Clara Benin is one of the most successful independent artists in the country, a feat that isn't so easy to achieve as a female solo singer-songwriter.
Her debut album, Human Eyes, was launched in 2015, and Clara has since gone on to release her EPs, Riverchild and I Rose Up Slowly, and hit singles like "Parallel Universe" and "Wrestle."
While it's easy to chalk up her success to her raw talent for performing and songwriting (and perhaps a bit of luck), there's no doubt that Clara thinks of music both on and off the stage. She's clearly set her sights on a long and sustainable music career, having had chosen to take up Music Business Production in MINT College back when she was in finishing her bachelor's degree.
In an interview with Candy, Clara talks about her unexpected but well-deserved growth in the music industry as both an artist and music professional, and how she (and her music) have changed in the last couple of years. Here are five things we learned:
Whether or not you're taking a music-related college course, there's always something to learn that you can adopt into your own craft.
"One of the things I loved about taking up Music Business Production in Mint was how they always encouraged us to collaborate with other students, even from different courses," says Clara. "A great example would be my first ever music video 'Be My Thrill.'
"I made that with some friends who were Film students and Multimedia Art students!"
But even if she decided to take up Music Business Production, Clara says that at the end of the day, it's not the course but the mindset. "I just knew in my heart that I wanted to make music for a living so I decided to really pursue that dream. My advice for someone who wants to pursue music is, be true to yourself and never stop learning. There's always room to grow."
You don't have to do it all alone. Ask for help from friends and family for the things you don't consider to be your strengths.
The music industry is filled with a lot of strong personalities, and not all introverts or shy people can always thrive in extra settings. But this doesn't mean that you won't get to network or make contacts. "My manager, who also happens to be one of my closest friends that I grew up with, does a lot of the networking for me! My advice is, if you don't have a manager yet, you can always get a friend or a family member to help you out and learn from there!"
Music isn't always about trying to stay relevant or on-trend at any cost.
"I wrote 'Parallel Universe' back in 2017 after watching the movie Comet. It's also the song that I released right after coming back from a year-long break from the music scene. I remember being so nervous about releasing this and afraid that my sound wouldn't be relevant anymore. I'm grateful that my listeners loved the song and it's become one of my favorite songs to perform live because I always hear the crowd singing along with me whenever I play it!"
It's okay to take your time, some good ideas need to simmer and evolve before they can become great.
On writing her latest single "Wine," Clara shares that "one afternoon, I was craving a glass of wine. So instead of pouring myself a glass, I wrote a song about it instead. Haha!"
She wrote the song several years ago but only released it in August 2020. "I think if I had released Wine back in 2015, it would have had a completely different sound. My musical taste has evolved ever since I wrote this song and I'm happy that I got to work on an old song and make it sound fresh and new."
You can balance school and your passion for music if you know how to use your time ~wisely~.
When asked about the best way for students to balance school and music, Clara stresses the following:
- Learn how to manage your time and energy wisely!
- Intentionally set a side time for studying and time for making/learning music.
- Also, don't forget to rest and take care of yourself!
Humility is key.
Clara has worked with many industry icons such as engineer Angelo Rozul, Johnoy Danao, her dad Joey Benin, and young stars like Ben&Ben. On how she remains grounded, Clara says "it's important to stay humble and respectful all the time. When it comes to collaborating, it's important to communicate with each other what you want to happen and make sure you're both on the same page."
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