Band of the Week: Cai.ro
By Sabrina Nanji
Cai.ro are building a cult following in Toronto (Image: Caitlin Laura Photography)
Cai.ro met each other on Craigslist, and after a face-to-face Tim Hortons’ coffee and shaky basement jam session, they’ve been honing their sound ever since. The result? Rich, fuzzy, orchestral indie rock with massive sound. Although backed by booming drums, honeyed vocals, warm strings and driving bass, Cai.ro have (shockingly) remained unsigned. But they’ve been gaining a cult following in Toronto, so these guys are definitely ones to keep an ear out for. We caught up with lead vocalist Nate Daniels (whose voice has a Jim Morrison-esque haunting quality) and Dante Berardi Jr. (guitar and vocals), who gave us the skinny on losing their Lee’s Palace virginity this weekend.
I heard you all met on Craigslist, how did that happen?
N: I started searching for band members in 2009. I was just searching for anyone who could help frame these skeletons of music that I had. The first person I met was Matt. We met at this Tim Hortons in Markham and it felt like this weird date. We went back to his basement and just sort of jammed on some stuff. I’m more of a rhythm guitar player and songwriter, so I’m like, “I’m totally f***ing this up, he probably does not want anything to do with me!” He still decided to take a chance on me, and we went on from there and found everyone on Craigslist.
How does that affect your band dynamic?
N: I think it sort of enhanced it. Just the fact that we’ve come from different musical backgrounds, we’ve all done different things and different projects. It was more the music that brought us together. We all heard where the songs could go and how big they could be.
D: We’re like a family now.
The EP has a few folk-type songs and a few with more of a pop edge. How would you describe your sound?
D: I can’t remember who said this, but they said, “Lush, orchestral pop” — I think just because of how big and warm the vocals are, mixed with ambient guitar and strings, and that sort of comes over as an orchestral, cinematic sound. It’s cliché to say it, but I don’t really know what genre we are.
N: Some bands try to classify themselves. On our EP, the last song, “Halfway There,” is a folkier, piano song, but then if you listen to “All These Colours,” it’s a very commercial, pop-based song. Then there’s just other stuff that’s completely alternative.
What’s it like being an unsigned band?
D: We don't have any representation, we have a few people who are helping us out — just vocal people who are in the scene — but we’re self-managed, self-publicized, we do all that stuff on our own.
So what was it like putting out Young Love without a label backing you?
N: I don’t think we had any expectations. It was more to say to ourselves, “Okay, now we’re legit. We can apply to festivals or venues, we can send products out to labels,” it was just to have a product. We knew we might not make money from it — we did make a little bit — but it’s not something that can carry us. And we could give the record to our fans at shows, we’ve been playing for months with nothing to give them.
D: There isn’t really a set way of doing these things. When most bands start, they kind of make it up as they go. So for the most part, we just take all the opportunities that come our way. Truthfully, it’s not that bad. We don't feel lost or confused, we just sort of take it in our stride and go with it.
You’ve been getting a lot more buzz on the local scene, so you’re doing something right.
N: Yeah, things have been rolling the last few months, we’re really picking up. There’s a whole bunch of things coming together at once between videos and shows.
Young Love has only six tracks on it. Does that make for a super short live set?
N: We have about 15 songs, it depends on what kind of sets we’re playing. We have a lot of down tempo acoustic songs that we play at more intimate shows and which we try to avoid at bigger shows. If we're playing a show that we’re headlining, we’ll play eight or nine songs, but we like to leave people wanting more.
D: We don’t really play the EP, we play about one or two songs from it. The last time we played the EP in its entirety was at our release party last August. We play songs that aren't recorded.
Any plans to record in the studio?
D: Down the road, yeah, when the time is right. For a while we were thinking of doing it this summer but then with everything picking up after the CD release, we thought “Why not ride this wave for a little bit and keep growing?” The way the music industry is shaping, it doesn’t make sense to do full records anymore. We don’t know if it makes sense to do a full record or double EP or a the single thing, which a lot of labels are doing now. Our focus now is getting really comfortable live.
You’re playing Lee’s Palace with Parks & Rec and Graydon James & The Young Novelists on Saturday. What can we expect from the show?
N: I think because of the audience that will come out for that show, because of who Graydon James & The Young Novelists are, the audience might attach themselves to us. Lee’s Palace is one of the most famous venues in Toronto that we’ve never played, so for us, it’s like another notch on our belt. It’s good to play bigger venues that can hold our sound.