Clay Western is an 18-year old singer songwriter from Denmark (the one on WA’s south coast), who’s already crammed quite a bit into his relatively short time on the planet. March will see Western release his debut EP, ‘Holiday Dream’, which was recorded in Sydney and produced by his manager, Luke Carra, and engineered and mixed by Ian Pritchett (The Beautiful Girls, Angus and Julia Stone, Kim Churchill). Around The Sound spoke to Western still wet from surfing some “terrible waves” down in his home town.
“I’m just moving to Perth next week, I’m in Denmark at the moment. Just got back from the east coast and I’ve just been cruising in Denmark for the last couple of weeks, which has been nice. I’ve actually just been surfing. Terrible waves, but it’s nice to get in the water.”
“I’m moving up to Perth, because there’s only so much you can really get out of Denmark. It’s nice to grow up here, but there comes a point where you have to move away to do stuff.”
‘Stuff’ being working on his music career. Western strikes us as a driven artist with a clarity of vision and desire that’s way beyond his years. But there’s still plenty of the 18-year old left in him, too.
“I’m going to live with my Grandma for a while. I was thinking about studying part time, but I figured that if I study that’s maybe not backing myself in as much as I should to make music a priority and make it work. It’s more of an incentive to do something with it. I’m 18, I’m not like 30 or 40, so I don’t have many commitments, so it’s probably a good time to do it. I’ve got a little bit of time to play with, but I don’t want to sit back, I just want to make the most of it.”
“I went over to Sydney last year and recorded the EP (‘Holiday Dream’) which I’m just releasing now. It was nice being over there, a bit of a change of scene again and a nice little summer road trip. I also recorded a few other songs, but we’re just holding on to them for a while to see what we can do with them.”
While in NSW, Western played dates up the east coast with Caravana Sun and two headline dates in Sydney which, “pulled good numbers.” Western also is a veteran of the Perth gigging scene. “We played Mojos last October, launching one of the singles off the EP. It was a pretty fun night and we had a pretty good crowd. Hopefully we can top it this time.”
So, what does he want to do next? Well, the vista is wide open.
“[I want to] settle into Perth and gig heaps, settle into the scene. I want to hone my craft a little bit more and gigging is good for that. You can only run so many laps of the oval. I’m really inspired to write at the moment, so I just want to keep writing songs. And play heaps of gigs. I want to play band shows with an established band, so it’s going to be nice up in Perth, hanging out with people who are more driven as musicians. You can get yourself in a bit of a rut sometimes, working and surfing. I’m in a bit of a transition period, stylistically and in life, and that’s always a good thing to do. I’ve been listening to heaps of Tame Impala lately, I just love their music, it’s absolutely amazing. And stuff like Foals … I don’t know, there’s so much I listen to, just a bit of a change up in a way.”
Western is definitely an artist to put on your watch list. His brand of dreamy surf rock brought him to the attention of now manager, Luke Carra (Caravana Sun), when he was just 15 and things have moved pretty quickly from there. Although to hear it from Western’s perspective, it’s all just come about from surfing.
“When I was about 15, Caravana Sun came down to Denmark and stayed with a friend of ours. I actually started talking to my now manager (Carra) in the surf, I didn’t know he was in the band until I went to see them. Next time they came to Denmark, they asked me to play support … That’s a really big thing, just to put yourself out there and to be really friendly, and you never know where a friendship can lead. Sometimes, you don’t know who you’re talking to.”
Wisdom comes at any age. We think we’ve just been talking to a name in the making, if he can just hold that wisdom and keep his balance on the rock and roll bucking bull.
‘Holiday Dream’ Launch dates and more
6 March Mojos Bar, Fremantle
22 March, Golden Hill Steiner School, Scotsdale (all ages)
23 and 24 March, Settlers Tavern, Margaret River