The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Growing up watching her mother sew, young Mikaela Cochrane became determined to learn how.

After receiving her own sewing machine and getting basic lessons from her mother, Cochrane began to pick it up, starting first with a striped rainbow button-down vest-and-shorts suit for her teddy bear.

Even from that early age, Cochrane was hooked on the act of creation, beginning with her newfound love of sewing and invention of imaginative worlds.

A costume designer, actress, burlesque dancer and musician, Cochrane has adopted a vast number of talents and occupations to satisfy that need to live a creative life.

However, a car accident took away her first taste of artistic success, pushing her instead to be a supporter of the music scene for a couple of years before discovering that her desire to be a musician and actress could be a reality, regardless of the unstable financial position it puts her in.

Cochrane’s interest in music began when she got a karaoke machine with a cassette recorder inside it.

She began to create her “own little weird radio shows.” It was in those radio shows that she created an alternate universe, one where every character was a baby because she was more comfortable talking in that voice than her own.

“I was the radio host,” Cochrane explains. “I would kidnap humans and force them to sing their greatest hits on my radio show.”.

Body FormBODYCochrane’s set-up for costume designing. Photo by Kirsten Phillips.

Cochrane began to imitate popular voices such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Madonna, sparking an interest in taking vocal and piano lessons, which she started in elementary school, then continued until high school.

As Cochrane grew up, her interests in the arts began to change too. “I was very musically driven,” she says, “up until I discovered theatre.”

Theatre stuck with Cochrane throughout high school and took her to Mount Royal University, where she enrolled in the theatre program.

Cochrane was used to getting straight-A's in high school, but struggled to match that success at university. After graduation, the 20-year-old Cochrane took a six-month hiatus in Europe by herself.

During her time in Europe, she lived in a small apartment in Paris with only a hot plate, cot, shower and a “horrific” floor-shared toilet.

“It was horrifying, but I didn’t care because I was in Paris,” says Cochrane.

When she came back to Calgary she began getting more into film and television rather than theatre.

“I was pretty traumatized by theatre school still,” Cochrane explains.

From that new path into film and television, Cochrane achieved early success, landing the lead role in The Valley Below as Kate Millin. The film ended up taking her to the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

After her experience at TIFF, Cochrane began planning.

“I’m going to move to Toronto, I’m going to become like a big actor, everything is going to be great,” Cochrane remembers thinking.

What Cochrane was not expecting was what came next — a car accident and subsequent recovery period that stalled her career momentum.

After the accident, she took a step back, but still kept her feet in the theatre community.

With new-found time on her hands, Cochrane took to the music scene via her then-boyfriend.

“I was really happy to be a part of the community at all,” says Cochrane. “So, I just watched a lot of music for a couple of years.”

During those years, she discovered an opportunity to take a burlesque dance class, which ended with the students doing a performance.

“The course was amazing,” says Cochrane.

After her first burlesque performance, she was asked to join “a bigger troupe in town” — the Garter Girls.

“They mentored me through so many different performances and introduced me into the burlesque community, which has influenced everything else I’ve ever done,” says Cochrane. “It was the first art form that was entirely my own.”

And it was her first experience with an art form where she had complete artistic control, until she picked up music.

Mikaela Cochrane PerformingBODYMikaela Cochrane performing with her band, Future Womb, as lead singer and keyboardist. Photo by Kirsten Phillips.

Music came back into Cochrane’s life after a breakup when she acknowledged she wanted to be creating music herself.

With the newfound desire to create again, Cochrane began to reteach herself the music knowledge she had in the past.

“I just secretly practiced at any point that my roommates weren’t home, or I’d sing in the shower really quietly,”

Being surrounded by so many “confidently-talented musicians,” Cochrane felt as though with her rusty musical abilities, she couldn’t jam with them “because you’ll all know that I’m just faking it.”

As a result, Cochrane continued to secretly write music for a couple of years, until she offered to put together a music set for a musical fundraiser she was working on.

Managing to get some of her musically-talented friends together — bassist Michael De Souza, guitarist Jordan Moe and her then-boyfriend on the drums — she came up with a three-song set.

The four of them performed at the fundraiser, which was responded to with a lot of positive feedback.

Cochrane began to see a real future for her new band when she suddenly experienced a breakup within the music scene that threatened to take away her successful debut.

“I was like, “No, no, hell no... there’s no way some boy is going to get in the way of me pursuing this … especially since nobody knows this, but I have like 20 songs and I have plans.”

Following through with her new mindset Cochrane found a new drummer — Andrew Ellergodt —and with that, the band, Future Womb, was born.

Since the creation of Future Womb, they have been doing shows, and working on an album set to be released by end of April 2019. They have plans to create a music video in February.

Cochrane’s brother and producer of the album, Taylor Cochrane, says, “The record sounds amazing, it’s going to be something really special. I’m really proud of her.”

 

Mikeala Cochrane HomeBODYCochrane sits on her vintage pink chair in her cozy apartment. Photo by Kirsten Phillips.

With Cochrane’s life depending on acting jobs and her budding music career, there is a degree of financial unpredictability.

“Money is a huge barrier in the arts. I apply for a lot of grants, I’ve never gotten one, but you keep applying and hope one day it’ll come through,” she says.

Cochrane has adapted to budgeting and learned to “cook meals that were cheap and make those sacrifices in luxuries that you don’t really need.” This includes Cochrane’s lack of vehicle to help cut down costs.

But her career, Cochrane says, is finally taking her places.

“How exciting [is that]?”

Editor's Note: This story has been modified from its original version to better reflect Cochrane's journey as an artist.

Editor: Alec Warkentin | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.