Karla Adolphe is a Canadian folk music gem, and like the multifaceted rock her voice and music have many dimensions. She has talent you want to hold up to the sun, to squint at with one eye, smile with surprise at the refracted light.
Karla’s songs take you on a journey, through the troubled valley of heavy guitar strokes and into the gravity-defying flight of unaccompanied vocals. But she doesn’t travel alone. She rolled into town with her husband Gary and infant son Hudson in their 35 foot motor home. It was fun to have the family in my home, and to experience her music and their family vibe at a house concert hosted by the Krogmans in Red Deer.
I conducted this interview via email while the Adolphes hit the road in their Rusty Caravan.
Andrew Kooman: Many people know you as the female side of Jacob and Lily. For those who don’t know (and for those who do), describe the duo.
Karla Adolphe: Jacob and Lily is a folk roots duo which focuses on playing in the Canadian folk music/folk festival community. We tend to have a lot of fun at our shows and love to interact with our audience. Caleb plays what we call fusion percussion, which is a blend of world percussion instruments and a partial drum kit. I play guitar and sing and love to have people sing a long in our shows.
AK: Do you hate it when people ask you, “Where does the name Jacob and Lily come from?” Because if you don’t, I’d love to know. (If you do, this is awkward).
KA: Ha! that is the most often asked question. The basic answer is that we did not want to be known as Caleb and Karla, we wanted an alter ego, so to speak, to help identify our project that we do together! The names mean opposite things, Jacob means deceiver and Lily means innocent, we liked that juxtaposition.
AK: What has blazing the music trail across Canada and the USA in a motor home taught you about life as a musician?
KA: Be yourself, if you are in this business for anything other than the joy of music and a love of your audience, it is going to be a harder, less enjoyable go. Touring as a family, with Gary and Hudson is a really beautiful and meaningful way to add value to the concerts and music we play.
AK: I’m interested in your writing process. Do you have a routine that you follow or a particular space you write from?
KA: Sadly, I am not very good at being a disciplined and committed writer. I tend to write best under the pressure of a deadline. I do, however, enjoy writting songs for or about people, I am very interested in story songs with real life contexts.
AK: How are you and your music different when you’re performing solo?
KA: I tend to be a bit mellower and more introspective, I can also do more fine guitar work as I do not have the drums to “compete” with (sonically). So my solo shows are much more laid back.
AK: Do you even consider it ‘performing’ or is it something else?
KA: I like to think of it as initiating conversation, I like that better.
AK: What is significant to you about the house concert?
KA: I love house concerts!!!! I feel like they are a great way for artists to reveal themselves and help their audience really get to know them and the work. I feel like audiences can relax and engage, I also love them because they are much easier for me to do as a new mom!
AK: Of all the stages and venues you’ve performed at, what’s the best kind of gig to play?
KA: I prefer folk festivals and house concerts.
AK: I’ve asked others who’ve entered the Worship Circle how they arrived there. How do you define The Worship Circle and how did you enter it?
KA: I arrived in that loose familial gathering through relationship with Ben and Robin Pasley. They are an amazing couple who builds their music projects around people they are in relationship with. EWC is a tribe, a flavor of music and creativity that builds the Church.
AK: Okay: this is a question with a bit of a long set-up (sorry to you and my readers; I only hope your answer is longer than the Q). It seems your core community of people see creative gifts as part of a much larger bag of tricks. I want to ask the question, “Why is creativity not as important as we often view it?” but I don’t think that’s the best way to say it. Upon deeper reflection, it seems to me that creativity and creatives are often glamorized or despised… that there’s an over–reaction to creative gifts in both directions. What’s a healthy perspective of creativity and the creative person?
KA: Oooh great question, we could really talk about this for a long time! I will put it this way…..What is so important about mothers, doctors, teachers etc? They all carry an irreplaceable role on earth, they are who they are and what they do is a reflection of that! The world would suffer if you and I, Andrew, were not ourselves, and to whatever degree creativity fits in that role then have at it!
I think the merchandising of creativity is a tricky trap. I am not sure how to avoid it, but this is the world we live in now. Being a creative person is a great way to describe the importance of creativity. Creatives share perspectives that enrich life, creatives see and describe, creatives refresh and enlighten, hopefully all from within a beautiful place inside their hearts and souls! So I value the creative over their creative work!
AK: Describe the Creative Salon. It sounds like it could involve nail painting and blow dryers, but I suspect it’s not the case. What should people expect when you and Gary enter their living rooms?
KA: Salons are basically house concerts built around themes and conversation. We found that people felt safe and loved to engage in conversation in the smaller setting of a house show. So we thought we would bring a few directive questions and reflective songs to the mix to see what happens! The results have been fabulous, very encouraging and special. We call them salons because we are loosely basing our model off of similar type events that occurred around the French Revolution, small house gatherings put on by the creative/intellectual class where they discussed the state of France and politics. No nail polish or perms here!
AK: And just for kicks: If you could duet with anyone, who would it be?
KA: Ray Lamontagne.
Learn more about the Adolphe’s lives and work at TheRustyCaravan.com