Call & Response: Craig Cardiff

Craig Cardiff was one of the first acoustic-based artists I became a huge fan of. He was definitely the first artist I liked who used a digital loop station to add layers of vocals and acoustic guitar during his performances. This blew away any preconceptions I had about what a folk singer should sound like.

Touring extensively for the past 8 years, he is one of Canada's most well-known modern folk singers. He is a talented songwriter and performer who has also set the standard for grass roots promotion. Many of his shows have taken place in people's homes. I have seen him play at the Rivoli, at Hugh's Room, at a Toronto condo and at a friend's cottage.

Craig's new studio record Goodnight (Go Home) was just released yesterday and he returns to Hugh's Room this Friday. I spoke with him about his new record, his live show and about eavesdropping.

Keep reading for the complete interview.

blogTO: How would you describe this new record?

Craig Cardiff: Big, warm, beautiful. Like a kiss on the back of your neck. This will be your new favourite book.

What excites you most about releasing this record?

I think it's the most intentional, articulated album I've recorded - I've put out a lot of live collaborations I'm really proud of, but between being on the road and everything else, I never made time for an album like this.

Musically it's very developed and matured - horns, strings and more. I'm excited about the tour as well - lots of dates and chances to connect with listeners across the country.

What most inspires your music and lyrics?

I get excited about people and their stories. The uniqueness of each situation. I get paid to eavesdrop and sew it into a song. How lucky am I?

What song are you most proud of?

"Smallest Wingless" came out of the blue after hearing about the organization nowilaymedowntosleep.org and it's been a very powerful song at shows, in terms of couples sharing stories afterwards, and general reactions.

When did you start using a loop station and what inspired you to use one?

I started using the loop station a few years after seeing Scott Merit (a brilliant singer/songwriter from Guelph, ON) use an actual tape loop version at The Hamilton Festival of Friends. When the technology surfaced
digitally, I had to try it.

Do you prefer playing solo or with your band?

I'm very comfortable on stage alone and tend to follow the night where it leads me in terms of song order and such - this doesn't always make it easy for a band.

I'm lucky to perform with Les Cooper (Jill Barber, Andy Stochansky) and Paul Mathew (Hidden Cameras) - we've all played together for so long that they know what's going to happen often before I do.

Why did you first start doing living room shows and are you surprised at how popular they became?

I started performing house concerts about 5 years ago - I'm grateful/surprised at how many people want music and art to happen amongst their friends, as opposed to simply watching TV or any of the other myriad distractions available to us.

What is your favourite venue to play at?

I have a few - Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, Hugh's Room in Toronto, Gingers in Halifax, Mackeen Room in Wolfville, Eddie's Attic in Decatur, Club Passim in Boston, The Study in Thunder Bay, The Wall in North Bay - all really cool, listener driven rooms.

What do you like best about visiting Toronto?

People watching. Eavesdropping.

Craig Cardiff w/ Pascale Picard Band
Friday October 12, 8:30pm
Hugh's Room
2261 Dundas Street West
$12 advance/$14 at door

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's about artists from or playing in Toronto. Photo by Mike Habicher.

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