Better Know a Memphian: Clay Otis

Posted by Holly Whitfield | August 8th 2013 2723 0

Meet Clay Hardee, aka Clay Otis, a Memphis musician, filmmaker and man about town. Here, he answers my questions about his records, his inspirations, Memphians and his epic quest to get people to dance at shows.


(Photo credit: Casey Latolois)

Name: Clay Hardee, aka, Clay Otis

Job: Musician, filmmaker

Hometown: Panama City Beach, Fla.

I am: a total open book. I have no filter.

I moved to Memphis to: make a documentary about Snowglobe. I thought they were famous because they had put out three records that I liked a lot.

The people in Memphis: make music the way farmers farm, or carpenters work with tools, because it is their lifestyle and they wouldn't know what to do with themselves otherwise. I like that its a lifestyle thing, like in Detroit or New Orleans, not a cool thing; its just what you do to get by, like going to church.

If I could only eat at one Memphis restaurant for a month, it would be: Deja Vu

To get people to dance at shows, I: yell at them, shake them, throw things at them. I do most of my show from the middle of the crowd. I loathe indifference and try to allow as little of it to infect a room I play in as possible.

The lack of dancing at Memphis shows has: cost me many a hook-up.

I'm most proud of: My neice and nephews.

My favorite band right now is: the Sheiks.

We all want: to love one another and feel part of something bigger than ourselves, even just for a night. People crave that and are thankful and respond when it's offered to them.

My first record ("Showbiz Lights") was about: celebration,dating, and fun. The followup, "The Overacheiver", was about self doubt, drugs, and family issues. The one we're editing now is an improvisational dance record about social issues and Brent (Stabbs of Scissors and the Cuts), Jake (Vest of Tiger High), and I are currently writing the follow up to that one: a Motown/ West Coast country-merging of love songs.

My favorite movie is: anything directed by Jean Renoir, or "Nights of Cabiria" by Fellini.

The best record to come out of Memphis in the past 10 years is: Jay Reatard's "Blood Visions".

My role model is: John Cassavettes.

The older I get: the more I'm aware of how little I've learned.

I never wanted to be: a DEA agent.

I love Memphis because: it's soulful.

Pick up Clay's records here.

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