Clara Benin: Growing into Her Own

When you ask musician Clara Benin how it’s like being the daughter of Joey Benin, former bassist of iconic band Side-A, you’ll get a coy and almost cynical smile. “I don’t know. I’ve never been anyone else’s daughter other than Joey Benin’s.” Still, she shares that she relished watching her dad’s gigs and tagging along at their out-of-town shows. She also admits that the ultimate perks of having a talented musician as a dad is learning from him to be as musically competent. “The best thing that I’ve learned from my dad when it comes to music is just to be humble. He never compromised his faith for anything in order for him to just fit in, I respect him so much for that. My dad kept it real; he kept it true to himself,” shares Clara.

Looking at her Youtube account, you’ll get a scope of the type of music she dabbles with: soothing, easy, and stunning. Her songs are relatable, something that she wants and loves doing. Clara tells us, “When I write songs, most of the time it’s more of a need, it just comes out from me. It’s a very long process; it usually takes me months to write one song. I like challenging my listeners and myself. I want people to relate to my lyrics and to learn from it. I like writing about life.” Out of her observations comes her first album, Human Eyes. In it she offers a calming reflection over the rush of days and a collaborative effort with notable mentors. “I got to work with saxophonist Tots Tolentino for one of my tracks. My dad also helped me a lot in this album; he played the bass for some of the tracks.”

When did you realize that you wanted to become a musician and that you wanted to write your own songs?
Before, I never really wanted to pursue it. When I started playing the guitar and write, it was more for myself because I didn’t want to share it to the world. I didn’t think that my songs were good enough. But eventually, when I got older, my music became my passion, the very purpose why I’m here. I can’t imagine myself not doing music.

Do you write better songs when you’re happy or when you’re sad?
There are more emotions that you can use to write songs when you’re sad. I also don’t regret anything that I write, because that’s how I felt during that time.

“I also don’t regret anything that I write, because that’s how I felt during that time.”

How do you want to be known in the music industry, a good singer or a good songwriter?
I think more of a songwriter; I’m more of a lyric person. I want people to be able to relate to my music, I don’t just want to sound good, but of course that’s very important, too.

What’s your favorite track from Human Eyes and why should it be everybody’s favorite as well?
I have a track called “Dust” and I wrote it last summer. It’s about my view of life. It talks about my purpose. For a lot of people, death is such as scary thing, but if you know that you’re living for a purpose and not just for the sake of breathing, then if you die tomorrow, it’s okay, because you lived the life that you were supposed to live. And that’s what my song “Dust” is about.

“I want people to be able to relate to my music, I don’t just want to sound good.”

What’s your advice to people your age that want to create their own music?
If writing and making music is what you really want, invest in it. Buy good equipment, buy a guitar, and go to a music school if you can. You really have to work hard for it, people think that it’s so easy to be a musician, but the struggle is real! You can’t just stay in your room, record, and upload on Soundcloud, hoping that Ellen Degeneres finds out about it. Working on your music is not an overnight thing.

Photographed by Grace de Luna
Makeup Nicole Ceballos
Published in STATUS Magazine, February 2015

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