HAWKESBURY musical artist Imogen Clark (25) was supposed to be in America right now, touring with Jim Lauderdale. But, as the theme for 2020 goes, plans had to change.
Instead, Imogen has spent 'lockdown' at her childhood home in Bowen Mountain, filming (socially distanced) video clips and performing web-only concerts from her backyard - and entertaining her neighbours from over the fence in the process.
Imogen is a little under two months shy of releasing her third studio album, an EP called The Making Of Me, which she describes as a journey of self discovery.
But instead of the normal mad onslaught of public events you'd associate with an artist pre-album release, Imogen has been spending a lot of time with her rescue dog Socks, and hanging out in her dad's music studio, based in the front yard of their home.
"Socks is so excited I'm not going anywhere at the moment. I'm usually gone for most of the year, but now she gets separation anxiety when I just go to the shops," Imogen laughed.
The video clip for Imogen's latest single, 'My Own Worst Enemy', was designed and filmed to accommodate social distancing. Imogen recorded her part from her Bowen Mountain studio, while other artists sent in their clips from all over the country, and the world.
The result is a lighthearted take on 'the new norm' of lockdown, and a joy to watch.
Musically, Imogen said the forthcoming album was about finding a way to share her love for different musical styles and not be relegated to a particular 'box' or genre.
"The Making Of Me is the first new record I've put out since Collide over two years ago, and I'm really loving the reaction from fans [from the songs I've released] so far," Imogen told the Gazette.
"This EP is really the first time that, while making music, I haven't put boundaries on myself while writing and recording.
"In the past I've been worried about what people thought and what box I sat in musically. I always thought I didn't belong in the country category and I was a bit lost.
"I think this is definitely a move forward for me. I love pop like Taylor Swift, but I also love Bruce Springsteen, and they're different to each other but I wanted to reflect all the music I love and how they can fit together. It's genre-diverse, and a new era for me."
She said the concept for the EP was about "becoming the person you wanted to be, but were afraid you couldn't be because of what other people would think."
"It's an album about self discovery and I'm hoping that will resonate with a lot of people."
Though COVID-19 has forced a temporary shutdown of the global music industry in terms of live performances, Imogen said she and her recording team "took it in our stride".
"We decided we needed to let go of all the ideas we had for this year, and rejuggle our plans, and take it as something we just can't control and make the best of it," Imogen said.
"It would have been very easy to just take a break and do nothing, but we didn't want this [pandemic] to silence the music."
Imogen finished recording the new EP in Los Angeles in January, returning home only a few weeks before countries started locking their borders due to the coronavirus.
"The luck of it was so insane that we got that recording in," she said.
"So we decided we didn't want to go quiet. And I'm very lucky to have such an amazing team around me.
"This time more than ever, people need music the most. I've been living off new albums to keep me company so I wanted to provide that for other people as well."
Imogen's virtual 'backyard tour' included four sold-out, live-streamed performances, and wrapped-up last month.
A new single and title track from the album is due out next Friday, July 10.
Check out the music video from the current single, 'My Own Worst Enemy' - featuring Imogen's Bowen Mountain studio complete with Tom Petty and Led Zeppelin posters - at https://bit.ly/2Vz4Lo2.
The Making Of Me EP, out August 21, is available to preorder at https://ffm.to/themakingofme.
Imogen is currently gearing-up to get back on the stage, with a bunch of new live shows to be announced as lockdowns ease. Watch this space.