Daniel Cartier
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Daniel Cartier

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The best kept secret in music



In the mid 90’s, Daniel Cartier became a literal underground sensation when his debut album, The Subway Session – recorded in a New York City subway station – hit the streets. Even Elton John took notice, signing the striking, tattoo-pated gay singer-songwriter to his Rocket Records label, but the company was adsorbed in a takeover in 1997 and Cartier was left without the sweet major label deal. As Sir Elton himself once sang, “The bitch is back”; Cartier, undeterred, resurfaces on the intriguing self-released Revival. What makes Cartier an innovative artist is that he doesn’t restrict himself to one genre – traces of soul, electro and folk-punk manage to mingle refreshingly well on Revival. The real standout track is “What’s It Gonna Be?”, a haunting tribute to Matthew Shepard that blends Tori Amos-style piano balladry with Cartier’s distinctive voice, which is reminiscent of ’80-era Lloyd Cole. While Revival isn’t for the masses, the CD should gain Cartier a religiously loyal following. . – Ronni Radner - Out Magazine


It seems only fitting that singer/songwriter Daniel Cartier has named his newest release Revival. After nearly six years of career and personal chaos, the New Hampshire-born artist is back and poised for a rebirth.
Cartier began his career as a busker in New York and recorded his first record live on a Canal Street subway platform. After filing venues such as The Mercury lounge and Fez, Cartier began attracting major label attention including that of Elton John’s re-launched Rocket Records, who signed him. In 1998 Cartier’s album Avenue A began making waves among music lovers and critics alike. But Cartier became a casualty of the corporate takeover of Polygram and, like countless other artists, he suddenly found himself out of a deal. Passion for his art and a desire for self-expression helped him get through rough times – although he admits it was one of the hardest periods in his life.
“I still grapple with the whole scenario,” he says. “It’s not like I’m doing great…I am and I’m not. The music industry is such a huge contradiction in itself anyways because you get all these people who claim to love music and then you get all these ‘American Idol’ people and all these teenage pop stars. It seems like people complain about the music today and say, ‘This is the time when people are going to want to hear real music.’ But I’ve been hearing about the resurgence of singer/songwriters and people wanting to hear real music for years.”
Cartier, who now calls Cape Cod, Maine, home, wrote and produced 90 percent of the material on Revival – all the while a newcomer to using a mixing board and other recording equipment. Although he maxed out his credit cards and worked two day jobs, Cartier still found the experience to be a liberating one – in more ways than one. “When I was on Rocket, even though I’m gay and was on an openly gay recording artist’s label, they were like, ‘if they ask about being gay, fine, but don’t bring it up.’ And now, just six years later, the climate has changed so much that’s it’s like, ‘please, let everyone know you’re gay, like run around in a sequined body suit and cape made out of a rainbow flag and sprinkle pixie dust everywhere because that’s now a built-in audience at this point. It just goes to show you that with so much music now you need this niche – radio plays less music than ever before and stations are so homogenized.”
The solid pop material Cartier has crafted on Revival is bound to appeal to a number of different radio formats and may find an audience in the dance clubs. “ ‘Everybody Wants to Be Loved By Somebody’ is a definite dance-oriented song and I’ve been trying to get it played at clubs,” says Cartier. “I love the idea of people falling in love…a lot of people meet on dance floors. Having two people meet while one of my songs is playing is just a really [great] thought.” ?


I have been following music for more years than I care to mention. Over several decades I have witnessed brilliant live performances by music legends including Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Tom Waits and Nirvana. Now, as objectively as possible, I’ll sum up Daniel’s performance at the Cavern Club in one word: transcendental.

I was astonished at Daniel’s performing prowess. The stage is his true home. Armed with no more than a $50 drum machine, an acoustic guitar and a piano, his soul visibly soars from his feet to his fingertips, out the six strings and back up to his eye, out to the audience and back into his heart, up to his vocal chords, then straight to the heavens (repeat as necessary). Under the spotlight personal quirks and character defects join forces with passion and skill to showcase a remarkably beautiful, generous and loving human being. His performance was simply breathtaking to experience.

