There was a time when having a female lead singer was note-worthy for a band like Bella Clava and made them stand out. Luckily for society, we have reached a point where more can be written about Bella Clava’s catchy riffs and energetic sound than about the gender of any of their band members. The music industry has evolved to a place where discussion about gender equality is something that journalists can choose to bring up, rather than be forced to bring up.
Caitlin Dacey, lead singer of Bella Clava, is cognitive of being a female lead singer but does not hang her hat on it. Indeed, the band’s output holds up on its own accord and does a good job of, both, paying tribute to the sounds that inspired them and maintaining a fresh sound that stands out in the crowded field of rock music.
The Revue: How did you guys get started?
Caitlin Dacey: Steve (guitarist Steve Suttie) and I started playing together in Thunder Bay, where we’re from. It was just the two of us and we eventually decided to take it more seriously and move to Toronto where it kind of grew and changed into what it’s become. It took us a while to get a line up that actually worked with what we’re doing but now we’re set.
The Revue: What influences your songwriting?
Caitlin Dacey: We just go with an idea. Sometimes I’ll bring an idea in, some chords or a riff I’ve been working on, and then we jam it out. For this album, it’s been a bit different because I’ve written songs on my guitar when I’m usually primarily a key and organ player. Also, on this album, Steve and Scott (bassist Scott Hannigan) have also brought in songs so we have more than we need which is cool.
The Revue: Which artists did you grow up listening to/wanting to emulate?
Caitlin Dacey: Growing up, I’d go into my dad’s CD’s or my older brother’s CD’s and take a handful and sample everything. I was into classic rock and loved bands like Buffalo Springfield, Cream and The Doors. I liked that they were heavy but with peppiness that you could sing along with. Meanwhile, my older brother listened to stuff like the Meat Puppets, the Melvins and Nirvana. I heard it and thought it was such a neat combination of the older stuff and this whole modern angry, emotional sound.
Then when I heard girls playing this kind of music, I realized that you could have this cool club of friends and get together and be loud and play rock and roll. This kind of music is based on anger and frustration. So many stories aren’t told and music is a good way for people to express themselves. All the classic rock guys have already said what they had to say so it naturally made sense for women to start telling their stories and talking about what frustrates them. So, in turn, it made sense that women started writing music that was more aggressive.
The Revue: Are you a trained singer or does this come naturally to you?
Caitlin Dacey: I didn’t want to be a front-woman growing up. I find the lead singers in bands have to have a certain charisma or swagger and I never found myself to be very charismatic. I sing how I sing and some people love it and some people hate it. I find it gives me vulnerability. I’d rather sound raw and off and turn off all the people that are into American Idol. Lessons can sometimes interfere with your natural inclinations and a lot of the singers I love aren’t perfect singers.
The Revue: Where do you see yourselves going over the next few years?
Caitlin Dacey: It’s funny because, I don’t know if it’s my personality but, I’m already thinking about the next record and started writing for it. However, it will be really fun to tour Medicine For Melancholy so I’m trying to savor this time. I have a problem with living in the moment and touring is great for that. So, we’ll tour as long as people keep inviting us to play and then we’ll get back in the studio.
The Revue: What can we expect from a Bella Clava live show?
Caitlin Dacey: We don’t have a gimmick. I don’t know how we “stand out” but we love to play and take our music seriously. Now we don’t take ourselves seriously but we try hard to make our music sound great. We try to entertain, and definitely entertain ourselves in the process, so hopefully people expect to have fun. And if they don’t, they can get their money back.
The Revue: If you could share the stage with any band in history, who would it be?
Caitlin Dacey: Definitely Queens of the Stone Age. They’re my favorite band and I have so much respect for them, their career and their work ethic. I’d love to observe how they do things. That would be a dream come true if I could somehow weasel my way into their circle.
Bella Clava play at Avant-Garde Bar in Ottawa on April 24, 2014. For more information or tour dates, go to:
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