When Alex Clare had to choose between his musical career and his faith, he never doubted.
Ten years ago, the British singer-songwriter was on the cusp of mainstream success; he didn’t know it at the time, but one of his songs was set to become a worldwide hit, and he got the opportunity to perform on what could have been a career-long tour with Adele.
But some of the spectacles fell during the important Jewish holiday of Passover, or Passover. For Clare, there was no question of playing.
His label, Island Records, accepted this at the time, he told Sky News, said they would work around it and try to find other opportunities for him. But later in 2011, when he couldn’t play another show because it was falling during the Sukkot holidays, he said that “it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back”, and that he received an ultimatum.
“Most of Judaism isn’t black and white, it’s very gray,” says Clare. “There are areas where you can be very flexible and there are areas where you just cannot. When you know there is no gray area, it is very easy to say ‘I don’t. can’t do that, “but that makes it even harder for others because they sort of see denial as belligerence or aggression or a lack of willingness to compromise. But you can’t do it. compromises only in a number of areas. “
A spokesperson for the island told Sky News they “were as upset as anyone” to hear Clare’s story and apologized directly to the singer. “What was told to him 10 years ago was false and in no way represents our point of view or our policy,” they said.
Ultimately, Clare was dropped after the release of her debut album, The Lateness Of The Hour – only to be resigned after the single Too Close rose the charts the following year in 2012 following an advertising campaign. from Microsoft, becoming a worldwide success.
Now living in Jerusalem and producing music on his own terms after several years away, Clare says he never questions the potential “sliding door” effects of the choices he made.
“I never think about [turning down the Adele tour] because my career really took off right after, ”he says. “My career has become absolutely interstellar, so to speak, with Too Close and The Lateness Of The Hour, my first album. So there is no “what if” because I had everything. After making these sacrifices and commitments, everything went well. “
Still, that doesn’t mean Clare wasn’t burned by her experiences. “It’s a hellish industry,” he laughs. “In terms of spiritual and emotional well-being, this is not exactly the best industry to get into. Anything that is that fickle will be quite unhealthy for the individual.”
But the singer is optimistic, quickly pointing out the positives in any situation he has found himself in.
He says his faith has helped him through a difficult time. “The only thing that gave me meaning and purpose throughout this time was my faith and my belief that what I was doing was really the right thing for me,” he says.
“But you know, if you stand out or lead an alternative lifestyle, it’s not always tolerated – even by the most liberal people. It was really, really tough in that first recording deal with Island. , they didn’t really do it. And the way the cards were dealt, you know, my personal choices and my religious beliefs didn’t seem right for a career in music. “
But being a megastar was never the end goal, he says. “I think it’s very hard for people in the music industry to think that every musician doesn’t necessarily want to be a pop star. I just want to play live and make music without any of the accessories that come with it.
“I think they couldn’t really figure that out. And, you know, they put profits before people. Like most businesses, they’re there to make money at the end of the day.”
Clare made the decision in 2015 to move to Jerusalem to attend the yeshiva, a religious college. While still writing music, including songs for other artists, his studies and his family – he is a father of three – have long been his focus. Today, five years after his last album, Tail Of Lions, he made his comeback with the latest single Why Don’t Ya and has more plans on the way.
Filming now will be a very different affair, he says, though he’s quick to dispel any myths that even the early days were glamorous in any way.
“I played a gig in LA a few years ago and Slash from Guns N Roses was there,” he says. “No one told us, but he threw an after-party for us. My tour manager was anxious because we had to set off to play in another city, I think Sacramento, and we had to take the road.
“Next thing you know, we’re halfway to Sacramento and we get a phone call like, ‘where are you guys? This is the only thing I can say after a tour that would have been like, “Oh, that’s pretty cool”. But that didn’t even happen. “
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Does he think the music industry has changed since its early years? “I don’t know. I think in terms of PR and the way they do it, that has to change, obviously. Culturally? Honestly, I don’t know.” He’s laughing. “We’ll see. At the end of the day the music industry is a business and anything that’s going to make money for a lot of these labels is probably all that really matters, which is good. is how it is.
“Are people more tolerant and kind? Superficially, definitely. I think that as a world we have to do a lot more internally. We are very afraid of saying the wrong thing or of being seen as doing the wrong thing. thing.
“The reality is that unless people are consciously trying to be better people and do the right thing, spread more positivity and do more positive things, and take more initiative. to do the right things, I don’t think much is really going to change, because it’s very external. It’s just, for a lot of people, about how they are viewed as opposed to what is actually happening in the internal world.
“So I hope that will change. There is still a long way to go – for all of us, not just in the music industry. I think in general there is a long way to go.”
Why Don’t Ya, by Alex Clare, is out now