It’s no wonder that Clara C’s last show of her Shakin’ Off Silence tour sold out. Doors opened at 5:30 p.m. and a large crowd filled up NYC’s Highline Ballroom in under 10 minutes. The show didn’t start until 6:30 p.m. and fans were eager to spot a glimpse of Clara C, shouting, “Is that Clara?! Where’s Clara?” Fans chatted about her as if they knew her personally, asking each other whether or not they had watched her newest YouTube videos, commenting on their favorite ones. The lights dimmed, and the show’s emcees—The Jubilee Project—introduced themselves and the opening acts.
The Jubilee Project, made up of Jason, Eddie, and Eric, produce and direct videos for a good cause. The group was inspired by the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti and began fundraising through their videos. The Jubilee Project’s mission statement: to make entertaining videos that will empower, enable, and inspire others to do good as well.
Wanted Ashiqz, the winners of Kollaboration NY 6, stormed the stage with their signature hip-hop/Bollywood meshed dance style to popular songs by Eminem, and Beyonce, including a tribute to Michael Jackson. Their performance ended as a voice-over thanked the group’s greatest inspiration—Bollywood.
Next up was the 18-year-old indie folk singer/songwriter sensation, Mree. The crowd swayed in awe to Mree’s angelic voice as she played songs off of her new album, Grow. Mree has previously been proclaimed as a “web sensation,” and her single, “Against the Current,” was selected by YouTube artist, David Choi, to be featured on YouTube’s homepage.
After Mree, the action-packed music video for New Heights’ latest song featuring Clara C, “Take Me On,” started rolling—the crowd immediately recognized it and began singing along, cheering as Clara C unexpectedly pulled out a large machine gun in one of the scenes, shooting in slow motion. The band materialized and played tracks off their album, Something to Believe In. During their last song, the lead vocalist, Travis, climbed off-stage onto a fan’s shoulders and the two unsteadily ventured into the sea of people.
At long last, the crowd went wild as Clara C walked out, wide-eyed with the biggest smile on her face, surprised at the amount of people that came to see her perform. Clara was a natural onstage, even with slight microphone issues; she cracked jokes, took her shoes off to play the piano, and showed off her amazing instrumental skills. Throughout the show, Clara had an ecstatic look on her face, shouting, “Wow, I can hear you guys singing!” She made it all look so easy, and she genuinely connected with the audience.
Before the concert, Korean Beacon got a chance to sit down with Clara C to talk about her Shakin’ Off Silence tour experience, her creative process, working with Dumbfoundead and Jay Park, pre-show rituals, and why she decided to no longer be a “closet musician.”
How has the touring experience been so far? Was it everything you expected it to be?
Touring has been absolutely, positively, unbelievably amazing because we have sold out every venue and that in itself is amazing. It’s also been good because typically I just play gigs by myself but this time I have my band traveling with me. If my band can’t make it, we have New Heights backing me and New Heights is like family to me, they’re like my brothers. It’s like being on a road trip indefinitely.
Yeah, I mean there were some curve balls thrown—I learned that you can plan all you want and things don’t always pan out. But everything has exceeded my expectations.
What is your creative process like when writing songs, and where do you pull inspiration from?
I tell people I’m still a fledgling song-writer because I’ve only been doing this for a year and a half. When I started, it’s not like I was like, “Yeah, I think I’m going to do this music thing and I hope it works out.” I was just thrown into the pit and I hit the ground running. You can’t pass an opportunity by. I don’t have a process locked in yet, but typically what ends up happening and what results in my best songs is when I feel a surge of incoming emotion. I sit in front of whatever instrument is closest to me and I vomit my emotions. The vomit is my product (laughs).
What are the five things you can’t live without?
Oh my gosh, let’s see: food—noodles, the interwebs, music, a dog, and God.
Ah, come on, they’re family as well. It was funny how that song we did, “Clouds,” came about because we were having lunch, sitting in Dumb’s room and we were like, “Let’s write a song!” We kind of just canoodled through some tracks and we were like, “It should be about sunny days and life. Let’s make an inspiring, feel-good song.” And then we kind of just split without a word into 3 corners of the room, with notepads. We all scribbled for an hour and came back and said, “Okay let’s record this!”
I think it was at Kollaboration. I’m a closet musician because I’ve loved music since the womb, but I was with some friends who told me not to do music because it was risky and I wouldn’t make it, and that I wasn’t good enough. As a result I stopped believing in myself, you know. But I found a new group of friends and they helped me believe and boosted my confidence, so I came out of the closet. My friends—the good ones—forced me to get on YouTube against my will, and forced me to enter into a bunch of competitions – Kollaboration was the third one. That was at The Shrine where the Emmys were held—I almost kissed the stage as I walked out. I performed “Offbeat,” and when I won I guess something just clicked and solidified. I was like, “Okay, Clara Chung, let’s do this.”
What’s involved in your pre-performance ritual, if any?
Honey-lemon tea and very, very strange vocal exercises, which will color me different in your mind (to get a glimpse, watch Clara’s ‘Mistletoe’ cover). Me and my band will do something like, “1, 2, 3, WE’RE AWESOME!” And I’ll throw up a prayer just to calm me. Sometimes I’ll start warming up because people don’t know this, but I get cooped up in my dressing room for hours. I can’t go outside because there are fans, and I can’t go outside outside because then I have to come back inside through the fans. I just get stuck here, and I have cabin fever, so I end up kind of like jumping-jacking around to get my energy back up.
What has been your most fulfilling experience since going on tour?
I think it might end up happening tonight because this is the last US tour stop. And this is kind of like my feet hitting the trampoline before I take off; the Asia/Australia tour is a huge thing for me, I’ve never even been to either continent. I think tonight at the end of my last song – you know when you have that moment where your eyes get glazed over and wide and you’re like, “Whoa this is happening”? I think that’s going to be tonight, especially in New York, where I was born—I love the vibe, it energizes me.
Clara C is flying to Singapore at the end of this month to kick off her APAC Tour. For full tour dates and ticket info, click here.
Watch Clara & New Heights perform a mashup of “Wake Up in Neverland” + MGMT’s “Kids” @ the Highline:
[Photos: Mink Choi]