All the Same

debut album from folk artist Alexander Clay

Dustin Hahn

Folk music has been described as the music of the emotional, unknown artist. The 20th century folk revival changed this by making folk music more popular. But Eau Claire native Alexander Clay views folk music as “the music of the people,” and in this way, he is “the people.” He recently released his debut album, Same, Same, Same.

Clay nurtured an interest in music from an early age, despite coming from a family with little involvement in music. “I remember always gravitating towards the piano we had growing up and wanting to play,” he said. It was in grade school when he really got going, playing trumpet in band, singing in the choir, learning to play the piano at 11, and guitar at 14. It was when he was teaching himself guitar (due to fate, or one teacher quitting after two lessons and another breaking his collar bone after one lesson) that he became interested in writing music as well. Clay attributes his initial interest in music to his older sister Loni, who passed away after fighting heart cancer for the last two years. Loni was the only one in his family who was involved with music and he found her very inspirational to his own life.

Writing music was nothing more than a passionate hobby for Clay. Struggling to figure out how much of his life he wanted to devote to music, he played a few shows and open mic nights over the years. But he never pursued it. As a small step in a more serious direction, Clay released Same, Same, Same. The album is simple in nature, but Clay exudes emotion in every track, while working in groovy rhythms and catchy lyrics. The album is full of understanding and talent, in a raw and unadulterated way that makes it easy for anyone to relate to.

Clay didn’t make the conscious decision to write songs for an album. “My inspiration came mostly from having a head overflowing with songs and a need to do some spring cleaning,” he said. “The songs were written before the conception of the album, but after picking the songs, recordings, naming the album, and listening to it a few times, it seems like they were meant to be all on a CD together,” he added. This reflects the way he wrote his songs, where the meanings are often developed only after they are written. Rather than telling his audience what they are about, Clay likes to think people create their own meanings. Themes of life, death, reincarnation, suffering, love, and being punched in the face in Phoenix Park are not out of the question.

Given that this was Clay’s first time putting an album together, he found the process rather intimidating. He was referred to Evan Middlesworth of Pine Hollow Audio, who has worked with local bands such as Hounds Before Lions and Beacon James. Clay found Middlesworth to be a major asset in adding depth to his songs that wouldn’t have otherwise been included. Clay received additional help from Rob Hagan, Jake Ring, Zach Brawford, and especially Joe Samolinski, who gave a lot of personal time and creativity to the album, as well as Emily Hartman who assisting in making harmonies and beats for the album. Lastly, Same, Same, Same wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Clay’s various friends, family members, and those who backed his successful Kickstarter campaign.

You can purchase Alexander Clay’s album Same, Same, Same at The Local Store, Revival Records, and Just Local Foods.