Top of the Class: Andrea Klas Sings Her Heart Out
Canadian-born singer/songwriter Andrea Klas brings a taste of the divine to her music. Her voice is filled with an almost palpable joy as she sings, with lyrics reflecting the whole range of the human condition from love, to love lost, to just getting through the day. Her debut album, Orion, is fittingly named after the title song of the same name. Even at their saddest, Klas' songs are about finding the silver lining and hope.
"The whole album is a message of getting within yourself" says Klas. "Particularly for me, this album was about the journey that has made up my life thus far. I was partly dealing with breaking away from my family and what they wanted for me and partly dealing with doing this music thing full-time, making the break from actually quitting my day job and saying, 'Okay, I've had it with this life that I was supposed to lead - I'm going to lead the life that I've always wanted to lead.' That's really what the whole album is about; getting all the stuff I've felt for the last year of my life out on paper. Every song is about something in my life that's happened, or didn't happen."
Klas, originally from Edmonton, Alberta, grew up in a household full of business professionals. Even so, she acted on her interest in music early in life, performing in local musical theater productions as early on as seven years old. "I was in plays, and took acting, dance, and theater," says Klas. "I was 21 when I realized that I wanted to go beyond that, so I actually started to write my own stuff. When I came out to Vancouver I continued to play piano and experiment in songwriting."
Even though she was an economics major at university, she began spending more and more time out of class performing at local clubs with her band. After graduation, she worked in sales for a pharmaceutical company by day and played music by night, until one day deciding that all she really wanted to do was be a musician.
"I met Holly Kemp, who's one of the partners at Freedom to Groove, a musician's online management and marketing company. She said she'd listen to my music and her feedback was "You've got a great voice, and you have a great musical talent, but your songwriting needs work". She asked me if I'd be willing to co-write with someone new and I said 'Absolutely'. From there she put me in touch with Adam Popowitz and we arranged to meet and work on my music."
"Basically, we'd get together, he'd play some chords on his guitar and I would sing a melody line just over the top of his chord progressions - I love good, complex harmonies and melodies - we'd then get the melody line, at which point I would go home to write the lyrics, which Adam would tweak a bit." The first time we met, we got a melody line, and he said, 'Okay, you go home, you write what you think this song should be about. I'm going to go home and write what I think this song should be about, and we'll put it together and see if we mesh.' So we split for two days, came back and it was amazing.
"'Ride', the first song on the album, was a serious collaboration" she laughs. "That was the very first song we wrote together and it seems to be the most popular song. We both wrote about exactly the same thing. We just took one verse from his song, one verse from mine etc. and turned that into the song. It was amazing. It just fit. We just sat there and said 'This was meant to be.'"
'Ride' pretty much set the precedence for the rest of the songs on the album. Klas put more melodies down while she and Adam worked out lyrics and fleshed out the music for the rest of the album. "The way I work is to just listen to the melody line over and over and over again, and I just start writing lyrics to go with it. I usually write a story before I write the lyrics; I could write up to ten-pages of what I think the song should be about, and then I break it down into lyrics."
She adds, laughing, "It's funny how people get their inspiration. It's almost like a cathartic experience, you know? You get it out, and then you have to make sense of all the gobbledygook that's written down. I wouldn't show anyone any of the stories I've written on their way to becoming songs. Though I accidentally once sent the story instead of the lyrics to my label, and they responded with, 'What's this? This is really off the wall. This is not the direction we think you should go in.'"
These days, Klas is busy with another project along with her music-her new son, Jake. "I got pregnant at little earlier than I wanted, but that's turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. The way it's worked out, we've been able to spend more time marketing this album and really focusing on the new material we've been putting together. It's taken awhile, but Orionís starting to get a lot of momentum. The stores are ordering it, I've got distribution now across Canada, and it looks like we're going to go out on tour this fall." Which is exactly the direction she wants to be heading in. "Thereís a saying that youíll love what you work at, if you work at what you love. Iíve made it happen; Iím leading the life Iíve always wanted to lead."
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