Clarita de Quiroz’s first solo album, Speak.Delete.Repeat., has just been released on Sony Music. The UAE-born artist has composed most of the music on the new album and co-written the songs with Dubai-based Scottish singer/songwriter, Mike Ross. Fresh off her performance opening for Paolo Nutini at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, she looks forward to her next steps playing shows in support of this new record. Born in Abu Dhabi she spent the vast majority of her life in Scotland. She is a classically trained pianist, percussionist, vocalist and model and has so far opened for such notable acts as Sir Elton John, Roger Sanchez, Macy Gray, Kelly Roland, Gabrielle and the Sugababes, to name a few. We sat down with Clarita to find out what inspires and influences her.
How did you first get into music?
I started playing the piano from the age of four. This then progressed to singing at the age of 10 and then percussion when I was 15. At the beginning, it was more of a thing my parents made me do, but then as I got older, I soon realized it was a massive part of my personality and daily routine.
What/Who inspires your music and why?
To be honest, instrumental music and classical music influences me the most. I believe this happens because that’s how I was trained and all I listened to. Even now, I put on Classic FM when I am in the car. I love film score music also and most of the music on my iTunes is classical, film score music or my favorite band – Muse!
How did you get into your style of music specifically?
My genre is hard to describe. It does have pop elements, but it is very much structured around classical music and soul. I think my music sound is probably what would happen if you mixed Muse with Alicia Keys! Very different. It is a very piano-based album, however it does have a lot of production in some of the songs such as “Don’t Say That” and “Bring Me Down.” I’ve tried to keep a balance as I do think this album reflects the type of music I like to listen to.
What other experiences have you had with recording and releasing music?
I released an album in 2012 called These Words with a DJ / Producer Dion Mavath. This was a house album and is very different to what I have done as a solo artist. This was a lot of fun, I still enjoy listening to this album but I feel as a musician (and not just a singer/songwriter) this showcases more of what I do in terms of live performance and composition. Previous to this, I have not released anything official so this is all new as a solo artist.
Tell us about your experience as a classically trained pianist…
I absolutely adore the piano. I always want to learn more and train harder as we can always get better! It was tough growing up. The exams, the lessons, the struggle for perfection at an instrument, was hard at such a young age. I was massively passionate in my teens with piano and ended up winning regional competitions and prizes on a regular basis. It encouraged me to go further with music, however I was never sure how to go about it. I used to spend my break time and lunch times in the music rooms composing concertos for two reasons really: I loved music and I feared other humans at the time – bit of a geek! My piano teacher was very strict which I now thank her for, but yes, I certainly don’t miss those exams. Even after doing an MA degree in Economics, no exam to date in my life has been harder than the piano exams I had to sit. Now I would say piano composition and playing is my means of relaxation, and my first tool to compose anything, whether it be a song with words, or just an instrumental.
In your opinion, what was the hardest challenge you have faced in your artistic career so far?
There have been so many! So, hard to choose one. I suppose the honest answer would be having to commercialize in some ways. I think if I had put less thought and more heart into the album, the result would have been a lot different. Not to say I don’t like commercial music in any way, it just makes me think of the bigger picture and the audience more. Another challenge has been creating a musical fictional character. “Clarita de Quiroz” is quite fictional to me as when I am on stage, on social media, etc. I feel I am a different person. The inner school geek in me would crumble I suppose! I am quite a shy person but I don’t really show it on stage.
How has the Middle Eastern world reacted to your music?
I would say the public and the media have been great! They have supported me for years, which I can’t thank them enough for. I’ve only encountered positive encouragement which makes me think I am in the right career. I have performed three times so far, and each time has been a pleasure. It makes me always want to return! I am working on Arabic collaborations to help the exposure over here in the Middle East.
Is there a prevailing message you are trying to communicate with your music?
I would say my main messages have been from life experience, so they vary from song to song. I find it hard to write fiction so I write about my experiences. Some of them are romantic, and others are about just battling through obstacles in life and keep on going!
What is your dream for your music / what would you like to accomplish in the future?
My dream would be to keep composing and writing. Travelling, singing only my own original material, and making people smile with it! More international collaborations would be a bonus too.
What is your favorite show you have ever played?
My favorite gig hands down was the support act to Sir Elton John in 2012 in Abu Dhabi. That was an experience and a half! The audience was silent during the show and screaming at the end. I still think about this gig! I wish I had one of these every week.
How has the record been received so far?
The album went straight to number one on the first day on the iTunes pop albums chart. That was such a great feeling!