For The Daily News
Singer-songwriters Jann Klose and Clara Bellino have never shared a concert stage before. However, after hearing one another's music online, they both sensed a closeness in their perspectives on life and performing.
Bellino says, "I saw his video called, 'Make It Better,' and the spirit of what he does seems really lined up with what I do. My last video is called 'This Is Happiness.'
"Negativity is everywhere and very easy to find. You have to look for the positive. And that is what I hope to add to folks' lives, a dose of happiness. It's also what I sense from Jann's music. There are people out there who are givers. And I think he's a giver. Music is a giving act. Hopefully with what I do, I inspire or add some joy to people's lives."
Klose says, "Music is a source of comfort for me. And I'd like to provide that for those who listen to my music, as well."
Klose tells The Daily News, "I thought Clara's music was really pleasant and eclectic. It has a really nice vibe. That's what turned me on to it."
Their mutual admiration society has led to their teaming for a show at Angelica's in Redwood City on Friday.
Both artists were born in Europe -- Klose in Germany, Bellino in France.
Bellino, who resides in the East Bay and just played in Utah during the Sundance Festival, says, "People who travel a bit have a different perspective. You realize that there are millions of people out there with millions of different experiences. Your way is just one way. Travel gives you more to draw from and hopefully more acceptance of others."
Based in the Bronx, New York for the past 12 years, Klose says, "Travel and seeing different places and cultures is really important. It really opens your mind. It combats bigotry and small-minded thinking."
Klose, whose latest album is the brilliant and diverse "Mosaic," noticed his writing gradually opening up. "I'm interested in social change and wanting to see things get better for people. So it was really just a question of time before I started writing about it. In my earlier songs, I was more concerned with what I was going through. But in the last few years, I've become more concerned with what others are going through, too. I used to be much more introverted. I operate now on much less fear.
"I always wanted to be a singer, since I was a little boy, but that wasn't encouraged in my family. It was like, 'No, I think you'll have a real job, young man,'" Klose says, laughing. "But I was a rebel and I just decided I was going to do it anyway and I was going to prove them all wrong."
Klose, who also spent part of his childhood in Africa, says, "I was always a big fan of American culture, music, art, films, all of that. I watched a lot of American TV, when I was a kid and, growing up, listened to a lot of classic rock and American jazz and blues and folk and a lot of modern music, as well. I'm into a lot of the indie bands that are out now, from Clare and The Reasons to The Shins to Sufjan Stevens to Antony and The Johnsons. I know some of those guys. We've collaborated on various projects. It's become part of my life."
Klose has also worked on projects with Gary Lucas and Annie Haslam. His elegant vocals are featured in the film "Greetings From Tim Buckley."
"There's a lot of things about American life that I prefer over various European lifestyles," Klose says, "although the differences aren't as great as they used to be. I do still think that America offers a type of life where, if you work hard and you do right and you're kind, you can get somewhere. That's still possible. It may have gotten a lot harder than it used to be. But if you have the right attitude, it's still the best place for that to happen and evolve."
"In France," says Bellino, "I felt kind of limited by opportunities that were available to me then.
"I was so young. Leaving my family and friends was pretty torturous. It was a difficult decision to spend my life so far away from them.
But, "If I wasn't dedicated to what I came here to do, then I didn't need to be here."
By age 17, Bellino whose inspirations range from David Bowie to Leonard Cohen to DeBussy, was booking shows for herself and her band, Flying Monkeys. She took music classes at Foothill College. Bellino has sung in films, commercials and done a lot of voiceover work. Her recent album "Embarcadero Love" earned glowing reviews. She's now planning a sequel to her current "This Is Happiness" EP.
Bellino's entrancing music is constantly evolving. "If I had the choice, if there were 100 hours in the day, I would like to record many different kinds of albums. But hopefully, as I'm growing as person, what I do record reflects that. I listen to things for inspiration before the recording process, but then I stop listening and just tune in to what's naturally coming out of me.
"Pursuing a career in music, most people will discourage you from it, because they feel it's a lifestyle that leads to the gutter," Klose says, laughing. "But it doesn't have to be that way. The big difference in today's music industry is that the artist also has to be a good businessperson. The way the industry used to be, everything was taken care of, artists were developed. Now, if you want to do well as an artist, you have to know what you're getting yourself into and you have to run it like a business."
"Coming up with the funds to do the kind of recording I can be proud of is challenging," says Bellino. "Yes, you can record something at home, but I really like to record in a good studio, where you can use live instruments, and doing that is an elaborate and costly process. I'm also working on putting myself in a position where I can take musicians on the road with me. I tour solo quite a bit."
Klose and Bellino have both built devoted followings overseas and in the U.S.
Married to antique dealer and ardent vintage rock poster collector Kris Mikkelson, Bellino says, "I feel like a have a good network of people here now, and I do feel a sense of community. I try to surround myself with people who are supportive and happy for each other."
Klose is comfortable in New York and comfortable on stage. "My first gigs, I used to be really nervous. I'd be scared to sing my own songs. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. It's just like riding a bike.
"The reactions to my music are very rewarding, the fact that it makes people feel something, the communication that goes all around, that's a wonderful thing."
Bellino says, "I love traveling. I love meeting people. I love playing for different crowds. I love the feeling that there is support out there, if you connect with people. I'm really grateful for the people who have welcomed me."
Email Paul Freeman at email@example.com.
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