There’s a haunting, iconic scene that happens inside the 2001 noir hit, Mulholland Drive. It’s when two central characters from the film end up in a theatre to witness a woman perform Roy Orbison’s Crying in Spanish, a cappella style. It’s a disarming scene, so raw in emotion that the viewer almost feels uncomfortable watching it. For a moment, it seems they are alone in the audience with the performer. Both viewers shed tears in unison. The connection between viewer and performer can sometimes be an unwavering emotional one.
It’s a scene I contemplated while inside Toronto’s historic Massey Hall a few days ago to see the Violent Femmes perform. The opening act featured a woman standing alone on stage. A small laptop on her right, and a strange square device with a protruding antenna on the left. She was dressed like a cartoon character from a Japanese game show. Spilling her guts out in song, yet sweet as pie between tracks. The performance was pure dreamy, ethereal wonder. For lack of a better expression, the experience was genuinely surreal.
Clara Venice describes herself as part Harujuku girl, part 21st Century pop princess. But it would be a mistake to judge her solely on her carefully constructed exterior. Venice not only writes her own songs, she also composes each of her backing tracks. Although a classically trained violinist, it’s clear she has a thing for all things electronic, with an emphasis on old school audio hype.
And it doesn’t get much more old school than the Theramin. Originally designed in 1920 by Leon Theramin, it remains to this day one of the world’s first electronic instruments. What sets it apart, outside of it’s ghostly, unique audio signature, is the methodology behind playing it. It’s the only instrument out there that you don’t actually make any physical contact with. The following clip features the original inventor of the Theramin, showcasing it’s possibilities.
Fast forward to present day, and Clara Venice is set to tour Japan next month. She’ll also be giving Theramin workshops for the curious. It’s nice to see a resurgence in obscure sounds by instruments sometimes mislabelled as obsolete. Innovation is sometimes closely aligned with re-discovery. Thank you, Clara Venice, for daring to be different.
Clara Venice’s latest EP; Electric Dream, is now available for purchase on Itunes.
Top photo courtesy of Clara Venice on Instagram.