The 12 stellar songs on Connect the Dots, Stacy Clark’s debut album for Vanguard Records, announce the Buffalo born, Southern California-based singer, songwriter, and musician as an exciting new artist to watch on the indie-pop music scene. Clark’s charmingly idiosyncratic voice and heartfelt lyrics have already won over several of television’s top music supervisors, who have featured songs from Clark’s self-released 2007 album Apples and Oranges on such youth-oriented shows as The CW’s One Tree Hill, MTV’s The Hills, The Buried Life, My Super Sixteen, Exiled and Engaged & Underage, CBS’s Girlfriends, ABC’s Make It Or Break It and Samurai Girl, Bravo’s The Rachel Zoe Project, and VH-1’s The Price of Beauty.
That Clark’s songs would resonate with the folks who musically program TV’s dramatic moments is not surprising given the candid and emotionally uplifting quality of her writing, which she hones even further on Connect the Dots. “It’s the most honest piece of work I could possibly release,” Clark says. “As an artist, it’s a complete representation of me and where I’m at in my life now, including all the ups and downs. I’m a happy person, but I have struggles just like anyone else. Things don’t always come easy to me, and you can definitely hear that in the songs. I hope people can tell that the songs I write are honest and real - that I've truly lived everything I sing about.”
The album’s first single, “Touch & Go,” addresses Clark’s feeling that she never has enough time with the people she cares about. “We recorded Connect the Dots over a month and a half last year at a private home studio near Venice Beach and I was secluded from a lot of my friends,” Clark says. “They would come visit, but it was literally touch and go, like ‘Now I see you, then you’re gone.’” “White Lies” deals with being careful about who you trust and not changing your morals and values. “It’s partly about a relationship, but overall it’s about staying true to who you are,” Clark says. In the same vein are “Not Enough” and “Hold On,” both about staying positive and hanging on to your hopes and dreams. “‘Hold On’ is about my journey the past few years when I was literally sleeping on a closet floor, working all these jobs, and trying to figure it all out,” Clark says. “That’s why I called the album ‘Connect the Dots.’ It’s about making sense of everything and getting from Point A to Point B by moving forward and connecting the dots to music.”
The lyrics may be intensely personal, but the mood on Connect the Dots is buoyant. As a songwriter, Clark couches her struggles in freewheeling melodies brought to life by carefully layered textures of guitar, piano, organ, strings, and horns. To help her create what she calls “the sparkly bits,” Clark turned to producer Matt Appleton (Panic! At The Disco, The Veronicas, Saosin) who played many of the instruments (including accordion, trumpet, ukulele, and mandolin) on the album and composed the string arrangements. “He has great ideas,” Clark says. “If he thinks a song needs a stronger bridge or a change here or there, I’m open to it. He has a wonderful ear.”
Clark would know: She grew up in a musical family on Grand Island, New York, outside of Buffalo. Her grandfather played in a polka band and her mother was a prodigy on the accordion. Clark’s introduction to music was at age 3 through dance and she wound up studying tap and jazz for 15 years. “My first impression of music was when you hear it, you start moving,” she says. Her sister was an avid pop fan who exposed her to everything from Rage Against The Machine to David Bowie. When Clark was eight, her mother enrolled her in her school’s concert band where she excelled at the clarinet. Being a sports nut, Clark played soccer and snowboarded, but after being sidelined by various injuries, her focus turned toward expressing herself through melody and lyrics.
A Sarah McLachlan concert Clark saw when she was 15 convinced her to pick up a guitar. “I got on my bike, rode to the music store, bought a guitar, and rode home with it on my back,” she recalls. She taught herself to play and began performing at open mic nights, including a popular one at local club Nietzsche’s. The open mic was run by Michael Meldrum, a Buffalo folk artist who recorded for Ani DiFranco’s label Righteous Babe. Meldrum taught Clark how to book her own shows, which led to her embarking on a national tour at age 19 during which she traveled across the country alone for two months.
After Clark graduated from college, she decided to move to Orange County, California. A production deal led to the 2006 release of her first EP, Unusual (scoring her an award for Best Female Performer at the 2006 Southern California Music Awards), followed by the release of her 2007 full-length Apples and Oranges, which she funded herself with money she earned doing phone sales for an advertising company. Tirelessly performing around Southern California, Clark followed up a 2007 win for Best Female Performer at the Orange County Music Awards with a win this year for Best Pop Artist. Over the past few years, she has also raised money for various charities including Habitat For Humanity, Children's Hospital of Orange County, and the ASPCA (in the process becoming the owner of a rescue dog), and has performed at variety of benefit concerts for The American Red Cross, The American Cancer Society, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and The Cystic Fibrosis Walk, to name a few.
After signing with Vanguard Records in March 2010, Clark is looking forward to the August release of Connect the Dots. “Having a career in music is everything I’ve ever wanted,” she says. “Nothing is more satisfying than writing a song and having someone listen and feel like they can relate,” Clark says. "My songs will outlive me and I hope they can make a difference in someone's life in the same way music has done for me.”