A Night with Clara CPosted: January 17, 2013
At the beginning of December I had the opportunity to see what a rising pop star looks like when I got a press wristband for a sold-out Clara Chung concert at The Loft on UCSD’s campus. This was one of the Loft shows where people line up an hour before-hand at the door. That kind of fan dedication could be surprising, especially if you’ve never heard of Clara C before.
“Sunshine out your ass lyrics”
The show was officially a release concert for her album, Art in my Heart. The album is about Love – not just crushes and stomach butterflies, although there is a little of that. Clara sings about a universal love with a capital L, one she’s probably learned about when she goes to her internship and teaches children with autism. Her music is catchy enough to stick in your head after you hear it, and her videos on Youtube reveal her quirky side. A friend of mine good-naturedly described her songs as having “sunshine out your ass lyrics,” and I liked the phrase. Her music can be a bit saccharine at times, but not unpleasantly so.
It’s tempting to believe that once an artist catches his or her break, the rest is easy. With my press wristband, I got to see that even though Clara C definitely has had her success, she still works hard. She does have a manager, but Clara C is her own producer. She used every second of her sound check, juggling the various instruments she was to play that night and having the tech crew tweak every setting until it was perfect. This extreme attention to detail is the mark of a not just a musician who loves her work, but a dedicated entertainer.
Clara took the stage to wild cheers from the predominantly Asian crowd. Then, she smiled and joked her way through some pre-show technical difficulties. After watching her spend so much time in the sound check to avoid these very problems, the calm positivity she showed while the she and the crew worked out a solution was all the more remarkable. The rest of the show was a sweet progression of upbeat lyrics and happy chords from her guitar. She broke out her keyboard-harmonica (it’s a real instrument, I promise) and used a loop machine to lay down a clapping rhythm line for one song. The crowd loved her, especially one young man who named every song on her album to win a five dollar gift certificate to Tapioca Express. Clara gave him a hug along with the gift certificate, and he looked like he was ready to marry her.
Clara stuck around after to show to take pictures with anyone willing to stand in line. This ended up being nearly everyone who came to the show, and she smiled and signed autographs for over two and a half hours. I managed to ask her a few questions afterwards, while she hurried around the Loft helping to get everything packed up.
Steve: Do you feel famous?
Clara: No. [As if it were a silly question] No matter how big this [gestures to the stage, drumset, instrument bags] gets, I’m always going to be me.
S: It’s hard to believe you’ve only been doing this for a year or so.
C: Yeah, it’s been FAST. Lately I definitely have a lot less time to myself.
S:Like during nights like this.
C: [laughing] Like now. No, I knew what I was getting into tonight.
S: What made you decide to devote yourself to music?
C: Have you had the same group of friends your whole life? I did. I was supposed to go to UCLA, and I was going to go there with all my friends. Everything was all set up, but then my admission got rescinded. So I got into UC Irvin at the last minute.
If I hadn’t gotten in there, I wouldn’t have gotten in to music. I would have gone to UCLA with all my old friends, and they were the ones who told me I shouldn’t do music. That’s really hurtful, and it kept me from pursuing music. But starting at UC Irvine let me meet a whole new group. They encouraged me to follow it.
And with that she politely excused herself to pack up some more stuff. It was close to one in the morning, and she still had to drive home to Los Angeles, where she had more shows lined up in the coming week. I hope they went well, and that Clara eventually makes it big. After all, not rooting for her would feel a bit like not rooting for Love. And maybe that’s her not-so-secret ingredient.