A newcomer's story 

Canberra singer-songwriter Vendulka released her first album, then moved to Whistler

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - From Perisher to Whistler Singer-songwriter Vendulka arrived in the resort just before Christmas and has hit the ground running with her first public performance.
  • PHOTO submitted
  • From Perisher to Whistler Singer-songwriter Vendulka arrived in the resort just before Christmas and has hit the ground running with her first public performance.

Whistler has long benefited from talented people moving here to taste the snow and grow as artists.

At the beginning of December, Canberra singer-songwriter Vendulka (last name Wichta) released her self-titled album at home in Australia.

Not long after that, she joined that steady stream of Whistler-bound talent and got on a plane to Canada, She has been in the resort for about three weeks, working at Rocks & Gems on the Village Stroll and acclimatizing to her new world and Christmas away from home.

It's a brave move for anyone, but for the talented 19-year-old, it was the right thing to do.

"I spent my Australian winter in Perisher (ski resort in New South Wales, the largest in the southern hemisphere) as a resident musician, and I was doing a gig every day for 10 weeks. It was pretty full-on," she laughs.

"I like the snow and I had been living close to Perisher; I've been skiing and snowboarding since I was little. And I like that, I like the culture of winter towns — when people are there to enjoy life."

She says this translates to greater tolerance for the creative life.

"Back in Canberra, I would tell people that I was a full-time musician and people would ask, 'What's your real job?' Whereas in Perisher it was my real job and people would say, 'Oh, that's cool!'"

Vendulka says that since she arrived armed only with her guitar, she has hit the ground running.

"I did an open mic night at Black's Pub and I'm booked to play there, too," Vendulka says.

"I've tried other places but a lot of them are booked out for a few months so I have to wait. I want to play as many gigs as I can and get my name out there locally. I'd like to do some gigs in Vancouver, as well."

She's not sure how long she'll stay in Whistler; she is in Canada on a working holiday visa.

"I'm just taking it as it goes. I'm going to see if I get any gigs and if like it, and how it goes here," she says.

"I have never been to Canada before. Whistler is amazing; it's so beautiful and everyone is so nice — Australians are pretty nice but I feel like Canadians are even nicer than Australians. I used to work in a department store in Canberra and I dealt with fancy people for a long time and a lot of them weren't very nice a lot of the time."

A hazard of retail everywhere, I observe. She laughs.

Vendulka has been performing since she was seven, mainly for family at first, and began gigging professionally at the age of 14. She was a contestant in the Australian X-Factor, singing Blackbird by The Beatles in 2012.

Along with her album, she has previously released two EPs.

"The album is all originals, eight tracks. It was written over the last three years," she says. "I write when I feel inspired by something. I've changed a lot over the last three years. I've moved out of home, did lots of things. I fell in love with someone and got my heart broken — it's a storytelling album in a lot of ways."

The first song on Vendulka, called "Atlantis," tells the story of two drifting, passionate lovers, and is a bittersweet ballad, pulled together by a mournful cello.

"A lot of the reason for me to come over was to find inspiration. I want to meet people from all walks of life and write more songs. I like to meet people, even if you might not see them again; you'll have lots of stories."

She's happy to hear about the strong support in the Whistler music community for people trying to get started.

I wanted to do something to get outside my comfort zone and really push myself — so I moved across the world!" she laughs.

Vendulka plays at Black's on Friday, Jan. 27 at 9 p.m.

For more information, visit www.vendulka.com.au.

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