A Chat with Klara McDonnell (04.08.2020)

Klara McDonnell is celebrating with her latest string of singles. This celebration continues with the newest release ‘Dusty Glitter (Skynem GT Remix)’. While originally released last year, the remix is a completely new and fun summer hit. We sat down with Klara McDonnell (KM) to talk about the single, her future plans and much more!

OSR: If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?

KM: Apart from being a musician, I also work in the entertainment industry as an actor. My main source of income in the last 10 years was as a life drawing model. It was surprisingly more painful than most people would expect. When I had short poses, I could be more creative and have fun but with longer poses, some times an hour long, the aches would set in. The work was flexible though and it was nice to be around other types of artistic people. I haven’t done that type of work since I was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve had lots of different “day jobs” over the years but I feel I am happiest when I am in an artistic setting.

OSR: The last few years have been tough for you, how has this impacted your music?

KM: I honestly consider myself to be very blessed. I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer last year but I have just finished treatment and I am now cancer-free. My diagnosis has forced me to reflect on the way my life was before and to slow down. I had a condition called “chemo brain”, which means massive brain fog, not being able to focus well, memory problems, etc. So I was struggling with songwriting.

OSR: How hard was it to get back into making music?

KM: During the start of my chemotherapy, I was wondering if the treatment would affect my vocals but I was still out there gigging. At the start of the lockdown in Ireland, it was highly suggested to vulnerable people to “cocoon” and stay inside their houses. I was one of those people as I had cancer and have asthma.

However, with lockdown going on in Ireland, no venues or studios were open. So, I suppose I didn’t miss out on too much. I heard about a project called the Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown on social media. The singer from Irish band The Blizzards was sending out hundreds of ukuleles to people cocooning across Ireland. There were online lessons in the project and I learnt how to play ukulele over the weeks.

OSR: What is the backstory to your single ‘Dusty Glitter’?

KM: I wrote the song last year with intentions to write a country/pop sounding song. One of my mother’s favourite bands are The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) and I wanted to write a song she would be a fan of! I know that’s not the most rock n’ roll admission. I recorded it with Beardfire Music in Dublin and released it last October. The protagonist of the song is a woman who thinks she is too wild in her ways and too flawed for her love interest.

OSR: A remix by Skynem GT of ‘Dusty Glitter’ has just been released, how did you connect to make this possible?

KM: I became acquainted with Skynem GT through a singer/songwriter friend, Robert O’Connor. Skynem GT won a competition to remix his single ‘Real Good Fight’ in 2019. They went on to work together on more singles. I was really impressed by his work. I sent him the raw vocals from the original single and we worked on the song online.

OSR: Why release a remix of the track?

KM: Skynem GT had suggested remixing ‘Dusty Glitter’. I felt that it is one of my poppier sounding melodies and a remix could breathe fresh life into the song, potentially gaining a new audience for my music.

Klara McDonnell

OSR: If you could have people remember one thing about this single, what would it be?

KM: If they could remember to playlist it or buy it that would be great! (laughs)

OSR: How do you cope with overzealous fans?

KM: I had someone tell me on TikTok that they saw me in the town I live in and they were scared to approach me. I would like to think that I am approachable. I was quite honest in how I documented my cancer treatment on social media but there are some things I like to keep private for my own wellbeing.

I don’t discuss exactly where I live, my relationship status or personal details about my family. I never do check-in’s on social media until after I have left the location. With over 8k followers on TikTok, I can still try to reply to most comments. It means so much to me that some other cancer fighters and survivors follow me. I’ve been lucky to have only a few troll/negative comments and try to deal with them with humour.

OSR: After the pandemic, are you planning any tours or gigs?

KM: I’m currently not planning any gigs or tours as everything seems very unpredictable at the moment. I recently started going live on TikTok and would like to do it more.

OSR: What can we expect from you in the next 6 months?

KM: I was cast voicing several characters in a new cartoon on Irish television, that will be out this winter. As regards to my music, I am back songwriting and hope to record in October after my radiation finishes. Radiation is the final part of my treatment and it’s in a lot of treatment plans for women with triple-negative breast cancer as it can be quite an aggressive form of cancer.

Thanks to Klara McDonnell for chatting with us! You can find more about her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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