Kaelen Ohm

My journey in film and music has been an emergence into something tangible, born of misunderstood ideas of what it meant to pursue either as a career. I don’t know exactly when or why I was drawn to this type of work. There’s a story about an awestruck two-year-old at a drive-in movie, palming popcorn into her mouth, eyes never leaving the screen. I can palpably remember watching musicians at folk festivals. I was just as drawn to observing them off-stage as I was on. Maybe it was the idea of being seen or liked that felt like a good choice of vocation. I had a hard time in public school. I had a lot to learn. It would take well over a decade to understand what this work would mean to me - to comprehend it had nothing to do with my initial illusory notions. I had a longing to tell stories and a longing to collaborate with others. I simply longed to belong.

I grew up in Fernie until graduation, save for a year abroad with my family in ’99. Immersed in sports and the outdoors, I grew up competing in tournaments and track meets. We hiked and skied with other families who shared the mountain lifestyle. Around age ten I started dancing at the local studio. I was always creative, but dance was a new outlet and an introduction to public performance. For a short time I considered it as a career, though when it came to post-secondary I chose film school. For the first ten years away from Fernie, I would do everything from work as a PA on a $250M Hollywood blockbuster, to edit private videos for wealthy Europeans heliskiing in the Monashees. I played as a drummer in a garage punk band, touring grimy bars in the US and feigning personality. I made films for NY and Paris Fashion Week, captured footage for a future non-profit in East Africa and played big festival stages as a guitarist in a folk rock band. I was all over the place, with little sense of self, but I never stopped thinking about acting. Eventually I set everything aside, moved to Toronto and took as many classes as I could. I got an agent and started booking small jobs. I began writing music as AMAARA. The approach became simple. Disciplined.

My growth as an artist has been directly parallel to my healing journey as a human. They run like x-country tracks between the trees, one informing the other down the path. Wanting to understand acting as a craft led me to therapy, which taught me to approach character with a stronger sense of self. Grief drew me to the psychedelic experience, which has begun to heal my heart and gift me songs. Meditation taught me equanimity, reminding me to trust rejection as guidance.

The more I understand what is required of me to create from an honest place, the more I have been called back into presence and simplicity. Growing up in Fernie, nature was my first teacher of these principles. There are a lot of artists I’d like to work with and certain types of stories I’d like to tell, however as our world changes and the industries I work in change, my intention is to remain in response to the ideas that come to mind and the opportunities that support those ideas into form. 

AMAARA’s album Child of Venus is out now on all streaming platforms. Visit amaaraofficial.com for upcoming shows, releases and more, or follow on social media @amaara