Imogen Clark Hits a Nerve with Heartbreakingly Honest Bastards EP

Photo Credit: Daniel Boud x Giulia Giannini McGauran

Alt-country, nu-folkie Imogen Clark is possibly the hardest working musician you haven’t heard of. She wrote her first song at 13 (“I loved writing my own music,” she admits), going on to tour Australia, release two albums, and work with some well-known Australian talents. Lately, she’s been keeping busy preparing for a national headline tour and the drop of her EP Bastards on May 21, 2020. The EP and the tour are named after the track of the same title, a vehicle for Clark to exorcise the demons of misogyny that had haunted her career and her confidence.

“’Bastards’ is a song about really struggling with patronizing people in the music industry. I’m sure every industry has people like this – people who just underestimate you at every turn and make you feel like you don’t know how to do your job,” says Clark. “I just felt like I was encountering it a lot, and that comes with the territory of being a young female artist.”

She calls it her “fire in the belly song” – one which she hopes will give other female artists the strength and sustenance to know that they’re not alone, and that they can use their music and voice to call out bastard behaviour.

Clark chose to work with LA-based producer Mike Bloom after their successful partnership on her acclaimed 2020 EP, The Making Of Me. Clark and Bloom (who has worked with Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas) initially met at an Elvis Costello concert; her manager had a hunch that the two would work well together, and that forecast that proved true.

Though The Making of Me happened unexpectedly, creating Bastards was an organic process. “We started making what we thought were just a handful of demos, but as we were moving along with them, we realized we were putting so much effort into these, we cared about them, and we were having so much fun,” she recalls. “We realized we were making a record.”

On their second outing together, Bloom provided Clark with the comfort and confidence to do things that scared and challenged her, resulting in her most confessional work to date. Leading up to the anticipated release of the EP, she has shared four singles, including the just-released “First Class Man” and a candid behind-the-scenes video; the yearning, sweet “Forget About London;”  heartfelt “Eat You Alive;” and confessional, vulnerable “Never This Time.”

“Never This Time” was co-written with none other than Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes and Jason Boesel of Rilo Kiley, who also plays drums on the track. In the studio, Clark had casually mentioned to Bloom that she loved a song by Dawes, only to discover that the world is really very small; Goldsmith and Bloom are friends, so the producer offered to set up a writing session.

Clark’s “jaw hit the floor,” she says. Other than Taylor Swift, she believes that Goldsmith is one of the best contemporary songwriters around. Together with Jason Boesel, who often writes with Goldsmith, the trio gathered at Clark’s little Airbnb in Silver Lake and wrote “Never This Time.”

“They were so wonderful,” she says. “They really helped me bring to life a topic that I’d wanted to write about for a long time but hadn’t quite known how to. They made me feel comfortable enough to do that with them, and I really loved the result.” In the wholesome, unfussy rock tune, Clark reveals the many chances she’s given someone close to her, only to be disappointed over and over again. It aligns very much with the exploration of relationships and Clark’s position in the world relative to the push-and-pull of people around her.

Where Bastards is an exploration of her relationships with the external world, her earlier work was more inward-looking and very much created within Australian borders. She released her first album Love And Lovely Lies in 2016, following the success of her 2015 song “While Women Wait,” which received national and US radio attention.

Her second album, 2018’s Collide, was produced by guitarist/singer-songwriter Mark Lizotte – best known to Australian and international audiences as Diesel. Clark had supported Diesel on tour over a couple of years, so it was a natural fit for the Lizotte to transform Clark’s live energy into a studio album.

Clark has made big choices her whole career – and much like Taylor Swift, she has recognized the power of surrounding herself with people who share her vision and give her the tools to sculpt it her way. “Taylor’s just one of my all-time favorite artists,” she says. “I think she’s unparalleled when it comes to the success of a modern-day songwriter who has been able to so successfully reinvent themselves countless times and has never really dropped the ball when it comes to creating consistently good art.”

