IN THE lead up to her Australian tour, Meld catches up with the ever-chirpy American singer, songwriter and YouTube sensation, Clara C.
THEY say your twenties are the best time of your life. Clara Chung, who is better known by her stage name Clara C, can definitely vouch for this. The 24-year-old singer and songwriter embarked on her music career after winning a number of awards, including the 10th Annual Kollaboration (which recognises talented Asian and Pacific Islander American entertainers) and the ISA Breakout Performer award in 2009, and hasn’t looked back since.
“I never thought of becoming a full-time singer but competitions presented the opportunities for me and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take them as a chance to perform,” Clara says of her big break.
“My friends asked me to join a competition and everything just hit the ground running from there.”
The multi-instrumentalist released her first album, Art In My Heart, last year and has been touring major cities in the US. But her success does not indicate that life is a non-stop cakewalk for Clara.
“Working and studying at the same time wasn’t easy,” she admits.
“Junior year was so stressful with all my music projects and schoolwork. I was burnt out.
“Constant travelling also makes me feel like I am living out of a suitcase!”
Clara made it through college and graduated with a degree in psychology and education from UC Irvine . Now, she is pursuing music full-time.
Clara seems downright cheery and energized on the day of our interview, which is conducted over the internet as the singer is kicking back in Seattle with her family.
Born in New York, Clara’s family soon moved to the West Coast, and she was raised in Los Angeles. She grew up with a predilection for music, singing karaoke and jamming with friends in church group.
Acoustic is Clara’s specialty; she plays guitar, flute, piano, melodica and trumpet. She is the personification of sunshine and her music is equally uplifting – a hint of jazz groove stirred in with sweet melodies to create cheerful acoustic tunes.
Clara has gained much of her following through YouTube, uploading covers and collaborations recorded during competitions. What was an amateur channel two years ago is now her main method of communication with her fans worldwide.
Clara regularly updates new clips, and when she released her debut album, she shot a music video for the lead single Offbeat with music video director Ross Ching (known for his work with Death Cab for Cutie and Kina Grannis) and producer Don Le, which has received over 1 million views.
“YouTube is an excellent platform for people to display their talents,” Clara says.
As a songwriter, she says she especially appreciates original individuals among YouTubers. People who compose their owns songs and fill them with original words are truly inspiring to her, she says.
Keen to not take her success for granted, Clara has also devoted time to teaching autistic children though the TEACH initiative, a joint program of the White House and the Education Department that aims to teach young kids and reform education. In addition, Clara’s musical talents were recognised on a whole new level when she performed several gigs at the White House itself.
Talking about her upcoming plans, the singer appears utterly excited about her December Asia Pacific tour, which will kick off in Singapore, followed by shows in Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Melbourne and Sydney.
“This is my first step in Asia. I am all ready for culture shocks,” Clara laughs.
“I have some close friends in Australia so it will be lovely to catch up with them too. I will have to do all the touristy things, see a koala and try vegemite.”
Clara will be touring with her supporting act Charles J Tan, an Australian independent artist.
In the meantime, the singer is working on her second album which will be released in 2012. She reveals things will be a little different this time, with a more varied mix of themes. As well as tracks in her signature acoustic style, the album will be infused with some songs to dance to, some heartfelt love songs, and some funky jazz tunes.
“This album contains elements from all over the place,” the chirpy musician says.
“But all of them will make people happy.”
Clara C will perform in Melbourne on Saturday December 3, 6pm, at Arrow on Swanston, 488 Swanston St, Carlton. Tickets are $29 (General Admission) $39 (A Reserve) and $55 (VIP), and are available from Monsoon Productions.