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Part of the Brussels-based prankster collective PRR! PRR!, Galicia-born Clara! makes heterogeneous-tempo hopping mixes using music from various origins and cultural environments, led by curiosity, humour and a strong love of dance. She signed Reggaetoneras 2 and 3 with Gravats – which are 100% female reggaeton MCs mixtapes with rhythms from the ’90s to the modern day, crammed with rude drums and hooks levered from major dance hits, and sandwiched with skits and personal edits. Also recently released with Gravats is her first solo EP, made with Maoupa Mazzocchetti, Clara! y Maoupa – Meneo, in which she sings her anger, sarcasm and seduction on her own reggaeton beats. Their follow-up album, Luna Nueva, was released in 2019.

How did you discover reggaeton and what drew you to it in particular?

I discovered reggaeton when I was a teen full of hormones. It was very popular in Spain in the 00s. I’ve always loved to dance sexily in front of the mirror and that was the perfect rhythm to let my hips flow. Also, the sexual content and the aggressiveness fitted with my energy of that moment.

Have you discovered something about the genre that is not so known? (reggaeton is very popular all over the world, not just in Latin America, which perhaps is often forgotten. It started as an underground movement, disseminated through cassettes, and it was also persecuted by the police and the state (in Puerto Rico, for example)

I don’t think I have any particular info. But yes, reggaeton comes from Puerto Rico, we should keep that in mind here in Europe.

People associate this genre with masculinity, sexuality and objectification of women. You subvert this and talk about politics in your lyrics, too. Can you talk about this aspect of what you do?

People think it’s masculine because it’s sexual, and that’s a very sexist way of thinking in my opinion, to assign sexual content as male. I love very explicit lyrics that come from women.

In my case, I write about things that I care about, like fighting gender roles. For example, I like to sing about a dancing man instead of the common subject of the sexy girl. I also did some texts about witches and female independence.

Another thing is that I’m not into money fetishism, which is super frequent in music. In “Acero” I say: “No quiero tu dinero, quiero to meneo, tu cuerpo, tu cuero” (I don’t want your money, I want your dance moves, your body, your leather).

You collaborate with Maoupa Mazzocccheti (also SHAPE) in a project called simply – Clara! y Maoupa. Can you talk about it? (also about your new record on Editions Gravats)

Florent (Maoupa) is a friend. He once came to see me DJing. He went there to support me, even though he didn’t like reggaeton. That day, he discovered that it was actually very interesting. He asked me to do a track with him and I said: I can’t sing. He told me that I was toasting over my set while mixing, like fan singing. So we tried and I really enjoyed it.

We have an album coming out this month: Luna nueva (New moon). I’m super excited about it, we had a lot of fun recording it.

On the other hand, we began doing live performances together last year and I love it. I thought I would be super shy, but I feel good on stage. It’s weird because I’m an introverted person.

You started studying arts, then moved onto film. Do you have any ambitions in this field? (cinematography, etc)

I stopped film because I was doing a PhD with a grant and I had kind of an overdose. I’ve now begun to have a bit of interest in it again. I have some ideas I want to work with. But creation takes time, and music and my son are my priorities. For the new album with Maoupa, we have two clips made by two different film makers. Coming very soon!

When you play, what aspect of music is most important to you – the rhythm, sonics, vocals, lyrics?

All of them. I won’t play a track if I’m not politically OK with the lyrics. I don’t pay so much attention to sound quality, for example, because I like underground and rare tracks that don’t always have the best recording conditions.

What’s up next for you?

In addition to the album with Maoupa, I’m working on my solo project, collaborating with other musicians. I want to keep DJing at the same time that I’m pushing my opportunities as an MC.

Clara! is playing Biennale Nemo on 30/11

Interview by: Lucia Udvardyova
Photo: Coquelin

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Photos: SHAPE @ RIAM Festival 2019