“The first song I remember singing was Celine Dion’s, ‘Think Twice.'”
A few years after singing that song through the karaoke machine her father had bought the family, England’s, Clara Yates, was encouraged to join the local choir around age 11. “My mom had always enjoyed Opera, and I enjoyed listening to it with her,” remembered Clara. “But, I never received any formal training before this.”
Her choir days came and went in the span of a few years as video games and movies became the focus of millions of teenagers, herself included. The Playstation 1 game, “Music 2000,” and the film, “Kevin & Perry Go Large,” were staples in her transition to Trance. “That movie soundtrack did something to me,” Clara said as she sat on her living room couch. “Lange’s, ‘Follow Me,’ took my fancy, and I thought to myself how I would love to sing like the women in Trance.”
Her would-be Trance career took a sidestep into R&B for nearly ten years as a DJ. Although a great learning tool, and working with some of the premier artists of the time, the genre shifted towards an area in the second decade of 2000 that left her feeling uncomfortable, marketing-wise. Trance, on the other hand, “is not only a feeling but a trip down memory lane,” said a passionate Clara. “It’s my childhood, and I don’t have to put myself up on a pedestal for others to recognize and judge you.”
With her mindset solely focused on Trance, 2015 saw Clara’s first break when her former manager,
Like a producer composing a track, writing songs is a personal release for Clara. Always reverting to past experiences, she sees no other point in trying to reach the listener. “They (listener) need to relate,” Clara profoundly said. “You can write for the sake of writing, but how will that come across to your listeners? They need to feel it as well as believe it.”
With many of her releases written about love, death, heartbreak, lust, and even sex, her rewards are fan messages portraying how the lyrics helped them compartmentalize their emotions. “It makes me happy that I’m able to help people in some way.”
At times, though, Clara writes songs to deal with her pain. In 2006, her divorced mother, Andrea, was suffering from severe migraines, facial discomfort, and depression. A visit to her doctor earlier in the day revealed that there was nothing more he could do for her. Andrea then drove to Clara’s house with a birthday card and called her to ask when she was coming home. “I told her I was busy and wouldn’t be back until later,” she remembered. When Clara arrived home, she noticed the card and tried to call her mother at her house. “I tried to call so many times to thank her, but she never answered the phone,” she emotionally said. “So, I just left a message on her voicemail.” The next day, Clara learned that her mother had consumed 136 antidepressant tablets and passed away in the upstairs bedroom of her house. “I never found a way of dealing with this or a way to forgive her for what she had done; every birthday cuts me like a knife as it did 13 years ago.”
“Writing, ‘Why,’ gave me a chance to forgive and let go,” Clara proudly said. “When Giuseppe Ottaviani composed the melody around the acapella, ‘Why,’ was the best gift I was ever able to give her.” Clara listens to the song every day. “It gives me peace and serenity. I cannot thank Giuseppe enough for bringing my pain to life in an uplifting way. I can finally think of her with a smile on my face.”
Depicted in the title of the adjacent track, and certainly not aimed at diminishing the significance of the song, a direction that many vocalists are now pursuing is the elimination of the “featured” tag. Up until a few months ago, this was the accepted norm, but with collaborators shunned by not being included as a primary artist in the distributor’s eyes, many have seen the exclusion of songs on their streaming accounts. Clara doesn’t go as far as to say it’s an offensive title, but the featuring of artist names on someone else’s work now refers to the fact that they had no part in the writing of the song. Clara explains, “If you write a song with a producer, it’s the two of you. There have also been times where I have written the song from scratch, and the producer makes a melody around the vocal. So, it goes both ways.”
“It’s an issue when I have people tell me they didn’t know I had such and such a song out in 2016 because it wasn’t on my Spotify account,” said Clara. “But, I now talk with Armada and the other publishing companies to ensure that if ‘featured’ is still in the title, the music is located where people can find me, and it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.” To aid in this process, many singer/songwriters have begun an industry-wide progressive move to use the words “with” or “and” in song titles to ensure their primary relevance in distribution.
With Clara’s continued heartfelt songwriting, another with particular relevance will be an upcoming dedication to her friend, Ashley Wallbridge. The follow-up to, “Diamonds,” the still unfinished track will be a testament of their friendship and Ashley’s remarkable recovery from meningitis. Also, on the horizon, is the eagerly-awaited track, “Find Your Paradise,” with Ferry Tayle, while still finding time to perform live with the likes of Darren Porter, HALIENE, and her husband, Matthew Steeper.
When Clara isn’t writing songs, the talented, Robert Myatt, dishes out some incredible melodies and lyrics, and the two often write together. “Almost everything he writes I feel an instant connection with, and we make it happen,” said an emphatic Clara. “There will be a lot of tracks coming out next year, which he has written, and I truly believe his talent as a writer needs to be shown to the world.”
As our conversation came to a close during the early east coast hours, Clara summarized her four-year Trance career by saying, “To get here has been a very difficult journey over the past years, and to all the people, you have played a huge part in helping me get here. Richard Rinaudo, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Choonwear, Simon Tieni, Darren Porter, Assaf, Louis Tan, Pablo Artigas, and many many more, you opened the Trance doors for me, and I have walked through them with no turning back.”
We invite your comments in the section below.
Follow Clara Yates: