Interviews

In Conversation with…Liam McClair

Cheshire singer/songwriter, Liam McClair will be releasing his latest effort, the ‘Honey’ EP, on 28th July. The EP see’s the songwriter in top form. His growing musical prowess and want to experiment has seen an unprecedented turn in his music.

After introducing himself to the world with his début EP and having that momentum behind him, ‘Honey’ takes it that one step further, showcasing McClair’s lyrical maturity and melodic nous. To co-inside with the ‘Honey’ EP release, McClair will be hosting an EP Launch party at The Castle Hotel, Manchester on Saturday 26th July, tickets will be available to purchase on the door for the pocket-friendly price of £5.

We caught up with Mr. McClair to talk about his forthcoming EP ‘Honey’, performing live, the Manchester singer/songwriter scene and much more.

Hello Liam. I hope wherever we find you today, the day is treating you well?

You find me very well, it has been a good day.

We have a strong singer/songwriter scene here in Manchester and I know that for the most part you all know each other and support each other. If there are people reading this that are unfamiliar with the Manchester scene, who would you suggest that they should have a listen to?

Yeah I really like the close community involved in performing live, I am sure it is the same amongst all the bands. However singer songwriters frequent the same open mics and gigs so you do end up bumping into the same people. My personal favourites are:

Sobi

Katie O’Malley

Jade Ann

Alastair Dickie

Scott Lloyd

Nicky McCallan

David Liversidge

I could go on, the wonderful thing about open mic nights now is that I am enjoying the other performances as well as my own!

What is it that makes you as a solo artist stand out from the rest of Manchester’s plethora of singer/songwriters?

I think I have a unique style, my voice is recognisable. I think my songs are memorable and catchy. Visually I stand out as I am pretty tall and my hair style is also quite unique!

Do you remember the first song you ever wrote and if you do, can you tell us a bit about it?

I do remember, it was on the piano and it is yet to have a name. It came about from playing around with some chords I liked the sound of then progressing to put lyrics over the top. It took me a long time and the way I wrote the track has been the basis for all of my song writing.

Your last EP ‘How’ gained a lot of plaudits. How do you feel about the EP now you can look back upon it?

I am really proud of it, considering I was a total novice in regards to recording I learned a lot from the process. I have been quite overwhelmed by the response to it really as I had never released anything before so was not sure what to expect. On reflection it is probably quite sombre in parts but it’s a representation of my mind set during the time of writing.

How does ‘Honey’ progress from your last EP, ‘How’?

Well as I said before How had a sombre feel to it overall, not conclusively but there was certainly a strain of sadness running through it. With Honey it’s much more upbeat and uplifting. The tracks feature more instruments and more harmonies. I got to work with some fantastic musicians on the tracks especially the strings. Honey is my attempt at making a pop record that is not immediately synonymous with manufactured, repetitive music.

What kind of EP is ‘Honey’ in lyrical terms?

It is a real mix. The first track on Honey I wrote whilst looking at a situation from another perspective. Up until that point all of my writing had come from a personal experience or perspective so I tried to relate to someone else and tell their story. I think it is very honest lyrically, although there are similes and metaphors I hope that the lyrics are easy to relate to and people can connect with the tracks.

Do you remember your very first gig? How did it go?

Yeah, I was performing at Wilmslow High School Christies Concert in 2008. I was incredibly nervous all day, mainly as nobody knew I played guitar let alone sang! I did a cover of Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin and it went pretty well. Admittedly a lot of the crowd were people I knew but the buzz I got from their reaction has stayed with me to that day and was the impetuous to go out and gig more.

Since then, you’ve built up a solid standing on the live circuit around Manchester and its surrounding areas. How do you feel your live performances have developed from those first steps onto a stage?

My performances have developed greatly. Initially I was shy on the mic, reluctant to divulge into track meaning or any kind of conversation with the crowd. Just as with anything, the more I practised the easier it became. Now I feel at home performing on stage, talking to the crowd, getting some participation. The last point in particular I am going to work on more, I think you are more memorable and the crowd find it more enjoyable if they can participate in your songs.

You’re playing at The Castle Hotel for your EP Launch on 26th July. For people that may still be on the fence about coming down that night, give them some words of encouragement. Why do they need to be there?

You need to be there to see Sobi: a wonderful wordsmith with gorgeous voice. Tom Kwei the Poet who will have you memorised with his witty, insightful spoken word performance. Jade Ann with a full band which will be incredible, she has an incredible voice and to see the very first performance of the EP from me with a live band! 4 performances for £5 is great value!

You’ve recently been globetrotting with your music gracing stages at a music festival in Holland. How did that opportunity come about and how did the shows go?

Yes! It was fantastic, I love travelling so I jumped at the opportunity. I got the opportunity from seeing that, Rosco McCabe (another awesome Manchester Singer Songwriter) was down to play so he told me to apply and I did and ended up performing 2 nights in Den Haag.

The first night was totally acoustic and met some wonderful European musicians, then the 2nd night was in an Irish pub and onto the Sunday when I performed in Zanvoort; a beach side town just east of Amsterdam. I played 30 minutes staring out at the sand, sea and sunshine it was incredible.

At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in music and what drove you to want to pursue a career in music?

It was when I was in my final year of University I decided I would pursue a career in music that is when the realisation hit. I have always fantasised about becoming a musician ever since I picked up a guitar, but as a younger man I deemed it too lofty an ambition.

The drive comes from wanting to travel with music, play to new people, all the people I have met through music have been brilliant and I want to meet some more! I know I enjoy music so I want a job I enjoy.

What has being a musician taught you about yourself?

I am committed and determined. I am not as self conscious or shy as I once thought. It has certainly helped me feel more confident as I know I have something I enjoy and other people enjoy too.

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A special thanks to Liam McClair for this interview and for more info on Liam and his music, check out the following links below:

Website . Facebook . Twitter

Charlotte Holroyd
A lover of music and cinema. Constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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