Following the success of her first EP, Monstre d’Amour, a cry of pain taking us into the desperate but vital need of expressing the agony of a broken heart, it is now time for the victorious liberation. Sainte Victoire is Clara Luciani’s first album, a feminine rather than feminist testimony. The Paris-based singer embodies a generation with her newest anthem La Grenade. Luminous and authentic, Clara is a musician and, above all, a woman. This album is her journey towards acceptance; with pride and determination, the young artist is giving us her vision. From the revelations that were Lou Reed and Nico at a young age, we discussed everything that helped her build who Clara is now.
Your first album, Sainte Victoire, was launched earlier this month. How do you feel after releasing this intimate and autobiographical piece?
It has been over three weeks now and I am extremely pleased and overwhelmed by the positive and wonderful critics I received so far. It is the kind of project where I am not looking to create a buzz around, neither to enrol myself in any trend, but it is rather something that took time to build and to which I gave all my self.
You have created a beautiful testament of your own, isn’t it? 
I love this album but it is very hard for me to be objective about it; it is like asking parents their opinion about their child. There is so much of me in it, I enjoyed every step of its creation. I had the chance to do it with people I love and admire. Sainte Victoire pictures a time of my life and work that I, of course, feel very satisfied with.
What do your parents think about it?
My parents are proud. Dad buys all the magazines I am featured in and monitors if I am at the top of iTunes. It is very funny to see them so involved and supportive of the career I have.
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From what I have read, you are from a village in the South of France, could you tell us more about how your life was like when growing up?
It is not as bucolic as it sounds. I was closer to the northern district of Marseille, in a town called Septemes-les-Vallons. There was not much life there, that is mostly why arriving in Paris at nineteen was so intense for me, it felt like I started living for the first time.
How did you build this musicality of yours at the time?
I remember a boy who has changed the way I perceived music and opened myself to new horizons. Up until I was thirteen, I was listening to a lot of pop music, including Britney Spears, and singers that were in trend at the time for kids of our age. He made me listen to artists I refused to hear because it was music my parents were listening to, such as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Pink Floyd and, most importantly, the Velvet Underground.
Lou Reed had this uninhibited way of making music that came from his guts; it was the very first time I was confronted with such character and when I understood that another form of music was possible. From the Velvet Underground, I discovered Nico, who also was a revelation in my life. As a little girl, I was self-conscious with my height and deep voice, I struggled; but when listening to her, I discovered the chance I had to be singular and I realized my differences are what make me unique. I then slowly started to accept myself.
You arrived in Paris when you were nineteen, what brought you here?
The desire of making music. I did not set a plan for myself or know where I was going; I really took my guitar over my shoulder wanting to start my own life. I struggled at first and worked in boutiques and restaurants but I did not want to look back at my journey and live with the regret of not having taken the chance to try.
I found music so addictive. I am so extremely happy to be doing what I do that I am scared it may end. I am starting to write new songs, I already want to work on the second album. If this journey ends now, I will be left with the impression of not having had the chance to express myself fully. It would be like starting a relationship that ends after a month, there would be so much love to give but not enough time. 
Do you think that Paris is the symbol of liberation for you?
It was more than liberation, it was a birth. I found and understood myself here; I came from a place where buses stopped circulating at 8 pm, with no social life. I remember spending afternoons being depressed. When I look back at being a teenager, the first word that comes to my mind is boredom. From this, I found exile in literature, music and writing when growing up, which has had a big influence on the creative process I now have. When I was younger, I recall being fascinated by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir’s relationship, so by existentialism, I understood that everything was offered to me if I was willing to act towards it.
Indeed, it is the key to success; your success.
It seems to be a banality but it was extremely hard to understand it, even more when you are socially excluded because of your situation. I think we are in a country dictated by heritage, in a generation where if you are the son or daughter of someone established, you are more likely to succeed and access to more resources regardless of how talented you are.
I would like to hear more about this encounter with a member of the band La Femme, which you ended being part of for a while at the beginning of your career.
We met in Cannes. They were playing at a festival and I went to see them. Without really knowing whom I was discussing with, I ended up by chance meeting a member of the band. They told me that if I was to come to Paris we could try to collaborate. It is funny to think that all these coincidences brought me to where I am today. Despite how determined I was to make music, there was a part of luck, everything came together in its own time. I find it surreal when looking back at it, it is almost like I had a guardian angel guiding me through these encounters and the perseverance I had throughout.
