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Standard Interviews: Carmen Elle of Army Girls and Diana
Standard Interviews is a regular series where we interview the city's creative thinkers.

On Saturday, Army Girls and multi-disciplinary artist Cara Spooner will perform the second show of SummerWorks’ music series. The performance will feature material from an album Army Girls never released to the public. Toronto Standard spoke to Carmen Elle, the band’s lead singer and guitarist, to find out what we can expect from the show.

What have you been up to recently?

I’m currently working at a bakery.

How do you balance being between two bands like Diana and Army Girls?

Honestly, I haven’t discovered the trick to managing two bands yet (laughs).

Why do you say that?

It’s a constant push and pull, and I feel like neither ever band gets my full attention.

How did you get involved with SummerWorks?

SummerWorks approached us. We had a meeting with them and they asked us if there were any thematic things we wanted to explore.

What themes did you guys talk about?

I mentioned exploring failure to them.

What was their response to that?

They really liked the idea. Their whole thing is to set up artists on blind dates with other artists. They introduced us to Cara Spooner and we sort of took it from there.

Without spoiling anything, what can we expect from your show on Saturday?

First of all, it’s going to be a show that will depend a lot on a person’s subjectivity. We’re not going to play music that we think is awesome, and we’re curious to see how people react to these songs. They might think they’re really good, or they might think they’re terrible.

How familiar were you with the festival before being approach by it to play a show?

I was very familiar with the festival. I performed a show at SummerWorks several years ago with one of my previous bands.

Are you fan of theatre?

I am a fan, but I don’t see as many shows as I should. I don’t get to see a lot of dance either.

When I first saw you play with Army Girls, one of the things I noticed how unique and cool your guitars were. I later found out that your dad is a professional guitar maker and that most of your guitars are made by him. Can you talk about that?

I think, in kind of a weird way, I won the genetic lottery with my dad.

It was really cool growing up because I was surrounded by guitars.

I designed the one I currently play.

I read an interview you did when you were 18 where you said a lot of people have said to you that you look like a 40-year-old man when you play the guitar. Do you still get that comment?

(Laughs) Okay.

First, props for reading a six-year-old article and remembering it well enough to quote me.

Second, yeah, I still get that all the time.

I assume that comes from your dad, right? He’s the one that introduced you to the guitar?

He taught ragtime songs when I was young. Anybody who is old enough to know what a ragtime song is is able to make that comparison.

What was it like to have Four Tet Remix one of your songs?

It was incredible.

How did that come about?

I believe he reached out to us. He really liked the song. It worked out so well because, at the time, we were actively looking for someone to remix one of our songs.

What do you think SummerWorks has meant for Toronto?

I think it’s good Toronto has festivals of this kind. Except for the insular community that loves theatre, a lot of us don’t go to many theatre productions.

It’s also nice to have collaborations between theatre artists and musicians; bands can help make the theatre more accessible to people. I think it’s a strong move on the part of SummerWorks, and it helps delivers a really strong type of entertainment for people.

What’s next for you?

Andy and I are recording a single currently. That should be done soon.

Diana is currently in the writing stage for our second full-length album.

So there’s a lot more recorded material to look forward from me.

And your next show with Diana is in September for Festival Music House, right?

Igor Bonifacic is the managing editor of Toronto Standard. Follow him on Twitter.

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