Interview: Clare Dunn talks current single More, self titled EP, her guitar heroes and more

Clare Dunn is a country singer/Songwriter from Southeast Colorado. Currently residing in Nashville, Dunn has already made quite the impact in the country music world and has sung backing vocals for Luke Bryan’s Country Girl (Shake It For Me) and has opened for acts such as Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert and more.

Starting out her music career as an independent artist, Dunn released her debut single in 2013 titled Get Out and was the highest charting independent female artist on the Music Row Country Breakout chart in ten years.

In 2015 Clare released her debut EP via MCA Nashville. Her current single More has been surrounded by a lot of buzz. More has a very strong traditional country song blended with just the right amount of modern country and a twist of pop.

We caught up with the mutli talented artist who is not just a fantastic songwriter but a beautiful vocalist and brilliant guitar player.

Clare was a joy to talk with, she has a very inviting and infectious personality and we really hope to see her in the UK one day.

Enjoy!

Hi Clare how are you? How has your week been?

Oh I’m good, I’m good. Fabulous. It has been a crazy week but wonderful. I am originally from South East Colorado, I grew up on a little farming ranch, way out there in kind of the dustbowl area but I live in Nashville now, that’s what I call home. When I am home I am usually writing or recording or mostly doing laundry haha.

Tell us about your start in a music career because it hasn’t been an easy ride and you worked hard to get to where you are. 

I grew up on a small family farm so growing up we spent lots of time driving tractors and doing all the things that a farm kid does. It was a really great way to grow up and music was such a strong part of that because when you are in the middle of nowhere just by yourself or long hours driving a tractor or something like that,  there’s not much else to do but listen to the radio. So we were really fortunate that we got introduced to so much music and my sister and I loved music, we got that love and appreciation because of our parents as they loved music as well. Music is kind of your companion out there in that world. Long story short, I grew up singing and I was in a little dance group which was about an hour away from the farm and so I grew up performing and singing anywhere I could but I had no clue how to go about making the music to be your life. My opportunity came with college – I moved to Nashville and attended Belmont University and just started from the ground up and I was figuring out how it all works. That’s how I started writing songs and playing guitar and trying to make records in my bedroom. It was a wonderful experience for me and was a lot of learning. I have been through some internships, I got my first songwriting publishing deal and was able to to write songs professionally and that was pretty awesome. That is kind of how it all got started for me.

You got your record deal in part due to your song Cowboy Side of You I believe?

Yeah, before I had a record deal I started releasing music on my own. It was a non traditional approach at the time and since then its become the mainstream for country artists but at the time not many country artists were releasing music on their own.  I started to release a couple of things and then they got picked up by Sirius FM and they were very supportive of me on the Highway and still are. Then we just started touring out of an F-150 pick up and a trailer and started building a fan base sort of the rock and roll way. One thing led to another and then one night we were opening up for Will Hoge and we happened to be playing in Chicago and Universal Records flew up, my A&R girl Stephanie Wright flew up and she signed me because of that show. It was just huge and amazing and all that hard work finally came to a pay off. I couldn’t ask to be in a better place, in the hands of a good label that truly cares about its artists and helping them achieve their goal. That’s the short version of it.

Your current single is called More – tell us a bit about the song and the creative process?

I wrote that with a couple of good friends, Josh Kear and Gordie Sampson. We all have written together before. The day we got together to write More, me and Josh both kind of had similar ideas without even knowing it. Somewhere I had heard this phrase “No Ones Gonna Love You More” and I hadn’t told them about it yet and Josh was the first one to throw out an idea and said “I have this title called More”. I was just like “You mean No one’s going to love you more?” and he said”Well that’s cool” so we were kind of then off to the races at that point. The process of writing the song was pretty effortless. We could all sense that there was something very special about it and about the moment that it came about. There was kind of an electricity in the room and we all three were kind of just hanging on for dear life and trying to stay out of the way of the song and let the song guide the way. It was a really fun and special day, I remember it quite clearly.

You released an acoustic version of the song too….

