Zoe Clark Looks to Connect on ‘Lovers Mark’
Zoe Clark’s first ventures into songwriting functioned as a living journal – a way to document her young experiences, as she grew up in the shadows of New York City.
“Writing music started out as my diary,” Clark said. “It was just a way to help me understand my own thoughts and emotions, and put them on the page.”
Clark’s influences include some of popular music’s great storytellers. These include tried-and-true legends like James Taylor and Carole King, to contemporary artists like Shawn Mendes and John Mayer.
Perhaps the strongest influence of all – the one that encouraged her to take the plunge into songwriting – is Taylor Swift.
“When I was 12, I heard ‘Teardrops on My Guitar’ come on the radio. It just connected with me,” Clark recalled. “From there, I looked up everything about her, and I was like, ‘She writes her own music? I can do that.’”
From there, she got to work on her craft, making it her mission to connect with audiences the way Swift’s mega-hit connected with her. With New York a stone’s throw away from her native Connecticut, she spent a good portion of her formative years traveling back and forth to the Big Apple for voice and guitar lessons, and to perform at high-profile venues, including lower Manhattan’s iconic The Bitter End.
Eventually, Nashville came calling. For Clark, this came in the form of Belmont University’s songwriting program.
Immediately, it was a perfect match.
“I toured the school and the program. That was the first school I applied to, and I got in,” she recalled.
Since coming to Belmont, Clark has found her footing in Music City, drawing on the university and the music community at large to learn, grow, and network.
“It’s this whole community of songwriters. Everyone is so unbelievably supportive,” Clark said. “In Nashville, it’s a community and a family, and that was something I didn’t expect. That’s something I love, and I love that there’s music playing everywhere you go, whether it’s a writers round, a show, co-writes, or in an Uber.”
Lovers Mark: Connecting through storytelling
Since she started songwriting, Clark’s has focused on finding kinship with her audience in a meaningful, personalized way.
“As a songwriter, I want people to connect with my music; to know that they’re not alone, and that their feelings are valid,” Clark said. “If they don’t want to talk about things with other people, they can hear the music and feel validated, in the sense that what they’re going through is normal.”
Lovers Mark, Clark’s forthcoming EP, is set for release on April 17. True to form, Clark leans on her own experiences to tell authentic, relatable stories for her listeners.
“When an album comes out, I listen to the album from start to finish. I’m constantly looking up interviews from the songwriters, so I can hear the stories behind each song,” she said. “I wanted to create a piece that other people will listen to cohesively. Just like how I connect with music and feel like it was written just for me, I want even one person to hear one of my songs and be like, ‘Oh my gosh. This is exactly what I want to hear.’”
Clark wrote the songs on Lovers Mark between Nashville and London, where she spent the summer with Belmont’s songwriting program. The album, according to Clark, is about “the ins and outs of relationships, lust and love, heartbreak and heartache.”
“Lovers Mark is about the amazing feeling of being with someone, and the adrenaline rush of the connection, to breaking up and having your heart broken, to dating in your 20s, and having to navigate that,” she noted. “It takes you on this journey of relationships and the in-betweens.”
The album was produced with Nashville’s Drew Schueler, who Clark called “the perfect person” to help her realize her vision.
“Off the bat, he understood the exact direction I wanted to go. I was like, ‘I want this guitar part to sound like this. I want the drums and bass to sound like this,’” Clark recalled. “Even my thoughts that made zero sense, he was like, ‘OK, got it.’ He just did it; he just understood everything that I wanted to accomplish.”
The album’s first single, “Cave,” was also the first collaboration between the two. An emotive, yet up-tempo pop country tune, “Cave” is about defying common sense and falling for an old flame, time and time again, despite the relationship’s toxic nature.
“The second we got into the room, we started tracking,” Clark said. “I got there at noon. I walked outside when it was dark out, and didn’t even think about it. We tracked it, did the vocals in the same day, and we were both like, ‘Whoa. That was really cool. That worked.’”
Clark chose “Cave” as the lead single because its themes – namely, the rollercoaster of falling in and out of love – serve as a proper introduction to Lovers Mark.
“I feel like Cave represents the whole EP,” Clark proclaimed.
Follow-up single “More” – released Friday, March 27 – was co-written in London with Lauren Weintraub in about an hour. A radio-ready pop song with a cool vibe and outstanding hook, “More” addresses the lack of fulfillment that comes with the territory of 21st Century dating.
“I’m a college student. Today, it’s all dating apps, parties, and the ‘talking phase,’ and you don’t even know what the ‘talking phase’ is,” Clark said. “We felt like we want more out of a relationship than, ‘Does he like me? Does he not like me?’ We want more than just the physical connection; we want the emotional connection.”
Clark also collaborated with Weintraub on “Terminal 4.” The EP’s closing track, “Terminal 4” is a story about an unexpected near-miss with a former love at London’s Heathrow Airport.
“I don’t want to give too much away on ‘Terminal 4,’ but it’s a true story, and I felt like it was a good song to end on,” Clark said. “That song was such a closure song for me.”
Finding new stories
Clark has remained hard at work, even with the release of Lovers Mark still impending. The singer-songwriter has spent time developing new material, with the goal of always having new music on the horizon.
As the next project takes shape, Clark hints that her songwriting horizons are broadening, incorporating a wider view of her world and the people in it.
“Lovers Mark was all about love,” Clark noted. “A lot of the songs that I’m writing now are about my stresses, thoughts, and experiences, and trying to grow into the person that I am.”
No matter the topic, the Connecticut native is thrilled to continue growing into her craft, and to have an outlet that helps her process life as it comes.
“There’s something so nice about writing it down, and figuring out everything that you’re thinking, and all of your emotions,” Clark said. “It takes pressure off of you. You feel relieved when it’s on paper.”
Stream “More,” the new single from Zoe Clark, below!