Written by Sarah Fawcett.
Banner by Laura Genshorek.
I recently had the opportunity to chat up Alea Clark, vocalist and guitar player of the band Alea Rae. After some transitioning and shuffling, the band is now ready to get things moving. We talk about the struggles of being a musician and where this exciting trio is headed in the future.
So tell me, how did you all come together to make this three-piece?
Alea: I met the guys at a show, where we were all playing in different projects – I was playing violin for a now-defunct band, and Jeremiah was performing his solo project, which Patrick was playing guitar in. A few days later, Jer and I ended up talking about my project and it came up that I was looking for backing musicians, and the three of us ended up working really well together. That show was a pretty big night for us. We all met friends that we still have. Patrick actually currently lives with one of the other bands’ members that he met that night.
Strange how things just seem to work out like that sometimes. As musicians, what is the appeal of being able to put your music out there? Why do you do it?
It’s really exciting to be able to connect with people through what we’re doing, and have people come up to us and tell us that what we do means something to them. We’re always surprised and humbled by the reception we get by some crowds, because we know our genre is a little harder to appreciate right off the bat, and to think that our music struck someone profoundly is really incredible.
Patrick was born into music, so it has always been an interest of his. Jeremiah really got into playing and performing as a teenager, and I sort of floundered between music and visual art for a long time before I decided on music. It’s what made the most sense to me after a while.
How would you describe the band’s music?
We’re going through a pretty big transition, and it’s always been hard for us to pinpoint a genre. Right now we’re calling it ‘indie-folk’, but it’s got a lot of ambient stuff going on now, which makes it hard to relate it to ‘folk’. Once we start recording new material, we will hopefully have a genre figured out!
You’ve described the band as a “trio of sad, sound-makers”. Why those words?
It’s a pretty nonchalant way of describing the band, really. It’s not anything we really thought seriously about. It’s mostly a joke about how dark and inaccessible our newer material can be.
How do you feel you guys have grown over the past two years? How has your music matured or aged?
An incredible amount of growth and struggle has happened since we have come to know each other, and I think we have all been surprised about how this project has progressed. In the beginning, it was really just me as a folk singer-songwriter with backing musicians, and since then, we’ve turned into a much more experimental, almost indie-rock project, and it challenges all of us to keep finding new ways to be creative and explore what we are capable of as a three-piece. It’s especially interesting trying to figure out how to write as a band and not by myself, because there are three times the amount of ideas being thrown around, and a lot more discussion takes place than there would be if I were working on a song by myself. We’ve written a few new songs together and they’re startlingly different from the older material, but in a really good way, at least to us.
Excited to hear the new stuff for sure! How hard is it for a musician to get their music out there in Vancouver? Is it discouraging at times? How do you get through that and keep on going?
When there are multiple shows happening every night, and with the over-saturation of music on the internet, it’s always difficult for any band starting out to be heard. It seems to be the reality of building a fan-base in a city, although some cities are certainly more supportive of local music than others. We find that touring and playing shows outside of the city help immensely when we feel like we’re stagnant in Vancouver, and vibing out different places and scenes can be really refreshing and interesting. It seems to be getting increasingly difficult in Vancouver to play a diversity of shows, because so many venues are closing down, and there are hardly any all-ages venues.
You guys have been doing a lot of touring over this past year. What is the best part and the worst part about touring?
I guess I sort of covered this in my last question, but touring broadens your perspective in so many ways, both personally and musically. Meeting local bands in each city, and interacting with new audiences helps establish connections that you would never have made otherwise. Playing a show every night also helps tighten up our live performance as well. On our Canada tour, we were all so exhausted, malnourished and unkempt, and driving for nine to twelve hours a day is a truly unique agony, but you experience so much so intensely, there’s really nothing I could compare it to.
Really brings a band together, doesn’t it? New and exciting things on the horizon?
Right now, we’re focusing a lot on writing new material, and in that, I’m sure there is enough anticipation in itself. We can’t make any promises or set any expectations yet.