Born and raised in Victoria, singer-songwriter Claire Coupland is making a name for herself in Toronto, but has yet to make her professional debut in her own hometown.
“I’ve been gigging a ton in Toronto, but not in Victoria, it’s all happening here. I have friends and family in Victoria who have no idea what I do,” the Toronto-based artist says.
Coupland graduated from Vic High in 2004 with an eye to a career in sports.
“I was really into sports, I thought I’d go into field hockey then I auditioned for the Vic High Rhythm and Blues Band – it was great.”
A gap year spent in England and Greece, turned her in a different direction.
‘When I came back to Victoria to go to school I took Camosun’s applied communication program … It was a program I was mildly interested in. I was thinking about doing radio, I was always doing funny voices and everyone would say, ‘you should go into radio, do voice-over work’, so that’s what I thought I would do,” she says.
But her heart wasn’t really in it. “Then I met someone at work and he suggested we start a band together. He really encouraged me to go into music.”
After getting her degree at Camosun, she decided to study at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. “I’d never studied music so in the summer of 2010 I took a theory course, it was awful, but I had to do it to get into the program,” she says.
A year of jazz studies in Victoria led her to another music program at Humber College in Toronto.
“At Humber, in spite of huge fears of song writing, I finally got through my fears and started writing in 2012. I now have an album (Lonely Heart, 2014) and my newest EP (For You, 2015) which was recorded at Humber College Studios.”
Throughout college she would return home to Victoria for Christmas but never found the time to play for an audience here. “When you’re in music school, the last thing you have time for is music,” she laughs at the irony. “School is great but it keeps you really busy.”
Having graduated last April, Coupland knew she couldn’t put off her official Victoria debut any longer.
“I played at Solstice Café years ago and I was super-nervous. I also played at Lucky Bar’s Blender night, I remember performing and having no idea what I was doing. Since then I’ve come quite a long way and I’m just excited for it because it feels really new.”
Coupland’s West Coast EP release show is at Northern Quarter at 9pm. Check out Coupland’s music on bandcamp.