Bristol is home to a huge amount of UK’s prominent house talents, but Will Clarke rises above the pack. He draws people in with his eye-catching beard and commitment to #cuddles, but the artist has always been far more than his surface appeal. A contrarian of sorts, the amiable producer broke into the house sphere with brute force upon the release of his gritty single, “Big Booty,” catching the attention of fans and DJs alike. It didn’t take long for him to be brought into the DIRTYBIRD flock from there, where he went on to become a prime pillar of label family. Clarke continues to evolve as well, recently launching his live project AMOK with Sian, which dives into the raw techno side of his musical personality, and has been notably throwing down experimental sets that have earned him widespread acclaim.
His most recent output is a spacey collaboration with Nick Monaco titled ‘Like A Girl’. Fueled by a futuristic hook strummed video game-esque synths and empowering, inclusive lyrics by Monaco, the track has been one of the most sought-after numbers in the producer’s crate for quite some time that is finally free for consumption. The track additionally plays into the more avant-garde direction we’ve seen from DIRTYBIRD through its past few releases.
We sat down with Will Clarke to chat beyond just the cuddles and learn more about what inspires him, remaining unique in a saturated industry, sobriety, and of course, his working relationship with Nick Monaco and ‘Like A Girl’.
Electronic Groove: Hey Will, thanks for your time today. How did you and Nick end up writing ‘Like A Girl,’ and what inspired the tune?
Will Clarke: You are welcome. So I had the backing track pretty much complete and was hunting for vocals for a long time. After I remixed Nick’s record ‘Drama’ I wanted to do an original with him and asked if he had any vocals lying around. He sent me the vocals and it worked super well! Pretty easy process to be fair which was nice.
EG: What makes you and Nick a strong collaboration pair?
Will Clarke: That’s a really hard question to answer as I feel it’s all personal opinions when it comes to if it’s strong or not. However, I love Nick’s productions and vocals. Being able to have this on top of what I do is always a bonus.
EG: What’s the longest set you’ve ever played? Tell us the tale…
Will Clarke: I used to be a resident DJ at a place in Ibiza called Kanye, I would play there 6 days a week starting at 12 noon finish at 5 pm, then start again at 7 pm till 1 am, however quite a few occasions I would have to stay and end up playing 12-1, so I would play for 13 hours. Its always good fun getting to play for long periods.
EG: Can you divulge some past edits you’ve made up for sets that you’re most proud of?
Will Clarke: I’ve recently done an edit of Walker & Royce and Green Velvets ‘Rub Anotha Dub’, I’m loving that one at the moment. I did an edit of Chemical Brothers ‘Do it again’, also Moby’s ‘Go’. A lot of my sets are based on edits remixes or originals I’ve made, so I’d be here all day if I listed them. However, I did a remix for London Grammar ‘Oh Women Oh Man’ sadly it didn’t get accepted but it’s still one of my favorites edit/remixes I’ve done.
“I love Nick’s productions and vocals”
EG: Many people feel they need substances to stay up all night, but you do it sober. What are some tips you have for others who seek care for their health but also want to dance past sunrise? Are you a believer in the disco nap?
Will Clarke: Personally disco naps make me feel worse, I think with the art of staying up is eat healthy, don’t fill yourself with loads of heavy carbs, drink lots of water, but most of all listen to music you love. That is better than any drugs and alcohol on the market. I also think the main thing is be your own person, don’t fall in to peer pressure because you feel uncomfortable being in the club. The more you go sober the easier it will be and you won’t wake up with a hangover or have an awful come down the best day.
EG: You’ve expressed your boredom with cookie-cutter strains of house music, and how you don’t like to put yourself in a box genre-wise. In producing and DJing, what are some more experimental or ‘outside-the-box’ things you do that stand out from the copy/paste crowd, such as using effects or hardware a certain way, building your sets in a certain way, etc?
Will Clarke: I think you hit on that earlier on with edits, I like to play something that people have never heard of. I like it when my remixes aren’t accepted because it gives me a tool to play that nobody else has. I’ve started using the Pioneer DJs 1000 sampler when I DJ, so I’m constantly building tracks and adding more drum, beats and acapellas over my records to keep it more interesting. I would just get bored of playing the same records that everyone else plays, it doesn’t make you an artist that stands out.
EG: On a slightly related note, how have you evolved as an artist since making your break?
Will Clarke: I guess my sound is slowly changing purely because what I enjoy making has changed. I like to make records that have more melody in them, also I feel like my sound has matured on the engineering side of things. My records generally sound sonically better now.
EG: What’s been inspiring you the most lately?
Will Clarke: I’ve started a new project with Sian and it’s called ‘AMOK’ the music we are writing has literally no boundaries and when performing apart from the odd DJ set we are purely going to be a live act. This has inspired me so much to just enjoy writing music.
“My sound is slowly changing purely because what I enjoy making has changed”
EG: Which composition is tattooed on your arm, and why’d you choose to get it imprinted on your arm? Do you play any instruments?
Will Clarke: Candi Staton – ‘You’ve Got the Love’. This record is something that I have very fond memories of playing it at sunsets in Ibiza. Also, my mum always sings it when I turn my laptop on and it makes me smile every time. The record means a lot to me.
EG: Last year you launched your AMOK project with Sian. Any other interesting side projects or collaborations on the horizon?
Will Clarke: Apart from AMOK, and new Will Clarke music is all I’m working on. I have a few ideas but I really want to home in on the music I’m writing right now. This year I will be launching Doing It For The Cuddles as a record label to add on to the clothing line as well, but no date confirmed yet.
Will Clarke’s ‘Like A Girl featuring Nick Monaco’ is available on Dirtybird. Stream/Buy here.