A word with Clara Van Wel

By Scott Kara

A quick word with New Zealand's Got Talent winner Clara Van Wel. The 15-year-old singer-songwriter releases her debut single, Where Do You Find Love, tomorrow, and with a songbook of around 50 originals already she shouldn't have any problem coming up with an album for release early next year. Then there's the small matter of spending the $100,000 prize money.

New Zealand's Got Talent winner Clara Van Wel. Photo / Supplied
New Zealand's Got Talent winner Clara Van Wel. Photo / Supplied

Congratulations Clara. What's next?

Yeah, well, it's all been quite full-on the last couple of days but it's good. I've got my single coming out on Friday, which is really exciting.

But are you ready for what lies ahead? Show business is tough.

I think it's all about how you approach it. As long as I can stay the same person I was when I first auditioned, and I've got my wonderful parents who are keeping me grounded and it's a good experience. It's an interesting experience, and it's a positive one.

What are you going to do with the $100,000?

We haven't had a chance to sit down and finalise anything but I definitely know I want to give something back to New Zealand in the way of charity or something because it has given so much to me.

What was the experience of being on New Zealand's Got Talent like?

It was the most amazing thing I've ever done and I'll hold it with me for the rest of my life. All the crew, the judges, and Tamati, and the people I met along the way were so fantastic and I had much more fun than I ever imagined I would. It's quite an intense process, because everyone's running about and you have to perform to the people in the audience, but you also have to get it into your head that you are performing to a million people [TV viewers] who aren't even there. And it can be intimidating, but I think the important thing about performing is to use what the audience give you, and that buzz you get from them listening to you, to enhance your performance.

So where does your talent come from?

My family are musical, and my sister Daisy does a lot of singing and dancing and stuff like that. But it's just something I've always loved to do and it's been very encouraged throughout my whole life.

Other than your family who else influences you?

Musically, always Bic Runga. And I admire Peter Jackson's work. What he's done in terms of giving New Zealand something to get behind is really brilliant. I've written a song about The Hobbit. I like writing stuff about that. It's called There and Back Again, and it uses poetry from the books and stuff like that. It's on YouTube actually.

You do the singer-songwriter style songs very well - but can you play rock 'n' roll too?

I think the song I did during the semi-final, Between the Lines, got quite rocky and it was fun playing with a band. But I don't attempt to write in any particular genre, it's just whatever comes out and whatever I can say with conviction.

What makes a good song in your mind?

I think a lot of what's been lost in the new sort of techno move through music is the lyricism and the story of songs. Some of it can be quite repetitive, but there is some music that makes you stop and listen to what the story is about and you realise it's actually something really special. And I think that's what's important, the person who's singing has to really connect with the lyrics and sing the song with conviction.

In the final performance show Logan made a fatal mistake when he did a Justin Bieber cover rather than one of his originals. Did you ever consider doing a cover for a bit of variety?

I think the thing is, I entered the competition as a songwriter and a musician. And I'm really glad I took what could have been a big risk [by playing originals] because that's who I am and I didn't want to change that part of myself.

What makes NZGT stand out from other talent shows?

I think it's been really brilliant the way New Zealand got behind this show because it supports a variety of different acts and it gives the opportunity for all these different types of people to launch themselves, which is fantastic.

Did you think you were going to win?

I actually never even let my head go there. When I auditioned I never really thought about the enormity of it, and I didn't really think about what it might mean until that moment when I was on stage waiting to hear what name it was going to be.

Who: Clara van Wel
What: New Zealand's Got Talent winner
Listen to: Where Do You Find Love, debut single available digitally tomorrow and on CD December 12
Debut album: To be recorded in January released in February

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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