With raving reviews from blogs and poets, comes an all-in-all brighter shining star. Her name is Clara Engel and she is an independent Toronto-based multi-talent and singer. She’s currently signed to the independent label Vox Humana, based in the UK. They released her first EP called Madagascar in November of 2011, which included the three songs: Blind Me, Madagascar and Accompanied By Dreams. She’s currently working on a new album that will be finished in late spring. I took some time to ask her a few questions, about the beginning of her career, up until now and what more she’s got in store for us in the future.
Hello Clara! Tell us more about yourself?
– I am an artist working in the medium of song. I live in Canada. I’ve made seven albums independently. I’ve also had a few releases via independent labels: Vox Humana, Backwards Music, Tapemancy, and the now defunct Corps-Morts Records. Beyond that… I’m a warm blooded human creature who performs and creates. This question is hard for me. I seem to enter a wordless, fractured mental state when I’m put on the spot to describe myself or my work.
What got you into making music and how did you find my blog?
– To answer your second question first: I stumble upon blogs by looking up other artists who I either feel a slight kinship with, or curiosity about. I can’t remember which artist led me to your blog, but I’m glad I stumbled upon it. To answer your first question, I don’t really know. For better or worse I picked up a classical guitar when I was about 12, as if in a trance, and just set about learning to play it, in my own way. I started writing songs a year or two later. I can’t seem to stop. Even when I give up and completely loose faith in my abilities, there’s a deeper and more steel-willed part of me that keeps going. It’s mysterious to me.
I’ve researched a little bit more and found out that you also have an album released called “Secret Beasts”, on cassette, tell me more about the process involved in making that album?
– I first released Secret Beasts myself in 2009, on pressed CDs, then digitally via Bandcamp in 2010. Then, in 2011, I connected with an Italian label, Tapemancy, and they released it on cassette. It was a very limited run, but they did quite a beautiful job. The album was recorded in two days at the very beginning of 2009. I have a very limited budget, so I have very limited chunks of studio-time. I have to go in there and deliver. It is stressful, but I’d say it also brings a certain urgency to all of my recordings.
Where have you been performing since you started and where can we see you in the near future?
– I’m from Toronto, and I only performed here at first, because it’s all I knew. A chance to play my songs for people was a thrill in and of itself. I play fairly often in Montreal, I love playing there. I often tour around the East Coast of the USA. I have another tour there soon, in March, with Valerie Kuehne. I’m really hoping to make it to Europe soon, I’ve been saying that for ages. I just can’t afford airfare at this point.
Why have you been getting more praise from poets rather than music-critics? Could it be because your music is more poetic than most of the music out there today?
– I prefer the company of poets and artists to that of music-critics, so I consider it a good thing. It probably is more poetic. I almost always write words before music, and I wrote poetry before I wrote songs. I read a fair bit of poetry. A lot of music-criticism leans heavily on comparison. I find it boring, reductive, formulaic, and lazy. Writing about music is a very difficult endeavor – the medium defies articulation. It would be better to acknowledge that fact, and then get creative.
– Better to risk being ridiculous or going out on a limb, both are so much more enlivening than being reductive, lazy, and boring. Also, I don’t think what I’m doing is particularly trendy, and contemporary poets are often painted as a dying breed. I relate strongly to that. Much new media I come across favors the byte size, flashy, and ironic, and I’d like to make songs that are more timeless and could move someone from a different era, if they stumbled upon it… because that’s the kind of work I’m most drawn to. I was an isolated kid when I fell in love with music and writing songs, it was a very vital, earnest, no-frills relationship I had to the music I loved. The antithesis of hipster.
Where can we find you in cyberspace?
– You can find me on bandcamp, facebook, twitter, tumblr, myspace (if anyone still uses that one).
Do you have any last words of wisdom?
– I don’t have any wisdom. Actually, my words of wisdom are: withhold your words of wisdom, they make my blood boil. I am getting sick of advice. When people tell me how to go about my life, my ‘career’ and I can’t stand it. My goal is to continue writing and singing, living, loving. Like Otis Redding says: “I can’t do what ten people tell me to do, so I guess I’ll remain the same.” Those are some wise words perhaps. In lieu of wisdom, I would like to let people know I’m working on a new album called Ashes and Tangerines, and they can pre-order a copy if they would like: http://www.kapipal.com/claraengel
Here’s a free sample from her album Secret Beasts, a song called Lick My Fins:
And here’s a clip of Clara performing her song Heaven and Hell:
You can also find her here: