Graduates 23: Anthea Clarke: Digital Music and Sound Arts

“From the very first assignment I experimented and took my sound somewhere I’d never explored before. The course has been really life changing for me.”

Please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

I am currently working on an audio-visual album called, Homeland which is my final project. My family are from Barbados and on my visits there over the years, I’ve made many field recordings. Most of these were captured during the various lockdowns. I was visiting regularly to care for my parents while doing most of my first year of uni on zoom. I kept getting stuck over there as flights back to the UK were cancelled over and over again. I used my time wisely and recorded everything like nature, conversations and environmental sounds. I recorded most things on my phone as I always had it with me. These recordings became the basis of my uni assignments, which are now part of the album, Homeland. It was the first time I had spent so much time in Barbados and I had never thought it is as home before. But I now think of it as my second home and the album focusses on identity and spiritual connections to land and ancestors. It’s been quite deep, as I had recorded my grans voice many times, she sadly passed away before I could make it back to the island, and another lockdown made it impossible to go to her funeral. Using her voice on the song, When The Rain Fall, has felt like a kind of closure, it feels like I’m saying goodbye to her in a joyous way.

My influences are pretty vast, you may not hear it in the music, but punk and new wave had a big influence on me, I really enjoy messing with sound and if it sounds too clean I like to rough it up a bit. I have a naturally soulful voice and as a black woman, I find that people were always putting me into certain boxes, like r n b or soul so I guess I always wanted to fight against that. I always loved Kate Bush and Madonna who are very different from each other, but I always admired them for ripping up the rule book and doing their own thing. When I discovered that Kate produces her stuff as well, it made me think, “oh, maybe I can do that to” kinda thing. I’m heavily influenced by Hip Hop culture and dub and reggae which I grew up listening to and Radiohead are my boys!


How have you found your course and what made you choose it?

I’m a very, mature student who avoided higher education for years as I didn’t think it was for me. I didn’t feel clever enough and I always imagined myself flailing and failing but its turned out to be the complete opposite. Just before COVID hit and the first lockdown I had planned to go to Barbados to be with mum and dad and see my gran but the flights were cancelled and I was stuck in my flat. I was spending a lot of time alone and was getting intoxicated daily, making the most of the weather. But I was mentally in a bad place, worrying about my family and the world.

I wasn’t making much music and I was feeling a bit lost and disillusioned creatively. I felt I was doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results, and I wanted to take my practice into a more experimental direction, I just didn’t know how to do it.  In a moment of clarity I decided to have a look at courses in Brighton and I found the DMSA course, it sounded right up my street and I was just in time to apply. I asked my sister to help me get the application together and made a pact to go sober if I got in because I didn’t want to start uni with an unhealthy crutch. And that’s exactly what I did. From the very first assignment I experimented and took my sound somewhere I’d never explored before. The course has been really life changing for me.


Was the location of your course in Brighton more important than you thought it would be?

Well, I’ve lived in Brighton for the past 8 years so yes, location was very important. For my song Ancestors Inside, you can hear the sound of a beach in Barbados but I actually filmed the video by the rock pools on Rottingdean beach. It made sense, as Brighton and surrounding areas are home to me now to, I also filmed in Manchester where I grew up. So it feels full circle kind of thing. Lots of versions of home.


What are your plans after graduation?

Homeland will be released on Rosehill Records, we released the Consciousness single last year, and we will drop, The Sun Will Kill me in June with the album soon to follow. I’m really excited about working with a Brighton label who feel like family to me, so its pretty special. I’m curating a couple of festivals in Brighton later this year and I plan to get more work along those lines. I will keep doing my radio shows here in Brighton on Slack City and 1BTN. I am one half of DJ collective Sista Selecta and we are running the Sunday night at The Sistxrhood at Glastonbury this year. Then after that I guess I will be releasing and promoting the album. I’m looking forward to getting lots of gigs and taking Homeland on tour.

I will be very busy but I have to say I will miss being at uni, I like the structure of it. But I made a lot of friends, some who I have collaborated with already, I know I’ve made friends for life. I’m like an auntie to all of them really as I’m so much older than them, and I care about them all so much. My course mates are family to me now, it’s beautiful.


If you could give you 16 year old self any advice about going to University what would it be?

I was very different as a 16 year old, I didn’t have much confidence or belief in myself. I would tell myself to put my fears aside and just go for it.  That life is something you have to make happen. All the positive changes in life are things you have to work for. Energetically, emotionally and physically, you have to make shit happen. I would tell myself to collaborate with my course mates, to go to the classes even if they bore you, to ask for help when you need it and soak up the experience as much as possible. you have to make the most of things, we are only here once.

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