Sunday, May 25, 2008


Weekend Words...with Klara McDonnell

Sorry for the lack of posts of late but I had a bad bit of eye strain and had to give the Internet use a miss. I'm pleased however to be able to bring you this week's Weekend Words feature which sees me leaving politics to one side and interviewing individuals from Irish popular culture.

Taking my questions this week is Irish singer and actress Klara McDonnell. Apologies to Klara for the lateness of the post.

So then without further ado...

You work in the entertainment industry as a singer and an actor. Have you always had a strong desire to be a performer?

Well my mother said before that I was singing before I was talking. I remember being about seven and seeing Eternal Flame the Bangles song on TV and thinking I wish I was singing that song and seeing The Wizard of Oz and wishing I was in that film. I used to mess around with a little Dictaphone making up stories, songs and fake radio shows! I guess I was a strange child.

How does being on stage singing, compare to being on stage acting?

Well I suppose acting on stage, you can't communicate with the audience quite the same way as when you are singing. I tend not to notice the audience and am caught up in what ever part I am playing. When I am singing if the audience is quite lively I can feed off their energy. I tend to talk a lot in between songs, sometimes I almost fancy myself as doing a bit of stand up comedy in between songs. Having said that its probably the moments when I try to be serious about what a song is about that are the funny parts. I write about a lot of random subjects.

Have your family been supportive of your efforts in the industry?

Yes I have very been lucky that my family have been very supportive of me pursuing my dreams.

Where are some of the places that you've toured as a musician?

I lived in the South of Germany for nearly two years and played a lot of Irish pubs over there and busked a lot. As well as being a singer songwriter, I am also in an Irish rock band called Hidden Faces. The band are on a break at the moment but last year we had a UK tour and through that I got to play in the Cavern in Liverpool. It was great to play there as I am a big Beatles fan.

Who would be some of your musical influences?

Well as I have just mentioned I do like the Beatles! I would say I have a very varied taste in much, although I have no idea if this effects the songs I write. When I was growing up my parents would play a lot of music everything from rock such as Bruce Springsteen to old country like Patsy Cline to Motown. At 17 I discovered Tom Waits, who I think is a really versatile songwriter. I'm also into a lot of hip hop and r n' b.

Is there a song that you've written that you take particular pride in?

The R.E.M. song Everybody Hurts is a song I used to sing I always loved the way that although some people might find it to be a depressing song, it is essentially a song about hope. I always wanted to write a song with a similar theme saying that we are all the same and can feel really down at one point and not to give up. That song I wrote is called Shooting Star.

You've done a bit of busking. Any unusual stories to tell from that?

Well when I busked in Germany there were different rules for busking in different cities. Sometimes I found it hard to remember them and to obey them. One city might have a rule that one can only play in a spot for 30 minutes then you have to move 300 metres away to a new spot if you want to play more. Another city had actual official busking spots with sign posts and you could only play at those places but for no more than one hour. I once got a 50euro note off one person which really surprised me. From busking I have gotten other music work for instance singing at pubs/parties and I once sang at a wedding in German!

I've read you mention on your blog a little over a week ago that you were going to be recording some of your songs in Ashtown Studios. How did everything go with that?

It went well. I was nervous as I hadn't recorded my own songs in long while. I recorded some vocals and guitar and am going back in later this month to finish off the arrangements. I am currently seeking a Cello player to play on a few of the tracks.

With regards to acting, you played a part in the independent Irish film Apollo Music Club, which is due for release in July according to their Myspace page. How did you find that whole experience?

The cast and crew on Apollo Music Club were great fun and I am looking forward to seeing it. I played a character called Linda who has some things in common with me as she is an ambitious singer/songwriter. I did find I could relate to her in some ways. She is more ruthless and egotistical than me though! I had blonde hair before filming and dyed it red as in the script, Linda had red hair. I've kept it this colour since as I have actually been getting more castings and more work as a red head.

Whereabouts would be people be likely to hear you performing over the next few months?

I present an online Irish radio show every Monday night on I have been doing this the last few months and its really interactive as I'm on a webcam while I present. I do a lot of chair dancing to the music! I'm playing music gigs near the end of the May and will be updating my MySpace page with dates. I also post regular videos on to YouTube.

Where do you see yourself in ten year's time?

I would still like to be doing what I am doing now though more internationally and to finally buy a really nice house!

Finally I like to finish off with a word game. Just say what you think to the following...

Elvis or The Beatles - The Beatles
Westlife or U2 - U2
Louis Walsh or Linda Martin - Linda Martin
Dustin or Dana - Dana
Klara, the actress or Klara, the musician - Both!

My thanks to Klara for taking my questions. I wish her all the best.

This Wednesday I put some questions to the Alliance Party's Trevor Lunn. Stay tuned to United Irelander for future interviews.

Previous Weekend Words features here.


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