Music insauga: Arlene Paculan


Not everyone dreams of buying a diamond ring for their mom and sings about it with the help of a little plastic guitar, but for Mississauga native Arlene Paculan, that’s always been the plan.

Paculan has been playing music since the time she could dance. Equipped with a pink guitar in hand, she started singing for anyone and everyone who would listen. Now at the age of 29, it’s clear that this is no longer a dream, but a reality that has no intention of slowing down.

Her career began at the age of six when her mother enrolled her in piano lessons. She quickly became bored with the classical aspect and soon had intentions of quitting. Her mom didn’t see things the way a young Paculan did, and as such, did not allow her to stop. If she did, she would have to give up yet another passion, figure skating.

That was the ultimatum, and I’m really glad my mom put that on us,” said Paculan.

Though she did eventually give up the lessons, her passion for playing never faded. Once she stopped, she learned that she “could make up stuff.” Now she loves all instruments and tries to play around with them at every opportunity. The list includes the following: piano, guitar, ukulele and the harmonica or as Paculan calls them “the easy stuff”. To push her musical abilities even more, she has started playing the violin. By starting to learn in the latter part of her career, she sometimes becomes frustrated that she isn’t perfect right of the bat. Nevertheless, her ability to teach herself new instruments is no easy task, and one that clearly shows her musical ability.

Paculan’s style is adult contemporary with elements of jazz and folk, which seems to appeal to the masses. Everyone from kids to older adults fall silent when she is on stage. She has even gained the admiration of fellow artists in the Mississauga and Toronto area from her many performances at open mic nights. Most famously is a show she hosts at local hangout, Naughty Nadz, every 1st and 3rdTuesday nights.

Her affiliation with the Mississauga Arts Council has also allowed Paculan to perform for a wider audience and showcase her own original songs. Most notably, she had the opportunity to perform her 2010 ep, “I’m Worth It,” as a headliner at the LimeLight Block Party for Mississauga’s New Year’s Celebration as well as performing it in Montreal and as far as Anaheim, California. The song is also her mantra, which she shares with audience members at all her shows via a pin collection she has created. 

Paculan is also a mentor for MAC’s Limelight association, which is a youth-based organization that teaches kids how to hone their artistic talents.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact we would have in the community, in terms of giving workshops to kids and having open mics monthly. Just having that outlet is really cool ‘cause I don’t remember having that,” said Paculan.

When it comes to her musical style, Paculan says it stems from years of listening to alternative rock from such Canadian greats as Alanis Morissette, Chantal Kreviazuk and Our Lady Peace. This might seem like a far cry from her style of music, but she was able to learn a lot from them, epically from a lyrical standpoint.

I noticed the way they did lyrics and that’s how it started. But now the lyrics either come from experiences or experiences that I’ve heard,” said Paculan.

Other ways that she is able to show off her talents are through covers of her favorite musicians. One of my favorites is Eminiem’s “Lose Yourself”, which Paculan completely revises by putting her voice and style into it. As such, her natural ability to unearth the depths of human emotion in a light and humourous way is clearly evident in this song. It’s no wonder she is turning heads and gaining popularity throughout Mississauga.

As for that diamond ring that she promised her loving mother, well “that will come when I become internationally known,” said Paculan, as she “wants to use my music money” to buy it.

With her talent only getting better everyday, that dream might be realized sooner rather than later. If you don’t believe me, then be sure to check her out on April 7 at Naughty Nadz for the You Can Never Hold Back Spring show. It will feature a few local artists who will perform all original songs.

It’s a show you won’t want to miss, and one that you might be able to use as bragging rights when Paculan finally does take the international music scene by force. You can say you saw her perform first in Mississauga!
High school:
St. Francis Xavier Secondary School
Last artist played on her iPod:
Eminem, Lose Yourself
Favourite song: Superman’s Dead, Our Lady Peace
Random fact: She does not eat chocolate!
Twitter: @Arlene_Paculan
“I’m Worth It” EP available on iTunes

Photo courtesy of Tokens4Change

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