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:: Spotlight :: An interview with rising Australian singer-songwriter Claire Trentain

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

One of this year's catchy new releases comes from an artist who is little known in her home country. Her name is Claire Trentain. She is a singer-songwriter from Cairns, Queensland and, through a purposeful, strong-willed campaign, has started to make a name for herself in outside territories, such as Japan. Her debut album is titled “Loving The Blue And Green” contains infectious hooks and melodies and comes as a result of Claire being the first Australian to have an album produced by the acclaimed Murlyn Music team of producers and writers, a rare feat for an independent artist. I spoke to Claire about this rise to prominence and the capacity to do-it-herself.

Tell us about your musical upbringing?

I come from a really small town. I’ve always been into music and the arts. I’ve followed that path from when I first performed on stage at age 5. It was a typical country and western scene. I took it seriously at high school when I started writing music and formed a band. I decided to focus on being a songwriter and glad I pursued that path. I believe that you can initially gain more respect as a songwriter. When you do an album you can then work with various producers on a different level. At that stage they are normally willing to join the project.

You have done much already in creating a “do-it-yourself” environment for yourself. It’s becoming a big issue with a number of performers now…

It’s relatively new in pop music. Unfortunately, Australia doesn’t support that very well, unlike rock music. Getting your music out there is one of the hardest things I’ve found so far. Radio has started to support my music and that’s a good sign. I definitely didn’t take the easy road. That might have been an option. I chose not to, because I want creative freedom. I am willing to work hard for that and I’m hopeful that it will gain the public’s respect. Hopefully, there will be longevity for me in the industry.

Were you ever pushed into something like “Australian Idol”?

It was suggested to me that I have a go at “Idol”. But it’s not in my character to pursue that path.

It’s quite an achievement for an independent artist to gain significant international attention, such as you in Japan and America…

Basically I was writing here for others. The opportunity arose when nobody wanted to start relationships with people and then be able to give up songs. I got together with Murlyn Music. They wanted a writer sent over to them and I was lucky enough to be selected for an international songwriting tour. I went to Sweden, Norway, America and other places. It worked out really well. I struck a great working relationship with some of their wonderful people. I wanted to produce an album myself, but they showed their belief in me and wanted to do it for me. They signed up all the producers I wanted. It’s a huge honour and an Australian first. Murlyn really showed that they are in the business for the music and the passion. The Japanese like it. I hope to go back to Japan in April. The UK is showing good interest, through an agent there. I’d like to see some success in my home country though. I want to explore the markets that the music is suited to. Wherever it takes off is where I’ll go. I’d really like to do well in Australia and to tour remote areas. I’m also keen to pass on information to young people in schools, about having such aspirations. I’ve got a good feeling about the future prospects.

I guess that you can never rule out becoming involved with a major record label should the right deal be put on the table…

As I said, I really wanted the album to be what I wanted it to be. People suggested that I be of a certain style but I wanted to have creative freedom. I would never rule out being associated with a major label, especially an international one, because I don’t know their market. I certainly believe that whatever gets negotiated will be based on a good deal for all. I simply chose the independent way at this stage. It’s still hard work, as I don’t have big budgets for film clips or advertising.

There’s an edge to the songs on your debut album. Do you take to songwriting easily?

Songwriting is a creative release for me. I’ve probably got enough good material for three albums. T least I have this first album out. There are songs on it from my cheeky university days through to more recent times. There is good variety.

When you perform live, what is the make-up of your band?

The band is an all-Australian band – all in their early 20s and very capable musicians. We have great interaction on stage. There is a drummer, keyboardist, guitarist, and bassist. We’ve been together for about ten months and the shows have been great fun.

What sort of music have you grown up liking?

I grew up in the 1980s – Michael Jackson, Prince, etc. My parents were into music and had collections including The Eagles, Supertramp, and many others. They took a liking to all the music of the time. More recently, I really like Nelly Furtado, Gwen Stefani, to name a couple.

Your music already indicates a willingness to push boundaries and create edgy music. Is that in line with your personality?

Yes, definitely. Murlyn Music is a team of professional songwriters and I had formal training. I came in and made some suggestions that we tried. There was a quirky nature to it. My aim was to come up with different ideas and different types of songs.

You also studied fine arts…

Yes, I studied at university and have artwork on my website. It helps with paying the bills. That’s why I hope to come to Melbourne more often, because it’s very arts-orientated.

In using your initiative to pursue a career your way, the development of your website must be considered important…

Yes, I have built a good base and promote my music there. We’ve been able to attract interest in radio stations through the website’s look. Internet radio has been supportive. It needs to be done because have mass distribution and at least I can get the website to places like iTunes and other online areas, because it won’t readily be available in the stores.

Claire Trentain’s album ‘Loving The Blue & Green” is out now, as well as her latest single ‘Perfect’.

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