Hello Beautiful People!
A few weeks ago I had the chance to ask the highly talented, Carleigh Aikins, a few questions. Carleigh is a “visual artist, an actress, a designer, an instructor and youth mentor, and a vocal artist.” It wasn’t too long ago that I saw Carleigh perform live and her voice was captivating and memorable. Remembering her voice, I decided to look her up to hear more of her music. That’s when I came across her website (also where you can read up more about Carleigh and see some of her art, listen to some of her music and more) and saw that not only does she sing, but she’s an artist in many other fields.
In this interview, Carleigh gives some great in-depth answers that help you learn more about her and her art. I’d like to thank Carleigh again for taking the time to answer all the questions I had for her!
Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
My name is Carleigh Aikins, and I am an Artist whose practise mainly includes Music, Painting, Theatre and Design/Production.
Over the years you have immersed yourself into various kinds of art, can you explain the different kinds of art you’ve taken on?
I began in theatre as an actress at a very young age and pursued the stage for many years. I became involved with a theatre company out of high school and worked to gain my Equity status through several productions. I then began to dabble in the production side, using my skills and love for visual art. I served in most positions back stage and on production teams co-designing many successful productions. I have been painting since a very young age and have been selling works to local collectors for some time- I also have my work displayed in my hometown; a painting of mine was enlarged to 60ft by 50 ft and wrapped around a downtown building. I steered away from acting and began focusing on my career as a vocalist, and since then I have sang on stages all across North America and Europe with many wonderful artists.
What would you say your absolute favourite part about painting is?
I love painting when I get into a zone, almost like meditation; where I feel switched on by the images I am creating and can get lost in the world of colour and shape. I love creating images for people and seeing their reaction, or seeing the works proudly displayed in their homes. That is very rewarding.
What would you say your absolute favourite part about performing on stage is?
Being on stage is an experience that cannot be matched anywhere else, I’ve found- it’s a chance to be a part of something and to share, then receive. I love that music brings people together and that my voice can move people, and I in return am moved by their willingness to be open to listening and reacting to what I am giving. It can also be a strange experience at times, and you can suddenly feel exposed when so many people are staring at you, but that’s all part of the wild ride and I always end up feeling so incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity and experience.
When did you first become interested in all things art related?
I have been interested in the arts world ever since I could pick up a crayon, or first heard a musical sound track. It’s just in me to do, and always has been my main strength. My parents and teachers always saw that and nurtured it. I was very lucky to have mentors and a support system that saw my potential and helped it to shine and grow.
It’s pretty clear from your photo blog on your website that you’ve travelled quite a bit, where would you say your favourite places you’ve travelled are and why?
Sometimes it blows my mind how much I’ve been able to travel with my work. It’s a dream for me, yet at the same time it felt a bit daunting because returning home was always strange- and for a while I didn’t really know where my home was. I mean, it will always be where I grew up, with my family. But I was building new families all across the continent, and I began to feel pulled toward multiple communities.
I absolutely loved travelling through the Alps in Europe from Switzerland in to Italy where I have spent a lot of time ( anywhere in Europe is always magical). I’ve had incredible life-changing experiences in Central America, particularly Nicaragua. I will never forget the drives across my beautiful country, and can feel the alchemy of my body transform when I hit the west coast with its misty mountain sunrises, the ancient growth forests. But my travels across America have shown that there is a vast capacity for networking with incredible Artists which is different than living in Canada. There’s just more concentrated scenes, in more cities and so it is easier to move through it all. I have grown very attached to the communities in New York where I’ve worked, I am very connected to the Pacific Northwest, especially Portland and Seattle. I have fallen in love with Denver, where I will be spending a lot of time this fall working with a new group there. I love California and definitely miss it there, and hope to return very soon. There are so many incredible cities in America, and each of them have left their mark on me as I have moved through them and performed on their stages, met their people.
A huge part of your website discusses your career in stage design. What are some productions you’ve been a part of in terms of stage design?
My exploration into stage design is almost a secondary interest to me, but I have been fortunate enough to have worked for a supportive Theatre company in my hometown of Barrie, called Talk Is Free Theatre. They have allowed me to explore so many facets of theatre. My favourite production was with a colleague and comrade of mine who I first met as an actress, and he my director. His name is Aleksander Lukac, and he is a renown and radical Director of works in Yugoslavia/Serbia areas. His work is always pretty far-out, and I have loved helping him create his strange worlds. Along with my best friend and co-designer Katherine Salnek, we first worked as designers for a production of a Nikolai Gogol piece, which we titled ” Ivan Vs Ivan”. We basically built puppets and props from scratch as the rehearsals unfolded and our work became another character within the show. Visually, I was so proud of how it turned out. It was such a success that the production later travelled to Serbia, Russia and London, ENG.
Where do you find inspiration when it comes to writing music?
Writing music has always kind of come in waves for me, in terms of writing on my own. Personally I prefer writing in collaboration and a lot of the songs I have written have happened in that way. But when I am writing on my own it typically starts with a melody and usually I begin developing it very late at night, when my mind is most active ( I am a creature of the night, not of the morning!). I am inspired by my friends who make music, by my experiences, my travels and my relationships with people, often by my own heartache. And then sometimes nothing comes for some time. I would never claim to be very prolific in my writing, but once in a while something comes out of me worth developing. I am lucky enough to have so many collaborators who usually help me to shape my ideas more into fully realized songs. I am also lucky enough to have many people who bring songs to me that I can further add to, and that is when I feel I am at my strongest. I would take collaboration over a solo writing experience any day.
Where do you find inspiration when it comes to painting?
Inspiration for painting comes from my soul. And from going out and seeing the world. And seeing other painter’s works. Any time I leave a gallery I am itching to get home and to paint.
To finish off, tell us five quirky or interesting things about yourself that you don’t mind sharing!
Well, I am a typical “Artist” who loves to sleep in. My day takes a while to get started, and I rarely ever feel inspired to create until the sun is going down. That being said I will gladly pull myself out of bed to get in to the sun- I am a sun worshiper who is content to bathe in it for hours. In Canada there is not much time to really get to do that.
I fall asleep in the tour van almost instantly on long drives- something about the motion of it lulls me to sleep. Yet I am on planes every month and still cannot master sleeping on one.
If I could, I would eat poutine every day ( but most of my friends know that about me). I am a general lover of food and the best part about travelling is trying out restaurants with the highest Zagat ratings. But, give me a poutine any time.
My partner and I are both musicians who met at a music festival in Canada and for the first part of our relationship we only ever saw each other if our respective tours crossed routings, or if I flew to where he was playing or he flew to where I was, or we had rare time at home to visit. A long-distance relationship that was essentially dictated by tour schedules. But now we live together so it’s a little less strange. Sometimes it’s weird that we come home to each other, instead of making plans to meet in Paris or in New York or Nashville or Vancouver. I like it this way much better.
The most important thing in my world is my family and my friends, who essentially are my family. It’s amazing that no matter how old you get or how many good friends you may have, it’s never too late to meet people you were always destined to. Right now some of my closest confidents are people I have known for a year. Yet, the core of my closest friends are a large group of people I have known for over 20 years. I think I value friendships so much, and hold them as family because I come from a huge family ( my Dad alone has ten brothers and sisters, and my mom is Italian, so…) I have always felt most comfortable in a huge tribe of people, and my biggest passion is meeting new people and developing friendships with like-minded Artists and drifting dreamers like me.
xo Ali Grace
*Photo from this Interview with taken from this website*