Before she was a nationally famous indie-pop musician, Clea Pratt was learning to play the guitar and shaping her creative direction in Indooroopilly State High School’s Arts program.
Clea returns to Indro this Thursday to run a songwriting workshop with Year 10 Music students and take questions from the wider student group at a lunchtime Q&A session in L Block.
The 2012 Indro Arts Captain, who won Song of the Year at the Queensland Music Awards in March for Dreaming, is looking forward to sharing her songwriting craft and music industry experience with current students.
“I moved to Brisbane from northern New South Wales when I was 15,” Clea, 24, says of her introduction to Indooroopilly High.
“It was just such a relief to come to a school that was so accepting of The Arts.
“Most of my subjects were Arts subjects except for the compulsory English and Maths.
“I was able to develop my creative skills pretty quickly and establish a style, which was incredibly important in those first years of getting my career together.
“I had an amazing support network from the teachers. Mr McCarthy and Ms Montemayor helped me record songs after school, in their own time … that was incredible.”
After graduating from high school, Clea studied a Bachelor of Creative Industries at Queensland University of Technology. While gigging in bars and cafés, she wanted the structure that uni provided and to build supporting skills for her music career.
“I was interested in all of The Arts because that’s important to my music,” she says.
Clea completed the degree last year, and continues to be heavily involved in all parts of the creative process around her career: styling and co-directing music videos and photo shoots, and designing and producing album art, posters and merchandise.
“I have a good creative team, and I’m invested in that process because for me it’s a representation of the song visually,” she says.
Clea first got airplay in 2015 after putting her first single, Polyester, on Triple J Unearthed, but it was her second single, Dire Consequences, released in 2016 at age 20, which won her a following.
“That was the one that took off, and I was able to get my foot in the industry,” Clea says.
After touring her debut full-length album, Vermillion, along the east coast, she has buckled down to work on her second album, with hopes of releasing the first couple of singles early next year.
Indro’s Assistant Head of Department – The Arts, Kristy Hinch, remembers Clea as a highly creative student in Music Extension, Visual Art, and Film, Television and New Media.
“She was super individual, super creative and obviously her own thing,” Ms Hinch says.
“She always had her own sense of who she was and what she wanted to do, and she was really involved in The Arts in her time here.”
Clea says her workshop with the Year 10s on Thursday will be about how she writes songs, but she emphasises the importance of persistence.
“It will be about the songwriting process and about the industry, things I wish I knew before I got into it, what to expect in the industry, how to form your team,” she says.
“Songwriting is a very individual craft and, like anything, it takes practice. You have to write 100 songs to get one good song. It takes a lot of hard work and faith in yourself.”
Her advice to students seeking a career in music is to ‘keep pushing’.
“If you truly believe in your music with your whole heart, then people will see you,” she says.
“The main thing is you can’t expect anything to come your way. You can be an amazing songwriter and have an incredible voice, but if you’re sitting back and thinking it will come, it won’t. In this oversaturated market, you have to put yourself forward, which is incredibly daunting but crucial.”