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:: Spotlight :: Interview with young Perth star Claire Clarke

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

19-year-old Perth singer Claire Clarks is one of Australia's rising young music stars. With an attractive look and edgy pop music, Claire has scored good airplay and general feedback with her latest single “Rush”, and her debut album “Unhinged” is released on March 1, 2008. I had the pleasure of having a lovely chat to Claire while she was in Melbourne on a promotional visit.

Q. Tell us about your background and when you decided to pursue a music career?

A. I was born in Perth. I don’t have a musical family except my Pop who played the organ. I did find out that my great grandparents used to perform in theatre shows and play piano. I got into music when I was 11years old. When I was about 13 or 14 I started to write my own music. There wasn’t a huge interest in writing until I gained more experiences and then thought I could turn them into songs. My father passed away when I was 11 and I wrote a song in memory of him at a school concert. My teacher suggested I do singing lessons and I began from there – in choirs and plays. Now I am following my dreams.

Q. How does the realisation of finishing your first album feel?

A. To see my debut album come together is a realisation of part of this dream. Hearing it all finished is very gratifying to me. All the hard work that we all put into the album has come to fruition with this finished work.

Q. You seem to have a great team and support group behind you?

A. I’m so lucky to have a great team. Bluestone Records has been so supportive. Being an independent artist is a hard journey but I have enjoyed the challenge. We’ve put much energy into it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the amount of support I’ve had from the East Coast of Australia. Obviously, Perth, as my home town, is strongly supporting me.

Q. You’re part of a terrific music scene in Western Australia…

A. We’ve produced some great artists like Eskimo Joe, John Butler Trio, The Waifs, Little Birdy, Jebediah, etc and yes, the clich√© that everybody knows everybody is true. Living in Perth keeps you grounded and you can focus on the music.

Q. The “Rush” video has just appeared on the Video Hits TV programme. Tell us about it?

A. We did that in an old warehouse in Fremantle. The place is soon to be knocked down for new apartments, so it was a bit old and dirty. The art director transformed the space and it turned out really well. The male model, Ryan, was in the video and he is coming up the modelling ranks now and is soon to do an international modelling job. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed it.

Q. Tell us about the making of the album?

A. We (Bluestone Records) all got involved in the making of the album. It was produced in Perth before going to New York for mastering. That was pretty exciting. It was great to see the progression of the recording. I learned a lot from sitting through the process and, obviously, still have much to learn. I was in Melbourne recently, recording with Lindsay Gravina. We did a couple of new songs and he taught me a whole new skill set. It has been a real eye opener.

Q. Which singers have provided you with great inspiration?

A. I’ve had inspiration from other songwriters like Diana Krall. You can really hear the warmth and honesty in her voice and lyrics. John Mayer is another who speaks from the heart and is very forthright in a unique way, able to see things from a different perspective. Then there are live performers like Avril Lavigne and Pink who bring great presence into the pop-rock world. But there are many artists that I admire and respect.

Q. You've been an ambassador for the Theory For Hair hair salon in Perth…

A. I started going to them when I was 13 years old and I did a little bit of modelling for them. As my career started to take off I became the “Face of Theory For Hair” in Perth. The owner, Carmel, is an amazing woman and a great support to me.

Q. Are you an independent young woman?

A. I am an independent person. I enjoy my downtime. I have a vivid imagination so I can daydream. I enjoy meeting new people and, through my manager, been able to do this. Everything depends on my moods. Writing is something I do in solitude normally. When I am with a large group of people I can’t focus my thoughts on songwriting, although my recent writing sessions in Melbourne were pretty cool.

Q. What can we expect to see on stage when you perform?

A. The acoustic live show is usually me plus a guitarist and bass player. Otherwise the full band is pretty lively and I like to let loose and jump around on stage.

Q. Have you learned more than expected during this chapter in your career?

A. I do look far ahead. I’ve learned a lot about myself; what I am capable of. I’ve learned a bit about the industry – what audiences like and how they relate to a song. There are ups and downs and it’s a continual learning experience.

Q. I suppose you are getting a lot of advice…

A. Lots of advice – most is valuable. People have mentored me through situations and that’s been great. You need to see the big picture. I don’t want to be a flash in the plan.

Q. What other interests do you have away from music?

A. Music is pretty much my life at the moment but I do really like to chill out at home – watching television and sleeping. I like reading – at some stage I have to immerse my mind in a book.

Q. Are you an active Myspace user?

A. I like talking to people on Myspace and getting to know them to some extent. Otherwise it would be hard to connect with fans. I get quite a lot of response from places like Japan, UK and the USA. It’s interesting to find out what sort of people listen to my music.

Q. Tell us a little about your role as an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund?

A. In Western Australia it is very hands-on because the most threatened species are there. There are lots of things to do and I try to learn much about the various projects. On March 29 there is Earth Hour where lights will be turned off for an hour that day. It saves so much energy with a black skyline. You can get the community involved like that. I’m honoured to be part of the cause. It’s become a passion of mine.

Q. What's happening for you in the next few months?

A. I’m just done support shows with Kate Miller-Heidke in February. Then I will be launching the album in store on March 1. That same day I am also supporting Vanessa Amorosi at Liddell Reserve for the Wanneroo Summer Series. Then, in the second half of the year, I will be doing my own shows nationally.

The single “Rush” is out now and the album “Unhinged” on March1, both through Bluestone Records.

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