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Photos by Ben Lindbloom / Words by Catie Young 

Now that we’ve recovered from the exhaustion of Treefort, we’re excited to tell you about some of our favorite discoveries from this year’s festival. Behold: Clarke and the Himselfs. “Discovery” might be a bit of a stretch on this one … this tape has been the only thing I’ve played in my car for over a year now and, well, I went to preschool with Clarke because Boise. Clarke and the Himselfs is glorious fuzz that can only come from spending half of your life under the big, bright Idaho sky, and the other half in a dark basement. That is, I can listen to it when the trees are blooming and still feel just the right amount of sad. We got to see Clarke play on a sunny afternoon as part of the (exceedingly pleasant) Tender Loving Empire/Generous day party. He had lots of insightful things to say about music, chocolate laxatives, and space. Read on and feel things about the mid-sized town from which you came.

How was Treefort this year?
It’s pretty hard not to have a good time at Treefort.

You’re from Boise, but you’ve lived in New Orleans & maybe other music-centric communities. How is the music community in Boise feeling to you right now? Is it growing? Changing? How so?
I think what’s happening mostly in Boise is that the music scene is kind of solidifying itself and gaining a type of recognition and legitimacy that it’s never had, especially for past histories. A lot of that legitimacy has to do with Treefort, but these things also happen simultaneously, they are things that are bound to happen, and Treefort kind of acts like a symbol for that particular shift.

Any different place is going to have it’s own brand of stuff. A lot of good music comes from smaller towns where not a lot of things are happening. New Orleans doesn’t necessarily have a cohesive music scene, it has a lot, and a lot of other stuff  – there’s not the particular need that people feel in smaller towns – because there is such an over saturation of everything. But Nola it’s own thing, you can’t really give a fair comparison to any other place.

It seems in a lot of cases Good music comes from desolate places. Lubbock, Texas. Elgin, Illinois. Nirvana came from Aberdeen. Built to Spill is really a Twin Falls band. It’s because there’s not much to do except play music. Whatever particular scene I came up in, in Boise – it felt more like that, a little more handcrafted than it is these days, like there was a little bit more desolation – but out of that was this grave importance, like a feeling of religion, people keeping stuff afloat knowing that there would be much less if they just threw it in. It’s also my own perspective. 

Now that the importance is being lifted by a much larger group of people and it’s a lot more supported – there’s a little bit of a shift change in terms of who’s moving the gears, and what kind of gears, and how they are moving; also probably more gears. Any good music scene retains a substance from the ground up. There’s a danger of getting your head caught in the clouds if you don’t go back down and dig in the dirt for awhile.

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In terms of influence, what do you feel like you take from your hometown/other places you’ve lived?
 Tons. Any different place has it’s own feeling. Any different room. Spaces can trap you into similar thoughts, and it’s not until you leave them that suddenly an ocean of memory or ideas will come flooding back to you. I write a lot of songs in new places. It’s good to get out.

What’s upcoming for Clarke and the Himselfs?
In May I’m touring with Built to Spill along with W.I.B.G. In late June going on a West Coast Tour with Brasil; and probably some East coast stuff with Wooden Indian Burial Ground later in summer. I recently retired my Volvo from touring – I’m also sick of driving by myself. I just released a Cassingle split with Au Dunes on Curly Cassettes and Heart in Box did the 2nd run of Clarke and the Himselfs II. I got a full LP that was produced by Paleo that I’m working on getting out – and another tape in the works – probably some other shit too.

What have you been listening to recently?
Au Dunes! They’re the best!

What keeps you up at night?
Civilization II

What was the first tape/cd/record you ever purchased?
Running with Scissors – Weird Al Yankovic. Which was also my first concert at the Western Idaho Fairgrounds. I later learned a lot of my good friends that I had yet to know were also attending that same concert.

What are your thoughts on space? stars, aliens, etc.
That’s a pretty open question. Back in 2007, I was working on this reality show as a camera assistant and worked with this guy Jim Mansen who was doing sound – he was older and had worked on THX 1138 and Star Wars as a boom operator. One of the days I think was one of the last Shuttle Launches for NASA , he was egging on about the fanfare of past space engagement and enrolled in a conversation about how basically nobody gives a shit these days. He asked me if I watched the launch, I said no, and he said, I rest my case.

Which was awhile back, still the same though, comparatively I think people still kinda don’t give a shit – but that’s a stigma that goes a long way into people comparatively not giving a shit about a lot of things. One of the reasons Elon Musk started Space-X is because he learned NASA, despite talking about a mission to mars, didn’t have one planned on record, nothing was in stone, there was no forward motion – so he kind of propelled a forward motion for himself; under the guidelines, which I agree, is that when people achieve something great, when they can go forward into the unknown and accomplish a big dream – it puts things in perspective and helps you work out the problems down below, which would then be comparatively smaller. Like Fitzcarraldo, it’s important to dream.

That stuff ultimately goes back, what’s really interesting to people is humans, what their psyche is and what they dream about. What is inside the consciousness of the human population? Whatever is out there is ultimately just a reflection of ourselves. How we deal with it, what we think about it is like some kind of foil to explain ourselves.

What do you most disagree with?
chocolate laxative

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