Clara Rose is a budding professional musician in Vancouver who plays creative and centrally melodic music, with roots in classical, jazz, and Celtic, both as a solo performer and as a member of many ensembles such as The Twisted String. Clara completed a solo tour of Montreal and Ottawa in 2013, as well as touring Ontario and B.C. with The Twisted String from 2008-2014. She as well frequents various festivals in Vancouver including Renfrew/Collingwood’s own Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, and Collingwood Days. She sat down with me briefly to answer a few questions after practicing at Kits Beach.
‘I started playing violin when I was four with the Suzuki method- which became very boring. For the first six weeks I had to use a sponge, ruler, and a chopstick, to get the proper positioning. I disliked this method so much that I debated quitting when I was nine. My parents then sent me to fiddle camp on Saltspring, which sort of rekindled my love of music. I met two fiddlers there, Chelsea Sleep and Emilyn Stam, who invited me to join The Twisted String, a youth fiddle group led by Oliver Shroer. We play funky, eclectic fiddle music, and perform random acts of violins (impromptu concerts). I was the youngest member of the group, being nine years old when I joined, the oldest member being twenty-four. It’s not just one group, but is a sort of amalgamation of three pods that originate from different areas of B.C.
‘We actually started a uniquely Vancouver based twisted string this year, and had our first rehearsal on Sunday. And it’s not certain, but we’ll probably be playing the winter solstice lantern festival.’
When asked about The Barefoot Bandits, a gypsy jazz band I’d seen her play with, she explained ‘I met (band leader) Sky Lambourne in jazz band class at Templeton (where they both attended high school), we jammed on a band trip and it worked so he introduced me to his gypsy jazz friends (bass player Noah Gotfrit and guitarist Joseph Abbot).
In response to a question about pursuing music professionally, she maintained that ‘I always figured music into my life. And never really thought about an alternative. Only in gr.10 did I ever consider something different, due to the fact that I found myself wondering if external influences contributed too strongly to my pursuing of music. I then re-figured it was the right choice by playing my own music. When I make music it improves my life and the lives of those around me, it creates happiness.’
‘My influences vary, and involve mostly people that I’ve had the honour of working with like Oliver Schroer. As well Jaron Freeman Fox, his brother Trent Freeman, Darol Anger, Mark O’Connor, and Chris Tilley. I would also say the west coast fiddle scene in general, and just the natural environment of the west coast, the way it makes you feel and think. Like I wrote my song Tides while walking on the West Coast trail. I sang it to myself for an entire day because I didn’t have my violin.
My other song, Echo Train is about a place along the Fraser Canyon just past hope, where the trains rush through, coming down the canyon, and their whistles blow and echo across the canyon. And the best is when you’re sitting in a place between the trains coming and going and their echoing whistle sounds conjoin.
I feel like I’ve developed in terms of what attracts my ear. When I was younger I wanted to be really different from other musicians- play in different time signatures, etc…Now I’m starting to realize that popular music is popular for a reason, it has good grooves, and chords that evoke emotion, I’m trying to bring my weird, out there music closer to something everyone can resonate with. Creating stuff you can tap your feet to, sweet melodies that can remind you of other melodies.’
‘In terms of being involved with professionals at a young age, I mean it’s really just exciting to be involved in the music scene so early in life. I feel grateful that older musicians are willing to share their knowledge with me.’
‘I mean the scene in Vancouver can be annoying though because I can’t stick around in any 19+ venues after playing. And that poses a major barrier to having the music scene in Vancouver flourish- young people can’t see older musicians, and can’t perform for their peers, which creates a disconnect.’
When asked about making any last comments, Clara ended the interview in saying ‘I think it’s important to have your music make people feel something very raw. Most of my music, I don’t play for other people unless it gives me that raw kind of feeling.’
Clara has three upcoming shows in the future, those being: the Moon festival on September 13th in which she’s playing the finale with The Twisted String. As well on October 25th she’s performing between talks at the Renfrew Collingwood tedx. And finally on November 9th she’s playing with Zeellia at the closing for the heart of the city festival.