LA born vocalist Cari Golden may be more familiar to your ears than you know with releases and collaborations on a whole host of labels covering the the spectrum of dance music. She chats to James Huxley on the difficulties of being a songwriter, epic studio fails, labels and musical influences that shape her sound. Cari gives Pulse an exlusive download of her remix of Pan-Pots Captain My Captain, get it here.
Pulse: Hey Cari, thanks for taking the time to do this for us. Can you tell us who you are for those that don't know. Cari: I'm a singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, California and I write dance music!
If there is such a thing, what's a standard production process for producing a track?Well for me it can work a couple of different ways. Firstly, my biggest challenge always is trying to get inside the mind of whatever producer I'm working with at the time to see what might fit with their vision. A lot of the people I've worked with I've never met, or only meet after the fact, so it's a pretty big guessing game most of the time. Some people just want a vocal sample, and I periodically send out sample folders to different people and they build tracks around some little thing they find, or I will write a full on song if that's what is called for. I'm lucky because I've basically been able to build an entire catalog of releases from the comfort of my living room. No big studio, no big deal. Just me, a microphone and a really skeletal knowledge of Logic. I let the producers do the rest.
What are some of the downfalls of being a songwriter? Hm. That's an interesting question. And a really good one, actually. First of all, I think anyone who is creative is probably really insecure, too, because you're putting what's in your head and heart out into the world for people to judge (and believe me they love to judge). And for me, I'm almost always writing about something personal. I find when I try to write about anything else it winds up sucking really hard, because I don't have any real insight. Combine that with a genre of music that isn't particularly vocal or song focussed most of the time and you can run into a lot of resistance, but I feel like I've been lucky and that vocals are playing more of a role nowadays, and it's nice to be a part of that trend. Oh yeah, and writers block sucks. Totally, especially when there are deadlines.
What have you been most proud of? In reality what I'm most proud of has nothing to do with music! I have an amazing family and a really incredible group of friends here in LA, in Berlin and lots of people all over the world, and that to me is the greatest accomplishment. But if you are asking about music, well, I would say I'm most proud of the fact that I figured out a way to do what I absolutely love more than anything in the world, and it had nothing to do with major labels or running after fame. It's always been about people, this sense of a tight, passionate community that's spread out all over the world and great music.
Who have you yet to work with that you'd like to? Oh dear, loaded question. How much time do you have? First let me say that I've already worked with some of the absolute most genius people who are also genuinely wonderful people. If someone is a nightmare, no matter what level they're on, I just can't do it. So! I've met some lovely people that it would curl my toes to work with, namely Jooris Voorn, Jphlip, Henrik Schwarz, Vincenzo, Lee Jones, Claude Von Stroke, Maceo Plex and lots of others, but really people with clear musical backgrounds and a sensitivity to the vocal element in the music.
Naming no names can you tell us any studio nightmares? Every studio experience is amazing [laughs]. The biggest nightmare is when Logic takes a dump and loses an awesome take. I tend to like to work really quickly and in an organized way with vocals- one take, a double, a harmony, an octave, a whisper and then just send it off. I don't like situations where people are micromanaging me either. But that usually comes with people who have less experience and think that's a part of their job. I've been a studio vocalist for twenty years, so I've worked with every imaginable character. But, the longer I've been in this game the higher level of producers I've been working with and they know enough to just let me do my thing and mine the good stuff from that. I'm lucky.
Which labels do you respect and why? Obviously every label I'm on!!! Seriously, though, I have respect for anyone who goes after the brass ring full on. Music is probably one of the toughest choices of career and especially when edm is largely grassroots, it's a real triumph when something is successful. Labels in edm are a lot of the time run by the creatives, as well, and in my life, those two things don't gel. I'm a terrible business person, so when I work with mobilee, Get Physical, Crosstown Rebels, Bpitch Control etc and know that these folks are killing crowds on the weekend and showing up in an office on Monday to do the nuts and bolts, I have to majorly tip my hat. Not easy!
You've just worked with fur coat, can you tell us a bit about how that came about. Ironically enough, Sergio Munoz left me a message on my soundcloud page. I rarely check any of that stuff, so it's sort of amazing I ever even saw it. I had never heard of these guys, but I really liked the tone of the email, and the fact that they were doing an album for CR so I replied. Like I said, working with kind people is the name of the game, and the fact that Damian Lazarus is such a champion of new talent to me is also huge, so even never having heard anything they'd done I knew they were going to be spectacular. Sergio and I became pretty much instant friends, which made the writing of the tune that much easier. I actually had this idea for the hook for a while, but knew none of the labels I'd worked with to this point would ever go for such a blatant reference. Then Sergio sent me the track and in my opinion it can stand on it's own with no vocal and be a total classic. It's not overproduced, it's funky as hell and it's just dirty, which I love. So I wrote the rest of the track around the hook, sent it off and bit my fingernails till I heard back. I had no idea it was going to be anything, but I was hoping the guys would like it. Luckily they kept basically everything, so the whole story is told, and the rest, as they say is...
The track 'You and I' is obviously very much hyped, what do you think it is about the track that makes it so special? Drugs man!!!! Just kidding. Well, am I? In my reality, when I was writing it, it really didn't have a whole lot to do with drugs, but with the idea that people in relationships can be like a drug, for better or worse. This is a real experience for me and when I was writing this I was going through a period of one day feeling totally loved and in love and the next day being in a heap on the floor with a box of kleenex, totally a wreck, rejected and feeling thrown out with the trash. Yikes. It's such a crazy experience being with someone who you love more than anything, but just not able to find the right balance in it, no matter how hard you try. I honestly feel like everyone knows this feeling, the desperation of it, and wants that high to last because you nailed it for a hot minute, but more often than not you are really just amping it up with artifice to avoid the reality of the fact that it's bound to end. And it doesn't hurt that Damian Lazarus and Art Department included it in their sets, that no one could get it, that it's been somewhat of a mystery track for a while. Plus I think the fact that Fur Coat is pretty new and the production of the track is so vibey, it's making people take notice of these guys. It's been interesting to watch from the comfort of my couch, I'm not going to lie.
Who, where and when would you say you draw a lot of influence from? Hmm... let's see. I'm a classically trained opera singer, believe it or not, so I really am into gorgeously controlled voices like Renee Fleming and Frederica Von Staade in that realm. Outside of that everyone I reference is so leaps and bounds amazingly better than I will ever be. But I love people who know how to write in shades of grey like Joni Mitchell (duh) and Rufus Wainwright, Sara Bareilles is an incredible songwriter too. Vocally I learned to sing copying Joni, Karen Carpenter, Sarah Vaughan, K. D. Lang, Patsy Cline, Chaka Khan. I like a bit of everything. And I'm also really influenced by the producers I work with.