“Especially if you’re doing something that’s a bit different, how do you get people to actually take a chance, and listen to what you have to say?”
Clara Venice pauses over the thought during a telephone call from Vancouver. The Toronto-based performer is there just days away from her first major tour—first proper tour ever, really—opening for the Barenaked Ladies on the band’s Canadian sweep of shows. And, a few days out, accessibility is on her mind: for Venice, “a bit different” means structuring the electro-pop of her Love Riddle EP around what might be the most misunderstood, brushed-off instrument available—the theremin.
The electronic box of Russian design was built in the 1920s, is played without being physically touched, and is burdened by a legacy almost exclusively attached to sci-fi sound effects. Venice has made it central to her floating-on-rainbow-clouds pop, making the case for the instrument in music dedicated exclusively to musing on love.
“It’s one of those things,” Venice says. “When you actually see it, it’s like ‘That’s really cool.’ But when you hear about it, it seems weird. I think they think I’m just going to be doing sound effects, or something like that.”
Of course, if just getting people in front of the instrument to actually experience what it can do is key, opening for an established act like BNL won’t hurt her cause. The theremin isn’t the only part of Venice’s act, either: solo on stage, she also packs classical training in violin, capable of singing while playing both instruments (not at the same time) in among triggered samples and other instruments.
Her play-everything-herself approach to a solo show was born out of necessity, though now she seems to appreciate the drop-everything-and-go freedom it provides her with.
“I used to play in a band with some DJs, and I got a show,” she says. “And I told them that we had this show, and then we showed up to this show—at least, I showed up to the show, and nobody else did. So, I was like, well, I have to be able to do it by myself, and I did. And then it was like, as long as I can do it on my own, I can add people. But the important thing was that tomorrow I could be asked to do a show anywhere, and I can just go do it.”
Mon, Jan 20 (7:30 pm)
With Barenaked Ladies
$51.90 – $92.15