Creating good art and performing for an audience are in Clark’s blood, and especially after the prolonged hiatus from touring due to the pandemic, she’s ready and excited to take Bastards on tour this month. After all, home for her is not the four walls she’s known throughout 2020; stuck in her house, she’d wondered whether home might not be a physical address; the sense that home is not a place, but a feeling is perhaps most indicative on Bastards track “Forget About London.”

“The pandemic made me realize that home is definitely more of a feeling, because I was in my house so much, but I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin because I wasn’t touring and I wasn’t doing the thing that I love and the thing that I dedicate my life to, which is music and performing for people,” Clark says. “I realized that, for me, home is on the stage, wherever that stage may be.”

Follow Imogen Clark on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

TOP PICKS: Record Store Day’s Black Friday Releases

Record-Store-Day-Black-FridayHere’s another reason to love the holidays: Record Store Day’s Black Friday event—an opportunity to snag special vinyl and CD releases, re-acquaint yourself with your local record stores, and get a head start on the season’s general merrymaking. This Nov. 29 will be RSD’s third annual Black Friday celebration, which aims to subvert the prototypical, corporate-run Black Friday model by providing us with “pieces of art in the form of limited special editions” and “an excuse to celebrate both the pieces themselves and the special indie record stores who carry them.” Basically, it’s a chance for an ethically justifiable vinyl shopping binge, and a perfect way to stock up on some truly unique gifts for your friends and family (and yourself). Here are our top picks for this year’s Back to Black Friday bash, and our recommendations for where to find them:

Mystical Weapons — Crothesque


A rare recording of an improvisational collaboration between Sean Lennon, Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, originally captured for WNYC show “Spinning on Air” and featuring original illustration by Sean Lennon himself.


Nas — Halftime


Nas’ debut single, “Halftime,” was released in 1992 under his original moniker, Nasty Nas. This reproduction of the original 12” LP includes the song’s LP version, instrumental version, and a remix version.


Chocolate Milk — Action Speaks Louder Than Words


Released in 1975, Chocolate Milk’s debut funk/soul album was later sampled by some legendary hip-hop artists like Eric B. & Rakim, the Geto Boys, and Stetsasonic, among others. Now the classic album is returning fully remastered and in limited edition colored vinyl (chocolate colored, of course)—a definite gem.


Dawes — Stripped Down At Grimey’s


A 6-track live recording of Dawes’ intimate performance at Nashville’s Grimey’s in March 2013. Includes four tracks from the band’s third full-length album, Stories Don’t End, released earlier this year, and the LP comes in a pretty orange color!


Anti-Records Fall 2013 Compilation — Hot Wacks


Designed after classic “loss leader” LPs of the ‘70s, this compilation offers an intro to a few of Anti-Records’ new artists as well as demo versions and unreleased tracks by some of the label’s well-established acts (Dr. Dog, Man Man, Mavis Staples). This is a fun purchase at a very low price ($5.99!).


Elvis Costello & The Roots — Wise Up: Thought — Remixes and Reworks


Produced by Elvis Costello and ?uestlove alongside Steven Mandel, this collection of remixes is sure to take Costello and The Roots’ collaborative, genre-blending album, Wise Up Ghost from earlier this year, even further than it already went.


Sondre Lerche — Rejection #5


This 12” single is the first of the Public Hi-Fi Sessions, a series of limited edition releases from Spoon’s Jim Eno’s new Public Hi-Fi Records. Eno plays drums on the single as well as B-side “Screen Door.” Once the series takes off, this debut is sure to become highly sought-after.


Our picks of participating record stores:

Rough Trade NYC

64 North 9th St., Brooklyn NY

Cake Shop

152 Ludlow St. , New York NY

Rebel Rebel

319 Bleecker St., New York NY

Academy Records Annex

83 Oak St., Brooklyn NY

Earwax Records

167 North 9th St., Brooklyn NY