On the nights of Oct. 25 and 26, Craig Cardiff brought his dreamy voice to the Company House to promote his new album, Floods and Fires. His voice conjures up smoke-filled dimly lit rooms. It makes you want to crawl into an overstuffed chair and be lulled to sleep. He accompanies that cozy voice with vocal and guitar looping.
Cardiff has been touring his newest album for nearly a year now, but says he is still excited to connect with new listeners. He was nominated for a Juno and a Canadian Folk Music Award this year.
In addition to his voice and guitar, he brings a notebook to his shows. He passes it around while he plays so listeners can record their feelings. The book tours along with Cardiff; he says it takes on a life of its own in the same way songs travel.
Connecting with audiences across the country made Cardiff realize, “we’re all broken, and we’re all pretending and it’s okay,” he says.
Cardiff is no stranger to the Company House. He says playing there is “always a spectacle. It’s always something I never could have planned—it’s too perfect.”
Audiences in Halifax are appreciative and committed to live music, he says. Cardiff says a community that supports artists translates into a warm reception for people coming from away to play.
Cardiff puts everything into his show. He says when playing music, you should “make it feel like it’s your last time performing, so you have to give it your best and enjoy it.”
When he sells a CD, Cardiff gives the buyer an extra copy to give to a friend. “A million-dollar marketing campaign can never compete with your best friend giving you a mix tape of their favourite song,” he says.
It drives him crazy when people complain they can’t make a living as a musician. He spends his spare time on tours giving workshops at schools. He likes meeting kids. He remembers how he used be: “Awkward and geeky and loving music so much that it broke my ribs because it filled my chest so much.”
Cardiff also thinks it’s important for kids to know they can make a living doing what they love, like he does.
In 2008 Cardiff had songs he to record but was stuck waiting for a producer. He needed an ungodly sum of money and thought if he didn’t have it, he couldn’t record.
But, he says, “the songs needed to get out. They deserved to get out.”
His solution was to record his 2008 album, Mistletoe, on Octopod, an iPad application. Cardiff says limitations should push artists to find a way around them.
“Don’t die with your music in you, and your songs in you. Get it out.”
Music is what Cardiff does. He couldn’t do anything else.