Liam McClair

HAILING from a quaint town in Cheshire known as Wimslow, let us introduce you to twenty-two year old singer/songwriter, Liam McClair. From humble beginnings back in 2012, word has spread of his unmistakable talent setting the stage for an all the more greater 2013 and the pending new year of 2014.

One particular track that had my instant attention was, 'How' with rustic vocals and a chugging acoustic slant which encapsulates McClair's musical prowess, this, standing him in good stead for the exemplary future ahead. Slowed down and stripped back, 'How' flaunts his accessibility as an artist, leaving this music very much open for multi-various listeners to become a part of his ever-growing spectrum of audience.

With Christmas looming, 21st December gave us an early present in the form of, 'Time With You', a festive-sounding token of goodwill. The interchanging reluctancy of the guitar builds a leisurely slump of harmonious bridges never truly building up to show off, but to keep simple. Playing on your heartstrings, it is this reserved peace which warms the tune, there is no need for ridiculous overpowering vocals or angry drumbeats as the track has it all in its own very special way, muffled by beautiful imagery. McClair produces arguably the most gutting vocals without much effort at all, there are not many artists out there now who can do this uncomplicated. 'Time With You', is quite simply noteworthy, if not for its calming vocals then for its instrumental capability to move an audience to their core.

Liam McClair is certainly an artist to get listening to sooner rather than later. You'll be overwhelmed by the sound discovered and 2014 is sure to provide more material and many, many gigs to come. Whether it be getting played to thousands at Old Trafford or featuring on the likes of A Music Blog, Yea?, McClair is certainly turning heads. The Music Manual grabbed an interview with this very talented musician to find out more from behind the scenes...

Hey Liam, i'm gonna start off by asking, when did you know right, i'm going to pick up a guitar and become a musician?
I don’t think there was a definitive moment, my passion for music has progressed through lessons on piano from a young age, to studying GCSE music and then it was just a hobby until I started doing Open Mic nights in October 2012 and I has become a real passion for me. I have always loved listening to live tracks and hearing the audience sing along so that served as inspiration for me to get out onto the music scene.

Have you ever been involved in any other projects?
No I am just a solo artist, I like the idea of playing with a band to give my live performances something extra and it means I can give a true representation of my recordings when playing live. Although I have enjoyed the ease of being a solo artist, all I need to do is pack up my guitar and I can head off to do a gig.

How has the likes of being played at Old Trafford at half time helped get the word about your music around?
That was fantastic exposure and an amazing experience to hear my song played through the speakers knowing there were 80,000 potential listeners hearing my track. It has been brilliant for me, I have had message on twitter saying “Heard your track at Half time, keep it up” and when Manchester United tweeted about me, I had a some correspondence from fans in different countries so it has been massive for me.

Now, I absolutely love your track 'How'. Where does your inspiration for these tracks come from?
Personal experiences. ‘How’ was written when I was in a long term relationship of nearly 4 years and I was trying to recapture the feeling of initial romance and the pure desire and affection you feel for someone because as a relationship grows and matures the dynamics of my affection changed. It was an emotion I felt strongly and ‘How’ summed it up well as I couldn’t conceive how I could attract the person who I most desired and I think it is easy to relate to  as everyone has felt that way at one time or another.
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When writing tracks do your lyrics come first or the tune?
It usually starts with guitar chords or a progression of chords which I like, and then I will just sing over the top. Initially the lyrics will not have a coherent meaning but I just sing over the chords to find a vocal melody. After recording this process a few times a theme will emerge through the improvised lyrics and I find the whole experience quite incredible. It is rare I sit down and think “Time to write a song”, I play my guitar and over time a song will appear, it feels like an unconsciously organic process at times. I would consider writing the lyrics first to challenge my songwriter skills.

2013 is coming to a close and it is fair to say you have had a jam-packed year, what has been a highlight for you?
Releasing my debut EP ‘How’ was fantastic as it was a showcase of everything creative I have been doing and has been met with overwhelming support. The EP has helped me play more shows, improved my recording and improve as an artist. It has been fantastic; when I started performing over in Liverpool when I was studying there I managed to play Sound City in 2013 which was pretty amazing to get to experience a festival as an artist, as up until then I had been a fan. Then being on BBC Introducing  Merseyside was another fantastic experience and great exposure. However I would have to say my song ‘How’ being played at Half time at two home games at Old Trafford has been the highlight as  it made the local news then the regional and national news. I was featured in the match day programme and on the official website, so it was incredible exposure and also really cool!

When playing live, what is your favourite track?
One of my tracks Somewhere Before, it is an emotive song about dementia. I wrote it after watching a documentary on the subject, the film featured an elderly couple of 90 who had been together for 70 years. The wife was suffering from dementia and the husband wasn’t, he was her carer and every half an hour or so she would forget him and start to get scared and hysteric. But when she remembered him, you could see her falling back in love with him like they had just met. I think when giving the context to this song it allows the audience to connect with the song. I also love playing a cover of No Diggity by Blackstreet.

What is your No.1 'pet-hate' about the current music industry?

I think I would say how quickly the chart changes from week to week, there are so many songs being released so often that I find it hard to appreciate all the music that has been released. It is the sign of the times as we live in a culture of immediacy and convenience but what I enjoy most is finding an album and listening to it for a few months to really appreciate it. I think there is always a new release imminently approaching so albums might not get peoples full attention as they previously had.  

Looking back is there anything you would change or do differently?

Not at all, I have enjoyed the whole experience. I have played some bad gigs and performed badly but it has all been about learning and developing.

What does next year hold for Liam McClair?
I have just released a new single which is a free download to say thanks to everyone who has supported me, it is available to download on Soundcloud. I am going to be recording an album with Hour Glass productions in Manchester to be released hopefully in April. I will continue to perform in Liverpool  and Manchester and I hope to branch out as I played for the first time in Leeds and really enjoyed it, so maybe Sheffield, Birmingham and London next! I think this will help me build more of a fan base.  I am really enjoying playing music and I have to thank everyone that has supported me from the start!


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