Cari Golden may not be an electronic music producer or DJ, but she has been just as essential an artist in some of techno and house’s best tracks of the last several years.
Singer, songwriter and a true voice of the underground, Cari has contributed to some exciting tracks and remixes by artists the likes of Coyu, Trent Cantrelle, MANIK, DJ T., Maceo Plex, Groove Armada and Sydney Blu. The Los Angeles-based artist has some exciting projects in the future including the launch of her own record label and studio projects with Vincenzo, Ryan Crosson, Roger Sanchez and more.
We had a talk with her in Los Angeles ahead of what is looking to be one of her busiest years yet.
Hi Cari! How are you doing?
So far so good! Feeling inspired to make some really positive changes.
2016 was yet another big year for you, with some pretty huge collaborations. What were some of the most exciting projects you enjoyed working on last year?
They’re all exciting in one way or another, and I put out fewer collaborations last year than most years previous. I did a lot of work with friends including MANIK, Sydney Blu, and Trent Cantrelle and also collaborated with Tocadisco, Speaking In Tongues, Marc DePulse, Reinier Zonneveld and a handful of others. It’s always been interesting to see what pieces will catch on, and I’m always surprised. The biggest surprise of all was hitting the #1 spot on Beatport, and on my birthday, no less. “Things We Might Have Said” is a collaboration with Reinier Zonneveld that very quietly zoomed up and sat there for quite awhile. As we talk, it’s still going strong. Reinier is a spectacularly talented producer and super nice guy, so it’s been a real pleasure to take this ride with him.
You’re taking things in a new direction for 2017 with the launch of a new label called Precarious Records. Why your own label?
There are a number of reasons, but primarily it’s just time for it. I’ve been releasing songs for over a decade now as a featured artist, and I’d like to be able to have more control over how and when my own work is presented. I have also felt the sting in the past of not being included in the disbursement of revenue with some releases and that’s a very hard thing to track. My desire is to take control of that aspect as well as provide a promise of transparency and financial accountability to other artists whose work I release. I also live in Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, and there are myriad opportunities to place music in film and television, especially now. That will be a focus, as well.
Tell us a little about the sound that the label will feature.
It will feature some of my own collaborations with other producers that deserve to be heard, as well as music by talented artist and producers. We’ll be focusing on elegant, deeper techno sounds as well as straight-up techno. I like the idea of highlighting classy, well constructed, beautiful pieces of music that are thought provoking and danceable.
This will be your first label. How do you feel bout the challenge ahead?
Well I’m certainly working on a curve as I don’t really consider myself a business person, but I’m learning. It’s taking some real time to set up as a legal entity, and that’s because I want to do it right without making mistakes, so it can grow on it’s own without me needing to restructure it as it does. I have wonderful resources available to me as a result of developing so many relationships over the years with people who are running a lot of the industry behind the scenes. I’ve discovered that if I just ask for guidance, people are totally willing to give it. That’s a huge blessing for which I’m very grateful.
Your label aside, you have other collabs and releases coming up for 2017. Can you tell us about any of them?
I have a release coming in February with Ryan Crossan, John Monkman, Noir, a new one with Vincenzo on Steve Bug’s label, a May release with Roger Sanchez, a new one with Rodriguez Jr., a Dance Spirit release on Lee Burridge’s upcoming new label, as well as a Supernova/Chus and Ceballos release to be determined. I’m working on several others, but I take my time, much to the chagrin of some producers, and let the song find itself. If I do it any other way it’s usually a “meh” kind of a tune.
Is there an artist you dream to work with one day?
There are too many to mention in the electronic vein, but if I could share a stage with Pavarotti, I would. That’ll have to remain a dream, though.
What’s your process in deciding whether to take on a collab project with a producer?
I have to love the piece of music. On top of that I generally have to enjoy working with the producer, as well. If, upon first listen there’s something that pops out of my head through my mouth, then I know I’ll be able to write a song to it. It’s pretty simple. Some songs are so well developed that writing a song would clutter it up, so often times it’s about there being space and something interesting going on around that space.
Do you usually have any say in the creative process? Can you tell us a little about how it works?
I do! Over the years I’ve experienced that not being the case so I have a working document that I send out when a collaboration request comes in. It keeps evolving as issues arise, but it’s a pretty clear cut agreement that must be agreed to. It helps me to keep track of how things are being presented and also gives me final say on what is released. I think it’s essential for any artist to have and I have no problem making that document available to any working or aspiring vocalists/songwriters who would like to have control over their own work once it leaves their studio. As far as the actual process of creation itself, that can evolve in a number of ways. It usually involves putting a track on repeat and then doing something else until something pops in my head. Or it can be sitting down in the studio with a bottle of wine and recording as I write. That’s usually the case these days.
What music do you listen to outside of “work”?
I love classical and jazz.
Do you play any instruments?
Play is a pretty loose term, but I dabble with the piano and can play a few chords on guitar. More than playing instruments, I have an education in music theory, so I apply that to whatever I’m doing and hope my fingers cooperate.
What three words that best describe you?
I don’t know (smiles)
What’s your favorite activity in your spare time?
Dancing in a dark warehouse.
You live in Los Angeles. What’s your relationship like with the city?
I love LA, sorry not sorry for the Randy Newman reference. LA is like cilantro for a lot of people: you either love it or you hate it. It depends on what you see when you look at it. My experience with LA is that of a person who intentionally decided to look outside the industry norms and it worked. I think that’s the key to success here. I know people who spin their wheels for years waiting for someone else to validate their work, but this city can be a boon for someone who has ideas, talent and a great work ethic. You can find opportunities in every corner here. I’ve always said you’ll work as much as you hustle. The LA hustle is about knowing who you are and being unapologetic about that. It may be the Jersey upbringing in me, but it translates to this place. It’s true that this place values youth and beauty too much, but those things fade and you have to have real talent, skill, confidence and an industrious nature to make it here over an entire career. This place also tends to value those with the courage to forge their own path. I think that’s why so many come here. Oh, and sunshine. And ocean. Ah, I love LA.
What’s your food recommendation for anyone visiting LA?
If you aren’t coming to my house for a dinner party then go for any kind of ethnic food you can get your hands on. It’s an amazing food city and has neighborhood pockets that are totally culture immersed. I love Armenian and Persian food in my hood in Burbank, Ethiopian on Fairfax, Korean in K-town, Chinese in Temple City, ramen, sushi, Mexican, Thai… I’m getting hungry!
Name four things you would want to have with you if you were stuck on a desert island for a month.
My dog. A case of dog food. A knife and a water purifier. Are you prepping me for the dystopian future here?
If you could steal the voice of any singer that has ever lived, who would it be?
Ten years ago I would have had an answer for that, but I think both my dearly departed parents would be disappointed with me if I didn’t own the gift I was given. So, I’ll keep mine and appreciate and learn from others.
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