On the occasion of her second album, the singer Clara Gispert performs at the FotoTalent de los Lectores de La Vanguardia performing the main song that gives its name to her new album, La petita mort. In this interview, illustrated with portrait photographs taken by Isaura Marcos in the Pedralbes monastery, the singer explains her musical career and her future projects.

Clara Gispert was born in Esplugues de Llobregat, but has lived in Barcelona for years. She completed a degree in Advertising and PR, while she combined it with singing, theater and dance classes. She started in the world of musicals and, after a short time, she delved into music as a singer and songwriter. She has now had a musical career for a decade, and 4 years ago, she released her first album. Thanks to the good reception she had, she presented her second album in 2023, La petita mort, which completely breaks with the dynamics of her first work.

Why did you decide to dedicate yourself to music? What was the trigger and when?

The trigger was a job offer as a singer at events. I took it and, without eating or drinking it, one day I found that my monthly salary was as a singer. I had been training musically for years, but I was surprised that this opportunity came to me in such an unexpected way. My dream had always been to dedicate myself to music. It emerged at the right time and with the right preparation.

You became known for musical theater, how has it influenced your role as a singer?

The musicals I have done have always been small format and I only played supporting roles. The musical was a work experience that gave me a lot of push and the opportunity to unite three arts that fascinate me: singing, dance and theater. It was an experience that I will always remember, but very hard at first. I thank the people who trusted me, but the Clara of today would not return to that time, although everything I experienced built who I am now. The world of musicals works differently from the world of music.

What steps do you follow to compose a song?

We create and compose the songs together with Manuel Dabove. It is teamwork, empathy, knowing and respecting others, as there are different ways of working. Between Manu’s essence and mine, we put our ideas together and push ourselves to the limit every day.

Regarding the process of creating a song, sometimes the lyrics are born first, other times the music, or a chorus that emerges all at once. Depends. We do not have a standard methodology when creating music, but above all we use references. Billie Eilish has been my reference in creating this second album. I think it’s incredible, I admire her a lot. Also Noga Erez, an Israeli singer who we love for her sound, voice and production.

There are many people who participate in your project. At least, this is noticeable in the video clips, with elaborate preparation, good staging, exotic costumes, choreography, lighting… Who is part of the project and how do you put everything into motion?

The core of the project is Manuel Dabove, guitarist, and me. Between the two of us we compose the lyrics and the production of the songs. Although we need a large team to record the music videos, otherwise the two of us alone cannot do it.

In the video clip for Good Girl, which is part of the first album, there was a certain team of people, and in this second one, we have worked with a totally different team on the video clips. I thought that I had to give a new look to everything in general, and change the people I worked with, if I wanted to make an album that was the opposite of the first.

In Like a cry within, I was accompanied by two friends, Bea Pérez and Paula Crespo, who brought their equipment and put all their soul into it. In a project as personal as mine, if the people who join put so much love and care into what they do, things can only turn out well.

I did the visual part of the subsequent singles with an advertising agency, Dear Barbara, and we devised the entire image of the album. Collaboration and a good team are very important in this project. At the live level we are going as a quartet with Eva Verde, Dani Martí, and Manuel Dabove, because I needed the emotional forcefulness of the songs on the album captured on stage with four voices. Working with them is a gift. They are like my family.

Jazz, country, pop, hip hop… You play many different styles of music. Which one do you define and defend yourself best with?

I feel more comfortable doing jazz, because my references are singers of this style, and throughout my life I have listened to more jazz songs. But I have realized that I can sing in other registers. I am a permeable person, I don’t like to pigeonhole myself into a specific musical genre. I can be singing both Van Gogh’s Ear and a rap, doing hip hop, spoken word…

I like to mix styles because it’s interesting to discover what I’m capable of doing. If you always compose songs in your style without taking risks, you lose the opportunity to discover a part of yourself that you never imagined you had. Even so, it is totally respectable that each artist decides to do the style that she likes the most and if she doesn’t want to try new genres, there is no need to pressure her.