- www.advocate.com


On the day that I reached Daniel Cartier on the phone for our interview, he was busy entertaining guests at his house on Cape Cod (which he shares with his partner and three dogs), following a two-month stint on the road playing gay pride festivals. “It’s been a really exhausting day,” he says with a yawn. “I’m still slowing down from touring all through June and July and I’m taking August off to hang out with friends and relax, but I’ve got people just coming in and out and it’s tiring.”
Being busy is something Cartier will just have to get used to. His latest album, the aptly titled ‘Revival’, is set for a major re-launch after receiving a quiet release through Endurance Music in March. It’s his strongest bid for a mainstream crossover since his almost-breakthrough 1997 major label effort, ‘Avenue A’. That album was released on Elton John’s Rocket Records just before a corporate merger sent the company into a tizzy, which left Cartier without a deal.
Having dropped out of the music scene for about five years, struggling with a recurring drug problem and getting his mind straight, Cartier purged his demons in 70 songs – 13 of which ended up on the ‘Revival’, a sumptuous fusion of acoustic pop, dance and R&B that sounds like it was recorded by the love child of Brit folkster David Gray and Yaz front woman, Alison Moyet. Cartier says he is used to being compared to others. “Someone once said I sound like a cross between Chris Isaak and Boy George”, he recalls. “I kind of liked that.”
Although he enjoys performing for gay crowds (“There’s nothing more rewarding than singing a love song and having a really cute guy in the front row”, he notes with a chuckle), Cartier says that his music “will probably appeal to more mainstream people. It’s poppy in a good way, but there are a lot of different elements in [it].”
After being dropped from Rocket, Cartier sank into a deep depression. A “classic Cancer” (he shares a birthday with George Michael), Cartier says he is actually “a very sad person. When I’m onstage, I can have the audience in stitches because I pull out all the stops. And that’s a totally different person than who I really am. Once you get me offstage that person is totally gone.”
According to Cartier, it’s that duality in his personality that drives him to write such emotional music. “I think a lot of great artistic endeavors come from pain,” he says. “It’s like that thing where the person who laughs the loudest cries the hardest.”
In the meantime, he surrounds himself with friends and tries to stay focused on his current goal – taking his musical career as far as he can – though he says he’s trying to remain as realistic as possible. “Honestly, my biggest goal right now is to be able to book a tour, go out and do it, and know that people are going to show up,” he says. “It’s be nice if this record breaks, but if it doesn’t, it’ll just be an excuse to record another album.”
It would be nice to be a number-one-selling pop star, Cartier admits, but he has found other things to keep him occupied. “Today I was feeling kind of under the weather, so I took a nap and then sat in bed eating a bowl of ice cream, and I shared it with my three dogs,” he reveals. “And you know, that made me really happy. In a weird way, that’s just as rewarding as selling a bunch of records.”
Suddenly, he has an epiphany. “Maybe I should just market my album to dogs,” he says with a start. “I can be the Madonna of animals. I can hear it now: ‘He’s huge with pets!’”



What do you do when you’re a critical darling and stars like Elton John fawn over you, yet a major-label merger leaves you in the trenches from whence you came? You could become bitter and resentful, or go back to your roots and do music because you love it. That’s pretty much what happened to openly gay New York singer-songwriter Daniel Cartier – and he chose the latter path. Cartier grew up in conservative New Hampshire listening to everything from Steve Miller to punk rock. By the time he reached New York at the tender age of 21, he had a small clutch of songs that he played in the subway systems. His first CD was actually recorded on the Canal Street subway platform. Soon he was opening for Ani DiFranco, the Indigo Girls and X, just to name a few. His demos circulated and finally grabbed the attention of Elton john, who signed him to his resurrected Rocket Records label. His album, “Avenue A,” was met with praise. Unfortunately, the label folded in a Polygram merger, so there went what seemed to be his window of opportunity. Undeterred, Cartier built his own studio and released “Revival,” a 13-song showcase for his solid writing talents and diverse arrangements. From the first track, “Lay It On,” it’s clear Cartier is a pop fan. He uses a variety of sounds and samples to create his art: ringing acoustic guitars, synth-strings and Depeche Mode-like electronica percussion percolate throughout the track. “Beautiful” features a keyboard line straight out of a Cars song and “Everybody Wants to Be Loved by Somebody” has the feel of an Erasure ballad. Needless to say, these tracks cover a lot of ground. Taking control of one’s career and creating music for the sheer love of it is infectious, and “Revival” shows a man who has come to terms with the downside of the music business and is still flourishing. – Chris Freeman
- Genre Magazine


Forget Diamonds, Cartier is a Girl’s Best Friend
Parker Posey interviews Daniel Cartier.

