The sights and sounds of art and creativity are burgeoning. A Beatles print of the Fab Four in their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band garb hangs in the upstairs of the 1930s built home, which has been transformed into the recording studio’s control room. Stephen Claybrook is here to create an album. He had the songs, had recorded some rough demos, and knew he wanted to distribute the music. What began decades ago as just an interest in music has turned into various jobs and a career as a musician.
Last fall Travis Hinton and myself, Mira Rahili, found ourselves sitting in Claybrook’s living room. He sat across from the two of us and began to talk about the writing, recording, and eventual distribution of his album. And he wanted our help. I fell in love with music at an early age and learned to differentiate between the “good” and the “great.” Being exposed to varieties of music from an early age has led me to study the package deal that is “music.” From the album art, to the lyrics, to the live performance I began to scrutinize artists.
This life long analysis has led me to vehemently believe that when Claybrook decided he was going to make an album, I knew it would be classified as “great.” Great music has the power to move the listener. Great music has the ability to transform. Great music has the audacity to stretch, mold, and define. And Claybrook encompasses all of those definitions and more.
As a teacher, writer, and music aficionado I sat down with Claybrook and his wife C.C. on a cool Tuesday evening and captured his meaning, motivation, and purpose behind his first album.
Interview with Claybrook
Why make an EP?
Last fall I took a sabbatical and I went to the mountains. I rented a cabin and took a guitar and some recording gear because music is something that I love to do. I took it all not with the intention to produce anything, but to have in case inspiration struck. I did some soul searching and praying and was open to whatever would happen as I pulled away to be by myself. Being in the mountains set the tone for what this EP is and there would be no EP without that week. In December, I listened to the songs again and I felt good about them and that there was something in them that maybe somebody else could get something out of. I decided I would make an honest effort in recording these songs. There are independent artists out there doing the same things, writing, recording, and figuring out how to get it out to people, and I want to participate in that community. I want to offer the art that has come out of me into this conversation in the hopes that it might provide something or be that missing voice in that community.
What’s the motivation behind this EP?
A lot of the things that inspired some of the content and lyrics of the songs comes from spending the last 12 years walking with people and all of their hardships, and watching these situations not have a clear resolution. There has been a lot of stuff that has just sat dormant inside of me. So when I got to the cabin and shut everything off, I opened up the line to write whatever came. What came is some of that stuff. Some of the things I’m expressing, I’m expressing from first person perspective. Whether it’s me, or other people, or a vague sense of expressing a bunch of different people that are rattling around in my mind and in my heart.
What do these songs mean?
The songs move in this fluid manner beginning with realizing that life is not as black and white or cut and dry as I may have thought. Then, in the realization that life isn’t so clear a feeling of shame and beating myself up is established. So in that I ask questions without any resolve or answer. Once you’ve recognized that you’ve hurt yourself and people around you, then you begin to beat yourself up again and then you wonder if those same people are going to leave. And in those feelings, I result in pulling away and retreating and going inside. And none of these issues resolve and they don’t fix themselves, but there is some hope provided. That somehow there is truth and light in all of this.
As a songwriter, I’m not as interested in saying exactly what the songs are about because one of the reasons I’m putting this music out there is because I’m dying to know what is this that I have, that I’ve created?
Introduction & Editorial Credit: Mira Rahili | firstname.lastname@example.org