There’s a saying, be careful what you wish for. I’ve always loved writing, and I had my first assignment as a journalist. I was to cover Cirque du Soliel’s press junket for their show, VOLTA. Immediately, I Googled “Press junket,” that’s how green I was. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to wear or what to bring.
In the end, I found myself in route to the VOLTA press junket in my borderline business casual motif, after all of my detective work and research, it wasn’t what I had pictured in my mind. There were no other journalists, we didn’t see the show. However, the interview I had with performer Camilla Backman confirmed that this was the perfect introduction to music news and the circus is the ultimate gig.
We meet in a humble lounge space tucked in the corner of a big top next to warm-up mats, wardrobe, and vanities. Lead singer Camilla Backman is charming immediately. She sits on the couch next to me but across from me like a comfortable friend. Backman grew up with her family in Helsinki, Finland singing and playing violin in churches and conservatory since she was 4 years old. With a smile, she said “Even my brother played the cello!” She also spoke of the long hours of practice, sometimes missing time with friends. I asked if as a little girl she ever thought she’d become a professional musician? Without hesitation she said she never thought it would become a job. “I’ve always just loved singing and violin, it was so natural.”
Camilla on The Voice | Finland
Aside being very humble, it turns out Backman was a star on Season 3 of The Voice, Finland. I was so intrigued by this fact, I went back and watched a few of her video clips. She’s gifted with commanding vocals, and rips on violin. During her rendition of Ellie Goulding’s “Burn,” Camilla not only shows off her vocal range and violin prowess, but she does it all gracefully in a pair of stilettos. With her magnetic personality, Backman’s the whole package, my hero!
See Camilla’s Voice Performance
Being that she was already a singer and accomplished violinist, and now a popular contestant on The Voice of Finland; she also teaches music to children. “My life was set,” Backman said of the time before her big-top adventure. She went on to say that she saw a Facebook post about the Cirque Du Soleil audition. The tryout “sounded so vague” explained Backman. After an impressive audition, “they said someday, sometime I might be invited.” Only a year and a half later, Cirque called and invited her to come run away with their circus. Even with such a unique and exciting opportunity, she tells me leaving her family and her life hasn’t been the easiest. “My friends have traditional lives, family, work, and I’m, like, in the circus!” She doesn’t look back, though. “If I hadn’t [chosen the circus], I would have regretted this so much.”
Four years later, Camilla is still happy to be performing in a very popular show that is regularly evolving and testing the style of live Circus. During the tour she gave us, Backman walked us under the stage where the musicians guide the show. Backman has the coolest electric blue violin! Though she is classically trained, she enjoys performing VOLTA’s pop score written by French electronic band M83’s Anthony Gonzalez.
Then she took us on the main stage. Tucked in the wings are ramps and props for the other performers in the show, but otherwise, empty. I pretend for a minute to be Rebecca Ferguson in The Greatest Showman. To dress up in award winning costumes by Emmy Award winner Zaldy Goco, and perform for a packed tent on a stage with athletes, acrobats, and dancers all around you seems like such a singular experience, yet she gets to do it every night. She still is genuine and poised, never arrogant or condescending about her position in the show or her talent. Backman even encouraged me to audition for Cirque Du Soleil. I happily told her; now that I’m a seasoned journalist, she should send me a message when there’s an opening for a singing clown. That made her smile.
Sadly, as a result of California’s Coronavirus Stay at Home Order, we’ve all been denied the chance to see Camilla sing and play live in the role she is so praised for at VOLTA. The Cirque website doesn’t comment on whether VOLTA will be shown in Costa Mesa at a later date. I’m sure everyone in the show is suffering huge losses right now as the industry has ground to a halt. Support these artists, acrobats, and athletes by becoming their fan; follow Camilla Backman (@camilla_backman) and Cirque Du Soleil (@cirquedusoleil) on Instagram.
Camilla Backman Was My First
Inside every adult, there’s still a child that loves the circus!