Few artists in Austria can boast a place on the SPIEGEL bestseller list and almost 180 thousand fans on Instagram – CLARA LOUISE is one of them. The singer, poet and author who moved from Germany knows what it means to touch people with words. After numerous volumes of poetry, albums and tours, her sixth studio album “warm” was released on September 8th and offers a refreshing mix of what she does best: music and poetry, full of depth. CLARA LOUISE spoke to Katharina Reiffenstuhl about the pressure to succeed, how the now 30-year-old feels about her musical beginnings in 2009 and what her reaction was to the feature request with the SÖHNE MANNHEIMS.
What brought you to Austria?
Clara Louise: I’ve been in Austria for 13 years now and moved here for love. But I also feel very comfortable here.
You have been interested in poetry and poetry since you were a child. How did this start?
Clara Louise: It started when I was around 13 years old. I used this as a form of journaling. Mostly in the evenings when I couldn’t sleep, it was also a difficult time for me, I had to process a variety of emotions. I then wrote texts and didn’t even define them as poems. I first had to define that when I published my first book, so I first had to think about what genre it was. (laughs) I had to google whether it was even a poem if it didn’t rhyme. The songwriting thing came about when my cousin, who was making rap music at the time, said he needed someone to sing the choruses for him. Then I thought to myself “Yeah, okay, I’ll just try it out” and I slowly started writing songs.
So that means your first point of contact with music was actually rap?
Clara Louise: Actually yes. A funny coincidence, with the new album it’s the first time I have a song that has a rap part on it, by Moses Pelham. But otherwise I listen to very little hip hop and rap. That’s how it started, but only by chance. It was never my style of music.
My most important question: Your new album is called “warm”. Did you change the website to reflect this or was this always your color scheme?
Clara Louise: (laughs) No, I’ve already adapted that to the warm scheme and the album cover. In general, these are kind of my colors, autumn colors and earth tones.
Clara Louise (c) Alexander Tiefenbacher
“I COULDN’T WORK WITH SOMEONE I DON’T GET ON WELL WITH IN PRIVATE”
It’s now your sixth studio album.
Clara Louise: Crazy, right?
What do you know after six albums that you didn’t know after the first?
Clara Louise: You always learn a lot because you are constantly changing. That means you always have to look “Is this still what I want to do? Or is that still stored from previous times?” You always have to get involved in new experiences. What I’ve definitely learned over time, and I’ve managed to do this with almost every album: For me personally, it’s more important to work with people with whom I harmonize well than to pay attention to how someone plays a certain instrument or something mixed. It must feel good to do that. I couldn’t work with someone I didn’t get along well with privately. There have always been experiences in my life where I tried to do things differently, but it is so important to stay true to yourself. That you make music that you like and like and don’t get caught up in the world of what the audience expects of you. It’s certainly a challenge to always pay attention to it because you keep slipping into it.
You’re on the new single SÖHNE MANNHEIMS to be heard, as the first female voice in 28 years. What kind of a feeling is this?
Clara Louise: I’m with them too SÖHNE MANNHEIMS grew up, it was always on the radio back then. I have so many memories of the songs and when the request came, at first I thought it was a joke, that it was spam or not serious. But then of course I was really happy and asked myself how they came across me in particular. I’m still 100% figuring it out. (laughs) But they are extremely nice people, it was a good fit right from the start, both the song and the interpersonal relationships. It was really fun working with them and I feel honored.
Are you someone who enjoys making features?
Clara Louise: More and more. Not so much before, but since I’ve done a few features now, I’ve noticed that working with other people is also fun. You also get involved with new songs. The song with the SÖHNE MANNHEIMS For example, it was actually already finished, then I said “It would be great if I could write my own verse” and that gave it a different touch. Music also changes as we work on it together.
You’ve been making music for a really long time, your first single was released in 2009. Would you still like to listen to it today?
Clara Louise: Nope. Not into this old music at all. Nowadays, when I hear it, I can smile about it without feeling ashamed of it. I just think I was extremely young then and of course it sounded different than what I do now. You were someone different then than you are now. But it’s a bit exciting to listen to it and remember what people thought and did back then. But it happens very, very rarely that I look at or listen to old stuff.
When that first single was released you were only 17 years old. What’s it like at such a young age? Are you under pressure?
Clara Louise: I never really felt under pressure; it was always very much within myself that I wanted to do this. When I realized that I really enjoyed music, I was ambitious and tried to give myself a lot of opportunities. I then registered for competitions, took part in castings, I just wanted to do everything. I enjoyed it from the start, but the pressure came later. After the first two albums I noticed “Okay, this won’t go through the roof right away.” It’s hard work and you have to work for it. There isn’t really a concrete plan that you can follow; there are a lot of factors that play into whether something works or not. At times it was also associated with pressure, where I asked myself whether what I was doing wasn’t good enough. But I sometimes think to myself now that I don’t think I would have wanted to be successful at such a young age. I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle that. In that respect, it’s okay, the way it all went and moved forward rather slowly.
Clara Louise (c) Alexander Tiefenbacher
When was the point where you realized: you are successful now?
Clara Louise: That was actually when the poetry books came along. 2018 was my first book of poetry and from 2019 or so I realized that I could focus on that and declare it as my main job. So both music and poetry. That took a good 10 years.
“YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF”
Today you are all sorts of things – singer, author, poet and also designer. How do you reconcile that?
Clara Louise: It’s not that easy to find a good balance. I just enjoy different things and I really enjoy doing all of the things that I’m currently doing. But I still notice that you have to focus and hand in tasks. You can’t do everything yourself, otherwise the result won’t be good. And of course it doesn’t do you any good. First and foremost I’m a musician and poet, I would say. These are my main fields. I’m involved in everything else and do what I enjoy, but most of the work is done by other people in that area.
When you write lyrics, do you decide beforehand whether it will be a song or a poem? In principle you just have to put a melody underneath.
Clara Louise: That’s right, actually it’s not a big difference, it’s very related. But because I always start with the music when writing a song, it’s always very clear that it’s going to be a song. When you write it, it just becomes a poem. I also write a little differently because I often don’t rhyme at all when I write poems. Somehow that doesn’t suit me that way. When it comes to songwriting, you basically can’t do anything else and you’re somehow a little more limited in terms of space. If you do a classic pop format with a maximum of three to four minutes, you have to keep it short. That’s why I always have a very clear definition of what will happen next from the very beginning. But with an album I’ve also tried out what it’s like if I write a poem and then turn it into a song. The song is called “When it snows in summer” and was only later converted from a poem to a song.
And did it work well, are you satisfied?
Clara Louise: Yes, I really like the song and I like playing it too. I just have a problem remembering the text. (laughs) I don’t normally do that, but because it was a poem first, I didn’t memorize it so quickly along with the music.
You’re going on tour in April next year. What are your expectations?
Clara Louise: I hope it will be nice. But it will definitely be, the last two tours were great. I haven’t completely planned it out yet, it should definitely be a combination of music and poetry again, maybe more poetry than on the other tours so far. I just want to create a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. So my biggest goal is that everyone has a good time.
Thank you for the conversation!
Clara Louise (Facebook)
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