What are your musical references as an artist and woman?

Now it’s Billie Eilish. I really like everything she does at the production level, her lyrics… And her personality. Then also the great jazz divas like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday or Julie London. When she was a teenager she listened to a lot of Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Rihanna… But now, being completely adult, and aware of the path I want to follow on a musical and personal level, Billie Eilish is without a doubt my role model.

Your latest album, La petita mort, is an evolution compared to your debut album, not only on a musical level, but also on a personal level, the result of a personal crisis. How do you describe this evolution?

An evolution of personal empowerment. I have spent so many times asking for forgiveness for everything in my life, that it has stopped me from many aspirations I had. One of the things I realized is that I would look in the mirror and say horrible things to myself. I didn’t want to be the Clara who saw herself reflected in the mirror.

And the day came when I thought how I could heal this damage and live in a more peaceful way. From there a very intense internal change began, with a lot of will and therapy. Now I feel better, although it is a process. When you go through a difficult time, and you can’t find a way to get out of the hole, you talk to someone and you see that they are also going through something similar, or have gone through something similar, and you don’t feel so alone. Everything becomes a little more friendly.

So, what was the creative process like for this latest album? Was it very complicated for you?

It has been two years of creating the album. I knew that I wanted to make a second album that was different from the first, but I wasn’t clear on what to explain, how to approach it, who to address… So I did personal work to understand who I am and what I do here, and then be able to express all this through of the music. It was a process of many tears but very healing. The first song, Like a Scream Inside, talks precisely about being able to express outwardly what you feel inside and that is hurting you. And it ends with Everything starts here, which is when this process of change ends and your new self is born and you feel renewed and eager to take on the world.

Are you satisfied with the feedback from critics and the public?

Very satisfied. I had doubts that the people who followed me from the first album were going to like this second one, because it is a change. Unlike the first album, this one is more pop, electronic, in Catalan and Spanish, and not in English. But I was wrong. Because it is such a genuine album that comes so deeply from within, people have seen themselves represented and they thank me for explaining in words what they also feel.

Therefore, would you say that music is like therapy?

Without music I couldn’t live. Culture in general heals the soul. You are going to see a play, a dance piece, a painting or photography exhibition, and going through this art is very interesting, because it opens your mind.

What does it mean to you to be a singer?

For me it is a gift that I want to continue to care for and never take for granted. I will always try to ensure that everything that comes out of me is pure, and that the more people feel identified, the better. It’s incredible that suddenly you sing and people tell you that you transmit something to them. Generating feelings from music is very strong.

What is the difference between being a singer or musician and being an artist?

There is a small but subtle difference. I think that an artist is someone who gets on stage and transmits. Because there are many singers who have an incredible voice, but they fail to convey anything to the public. An artist must be complete: have control over the body, know how to be and move on stage. Have other things than just the vocal instrument.

Sometimes, it happens to me that I listen to an artist on Spotify and I love it, but I don’t go to their concert, because it doesn’t convey anything to me on stage. And it’s a shame. I value more that a singer does not have as much vocal technique but goes on stage with an attitude of confidence and empowerment, than someone with a perfect voice who does not arrive.

Is Clara Gispert you or an artistic character you have created?

Clara Gispert is what you see and what I am. She could act as a character but I would have a hard time having a double life. It’s also great to explore yourself, and discover other things about yourself that you didn’t know. If you had told me a few years ago if she would be able to have published La petita mort I would say impossible. I have always carried the “I can’t” as a flag and many times I have seen that I am capable of achieving whatever I set my mind to. It is a long process of work and discipline, of having many doubts and fear, but there is no other option but to continue. Going to therapy has also helped me a lot.

You have already performed in renowned competitions, such as the Jardins de Pedralbes Festival. Do you notice that you are on the rise in the music industry or are you still an emerging artist?

