Recent History – 2002
May 21, 2002
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Eight years after first venturing out to the big smoke of Montreal, Sienna Dahlen is beginning to make a name for herself as a singer and songwriter.
Dahlen, who grew up in Dawson Creek, recently-released her first full-length compact disc of songs, Little Temptations, drawing on a wide range of sounds and traditions – pop, folk, alternative, jazz.
“How’s that for variety,” she said via e-mail. “The CD is really a compilation of music I’ve been recording over the last two or three years, which explains the varying styles to some degree.
“For me, it was a chance to expose some older recordings that had been sitting on the shelf, as well as throw in some new stuff, but in the end really go about closing one chapter in my life and as well, shine some light on things to come.”
Dahlen left the west for Montreal so she could study jazz at Concordia and McGill universities, earning a degree in jazz
performance and voice. After graduating in 1997, she began to write her own style of pop-folk music, with the influence of jazz in the early stages, and in 1999 released her first demo, Realtime.
Since then she has performed all around Montreal and Ontario and has held opening spots for the likes of well-known Canadian acts such as Blue Rodeo, The Barra McNeils and Penny Lang.
In the last two years, she had the chance to further develop her arranging skills through the help of grants from the Quebec Council of the Arts and in turn, has been able to produce Little Temptations. Little Temptations was launched on March 15 in a novel way – as part of a multimedia show. Backed not only by her band but by a nine-piece string ensemble, her music was combined with a presentation from Quebec visual artist Nadine Bariteau. Combining photography and silk-screening with video, Bariteau developed something of a road movie that captures the sights and sounds of her travels to different destinations.
Dahlen said the event was a success and wants to continue to work with Bariteau to produce another show of the same calibre next year, as well as launching another CD . Since the show, she’s joined an independent distribution company out of Toronto, called IndiePool, which is geared strictly to promoting independent artists. The assistance includes distributing her CD to 750 stores across Canada and putting up a web site.
She’s also started a new group and has been one of 17 Quebec artists to audition for CBC’s Great Canadian Music Dream contest. The prize is a chance to produce one’s very own show.
Dahlen was born in Nelson in 1972 and the family moved to Dawson Creek three years later. She played alto sax in the Dawson Creek Kiwanis City and Big Band and sang with a local band made up of Arden and Tim Hillman, Lann Lieurance, Laine Dahlen and Tom Leewood. And she won the CJDC talent contest and performed at the PNE in Vancouver.
In 1990 she enrolled in the music program at Malaspina College in Nanaimo and two years later she moved to Montreal and hasn’t looked back.
“Montreal offers two very distinct cultures as well as many others in between, providing a very colourful thriving artistic and social community,” she said. “I work a lot here, which is good for stability reasons and it keeps me in shape as a museum.”
But she’s starting to think about venturing across the pond. “Europe is looking very appealing these days.” As for Dawson Creek, Dahlen has been known to come back here on occasion and put in a few performances. In fact, she’ll be putting on a local CD launch at the art gallery in early July.