Klara McDonnell, a face already well-known on the Irish independent music scene, found a wider audience earlier this year when she decided to let her social media following in on a very personal matter. The Dublin-born singer and actress, shocked followers when she revealed she had been diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, but instead of a pity party, Klara put the social back in media, and took to rapidly-growing social app Tik Tok to share her journey – from diagnosis through chemotherapy and surgery, which she finally completed last week. She treated her hospital visits like social events, digging into her expansive wardrobe and selecting only the most dazzling outfits – and wigs! – and like any good night out, shared pictures and candid clips, resulting in a sort of ‘behind the scenes’ on steroids. Her 8,000- strong TIk Tok following – as well as a considerable helping of followers on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram – lapped up the content, engaging with Klara’s infectiously upbeat personality. A notable percentage of those followers are women who’d also been diagnosed with the disease, and Klara has found herself an unlikely inspiration to those who felt less fierce in their battle. 2019 had been a busy year for Klara – she released three singles produced by Beardfire Music, including the original version of “Dusty Glitter”. The new remix, more effervescent and ambient than the Americana-tinged original, was produced by rising EDM artist Skynem GT from Peru. The pair met online through a mutual friend, Irish singer/songwriter Robert O’Connor and worked on the remix during lockdown.
The result is akin to something you might hear in a cocktail bar – sitting comfortably between the chillout and tropical EDM genres often favoured by the likes of Kygo. It’s new territory for Klara, though she’s not departing her hallmark sound, and is readying completely new material for future release. “I only shimmer, like dusty glitter”, Klara sings on the self-written track, but in truth, she dazzled when it really counted, and her new-found audience has seen nothing yet!
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Where are you based?
I’m currently based in Carlow in Ireland.
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been writing songs since I was a teenager and recorded so many demo’s over the years. I have only been releasing music properly in the last few years as it’s so much easier now.
What genre would you consider your music to be?
My last few releases were Americana/folk/pop but this new release is totally different sound for me, it’s EDM!
What inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I studied music at the rock school in BCFE (in Dublin, Ireland) after leaving school and that probably instilled some confidence in me to do it as a career.
What are your biggest musical influences?
I’ve always listened to a wide range of genres and not totally sure which artists have shaped me as a songwriter. As musicians and performers, I adore Tom Waits and David Bowie but I could never compare myself to either.
Are you signed to a label or are you an independent artist?
I’m an independent artist which can be challenging at times in regards to getting my music out there to a wide audience. However, I am a social media addict and with online distributors now, such as Distrokid, it is far easier to release your own music than it was years ago.
What have been the biggest challenges in your music career?
Covid-19 was the biggest and most unexpected challenge. I haven’t done a performance since early March. I really missing performing live and watching others perform. I don’t think a Zoom show is the same!
How many songs or albums have you released to date?
As a solo artist, I have released one EP called Trapped Within in 2017 produced by Beardfire Music. Last year I released 3 singles that were also produced by Beardfire Music.
Can you tell us a few things about your latest release?
I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in December 2019. In celebration of finishing chemotherapy and my recent surgery, I want to mark the occasion and celebrate by releasing a brand new version of my song “Dusty Glitter”, remixed by EDM artist Skynem GT. It’s a catchy, tropical house track. There will be an animation music video by artist Trea Ivory.
Any plans for new music or upcoming projects we should know about?
My chemotherapy treatment went well. However, there is such a phenomenon as “chemo brain” and during treatment my memory and focus wasn’t the best. I have been struggling to write new music the last few months. Now that I am finished treatment, my brain function is slowly coming back to normality and I intend to write a lot in the next few weeks. There is still a lot of social distancing in Ireland at the moment with Covid-19 still about, when things hopefully go back to being a little more normal, I hope to record the new songs in a studio.