Blog: Chit-chat: Camerounian musician Clarisse Albrecht

Submitted by Museke Oct. 27, 2010, 1:09 a.m.

Chit-chat: Camerounian musician Clarisse Albrecht

We first heard of Clarisse when she emailed us about her single, Você Me Dá. On the strength of this single, she's become very popular and many music fans are raving over her music. We decided to delve a bit more into this half-Camerounian and half-French singer who is fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish and spends time in the Dominican Republic. Clarisse Albrecht's as Afropolitan a musician as they come. Below is the interview transcript.

Museke.com: Hello, how are you?
Clarisse: Hi! I'm super fine, thanks.

Museke.com: Can you tell us about your background and family?
Clarisse: Well, I'm half-French from my father and half-Cameroonian from my mother. I've been raised with a brother and sisters, in Guinea-Bissau, during my early years, then in France, then in Mozambique and then in France again.

Museke.com: How did growing up in different countries shape your music?
Clarisse: It, for sure, helped me to be open to different cultures and learn that there's not just one way of life. It also helped me to have the will to make music that a lot of people, no matter where they're from, could relate to.

Museke.com: What kind of music do you do and why this style?
Clarisse: I would say that I make a fusion between electronic music, world music with a touch of groove. It's really hard to define it. Almost each of my songs have the same spirit but with a different vibe.

Museke.com: How did you get to be named Mulata Universal?
Clarisse: I got this nickname by a friend in Brazil. It was my first time in Rio De Janeiro, and the day before I leave, he wrote me a poem where he said that when I smile with all my soul and heart, I become a "mulata universal".

Museke.com: Which musicians (African or foreign) did you listen to growing up?
Clarisse: A lot! I used to listen a lot of French songs and African music from: the 70's and 80's; Franco Luambo Makiadi & Ok Jazz, Pamelo Mounka... Soul, R&B, Brazilian music... Then later came Hip Hop and electronic music.

Museke.com: What have been your favorite places to perform so far?
Clarisse: So far it's still one of my first solo performances when I was in a gospel choir and I sang "God's Trying To Tell You Something" from The Color Purple Soundtrack. Being in that choir and singing that song live was a very important step.

Museke.com: What is the song ‘You let us down’ about?
Clarisse: It's basically a song about disappointment and anger.

Museke.com: Most fans only know Você Me Dá. What’s your next single and when can we see the video?
Clarisse: I already have my idea of which will be the next single, but I'm gonna keep it kind of secret; I'm gonna record my album this winter so a little more patience will be necessary before knowing which will be the next single and see a new music video. But I will soon put more songs online and live performance videos.

Museke.com: If you could be one piece of music you've done what would it be and why?
Clarisse: Oh, it's impossible to say which one I could be. All my songs reflect who I am, in different moods, vibes and moments of my life.

Museke.com: Which African musicians do you admire (presently)?
Clarisse: As a good Cameroonian sister, I have to say Manu Dibango. He's a ‘huge’ internationally. He's one of the first artists I saw performing live. He had such a great impact in African music and that he exported it so well. I also admire Fela, from all those amazing artist coming from Nigeria nowadays, you can tell he has been an incredible inspiration and influence.

Museke.com: Which musicians would you like to collaborate with?
Clarisse: I'm actually enjoying all the musicians I'm working with, I like the musicians I'm performing with and recording with. I would like to keep on collaborating with them. I remember one day I was at a concert and I thought "Wow, it's gonna take a long time before I could perform with those musicians. And casually, it has happened a few months without even planning it. It's all about who I cross paths with. I can't really make a list of who I want to work with, there's a lot.

Museke.com: It is believed that many African musicians have to make it big in Africa before they make it big worldwide. Do you share this opinion and if not, what can African musicians based abroad do to succeed like their big counterparts on the continent?
Clarisse: I don't think there's a special rule. Almost all artists have to make it big somewhere to make it big worldwide. I don't think it's really important to have a plan. You just do your thing and it becomes big.

Museke.com: What record label are you on?
Clarisse: I'm not signed. I produce myself with my musical producer and I have a digital distributor.

Museke.com: What advice do you have for upcoming African musicians based anywhere?
Clarisse: Oh my God! I'm still learning so much that it will be kind of pretentious to give advice. I might just say, be true to yourself, make music with your soul and heart.

Museke.com: What took you to the Dominican Republic?
Clarisse: Among other things, the sun and the Carribean sea.

Museke.com: How similar is the local music there to contemporary African music?
Clarisse: For me what is more similar is the feeling with music. Here, like in Africa, there's no boundaries between body and soul. You feel it when they sing or dance.

Museke.com: People talk about how digital distribution is allowing musicians to sell their music easily and that the record label is dying. Do you think the record label is dying? Do you think record labels are important for African musicians or they should stay independent (indie)?
Clarisse: In my opinion, the record label is not really dying. It's just that we have other options now. I buy digital tracks but I still buy records. I like to see the credits, the pictures, the lyrics, the dedication. And I think a lot of people are like me. Digital is just another option.

Museke.com: What are your plans for 2011?
Clarisse: Record my debut album, release it, keep on spreading my music and perform a lot.

Museke.com: Any plans to tour Africa soon?
Clarisse: No, not yet.

Museke.com: What challenges do you face in the music industry (piracy, payola (paying deejays to play music), etc)?
Clarisse: The hardest part is to be played on big radio stations to have the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Concerning the DJs, I have never paid any of them. Since I started to promote my single, I have always had a lot of support from them, they were the first to play my music. I've been supported by a lot of radios too. I might have been a victim of piracy, but I don't really mind so far. I think that those who download it illegally will not have bought it anyway. The main problem is that I've worked so hard to have a good sound, a good mix and mastering that it's a pity to listen to a bad quality version.

Museke.com: Do you have any present engagements and works other than music?
Clarisse: Yes. I'm collaborating with a production company in Dominican Republic: La Mala Res Film Group. We're specialised in music-videos.

Museke.com: What is one interesting thing about you that some of us fans don't know?
Clarisse: Hey, it means I have fans?! Lol! I think I'm fun (well, I hope so!)

Museke.com: What are your hobbies and pastimes?
Clarisse: I spend a lot of time on internet. I use it like a dictionary where each search take you to another one. I also like to learn how to use new softwares. I like to cook, to go to the beach, doing simple things and make my life as sweet it can be.

Museke.com: How can people reach you? Do you have a website?
Clarisse: Yes, I have a website: www.clarissealbrecht.com, people can reach me through this website and also on Facebook, I'm the admin of my page.

Museke.com: Any messages for fans, etc?
Clarisse: Spread a good vibe around you, it makes the world better for everybody including yourself. You never know what tomorrow can bring, good or sad things, so learn to enjoy today.

Museke.com: Thank you for your time.
Clarisse: You're welcome. Thanks.

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