When Garnet "Tall Man" Clare moved from Whistler to Portland nearly two years ago, he thought he was done with Animal Nation.
Clare had founded the local hip-hop duo with Mike Armitage back in 2006 and they had toiled away at the project both locally and playing gigs across Canada. But eventually, Clare, who was born and raised in the resort, decided he needed to try something new. So, he and his fiancée packed up and headed south of the border. (Armitage later moved to Bellingham.)
"The Whistler scene supported us for so long," he says. "It helped us become who we were. As we started to do better, the love shut down a little bit... It was so frustrating for me. I just disbanded Animal Nation and moved to America and thought I'd try something new."
Taking a page from Canadian indie supergroup Broken Social Scene, Clare hasn't abandoned the Animal Nation name all together. Instead, he's using it as an umbrella under which he's releasing solo material as "Animal Nation presents" Tall Man. So far that includes a single and accompanying video called "Now That You're Here."
"Animal Nation had been together for a few years and I had been promoting the brand so much I didn't want to branch out on my own, so I figured by copying Broken Social Scene, why not follow the leaders?" he says.
The song is just the first to be released. Clare says he has 11 tracks written for a full album with three already recorded. "I've been working hard on this record. It's comparing and contrasting the differences between Canada and America a little bit and what it's like to be somewhere you really like, but know isn't a long-term possible solution. We know we can't stay here forever, but we're having a good time... I'm hoping to have it finished for the summer so I can do a cross-Canada tour," he says.
Since moving, Clare has bought a new camera and has been shooting as much as he can for accompanying videos. His goal is to release a video with each song from the album. "Hey, if Beyonce can do it," he jokes.
The move has been fruitful, he adds. He's been doing a monthly video night at a local bar in which he "spins videos all night and (does) a small video MC set," as well as playing at open mics, making connections at weekly hip hop nights and — perhaps most surprisingly — joining a punk band.
"I always thought of Animal Nation as a punk rock hip-hop band," he says. "To me punk rock is doing whatever you want...It's been cool and inspiring. It's been fun not to be the main person in the band and be towards the back of the stage. It's really fun; it takes the weight off your shoulders, but being at the back of the stage reinvigorated my love to be at the front of the stage."
To that end, he has a message for his fans back home in Whistler: "What's up Whistler, I miss you guys. If you want to see Animal Nation play live again for the ski and snowboard festival, hit up the Gibbons Group!"
To see the new video, check out youtube.com/watch?v=lpakvvzRP0Q.