By Sheroog Kubur, July 21 2022—
As far as local indie music goes, Clea Anaïs is the best you can find. She has cemented herself as an artist to pay attention to and with the release of her debut solo album, performing at Sled Island and now performing at the Calgary Folk Music Festival, 2022 may be her biggest year yet.
Her debut solo album, Circle Zero, released in March and since then she has been on the move. While performing live is slowly but surely returning to normal levels, she has been taking advantage of every opportunity she can get her hands on. Just coming off the high of this year’s Sled Island appearance, she will be transforming her performance to suit the community-esque nature of Folk Festival.
“Sled [Island] was more fast paced — it’s high energy and people are moving. It demands a different kind of presence,” she said when comparing the two performances.
Her appearance at Folk Festival this year will be bringing her album to life once again, performing tracks that have become staples in her catalogue and two unreleased songs. Her set will also include another classic track, a cover of “Do What You Gotta Do” by Jimmy Webb — although she admitted the Nina Simone version was her personal favourite.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Anaïs live or who have only ever listened to the studio releases of her songs, Folk Festival is the perfect time to see her in action. She treats performances as opportunities to connect with the audience, filling the stage with an intimate and passionate presence.
“Each audience member is an individual,” she said about her goal with her performances. “If you can connect with one individual and focus on connecting with people, that’s the essence of what you’re trying to do. That’s why you make art.”
Her music connects to listeners on a personal level, taking advantage of her lyrical abilities to convey the deepest emotions. She creates the kind of music that sits with your spirit — leaving you dazed as you reflect on your internal struggles and external battles. The release of the album wasn’t an ideal scenario, pivoting from the planned live album release to a studio version following the cancellation of her tour earlier this year. However, this may have been a blessing in disguise — it gave listeners the opportunity to hear this body of work in its entirety much earlier than anticipated.
The creation of the album was also rocky. It came at a time when her artistic identity was falling apart — family issues, the passing of her father and the insecurity of the pandemic made it so that she was unsure this was a project she could create. And yet, despite all the odds, the album is not only proof of her musical dedication but a love letter to the experiences that led to its creation.
“Part of it was knowing I could still do it — still make music, still write and finish a record on my own,” she said about the creative process.
Despite being a soloist, Anaïs credits all the individuals that helped make up the project and bring it to life. Her touring ensemble consists of six collaborators, two of each instrument, and additional acts who will be joining her to add depth to the live set, with horn players and a potential new drummer.
Anaïs is Calgary’s music scene at its finest — her music oozes with integrity and honesty, feeling more like musical diary readings than an album. Despite the personal nature of her music, it’s still deeply touching and appreciated. Following her performance at Folk Festival, she will be around and willing to talk to festival-goers — take the chance to talk to her. She’s a brilliant musician and kind soul and deserving of as much recognition as she can get.
Sheroog’s Recommendation: “FA Anthem” for some smooth instrumentals, “Powerful Women” for some mellow girl power.