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Did you write this first album from a romantic setback?
It was mostly my EP Monstre d’amour that came from the end of a relationship, not as much as the album, which is more open to different topics such as my femininity. I wanted Sainte Victoire to be luminous and liberated in its core in opposition to the EP, which translated a pain I was suffering from and desperately needed to express. I wanted to take this album somewhere else, that’s why we have taken songs such as Pleure Clara, pleure and A crever out; they were too heavy to carry on with.
Do you think this EP helped you close a chapter in your life?
Yes, it really helped me. I was pleased to make flowers grow from a dunghill. When this terrible break up happened, I wanted to create light and beauty out of it, to turn the negative into something positive. It is a choice we always have and that I made with Monstre d’amour. I feel lucky to have these songs that helped me move on. When I wrote the acknowledegments at the end of this EP, I thanked the man who had the greatest idea to break my heart and made me write these songs. One of the best things that happened to me was to be broken-hearted, I believe. 
Is Sainte Victoire the representation of a liberated Clara who assumes and loves herself?
I still have a bit of a hard time loving, but I do accept myself now, which is a great start and even more as a woman. It might sound trivial to say so, but this album means that I am alive and a woman, these are my emotions at twenty-five seen through the prism of my generation. It is a real testimony of how I feel.
We are evolving into a society that still lives by a lot of clichés about women.
I find it complicated. We are confronted with a lot and contradictory expectations. For example, society expects women not to get older and to look their age; the current beauty standards don’t tolerate it.
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What about the music industry?
It still is, although probably not as much as it used to be. But I am still receiving comments made as jokes that are corrosive. I have already heard, “I am willing to listen to her album but I do not like women’s music” – some insanity like this. Or I would arrive at a concert venue and a bunch of men would come up to me to show me how plug cables work, when I have been doing this for five years now. These experiences pushed to write songs like La Grenade.
How do you feel when singing La Grenade?
This song has become my anthem. I received messages from listeners who are living and understanding it like I do, it really is touching to hear. La Grenade is a female hymn. I am often told that Sainte Victoire is a feminist album but I always respond that it is most importantly a feminine album. It tells you what being a woman is about, and that we are not here to look our best but to be heard as much as men in anything we desire to pursue
The song I loved the most from Saint Victoire is Drole d’Epoque, can you tell us more about it?
Drole d’Epoque starts with the complex I had with my androgynous physique when growing up. I have always received criticisms – the harshest ones coming from women. It took me a long time to find my way of being feminine. Then, I addressed the contradictory expectations our society has for women: we are expected to be mothers, sisters, lovers, Kim Kardashian and Brigitte Macron at the same time. We are harassed by unreachable ideals. There was a time in my life when I said enough, let us be vulnerable and strong whenever it pleases us. It is also an important song for me because it is the only one we have recorded with guitar and voice. We did not have much time left to produce it, but I insisted on having it pure, without any artifices, to show most of its sincerity.
Now that your album is out, it is about time to take it to the stage. How do you feel about this new chapter touring across the country?
This is the most beautiful part. We are playing in various cities and festivals from now on. I treasure it because it is the moment of sharing. For months, you are waiting for your album to come out; the wait is very solitary. When the to perform on stage comes, Sainte Victoire becomes a communion between the public and I. I am craving to meet and discuss with everyone while touring, it is what makes me happy. I am also lucky to be playing with musicians I love, we get on so well and it makes this experience even more incredible.
When you made a cover of The Bay and, more recently, of Blue Jeans, why did you decide to translate them into French?
I love French and I feel comfortable with its diction. I found it more honest, but it is also a reference from the ‘60s, when we had singers like Marie Laforet making a cover of the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black that turned into the song Marie Douceur/Marie Colere. It is a challenge I gave to myself and in which I found a lot of freedom.
I wanted to congratulate you on this beautiful success. As our time comes to an end, I wanted to know how does Clara feel about the future?
I found music so addictive. I am so extremely happy to be doing what I do that I am scared it may end. I am starting to write new songs, I already want to work on the second album. If this journey ends now, I will be left with the impression of not having had the chance to express myself fully. It would be like starting a relationship that ends after a month, there would be so much love to give but not enough time.
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