Klara Kristin’s unusual journey teaches us the beauty in letting go of control 

Mastering one artform alone takes skill, but so far Klara Kristin has enjoyed critical success in at least 3 different creative worlds. Or is it 4? We’ve lost count… She inhabits each environment she finds herself in so naturally, it’s as if she’s done nothing but that one thing her whole life. Read on to learn more about the Paris-based Danish actress / model / painter / pianist / chameleon on her new journey into music

INTERVIEW JESPER GUDBERGSEN@yessirjesper                                PHOTO ASSISTANTS LISA  MUELLER @lisamarleenmueller    // ELEONORA GUSTAPANE @eleonoragustapane

You strike me as a highly observant person who really connects to your surroundings. Where do you find beauty, or moments of beauty, in your everyday life? 

Wow, what a big question to start with! It’s important to me to find my own version of beauty in the quiet moments. Watching the seasons change. Something as simple as opening my windows, letting the fresh air into my apartment and breathing it in. Washing my face or even just drinking a glass of water. That’s where I find beauty, in simplicity.

You’re at the center of several industries that are all infatuated with a certain type of beauty for a fleeting moment, and then quickly move on to the next thing. How do you ground yourself while operating in these spaces? 

I always focus on staying true to who I am and who I was before this crazy ride started. I’m surrounded by so many amazing new people in my career now, but they may not all be there when my moment is gone, so it’s critical to keep what’s important to me very close. I went into this whole thing not knowing much about the worlds I was going to be navigating. I quickly learned to play along with “the game” so to speak. All the things that were unfamiliar to me before, the dinners at incredible restaurants, traveling around the world, beautiful hotels and all those things – they are a part of me now. I embrace and enjoy them so much but I also realize it is not permanent and that I should not get too attached.  Nevertheless, I am always present and thankful for what I’m engaged in and what I am doing. I remind myself of the things that are actually important when I am not the one in the spotlight. To be close to my family, to have an apartment where I can feel at home and recharge, connecting with my old friends, hanging out with my aunt, and talking to my family are all things that I feel keep me down to earth. Now, I have my music, and no one can take that away from me. Nobody is going to stop me from sitting down at the piano and writing a song about something I want to say. That has changed my life.  Having that has made me another person.

A string of happy accidents has led you to where you are now, with so many different balls in the air. It’s an interesting journey, can you sum up how you ended up where you are ? 

It’s really quite strange; the thing I feel I was meant to do has always been right in front of me, I just couldn’t see it. I’m basically at a place right now where I’m trying to convince myself that all the detours it took to get to the music were very lucky. All my experiences are part of what I use in my work now and the detours are what inspire my lyrics. My life is really where it is because of pure coincidence, which is weird since my ego tries to control everything. When I was younger, I felt like it wasn’t acceptable to not have an answer when someone asks you what you want to do in life, so I tried to plan everything out. I had a tendency to really focus on one strict way of achieving what I wanted, to work towards an extremely focused goal. But I’ve learned I always have a big break when I release control and just go with the flow. At some point when I’ve had enough, when it seems like it’s not happening and I almost give up – that’s when the big thing happens. It’s been a long trip to accept that it’s okay to not have all the answers, it’s okay to not know what you want to do sometimes… I am trying to let go and live my life more openly – that’s when the magic happens for me.

Was acting something you were trying to do or was that another coincidence – and how do you feel about acting now? 

Acting is actually an example of something I was trying so hard to do in a very traditional way after the big break had happened (with Gaspar Noé’s film, “Love”, 2015, ed). When the movie came out and was quite successful, I really went all in and did what I was being told was the right thing. Everyone labeled me as an ACTRESS all of a sudden, so I was convinced that that was who I was for a while. I connected with one of the top acting coaches in Paris and really worked hard, but it just didn’t feel right after doing that movie. Gaspar really is an artist, not just a director. I understand that now. The reason I said yes to be in his film was very much because I was so passionate about the political message, his vision and the art direction he was going for. After that unique experience, it was really hard to motivate to go on castings, because I really have to feel a special connection with the movie, and I just couldn’t find the same passion again. It’s completely different with music though, I want to do it all – I even want to do opera at some point. Songwriting and music just comes so much more naturally to me. But you never know. There are so many directors that fascinate me, who knows – it would have to once again be the universe lining up this beautiful path of coincidences that lead me to one of them!

In the aftermath of your first movie being released, you found yourself  having to speak a lot about sex and sexuality, and often you were confronted with very personal questions. I’m sure that was at once quite liberating, but also quite uncomfortable. There’s some distance to that moment now, what are your thoughts on that experience? 