Yeah, we were in the studio and we just did a live recording. It’s nice to get to play it down sometimes even though I loved the full band rockin’ show, it is nice to tear it down and be simple like you would play it in your living room, which I do, I play all my songs in my living room before we record them so it was nice to get to back to that.

I agree with that, especially in country music when you have so many things like writers round where you are used to a song with a massive production and then get to hear it stripped back and in the way it was written. In some cases, for me especially it is almost like you are hearing the words for the first time and I love that experience so having both versions out is really special as we get treated with both.

Oh well thank you! I appreciate that. We had a ball and I am really proud of them both. I get to show that it is a great song you know?

Yes, and it is.

Tell us about your self titled EP. You co – produced it?

I was really fortunate. Universal recognised not only how I loved to write songs but also to produce my records and as an artist it is very important to me because I feel like so much of the identity of an artist is wrapped up in the production. I care about the notes being played, I care about the drum groove, I care about the base line and all those things so to have a record label that had so much faith in me as a co producer of my music was awesome. To have that rapport and belief in a brand new artist is pretty unheard of and I was just so grateful and humbled that they allowed me to continue on doing what I had been doing even before I had a record deal.

How do you cut it down to a handful of songs, were there a lot of songs to consider for the EP?

Oh it’s very hard to narrow it down because all of these songs mean something different to you and you have a different experience with each one of them and a different emotion so it is very tough for me to narrow it down, but that’s what you have a good team around you for. You have to surround yourself with people who are on the same page as you and know your music and help you make those decisions. I hate that process hahahaha.

The EP has been out for a bit now, are you working on new music?

We are working on new music, not sure if it will be an album or EP but new music is on the way.

I have to ask about the Tuxedo video – was that filmed on the family farm?

You know it wasn’t. I hoped that we would be able to get to that but schedules and all that for us to go out there didn’t work. We found a farm that was as flat as possible that we could find in Nashville. That was very important to me because I am not from a mountain area, I am from the flatlands and visually I love to give a real sense of the visual behind my music, to a reality of what it was I grew up around. So we tried to find a place that was as flat as possible and whilst there’s still quite a few more trees in Tennessee than where I am from, they did a great job finding a flat place with barns, horses, pastures and all that. All of that is very authentic to how I grew up.

People praise you for your guitar skills – How long have you been playing the guitar? Who would be your dream team of a Jamming session?

Oh haha! Oh wow! Well I have been playing just since I moved to Nashville for college. So not that long. A lot of my guitar influences are a lot of British Blues artists like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Back, Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones . My guitar playing would be based on blues so through Eric Clapton I figured out who his American Blues heroes were like Freddie King and Albert King so definitely if I could, it would be Clapton and Page haha!

That would be cool.

I don’t know if they would agree to be on the same stage haha!

Speaking of Belmont University earlier and guitar playing – do you know Sarah Zimmerman from Striking Matches?

I do, we went to school together.

Oh wow! Have you ever played together?

You know we haven’t but we have been on the same bill a couple of times but never actually played together but I would love that, she is awesome and just a super talent.

Are you planning on playIng in the UK?

You know I want to so bad, I don’t know when it is going to be in the cards for us right now but hopefully one day. It is definitely on my bucket list and always has been.

Are you familiar with C2C Festival?

Yes! I would love to play that.

Well we are such a dedicated fan base here and that is why my site is called Building Our Own Nashville because that is exactly what we are doing here and it comes from a UK duo The Shires song too but together that is what the fan base are building.

I wondered that when I saw your name and thought that is cool, it looks like the UK are really making a push for country music over there which is AMAZING!

It is! I remember the days when just hearing one country song on the radio here or in a store would make us completely freak out and you would have to call someone you knew who was also a fan to tell them and now it has just blown up, it has been wonderful to see and to be a part of such a big movement.

Wow! Well I hope I will be over soon.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

I am listening to a lot of Patty Loveless, Tina Turner, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Waylon Jennings – a lot of the music I grew up with lately, I am not sure why. Just getting back to my roots in some way.

I completely get that! Well thanks so much for talking today, I appreciate it!

Oh man, thank you so much.

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