DT: APRIL 30, 2021
FM: MITCH SCHNEIDER/LYNDIE WENNER
SRO PR (NASHVILLE, LOS ANGELES, LAS VEGAS)
Nashville-based/Austin-raised singer/songwriter KATE CLARK turns the challenges of the past into cathartic music that is bright, bold, and soulful. The emerging country artist movingly illustrates this with her new and third single “Last Names,” in which she examines the fractured relationship she had with her late father. Listen here to the song, released today (April 30) via all streaming platforms, and watch the video, directed by Logan Christopher for Stormlight Pictures, here. An early supporter of the video is CMT: http://www.cmt.com/cmt-music-videos. A Q&A with KATE about the song is below.
In “Last Names,” co-written by KATE and Devin Malone and Katie Malone, she vividly sets the scene of when her father left the family and its after-effects:
“Mamma I know, I know why now
You cried on the back porch when the lights went out
Then I couldn’t see, I can see why now
There’s pictures all around in this dusty house
And daddy isn’t in any frames
Some of us get last names
that don’t mean a thing”
Growing up, KATE’s life seemed to unfold like a country song. Her father drank a lot, ultimately leaving the family when Kate was young. Raised by a single mom in Austin, she bonded with her absentee dad during his brief visits to town, when the two would ride around the Texas hill country in his truck. Sometimes, they’d talk. Other times, they’d just listen to music. Songs by George Strait, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings became the unofficial soundtrack to those father/daughter joyrides. Decades later, Kate still remembers how that music made her feel.
“Country music was something I shared with my dad,” she explains. “It was our thing. It made us both feel like we were part of some bigger picture, when there wasn’t anything else we could be a part of. My dad consumed country music like it was water—the water he needed to survive and to help dilute the demons behind the alcohol. We both connected with it, and that helped us connect with each other.”
Because “Last Names” is “so personal,” KATE says “I really wanted to keep the video simple. I wanted the lyrics to carry the weight of the story, not so much the visuals. I had been wanting to shoot with Logan Christopher for over five years, and I just knew, and trusted he could achieve the complex simplicity I was dreaming of.”
As KATE explains, “The video was shot in a charming house located in East Nashville. The house was full of country charm and felt like it belonged on a piece of property where your only neighbors are the horses, cows, and songbirds. The vibe and aesthetic is very soft and reflective. The sun was pouring in through the windows as I got lost reminiscing through old family photos spread out over the couch and coffee table. The video wouldn’t be complete without a shot of me in a rocking chair on the front porch. I had a moment on set after the director asked me to take a seat in the rocking chair and the music started playing where I just about lost it. I flashed back to seeing my mother in an old rocking chair that sat on our back porch crying. I couldn’t help but feel a full circle moment. The emotions that arise when you really understand and accept your past are incredible. An overwhelming sense of peace was the last thing I expected to receive. I’m forever grateful for this shoot.”
“Last Names” follows KATE’s first two singles: the debut “No Halo” (2/26/21) and “Wonderwall” (3/26/21), her distinctive cover of Oasis’ classic 1995 hit. All three songs were produced by David Lyndon Huff, who did the same honors for the Doobie Brothers’ multi-artist tribute album Southbound, that featured Zac Brown Band and Vince Gill, and who’s the younger brother of renowned Nashville producer Dann Huff.
“Last Names” shows that KATE CLARK is an artist gifted with an expressive, elastic voice matched with her sharp yet vulnerable sense of songwriting. This is her own brand of hook-filled country music, rooted in rich storytelling and the stories themselves may be sourced from her own life, but they’re applicable to anyone who, like Kate, has worked to turn obstacles into opportunities.
KATE plans to keep the excitement building throughout 2021; the singer and songwriter will release a series of singles via her label Kate Clark Music distributed by BMD (Brooklyn Music Distribution), a song per month, alternating between original tracks and striking reinterpretations of songs that have inspired her.
Q&A with KATE CLARK ABOUT ‘LAST NAMES”
The story painted with the lyrics in this song is very real and timeless, as are the emotions one feels listening to this song. Was this a part of your own life and if so, what can you tell us about that experience?
“Last Names” is first and foremost the sincerest “thank you” I think I’ll ever say in my lifetime. Thank you, mom! My mom, like so many other young mothers, thought she had love figured out and jumped headfirst into her vision of the American dream. Love, white picket fence, start a family. Unfortunately, it was anything but. My father served in the Vietnam war and came back a different person. He turned to alcohol to cope. Alcohol– breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Literally. “Last Names” begins with my father driving me (2 months old), my brother (3 years old) and my mom to Virginia and dropping us off at my mother’s family farmhouse. Story goes, he didn’t even say goodbye and drove off. Leaving us to figure life out on our own.
What message of hope do you want to send out to single moms or dads who are left to raise children on their own?
I hope all single mothers and fathers know that they’re heroes! Keep fighting, keep trying. Stay strong. Your little ones see you and know more than you think, and love you more than you think–good days, bad days. Your family portrait may not resemble “The Perfect Family” but what is perfect anyways? Family is love.
A pivotal lyric in the song is: “Some of us get last names/That don’t mean a thing.” Can you talk about this viewpoint?
I wasn’t given a last name that meant anything to me. (Let me say, I loved my dad like something fierce, but that is a story for another song.) This one-way love gave me no one to look up to. No legacy. Just a jagged, unfinished foundation to most, but to me, a clean slate. A chance to make my name mean anything I want it to mean. This is solely because of my mother’s strength and unforgettable courage.
You co-wrote this song with two writers (Devin and Katie Malone). With the song having such a personal and intimate nature, how did this song unfold for the three of you?
I wrote “Last Names” with Katie and Devin Malone. Devin and Katie have a way of making our writes feel like a safe place, and I knew I needed to write this one with them. I walked in with the idea “Some of us get last names\that don’t mean a thing.” I wanted it to be an homage to my mom and they were on board. They really helped me craft the story from my family’s real-life experiences. I’m pretty sure we all cried during this write, Okay, Devin didn’t cry, or did he?”
Photo credit: Josh Kranich
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