The current pandemic has affected every single one of us. The lockdown and restrictions has forced a lot of musicians online to try and carry on their passion... We have had the pleasure of talking to the wonderful Clint Slate, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us!
First, would you like to introduce yourself?
My name is Gregg and I’m from Paris, France. Clint Slate is a moniker I chose a few years ago when I was looking for a way to start all over again, with a fresh perspective and a clean slate.
When and how did your interest in music begin?
The radio was always on in my parents’ house, so my oldest musical memory would be joining my parents in their bedroom to wake them up on a Sunday morning and hearing ‘Roxanne’ by The Police.
After that I had a few cassettes or vinyls but only a few stuck, like the ‘Stay On These Roads’ LP by A-Ha. I had it when it came out in 1988 and still listen to it to this day.
But all changed when I was 14 and discovered Queen right after Freddie Mercury died. I will never know what touched me exactly and why them, but I remember vividly hearing ‘The Show Must Go On’ on the radio and stopping what I was doing to hear the radio host saying the singer had just died. And that was it, the passion of a lifetime had begun! A few months later, on April 20 1992, The Freddie Mercury Tribute took place and that was a crash course in rock-pop-music with everybody from Metallica to Paul Young, Roger Daltrey to Lisa Stansfield, etc.
I wanted to be a drummer watching Roger Taylor banging his skins on ‘Somebody To Love’ but my parents wouldn’t let me so I found an old guitar in the attic and started to learn everything all by myself. A method I still thrive with today.
How would you describe your style of music?
I’m not sure actually. I know its roots are in rock music, but I listen to all types of things. A regular day will see me channeling the Deftones, Björk, De La Soul, Frank Sinatra, Vicente Amigo, Alice In Chains, Yes, The Weeknd, Dire Straits, The Prodigy, Gregory Porter, Erik Satie or anything that could attract my ear at any moment.
Furthermore, growing up listening to bands like Queen, U2, The Police, or later Faith No More or Incubus, I tend to resent writing and playing the same song all over again. I need to change my ways of composing, try different things and, if the pop structures may be the same from time to time, I hope each song I write has a life of its own.
Well, to sum up, I’d say I’m into something I call ‘broad rock’, with touches of a bit of everything in it.
Are there any bands/musicians that have had a big influence on your music?
As I said, my main driving forces when I started were Queen, U2 and The Police. As a kid in the 80s, they were simply everywhere and helped me forge my tastes. As a teenager in the 90s, I took the Grunge wave in the face, falling in love with Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, then following Dave Grohl nearly everywhere. Radiohead, Grant Lee Buffalo, Jeff Buckley, Faith No More, Skunk Anansie, Archive, Massive Attack would also come to mind as artists emerging at this time and proposing something very personal and different, reinventing themselves when possible.
I don’t know what transpires in my music, if you can hear my love for Led Zeppelin, Aeromith or Pink Floyd for instance, but all these artists and more have contributed to what I did, still do and will try in the future.
A lot of really great bands there... Where did the idea for "90's Lockdown" come from?
Well, the lockdown hit hard on the nerves and I had to stay positive and active so I decided to post a cover video a day, ending with 50 different ones. I played things I love, songs I listen to but never tried to play before or improvised versions of favorites, everything was good to keep my creativity afloat. Then I realized a certain amount of them came from the 90s and I thought ‘Hey, I really like them and I don’t think I would have covered them otherwise so here’s a new LP!’.
The sessions were improvised and recorded with a single microphone, on the spur of the moment, so I just decided to remix them a bit, adding some EQ and reverb and putting some effects on the videos too. It’s a nice souvenir coming from a dark period and a gift to the fans.
You have your 3rd LP coming out... Can you tell us a bit about it?
Right after the lockdown and the 50 cover videos, I knew I needed another project. I remembered the cut-up technique I discovered in high school reading David Bowie, another idol. It’s a simple literary technique: You slice sentences you’ve written or pages of a newspaper, you put them in a bowl and paste what you extract on a new sheet of paper. This generates new sentences and images, and it’s even easier now as you can find online generators.
So I decided to go there for the lyrics and try a ‘musical exquisite corpse’ with some friends, sending them guitar parts at the moment I find them. A drummer and a bass player wanted to give it a try so I told them to be spontaneous and send me 3 different tracks tops. At this point there was no song, only bits and pieces of melodies and sounds. Then I started to slice and edit what came to my mind and after 2 months I had 9 completed songs for an impromptu album, ‘Dragons’.
It will be available January 4, 2021 and I’m currently promoting it and creating a video for each song, in the same way I created the LP: Ideas, low budget and handcraft. This is very exciting to now have a finished product that I had now idea would exist 6 months ago. I can’t wait for people to discover it.
How long have you been playing music for and is this your full time career?
I’ve been a professional musician for 15 years, for my own projects or other people’s. I’m also a journalist and a guitar teacher, I need to be active and try new things. I really want to write books, draw and paint again, do a photo exhibition and direct movies, to name a few. Clint Slate allows me to try all of this and just seeing what I’ve accomplished with ‘Dragons’ is very rewarding, as I also created the visual identity, the videos, the explanations and, of course, the music.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are struggling at the moment, how has the current Covid-19 pandemic affected you?
I am part of several projects that had to stop everything and I haven’t been able to work and/or go on stage since March. That’s a lifetime ago. Things are difficult because you can’t really see an exit or a return to what you love right now. It demands patience but without purpose, patience is wearing thin.
At the same time, I wouldn’t have had the time or focus to create ‘90s Lockdown’ or ‘Dragons’ otherwise. So I guess every cloud as a silver lining.
You have been in the music scene for quite some time, Is there any advice you could give to people just starting out in the industry?
Play, play and play again. Cherish your instrument, whatever it is, as a part of yourself because it IS a part of yourself. Work, work and work again. Practice, practice and practice again. And then play, play and play again. The main thing is to gain pleasure in all this, all the time. Then if you want people to listen to you, get on the Internet and gather an audience as it’s much easier now. But if you want to earn a living, you have to be more than good at what you do to step out of the crowd. Be different, be honest, be you. And play, play and play again.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for this interview, I hope everybody is fine in these troubled times but I’m happy we can all connect and travel still with music and arts.
I hope you’ll travel with my songs so fasten your seat belt, seat back, relax and close your eyes!
Finally, Where can people find you?
It has been a pleasure speaking with you Gregg, and we look forward to hearing more from you!
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