First of all, I was really unprepared! I had no idea the movie was going to eventually be sold to 52 countries. I was in an art word bubble at the time, and knew Gaspar from the art films he’d done, but the movie industry was completely foreign to me. When he told me we were going to Cannes, I’d never even heard about it before. All of a sudden I was on TV, walking the red carpet, and I just thought “this is not what I signed up for!“ I even had bodyguards at one point, it was completely strange. Because the movie was so raw and honest, journalists really thought they could ask me about anything, and I do understand that, given the type of movie it is. Some people say it’s a porn – the movie is on pornhub after all…  I’m a provocateur and I don’t mind if it pushes some boundaries for people. I love the movie, so if they want to focus on that, it’s fine with me. I really loved the script so much and immediately thought; someone has to do this and I guess that someone is me. I felt my peers would want to see this movie, it needed to be out there and I had a chance to be part of creating it. So I decided to put my ego aside and go for it. But of course it’s tough thinking about how people can watch me on Pornhub. It honestly makes me a little sad for five minutes and then it goes away again. I’m so proud of that movie and I focus on the amazing moments where strangers have come up to me and thanked me, almost on their knees, explaining how watching me in that movie saved their relationship. That makes it easier to not think about the bad shit that came with it as well.

You operate in quite a few different creative fields, as we’ve touched on a little. Do you ever find yourself attracted to dip your toes back into the world of fine art?

I come from a family that has been involved in the art world for a while, ever since my grandfather moved to Paris. My family has a lithographic print atelier with a gallery in the Marais, which my cousin is now taking over from his father and I’m slowly starting to work with. We have our first joint project coming up with a Paris-based Danish photographer. I am interested in working on the behind-the-scenes operations of that, finding the right photographers to partner with, doing the PR and communications, things like that. Me as a painter? I don’t know, maybe later! I love painting, but the music is just overwhelming me right now, I can’t hold it in and it’s definitely my main focus.

I have been listening to your album, and it took me a minute to realize that the cozy and nostalgic feeling it brings me is actually quite easily explained – the songs are all reinterpretations of classic songs from the 60s. It’s kind of brilliant; we are all looking to reconnect with something that just makes us feel good right now. Tell me about the album, was that intentional or simply perfect timing?

That was another one of those beautiful coincidences. After moving from Denmark to Paris, I was singing french songs to learn the language better. I filmed myself and my cousin doing a song and put it on instagram which quickly led to being contacted by two different producers. One guy must have seen the movie and wanted to do a silly pop song about hooking up, but the other guy turned out to be who I ended up working with on this album, and I am so happy I went in that direction. He comes from a background that aligns much more with what I wanted to pursue – music played on live instruments, that’s produced analog. That was important to me, I really wanted to learn the process of working with instruments, as opposed to someone sending me track on the computer and I just lay down the vocals.. I completely respect people who create music on the computer, but this felt like an opportunity for me to learn a craft. I knew that I was interested in taking this further than just a song that would get a lot of streams and get me out there as a singer faster. I wanted to explore and build my skills as a musician, so when he proposed that we do a whole album of french covers, it felt perfect for me. A sort of stepping stone into becoming a genuine musician, one that isn’t focused on making money and streaming numbers. Taking it slow and learning along the way, that’s my no-strategy strategy!

You have been living in Paris for quite some time now. Did that inspire the album, and if so, how? 

I’m definitely completely influenced by living in this city. There’s a whole different style of groove to the music that surrounds me every day here. Air and Daft Punk are still kind of the kings here… There’s something about the bass, a cool bass-line that is very French to me. Even just the language itself, I think it’s the most beautiful language. I’m writing original music now, which just feels natural to do in french.  

When the actual creation of an album is done, there are so many more elements that complete the package. Tell us about the creative process, the visual side of this project, and how you think it has been different to release an album during a pandemic?

I was actually supposed to have my first live concert a few days ago, which was postponed to June, but I believe there’s a reason for everything. I’ll be even better prepared for that now. I’m planning several costume changes and my uncle is using an amazing old printing technique for a show poster I designed. It’s a continuation of my approach to the album art itself, the cover picture I took myself, in a photo booth. I drew the letters on the cover and my aunt who is a graphic designer helped me with the layout. It’s allowing me to make everything feel even more authentic to who I am. Through my work as a model and friends in the industry I’ve been introduced to a few managers, but it just doesn’t work for me. I know what I want and have a hard time listening to others’ ideas of what I should be doing. Instead I am trying to build a team around me who can help me realize the vision I have for this project, and I hope to be putting out videos soon.

I can’t even imagine what you could possibly be up to next – where are you headed ?

I’m currently working on the next album, which will be original music. It feels like the natural next step. I’m also doing all my lyrics in French, which makes me feel incredibly vulnerable. I’m a work in progress; I’m still learning to push the doubt aside and trust my gut feeling – that first instinct for instance, to write lyrics in French, I have to just go with it, it’s good enough! I’ve done the covers and really enjoyed it, but it was an introduction to me as an artist, sharing my experience of how I am doing this thing, learning and feeling comfortable to put out my own music. I am always interested in learning new things myself, so it feels natural to share it so that others can hopefully learn from me.

Can you single out a moment or a project that feels like the most, or one of the top important works in your life so far?

It’s almost impossible to single out one thing! I have to say, the moment I am currently in is always the most important. Where I am now is a culmination of all the little sparkles of great moments.