Prince predicted much in his song "1999," but how could he have foreseen East Village icon Daniel Cartier
packing up his little red corvette and moving to Los Angeles that year? From dues-paying gigs in subway
stations (he recorded his first album in a Canal Street subway stop) to his friendship with Parker Posey,
the boy with the sunburst tattoo on top of his head is quintessential New York. That's why it's so great to
have him back. Cartier will be performing old favorites along with songs from his latest CD Wide Outside at
Fez every Sunday night at 10:30pm from May 27th through June 24th. Indie Goddess Parker Posey, who
also has a debut this June in Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh's film The Anniversary Party, sat
down with her pal Daniel and the two talked about the realness of New York, Andy Warhol, explosive
diarrhea, Patti Smith and Daniel's return to Gotham's concert stage.

Posey: So, Daniel. You're a gay singer/songwriter. How does that feel? Great?
Cartier: [Laughs] Oh my God! Well, it depends on what I'm doing. Yeah, it feels pretty great except that I wouldn't
want people not to listen to me just because I'm gay. I don't want to exclude anybody.

Posey: I was being facetious with the gay question. I know that music Is something that feeds the ears of
everyone, straight or gay. How Is it to be back home?
Cartier: It feels totally awesome to be back in New York-just to be able to walk around and bump into people I know
and not have to deal with Hollywood, where everyone has a script in one hand and a soy decaf latté in the
other. New York is just more real.

Posey: What have your learned from being away from this great city?
Cartier: Um, do you think I'm fat? Oh God, I've been in LA too long. Just kidding. I've learned that sometimes you
need to get away to appreciate what you have.

Posey: Were you Influenced by the garage type studio mentality-computers and people making their own
music at home?
Cartier: Most definitely. That's really the only thing I'm interested in now. Rocket Records spent enough on my last
album, Avenue A, to feed a small country for two years and sold about two copies of it. The great thing
about technology is that musicians can do it themselves for so much less, plus it's just more spontaneous.

Posey: How much space do you need to make music?
Cartier: Um, not to sound cheesy, but the space between my ears. Oh God, that does sound really cheesy.
The space I work out of now is the size of a large walk-in closet, Actually, it is a walk-in closet.

Posey: Have you ever thought of carrying around a recording device to hum into so you don't forget
song ideas?
Cartier: Oh my God, that's so weird that you say that. I have a number just for voicemail and I'm always calling in
from wherever-pay phones-and singing into the voicemail. But I also love carrying around tape recorders too;
it makes me feel like Andy Warhol. I did this recording once where I walked into a video arcade with a tape
recorder and put all the sounds into the middle of the song.

Posey: I've got my foot on a pedal right now snappin' photos of myself.
Cartier: That reminds me of when you used to carry that digital camcorder around and you said you felt like a spy.

Posey: Yes. That's right, I did. And do you know why?
Cartier: In case anyone tried to sue you?

Posey: Because... well, many reasons. One is that I was slightly obsessed with the way images can
accidentally coincide with each other and form something perfect if you get the timing right.
One of the great things I love about New York is that when you walk around and hear what's
happening or see it, and... well, perfect moments make me happy.
Cartier: I'm obsessed with photography that shows people doing everyday things unaware of the camera. I think
people are most beautiful when they don't realize the focus is on them.

Posey: I love that too.
Cartier: I'm such a control freak and it seems I'm always searching for that perfect moment. Like huddled with Banjo
[Cartier's dog] and Craig [Cartier's lover] today-there was this perfect moment-and then Banjo had explosive
diarrhea and it ended.

Posey: Oh my God! What are you feeding her? Is she on a diet?
Cartier: I think she probably drank water at the dog run and got a parasite. She's on Wellness Formula. Jane [Adams,
from Happiness] told me to put her on it. That's what her dog's on.

Posey: Now why did you name your dog Banjo?
Cartier: Good question! Awww! Because Craig gave me these slippers that looked like dogs that I named Banjo and
Wildfire and I always thought Banjo would be a cute name for a dog because I always picture dogs on a farm
with haystacks and little kerchiefs on. And it's musical.

Posey: Speaking of musical, what are your favorite songs? What's the common theme?
Cartier: Oh my god, that's such a great question. I - NEXT Magazine


DANIEL CARTIER "AVENUE A" (Rocket/A&M) Here's proof that post grunge can offer more flavor than the bland verve pipe and Matchbox 20. New York newcomer Cartier infuses his debut with the sort of affecting gospel intensity that eludes many of his peers. And he smoulders on "Stumbling Home" with all the sanctified soulfullness of the Reverand Al Green himself. "A" rating- Jeremy Heligar - ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY


DANIEL CARTIER looks like a modern primative but writes emotional songs that are heart wrenching in their classic pop style, since he continually embellishes his top 40 instincts with an unmistakably pure sense of the outsider's way of life. -JR Taylor - NEW YORK PRESS



From next big thing to a nervous breakdown, the unrelenting songwriter has been up and down. Now it’s comeback time.