The music industry is so difficult that I couldn’t tell you. When I released the first album I was an emerging artist. And on this second album, although it is so different from the first, I have explored new sounds and a new part of myself, so I would consider myself emerging again. I’m living it as if it were my first album.

I would love to say that I am positioning myself at the top of the Catalan music scene, but at the moment that is not the case. Although it is quite a process, no matter what happens, I am very happy with the work and the team that has surrounded me on this second album, and satisfied to show another version of me. I want to advance and have my work recognized, but there are things in the industry that do not depend on me. A lot of perseverance and discipline and I am sure that whatever I set my mind to, I will achieve it.

Where do you prefer to be, on stage in contact with the audience or recording a song in the studio?

Without a doubt on stage. I like being in the studio, and I enjoy it more and more, but when I’m on stage I feel at home, that’s where I can express myself and where I always want to be. Like fish in the water.

You don’t just sing, you also dance. Do you value body expressiveness a lot?

Yes, my sister Helena is a dancer, and she has helped me a lot to improve my movements live. I use dance as another level of non-verbal expression, and mixing it with singing is a more genuine and proper way to express what I want to explain and cannot do it with words. Sometimes words are limited and the body can explain more things.

Your songs are composed in three languages: Catalan, Spanish and English. Which one do you feel most represented in when you compose and sing?

On the debut album there are many songs in English, because having jazz references, I was more accustomed to the language. It was a very comfortable area for me to make songs in English and jazz, although I needed the help of a native speaker so that the lyrics of the songs had coherence and cohesion, so that there was not one phrase that was too formal and the next one was too informal.

In this second album, I talk about a personal transformation so strong that I felt the need to express it in my native languages, Catalan and Spanish. There was no doubt. Music is universal, that is, you can listen to music in any language and have it convey something to you, but if you understand it, it reaches even more. For this reason, I decided to compose the album in Catalan and Spanish, because it is the best way to express what I feel.

The Catalan song L’àvia is very intimate and emotional. How did your composition come about?

L’àvia is part of the first album, and is dedicated to my two grandmothers. It is a very emotional song, and I talk about the legacy that grandmothers leave us, so everyone can relate. Furthermore, as it was one of the few songs in Catalan on the first album, when we played it at concerts people felt even more identified. I have a special appreciation for it, because it was a song that marked the peak moment of connection with the public. I cried singing it, and therefore, so did the audience, and a very beautiful atmosphere of communion and empathy was formed.

Your songs claim the power of feminism. Have you had more difficulties opening doors in the music industry because you are a woman? Do you think it’s more normalized now?

In general yes, because we live in a very sexist world. In the world of music there is too much paternalism regarding women artists. Furthermore, in festival programming it is difficult to have an equal and varied lineup. Or there are exclusive festivals for women, like the Cicle de Dones, or the typical groups led by men. Things are changing, and I’m grateful that they are, but it doesn’t even have to be, it should be a normal thing. We have no choice but to claim our rights and fight for them.

What projects do you have underway for the future? What can you tell us?

One of my dreams would be to collaborate with a symphony orchestra. Apart from the electronics, there are many arrangements of string instruments on the album, I love classical music, and it would be incredible to participate in a musical piece with the Orquestra Simfònica i Nacional de Catalunya or with the Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès. On the other hand, Manu and I are doing the music for the new musical show by the company Campi qui pugui. And then I’m in talks with other artists to do collaborations together. I can’t name names, but I hope it develops little by little.

And, finally, did you like performing before the readers of La Vanguardia? Would you recommend this new section of FotoTalent for other artists?

I loved it, it’s a good initiative. Thank you for doing these live sessions, because it allows you to give a voice to the artists, and even more so if it is in a medium like La Vanguardia, which has significant circulation. I am very grateful and honored to have been the first artist to debut this section, and very happy to recommend many artists to you. Hopefully it will also serve to discover new emerging talent and make it more and more known.