Charlene Birkbeck's approach to music has always been defined as much by her willingness to evolve as an artist as her single-minded determination to make music her life. "In dark times, in lonely times in my life, nothing helped more than music," Birkbeck says. "It's the one thing everyone can relate to. For me it's not just about the lyrics and the sound, it's about creating something that's a true expression of myself – something that people will connect with emotionally and, hopefully, inspire them to follow their own dreams."
Her drive to do so manifested itself early on, she continues: "I decided I wanted to be a musician when I was 12-years-old. A friend heard me singing and said, "you've got a great voice. You should be a singer." I remember thinking, "I should be," and that was it. I've always believed I could do anything I wanted to and now every aspect of my life comes second to music."
Over time the BC-based singer, songwriter and recording artist has never shied away from taking risks to realize her dreams. After studying jazz at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Birkbeck relocated to Victoria. At the time she only knew two people on Vancouver Island, but soon became a fixture on the local music scene by performing with various blues, experimental rock and pop bands while working on her own original material on the side. "I started fresh, played with people who came from a completely different place musically and that really helped me figure out who I truly was and what I wanted to get across with my music."
Since, Birkbeck has continuously pushed her musical boundaries in an effort to express her personal and artistic evolution with complete honesty – an ethic informed as much by the country classics she sang along to while traveling the world with her parents as a child as by later influences including 1990's alt. rock, Jeff Buckley and modern Electronica.
Following the release of her debut album, Blame It On The Moon (2007), Birkbeck toured Canada on her own for the first time and began fleshing out her live sound by looping her vocals, guitar and keyboards in real time to add texture to her stripped down acoustic show. Intent on broadening her horizons as a performer and writer, and eager to experiment with a more aggressive sound, in 2011 Birkbeck formed Wolfheart with guitarist/bassist Aidan Logins and drummer, Alex Campbell. The following year, the three-piece released their own debut, Subtle Bodies, and began touring Canada regularly, performing at iconic venues like The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern and The Opera House in Toronto and at Canadian Music Week, JUNOFest and Victoria's own Rifflandia Festival.
More recently Birkbeck worked with Wolfheart producer, Brandon Delyzer, on an Electronica version of Mumford and Sons "I Will Wait For You," contributed to recordings by Toronto electronic music outfit, Deadly Vanity, and leant her talents as a composer to the soundtrack for director Richard Nicole's debut feature film, "In The Corner."
Currently Birkbeck is focusing on adding to her original repertoire of compact, often introspective, folk rock songs and generating new material for her next solo record (tentatively scheduled for release in late 2013). Her latest demos, however, though still characterized by smoky, soulful vocal performances with just a hint of alt. rock angst haunting the edges, are just sketches, she says; rough outlines she intends to expand on by working with multiple producers and incorporating elements of modern Electronica into her signature sound.
Birkbeck is now booking a solo, coast-to-coast Canadian tour for Summer 2013, during which she'll perform a series of club dates and house concerts and present a number of new songs that reflect her ongoing personal and musical growth.