Since I moved to Vienna a couple of months ago, I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with Austrian singer songwriter Clara Blume. And I say ‘hanging out’, as these meetings were originally set up as interviews that changed quickly into a personal friendship I hope I will have with her for a long time to come.
Because Clara Blume is one of those women who is everything most women want to be.
She is smart, incredibly smart — she’s just completing her Ph.D. studies, the work for which she has done while also concentrating on her music career. (And in my head, I now call her Ms. Existentialism, as that was some of what we discussed the first time I met her. Yep. She’s that smart).
She’s beautiful — the most stunning face, flawless skin, the perfect mouth and a regal bearing, very much Sisi-esque in the way she carries herself.
She’s interesting — her analysis of the Austrian music industry is spot on, yet she can also talk in depth about American politics and American TV shows, British pop music, Buddhist culture, Britain’s exit from the EU, and all discussed in flawless English with the softest and prettiest American accent, and using incredibly high-level vocabulary most native English speakers rarely use.
Yet, what is even more appealing about Clara Blume than all of this, is she doesn’t realize this about herself at all as, when you speak to her, she is more inside her own head trying to figure out how to get to where she wants to go in life, than being even remotely aware of the phenomenal impression she is giving off.
In fact, she strikes me as one of those women who has probably had men strewn at her feet most of her life. But she is too unassuming to even have noticed.
As for what Clara Blume and I talked about when I interviewed her? Two meetings over four hours, and there was so much of interest, I have had to selectively choose what I think is the most relevant when it comes to a first interview article with her.
Needless to say, there will be many more articles about this fascinating Austrian artist, so today is just a start. But here we go.
Clara Blume’s thoughts on being a professional musician
“That means hours and hours of practice and evolution, you know. But it’s more about playing a lot and then, to be really really good, just using 10 percent of what you do, because so much of it you have to discard as it is not good enough. Sure, you could use everything you have done because you have no options out of a limited time frame or for some other reason, but that would feel like you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. And I would never be happy with that.”
On why Vienna, and the rest of Austria, is difficult for most Austrian artists
“In Vienna, it is difficult to evolve as an artist. There is very little space where you can consistently perform, and it’s the performing and the routine of that that makes you better, as it’s routine that makes you sort out songs so they work. Besides, you loosen up in front of a crowd the more you perform.
And I saw that when I performed in festivals where you have Austrian artists that perform next to English or American artists. And all of a sudden you see this huge gap in the way they perform and in professional attitude.
An artist from the UK comes in and everything is super tight, everything is perfectly done. The artist, even though they’re just 17, is completely professional, and it’s so impressive.
But that is because they have had so many opportunities to perform live right from the beginning of their careers, whereas most Austrian artists have not. And that’s one of the many reasons why Austrian artists have so much difficulty succeeding outside of Austria.
On creating her debut album with her brother, Georg Blume
“Doing the record with my brother, I think, was the most intense period of my life. That’s because I spent it with him in the studio for one and a half years.
And it’s hard to work side by side with you know, blood. It’s really really hard. Because you don’t have the distance that you do with any other producer.
So it has its advantages, which would be that he can read my mind without me talking and I understand him without him talking, and so, when it comes to music, we both feel the same way about how a song has to evolve. But we limit each other as well because we’re related. Then again, at the same time, we challenged each other to get better as well. So it’s a very strange dichotomy”.
(And I will add here, Clara Blume’s debut album, Here Comes Everything, is absolutely superb. One of the three best I heard last year. And it is a crying shame it did not get the attention in Austria and elsewhere that it should have done. Don’t believe me? You can listen to it on Spotify and buy it here and here).
Clara Blume on a second album, and working with her brother on it
“He would love to make a second record, and I think he would be really good at it. And I think we would correct all the mistakes we made in the first record and evolve to a point where we would be much, much better musically speaking, and also business-wise.
But I’m not sure that will be in Vienna, as I feel like my place might be somewhere else for a while.”
Where would she go?
“I don’t know. A year ago, I was convinced I would stay in Europe as I have my home base here – I have my band here. I could easily tour Europe. But now it’s really interesting because I’ve come to a point where I am at a crossroads in my life, and I have to think wisely about which road to take.
I also really want to go to the States. Not forever but for a couple of years. First of all, it’s a lifelong dream. Even though I would start basically from scratch there. Well, not completely from scratch, as I do have a record and it’s part of my presentation. But I know how it works there, and you have to start from zero basically.
But there are so many potential opportunities in the U.S., more than anywhere else, I would love to move there for a while to see what possibilities there might be for me.”
As for me, I am incredibly curious as to where Clara Blume will go next, and what she will do to get her career where she wants it to be and where, being such a phenomenally talented artist, in my opinion, it should be.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting back and watching this amazing woman quite closely because, I believe, she is going to be one of those Austrian artists, à la Conchita Wurst, that does create a name for herself outside of just Austria, and does prove that Austria has very talented artists too.
So sit back with me and read, as there will be much more coming up on Leo Sigh about her soon.
Until then, I’ll leave you with this. Clara Blume’s video of ‘One Constant Thought‘. My favorite track from her debut album. The video was conceived and directed by her brother Georg Blume. Obviously immense talent runs in the family.