Daniel J. Cartier
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Daniel J. Cartier

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




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

PARKER POSEY-So, Daniel. You’re a gay singer/songwriter. How does that feel? Great?

DANIEL 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.

PARKER-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?

DANIEL-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 dal with Hollywood, where everyone has a script in one hand and a soy decaf latte in the other. New York is just more real.

PARKER--What have you learned from being away from this great city?

DANIEL-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.

PARKER-Were you influenced by the garage type studio mentality-computers and people making their own music at home?

DANIEL-Most definitely. That’s really the only thing I’m interested in now. Rocket Records spent enough on my last album, Avenue A, to fee a small country for two years and sold about two copies of it. The great thing about technology is that musician can do it themselves for so much less, plus it’s just more spontaneous.

PARKER-How much space do you need to make music?

DANIEL-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.

PARKER-Have you ever thoughT of carrying around a recording device to hum into so you don’t forget song ideas?

DANIEL-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.

PARKER-I’ve got my foot on a pedal right now snappin’ photos of myself.

DANIEL-That reminds me of when you used to carry that digital camcorder around and you said you felt like a spy.

PARKER-Yes. That’s right, I did. And do you know why?

DANIEL-In case anyone tried to sue you?

PARKER-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.

DANIEL-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.

PARKER-I love that too.

DANIEL-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 Banjo had explosive diarrhea and it ended.

PARKER-Oh my God! What are you feeding her? Is she on a diet?

DANIEL-I think she probably drank water at the dog run and got a parasite. She’s on Wellness Formula. Jane [Adams from the film "Happiness"] told me to put her on it. That’s what her dog’s on.

PARKER-Now why did you name your dog Banjo?

DANIEL-Good question! Awww! Because Craig gave me these slippers that looked like dogs that I named Banjo an dWildfire a nd I always though Banjo would be a cute name for a dog because I always picture dogs on a arm with haystacks and little kerchiefs on. And it’s musical.

PARKER-Speaking of musical, what are your favorite songs? What’s the common theme?

DANIEL-Oh my God, that’s such a great question. I love Patti Smith!

PARKER-So do I, she’s very deep. She’s a rock star saint.

DANIEL-She’s the one person I met that I literally couldn’t talk TO...I was so star struck. I love the band Air. There are songs people write that I don’t even think about, then when I hear them I go “I wish I wrote that.” My problem is that I like too much. I just heard “When Doves Cry” on the radio in a cab and was blown away. You’re really into singer/songwriters, aren’t you, Parker?

PARKER-Oh, yes. My favorite is Bob Dylan.

DANIEL-Dylan’s so cool. He was so funny on the Oscars, performing on a big jumbo-tron. I’m so glad he won.

PARKER-I’m sure he didn’t care.

DANIEL-He acted like the whole thing was ridiculous.

PARKER-Dylan’s a poet, as well as Patti Smith.

DANIEL-I love his whole history-how his fans got so outraged when he changed his sound.

PARKER-I love his Jesus phase, personally.

DANIEL-Have you read Wool Gathering by Patti?

PARKER-She’s an enchantress. Have you ever seen her live?

DANIEL-I’ve only seen Patti live on video. A friend of mine did go to see her play with Bob Dylan in Philly and she went to the pay phone and called me and hel the phone up to the stage. She said that every pay phone there had someone holding the phone up the stage. That to me is so beautiful!

PARKER-Wow. What do you think of music today?

DANIEL-It’s so corporate and pre-programmed. It’s like they just pun ch some buttons and a computer spits out a hit song.

PARKER-I agree.

DANIEL-But there are some artists I really respect out thre – I love Jill Scott, David Grey I think a lot of the coolest songwriting is happening with underground bands and electronic musicians. One of the guys from Yo Lo Tango has this new band where he does a cover of “Pop Life” by Prince that is so gorgeous-can you tell I’m a big Prince fan?

PARKER-There’s something about you that’s very Prince…

DANIEL-Oh my goodness, thanks! I hope I’m not as self-conscious as he is though. I won’t be changing my name to a symbol.

PARKER-Change it to a sound: a cough.

DANIEL-[Laughs] You have such a good delivery of one-liners.

PARKER-I’d like to do bad stand-up with bad jokes that only I laugh at. The sound of your voice, I don’t know where you got it. It sounds like a instrument almost-any vocal DNA running around the Cartier’s?

DANIEL-My dad and my sister both sing. They sing country though! And then I have a sister out in LA that does performance art. She gives herself orgasms on stage. Then cuts up fruit and gives pieces of it to the audience. What do you think that means?

PARKER-She wants attention . What’s your favorite song you’ve written?

DANIEL-Whatever song I’m working on right now is usually my favorite song. I’ve written 600 songs at this point and so hard because they all mean something me, even the bad, stupid, sophomoric ones. I wrote a song when I was 12 called “Me and My Ferrari.” The first real song I ever finished and my sister’s band performed it at a college. I was 12-years-hearing a rock band perform my song. It’s one of my happiest memories.

PARKER-That’s so nice. Do you like writing songs or performing them or both? What’s your favorite?

DANIEL-I think performing is great because it’s the one part of what I do where I really feel the connection with other people. I can’t fee that when I’m alone in my room recording. That connection-it must be like when you do theater versus movies.


DANIEL-When I was performing in the subway, I had a woman miss her train three times just to hear me play. Whe was my favorite audience ever.

PARKER-What a romantic New York memory.

DANIELThat why I’m excited about Fez. I’ve been plying there on an d off for the past eight years-it’s such a magical room.

