The Scotsman Sessions #408: Yama Rama

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions, a series of short video performances from artists all around the country introduced by our critics. This week, singer-songwriter Charlie Clark plays Some Days – the second single from his new band, Yama Rama

Singer/songwriter Charlie Clark is still immediately recognisable as one quarter of the late Nineties indie pop outfit Astrid but has lived a lifetime since those fresh-faced days of promise in Glasgow’s fertile music community – days which included a spell in Gary Lightbody’s indie supergroup The Reindeer Section and then subsequent projects Cold Night Song, Our Lunar Activities, Broken Arrow and MJ12. He spent a decade living and working in Los Angeles, going straight to the roots of his psychedelia-inspired west coast sound before returning to his native Isle of Lewis, from where he has hatched his latest musical incarnation.

Yama Rama is named after two Hindu deities as well as nodding to Sanskrit epic The Ramayana, and Clark has been in need of some spiritual healing over the past year. “This project and these songs came about after having a nervous breakdown last year,” he says bluntly.

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Post-lockdown, Clark had been working on a new festival to take place in Stornoway, but the organisation went bust mere days before the event was due to happen, leaving Clark to deal with the liquidation process and the disappointment of his local community at the same time as breaking up with his partner.

Yama RamaYama Rama
Yama Rama

“After working on the other side of the fence as a promoter in the Scottish music industry, I started feeling like a used car salesman,” he says. “I think I find the whole industry unrecognisable these days and just want to write songs and release music, go back to the start and rediscover why I love music.

“I've completely simplified my life now. I do what I do to get by. I came off social media completely, hang out with my kids as much as possible and try to stay well. Without sounding overly dramatic about it, I very much doubt I'd be here if I hadn't started writing these songs, so the influences are hope, self-forgiveness, authenticity and a bit of Neil Young for good measure.”

Yama Rama kicked off as an act of catharsis for Clark with the release of 2023 debut single Influencers Must Die! on Bubble Brain Records, but has now developed into a full band, comprising Christopher James Johnston on vocals and guitar, Mark Makay on bass and Michael Wilson on drums. However, Clark is flying solo on his Scotsman Session performance of Yama Rama’s second single, Some Days, which he filmed in his family home in the village of Gress.

“This song gives a more definitive picture of where this project is going sonically and these songs will now begin to tell a story,” says Clark. “With the first single Influencers Must Die! I was very much just dipping my toe in the water, having fun with music and collaborating again. Now, it's down to serious business. The plan is to release another single this year which we've already recorded and tour and play as much as possible.”

Yama Rama launch their Some Days single at McChuills, Glasgow, 22 May

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