By James Gavin. Photograph by Chad Griffith

Last February at the tiny Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side, a long-lost troubadour played guitar and sang his songs for tips. In a lineup of earnest unknowns, Daniel Cartier—a high-strung, sexed-up guy in jeans and a T-shirt—seemed like a star. He looked much as he had in the late ’90s, when he’d been the ultimate East Village poster boy: pale, thin and alluring, with a tattoo-covered skull and demented eyes. In 1997 he’d gone from playing in the subway to releasing a much-heralded album on Elton John’s Rocket label. Avenue A revealed a young gay man with a lion roaring inside, scarred by the big city yet clinging to hope. Six months later, Rocket, along with Cartier’s deal, had crashed, and the unstable singer was off on a seven-year marathon of self-destruction.

In 2005 he resurfaced at various gay bars as a dirty-dancing go-go stud; he’d also joined several escort services. In the interim he’d kept writing and recording other CDs that mostly went unnoticed. Now, with a new homegrown album, You and Me Are We, two gigs at Joe’s Pub and a tour in the works, he’s back on track.

Today, Cartier’s music is a new-wave–inspired tapestry of samples, drum loops and electrified choral effects. His singing transcends all machinery: a quavering wail whose growls, moans and falsetto leaps, wrenched from a wounded place, set him on a par with Annie Lennox. When he’s not putting on a lascivious tough-guy swagger, he’s a broken bird, pleading for love in the “silent, cruel and cold” night. In one song he cries over and over, “It’s not too late!”

At a café near his Williamsburg apartment, Cartier, 37, is calm and self-effacing as he chuckles his way through a tumultuous life story. It starts in Exeter, New Hampshire, where he grew up in a family shaken by emotional disorders; his were depression and OCD. “I was this artsy, scrawny gay kid,” he explains. “I was in goth and punkabilly bands. I had pierced ears and eye makeup and a foot-and-a-half-tall double Mohawk.” Cartier was an out-of-control teen who partied nonstop, threatened suicide and overdosed. After a classmate pushed him down a staircase, he quit high school, then in 1991 headed for the East Village.

He lasted a week as a singing waiter, then went on public assistance. “I lived out of duffel bags for over two years. Crashing on friends’ couches, living in rental cars, having all my stuff stolen over and over again, having a billion different boyfriends.” He began playing in subway stations, and one night, a dreamlike stroke of luck occurred: Elton John’s A&R man approached him at an East Village restaurant and said, “Hey, aren’t you that singer?”

Avenue A was the result. It debuted to raves, and Cartier played to packed houses at Fez and on the road. The singer Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) knew him then. “Daniel was pushing a very sincere vibe, which was forward-thinking of him, as New York was very depressed, and people lived on a survivor’s diet of guilt, irony and cynicism,” Antony says. “Daniel was out on the front line, trying to make something happen in the East Village at a time when it was difficult to nurture a new spark of life.” But Rocket was floundering, and after Cartier was dropped in early 1998, no other label picked him up. He started drinking heavily, and it sank what was left of his career at the time. He wound up on Cape Cod, where he waited tables and launched a relationship with an entrepreneur who’d just left rehab and whose compulsive spending eventually killed his business.

Cartier poured the chaos into two emotional CDs that he distributed himself, Wide Outside and Revival. While touring unprofitably in 2004 to promote the latter, he started cashing in on what he calls his “very big thing,” as an escort. “I guess it was a sad way for me to get validation for a life I thought was finished,” he says. In June last year he went into drug rehab, where he blacked out, wrote a long suicide note and was admitted to a psych ward. “I thought I’d never write again,” Cartier says. Instead he left the hospital with 14 songs, returned to rehab and ultimately came back to New York.

That was last November, and things have been looking up. Through escorting and go-go dancing, he provided seed money for a produce market his ex-boyfriend is running on the Cape. Cartier has even found a way to deal with his OCD: For up to 20 hours at a stretch, he cuts up and staples together the refuse of his life—Fleet Enema boxes, a former client’s socks, photographs, a go-go jockstrap—into giant wall hangings. Galleries have shown them, as has the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Like his songs, these creations help him make sense of a messy existence.

