dance To This” can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp! cliffordmusic.bandcamp.com/album/can-w…nce-to-this
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