What is your name and role within Soft Cure?
My name is seth cardinal, as soft cure I’ll write and record the music myself and do all the artwork and videos. live I play guitar and sing with my two best friends Ana Villanueva on bass and Andy Lehman on drums. Ana has her own band named Paranoid Parents and Andy makes some ambient tunes and plays drums in other rad bands. Both of them are super talented musicians who are important to soft cure because they bring in their own talents and styles that are different from mine so the songs can change a lot live.
How did you start?
Santa got me a guitar on Christmas when I was 12. The guitar was a cheap no name acoustic. I write almost every soft cure song on it and I haven’t changed its strings in 6 years. My mom found me a tape recorder that year and I began to record myself screaming and playing guitar. That’s when I started writing my own songs. I played acoustic for a year because my mom said I couldn’t get an electric till I could play her a song. I messed around trying to play to classic rock tapes and eventually played her a song and got the electric. Soon I could teach myself to play any song by ear. I played guitar everyday non-stop and carried one with me everywhere. At some point, I gave up playing other people’s music and focused on my own things.
At 14 I made my first bands and learned to play the drums. In high school I began to go to local punk shows. I played the drums in a no wave/noise punk band when I was 17 named The Basement Demons. It was me and my 7 year old sister, and my two cousins who are sisters. They were 10 and 13. We ended up playing shows and music festivals till we broke up last year. soft cure started when I made recordings on a 4-track cassette recorder in my room 3 years ago. When I was 18 I wrote a song and recorded it while I was babysitting my sis. She named the song “funeral at the beach” and helped me make a video, she was 8 and I was a confused teenager scared of growing up. It was the first song I felt proud of and that belonged to me. That night I named my music project soft cure after a poem I wrote. After that within a month of recording every night I had my first album which I self released on cassette. I titled it “sad” after the way I felt when I made the songs. Recording that tape was a healthy way of learning how to navigate my own angsty feelings. The songs on that album ended up sounding dreamier and poppier than The Basement Demons. soft cure was the opposite of The Basement Demons, it wasn’t as angry or tough sounding. I got asked to play a show at some point so I asked friends if they wanted to play with me and soft cure has been playing since then.
Where are you based?
Calgary Alberta Canada and my basement!
Please give an example of your music writing process?
It’s a lot of experimenting. Sometimes I’ll hum something or hear a whole song in my head and then I’ll try to record and write out all the parts that I hear, that’s the quickest way to find a song, other times it comes from coming up with a drumbeat first and building it up from there, or having a melody and trying it on different instruments. It’s also fun to take a song and deconstruct it till it becomes something else. I try to write and record something everyday. Production is another important tool. Using different recording techniques to make a song lo-fi or clean. Now that i’m more experienced with home recording and working with reel to reels/cassettes I can find what suits a song the best. I usually record two demos of a song before I make the final version, either at a slower or faster tempo or making it either clean and glittery or lo-fi. I write lyrics about nostalgia/growing up, being anxious and shy. I also tend to write a lot about my own mental health. I also have songs that deal with gender and how other peoples expectations can be shitty and confusing when they try to impose their beliefs on you.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on making some videos and three albums. One is untitled and the other two are named “pinwheel” and “sorry Garfield”. I’m also going to be putting out an unreleased album I made three years ago, it’s called “posie” and it’s about my house I grew up in that my family was forced to move from when I was recording it. I didn’t put it out because being forced to move and having my house destroyed messed me up for a while and I lost a lot of confidence in myself and others that I’m regaining now.
What is your gear setup?
Live I use a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp with a Jazzmaster and Mustang. I also use three pedals, a MXR distortion, Death by Audio fuzz and a Boss delay.
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
I’m an artist and my art and music are connected to each other, they’re very similar. I’m always doing something creative, I like reading and going to thrift stores. I’m coding a website for my art and band right now, its taking forever hahah. I like doing things myself, learning is addicting. I wanna make a back metal soft cure album.
How would you describe your music genre?
Pastel wave is what I call it. It’s birthday cakes, balloons and the color pink. It’s not grounded in any specific genre. That’s why soft cure fitted as a band name because it didn’t sound like a garage rock bands name or emo or anything like that at least to me.
Do you know any music theory?
I’m self taught, although I played bass in my Gr.9 school band where we were taught how to read some music. I learned some theory when I took vocal lessons for a bit when I was 16. I learned the most by jamming with friends and observing what they do.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to do a big tour with soft cure! Make more art and do more shows! I also want to open for beck so I could see him live without paying a billion dollars. Graduate from art school! Go to clown college!
How did you get into music?
Probably from my uncle Cory. He grew up in the 80’s seeing every classic metal band. Whenever he would babysit me at his house there was always a huge stack of cassettes on his floor, as a child they were more fun to build things with and disorganize than to listen to. He always played Slayer or something like Megadeth. Once I turned 11 I stole his tapes and listened to nights with Alice Cooper on the radio. Sometimes the DJ wouldn’t announce the names of the songs so I would stay up all night writing down the lyrics to the songs trying to figure out the name’s of the songs. I didn’t get internet till I was 12 in 2007 so I couldn’t look up them up. On weekends my family would go to flea markets and thrift stores where I’d find cassettes of the bands from the radio. This was before I had any instruments so I think it was training my ear because soon enough I could tell who was who by the way their guitars sounded or their voices. When I heard The White Stripes Icky Thump on the radio I knew I had to play music. That was the defining moment for 12-year-old me. Soon after that I asked my mom for a guitar and sat her down in a restaurant to tell her I was going to be a Rockstar even though I’d never even touched an instrument. That’s when I started searching for all kinds of music everywhere, reading bands interviews to see what they listened to and spending all my lunch money at record stores.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I found almost every Beastie Boys cd for a couple dollars at a cd trader here, I’ve never really listened to anything other than their first album before so it’ll be fun to check out. I’ve been listening to Rollerskate Skinny, Howie B and The Swirlies.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
1) Beck – listening to one foot in the grave made me want to write my own songs and record them myself, after hearing it I tried to forget every song I taught myself how to play from other bands.
2) The White Stripes – They were the ones who got me to pick up the drums and guitar for the first time, plus they were so artsy and kool.
3) My Dentist – Dr.Sandy has been my dentist since I’ve had teeth, her office used to be a mixture of pastel and vibrant 90’s colors. There was paper mache clowns and squiggle patterns all over the walls. The play area had older video game systems like Nintendo 64’s and a Sega Genesis. Going to the dentist was an experience and you got a toy after being tortured.
4) Mr. Dressup – He was a kid show host, he dressed up in different costumes and taught kids how to draw and be nice. I watched his show so much as a child. I’m making my own kids show and it has a drawing segment like his. Also, Bozo the clown is my father.
5) My mom/sister and grandma – They have influenced me more than anyone.
When are you playing next?
We are playing at the Sled Island music and arts festival this month here in Calgary! Twice on the 20th and also the 21st.
Please feel free to include any extra info.
We’ll play your birthday party!