“Through it all, I’ve maintained a lot of hope,” he says, smiling. “You - TIMEOUT NEW YORK


Daniel Cartier has already come a long way, starting as a singer/songwriter playing in the subway to putting out his recently released album, “Revival”. Cartier has won over audiences with his unique playing style, which at times includes as much percussion as guitar. “You learn that you can play anything on an acoustic guitar,” Cartier told us. “Actually, I started doing dance music stuff and that’s when I started banging on my guitar. I maybe pluck or strum half of my songs and the other half I don’t even use a pick. I just bang on the guitar and do percussion and the chords kind of resonate.” The singer told us that part of playing in the subway area usually required knowing a fair share of covers. As he decided to try and pick up more upbeat and danceable tracks, that’s when he developed the style. Cartier manages to blend a variety of musical influences into a truly eclectic sound. - WESTWOOD ONE


"Live From New York: The Subway Sessions" (Ignition Records) 1996...recorded live on a New York City subway platform

"Avenue A" (Rocket/A&M) 1997...A critical smash released on Elton John's very own Rocket Records. It ended up on many year end top 10 lists.

"Glorified Demos" (Go Records) 1999... A collection of rarities and demos.

"Wide Outside" (Jindo Record) 2001... Daniel's first noble attempt at home recording.

"Revival" (Endurance Music) 2004...Daniel's second, much more focused collection of home recordings.

"You And Me Are We" (Endurance Music) 2006. Hailed as his best album to date by many music writers, this 11 song disc profiles Daniel's descent into drug addiction and his eventual rebirth as a happy guy.

"38" RELEASE DATE: Fall 2007.
Daniel will celebrate being 38 years old with this 38 song double CD. A frothy mix of lo-fi folk, hi five punk rock, bristling synth pop and deep grooves.

Numerous compilations:
-Billboard Magazine Sampler
-Rock the Vote benefit CD
-OUTLOUD! a compilation CD benefiting The Human Rights Campaign Fund

numerous dance remixes, independant film and network television soundtracks.

"Don We Now Our Gay Apparel" 2004... A collection of original and traditional holiday songs

"Slumbering Children" see it on Launch.com
"Reviving" see it on LOGO and MTVOverdrive
"Beautiful" see it on Rock America,Logo and MTVoverdrive


Feeling a bit camera shy


"EXCELLENT! Daniel Cartier smoulders with all the sanctified soulfullness of Rev Al Greene himself!"

"Behold! Here's reason for applause!"

"A breakthrough! Buy this album!"
College Music Journal

“Why do I keep doing music? Because I can’t picture life without it...”
Daniel Cartier 2005

Daniel Cartier is a true music industry survivor; a prolific songwriter who continues to add to his extensive body of work in spite of a turbulent past. In fact it's his past, filled with drug and alcohol abuse, nervous breakdowns, abusive lovers and a violent gay bashing that fuels his songwriting, and ultimately leaves the listener with a sense of hope and redemption.

Arriving in New York City at the age of 21, Daniel immediately began honing his performing skills on subway platforms. He liked the subway systems acoustics so much in fact, that his first CD was recorded live, right on a subway platform. The resulting disc, “Live From New York-The Subway Session” became a cult favorite, and Cartier found himself touring the country promoting it to enthusiastic crowds.

Back in New York, he took his act above ground and was sharing bills with the likes of Ani Defranco, Lisa Loeb, X, Jill Sobule, The Indigo Girls, The October Project, Debbie Harry, and Jeff Buckley.

Soon major labels took notice. In the resulting bidding war Daniel caught the eye of one of his childhood heroes, Sir Elton John. He was signed to Elton’s newly re-launched Rocket Records, which was part of PolyGram. The resulting disc “Avenue A” produced by Cartier and Fred Maher (10,000 Maniacs, Matthew Sweet, Lou Reed) was a critical smash, receiving 5 star reviews in various publications and landing on many “best of” lists at the years end.

Sadly, the party was cut short when a huge corporate takeover of PolyGram put countless artists, including Cartier, out of a deal.

Not one to be discouraged, Daniel forged ahead, recording two CDs on his own and building his own recording studio. He educated himself on the art of sound engineering, programming and sampling. His more recent recordings combine electronic elements with his earthy organic approach to songwriting.

In November 2006 Daniel released "You and Me Are We"...11 songs which document his former drug addiction, his eventual stay in a psychiatric ward and drug rehab and his gradual re-emergance into a happy state of mental health. He is also planning a world record attempt for early 2007, playing the longest concert in the history of the world. He plans to be up on stage for 3 consecutive days.

When he's not doing music or art, Daniel uses his boundless energy to raise thousands of dollars for New York animal shelters, AIDS research, and drug awareness.