PARKER-Yes, it is. I saw Hedwig there and Kiki and Herb I don’t know of many places that have the downstairs smoky feeling that Fez does.

DANIEL-This show will actually be following Kiki and Herb. They play at 8 and I play at 10:30 Sundays.

PARKER-I’m looking forward to it! And I’m sure a lotta people are, you have a really nice following here.

DANIEL-Awww-well, the feelings mutual, I totally love New Yorkers


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

By James Gavin
Photo 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 Splash and the Cock 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’ve just gotta keep plugging away and have faith that it might actually work—even if only to the point where I can make back the money I spend on music, and maybe a little extra so I can eat and keep my bank account. That would be fun.”

You and Me Are We is out this week on Cartier’s Endurance Music (danielcartier.com). He plays Joe’s Pub November 18 and 24. - TIME OUT NEW YORK



Here’s proof that post-grunge rock 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-inflected intensity that eludes many of his peers. And he smolders on “Stumbling Home:” with all the sanctified soulfulness of Rev. Al Green himself.... Jeremy Helligar - ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY




DANIEL CARTIER posseses all the ingredients that could add up to showbiz legend. - PAPER MAGAZINE


...Folksinger Daniel Cartier took the East Village by storm with his cool, soulful voice with which he renders his songs unforgettable. The tattoo on his shaved pate is fairly memorable too. In just a few short months of club performing, this dreamy singer has reached a level of dexterity that usually takes years – and the fans to go with it.

Just back from a whirlwind tour of Europe, Cartier is presenting “Nights of Hope” at LaMama, a regular series of shows spotlighting the cream of the crop of the downtown scene’s talented performers. All proceeds benefit God’s Love We Deliver which provides services for homebound people with AIDS Cartier’s song, “Playgrounds On Fire” appears on the soundtrack of the documentary MARCH ON WASHINGTON! Marching for Freedom. As one of the most mercurtial and imaginative performers to emerge this year, his star is sure to grow ever more radiant.


'THE BEST OF MISTER DAILY SONG'/ 2011/ Rugged Diamond
'REDEMPTION'/ 2010/ Rugged Diamond Records
'THIS CHRISTMAS'/ 2009/ Rugged Diamond Records
'YOU AND ME ARE WE' /2006/ Endurance Music
'REVIVAL'/ 2004/ The Orchard
'WIDE OUTSIDE'/ 2002/ Jindo Records
'GLORIFIED DEMOS'/ 2000/ Jindo Records
ROCK THE VOTE compilation
OUTLOUD - Compilation benefitting GAY RIGHTS



After 10 years of self-imposed isolation, singer songwriter Daniel Cartier re-emerges triumphantly in 2011 with two new albums and a second season of his popular web series "MISTER DAILY SONG" http:www.misterdailysong.com

Daniel’s new album, Redemption, showcases the powerhouse vocals which “wrenched from a wounded place, set him on a par with Annie Lennox. Beneath the tough-guy swagger he’s a broken bird pleading for love.” (Time Out New York)

Redemption, produced by TONY® AWARD winning producer Joe McGinnis (Spring Awakening, Best Musical 2007) and Cartier, along with Nashville sound engineer Derek Garten (Pico vs. Island Trees, Parachute Musical, Jewel, Band Of Horses) brings Daniel’s voice front and center. Symphonic elements — strings, horns, and woodwinds — weave through a landscape of thundering guitars, drums and electronic machinery. It’s classic vintage rock (Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues) meets Radiohead with a dash of Rufus Wainright drama and Smashing Pumpkins angst. It’s all these things to a point… but beyond that it’s uniquely Daniel Cartier.

The road to Redemption has not been smooth. It’s littered with record deals gone sour, a nervous breakdown, alcoholism, drug addiction, heartache, psych wards, and rehab. It’s a story heard before, one that kills dreams and ends lives… yet in true survivor fashion Daniel has come full circle and is once again standing at a microphone singing. Some things are just meant to be. Redemption tells the tale.

Discovered by Elton John and signed to Elton’s label Rocket Records in the late 1990s, Daniel was paired with legendary producer Fred Maher (10,000 Maniacs, Matthew Sweet, Lou Reed). The resulting disc, Avenue A, was a critical smash, receiving 5-star reviews in various publications and landing on many “best of” lists at the year’s end. Sadly, the party was cut short when a corporate takeover of PolyGram put countless artists, including Cartier, out of a deal.

Defying all odds and despite personal turmoil, Daniel forged ahead. Piecing together a small recording setup, he educated himself on the art of sound engineering and recorded four CD’s on his own. His organic approach to songwriting and prolific ability has resulted in a catalog of 600 songs spanning many different musical styles. Daniel is also currently working on a Christmas album and a CD of cover songs. When not recording or performing Daniel spends his time creating gigantic works of art which have been shown in galleries around America. He also began his acting career with a bang, landing roles in films, and is working on a book about happiness; a subject he is learning more about with each passing day.

Daniel’s fascinating experience has included many thrills. The Subway CD recorded live in the tunnels beneath NYC raised thousands of dollars to benefit the homeless. Daniel has hosted countless fundraisers for animal shelters and donates his time and talent to both human- and animal-related charities. He’s been privileged to work with and learn from many accomplished people, among them Daryl Hall and Sir Elton himself. This résumé combined with innate talent makes Daniel’s music inspiring and unique.

Redemption features brilliant work by some of Nashville’s best players along with stunning performances by members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, P-funk All Stars, The Wallflowers and more. From soaring cathedral sounds to down-and-dirty grit, Redemption provides a musical journey that speaks to the soul of every human trying to stay calm in a sometimes-crazy world.