Just a song into the concert, she tunes her guitar and within moments, a string breaks.
At a sold-out show at The Tote, barefoot and with a guitar slung against her side, Carla Geneve walks out on stage. The crowd, bathed in purple light, waits expectantly. Just a song into the concert, she tunes her guitar and within moments, a string breaks.
“It’s intense, it’s immediate,” Carla says, describing being on stage.
“[It’s] realising that you are now the perception of others instead of yourself.”
There is something uncanny about performing for others, completely bare and on display; the crowd’s reaction experienced in real time.
“It’s healthy to separate it—and at the same time, be exactly yourself,” she adds.
While fixing up her guitar, Carla chats to the audience as if they are old friends.
Fans place enormous amounts of trust in their favourite musicians to be the cathartic voice for them, seeing them as a companion, a confidante, without ever actually knowing them. To be an artist is to invariably have your work displayed in public and interpreted by others.
“You become that person that everyone sees,” she says.
Carla’s pre-show ritual, to become that person, is the small act of changing her clothes and putting on makeup: “Swapping mindsets,” as she puts it. She evolves into Carla Geneve, the musician.
“[I’m] ready to be something for you,” Carla declares.
Originally slated to be released last year, Carla’s debut album Learn To Like It only had its release in April of this year. Yet, the delay offered a moment of reflection for the singer.
“I’m playing this album that I wrote when I was younger, so I’m reliving that version of myself.
“And I’m not the same person. I would never want to be.”
The 10-track record is a raw and personal collection of songs, maneuvering between themes of mental health, love, and growing up with brutal honesty and artistry.
Older now, Carla has more agency when it comes to her musicianship. She’s “in control of my shit”, organising the gigs she plays and taking responsibility for the overall business of her music career.
Much of this relies on the close relationship she has with her band members: Duncan Strachan (bass), Eldar Ekic (guitar), and Byron Stanford (drums).
“I was asked yesterday: where did you find these guys?
“I don’t know—I just met them at the pub,” she jokes.
That evening, as Carla sings ‘Residue’, her band stands arrested in silence—eyes closed and swaying to her music. Then, something magical occurs: the crowd softly joins in with Carla singing. A chorus of voices echoes throughout the venue.
The vulnerability and intimacy Carla shares within the record is one that unquestionably connects with others. Standing in a stuffy and sticky-floored pub in Collingwood, the anxiety of performing for others, of adhering to the perception her fans have of her, falls away when both share the same heartfelt and tender moment.
“This isn’t even my song anymore. It’s way more selfless,” Carla concludes.
“It’s just an explosion of different people interpreting and feeling and relating.”
You can find Carla on Facebook, Instagram, and on her website. You can listen to Learn to Like It on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp.
Images from Carla Geneve.