Ian William Craig is an ambient/experimental singer and visual artist from Vancouver. The 35-year old was born in Edmonton and is a classically trained opera singer. He’s not making opera records though. He makes stuff that’s in the same vein as Julianna Barwick. Lots of vocal tracks piled on top of each other and looped and manipulated. There’s some guitar, and some other custom-built instruments, but it’s mostly vocal loops. In the end, there’s a surreal soundscape that mimics a state of semi-consciousness. Confusion. Placidity. Am I in a dream?
Last year, Mr. Craig released an album called A Turn of Breath via Recital. A lot of people are mistakenly referring to A Turn of Breath as Craig’s first album. In fact, he’s self-released four other albums, and one release which could only fairly be called an EP. Two of those albums — Heretic Surface and Cloudmarks— are considered to be “sister albums”. They were recorded during the same sessions and were both released on the same September day in 2012. Special custom instruments were built and manipulated expressly for those albums, and this is how he describes the process:
The finished pieces were constructed out of improvised recordings using these instruments and layered live deteriorations of the resulting sessions over great stretches of gloam and blown-out headphones. During this process they were put down to quarter-inch tape on top of themselves a few too many times and came spiralling out…
I had never heard of this guy until the 2015 Hopscotch Music Festival lineup was announced back in the spring. When I started my festival homework, I quickly got captivated by the couple of dizzying songs that I heard. He’s playing on Saturday night, the last night of the festival. His 10:00 pm set is in the Fletcher Opera Theater, sandwiched in-between a set by Prurient and a set by Elisa Ambrogio.
Craig had some visa issues, and had to cancel a gig in Los Angeles back in August and another show in Seattle last Saturday. There was some talk that he might have to cancel his Hopscotch appearance too, but apparently those visa issues have been sorted, and Hopscotch will mark Craig’s US debut.
Here’s a song that I hope I get to hear:
“Either Or” by Ian William Craig
Sitting through that set in Fletcher, which is often kept a little too cool for my liking, I’ll most certainly be in a very relaxed state. I’ll stay put for the Elisa Ambrogio set, then head a couple of blocks down to Lincoln for the Chelsea Wolfe set. Then I’ll most likely end the festival at Neptune’s for the Flock of Dimes set.
The weather forecast has changed from “80% chance of rain” and “Thunderstorms” to “20% chance of rain” and “partly cloudy”. Although most of the Hopscotch stuff is indoors, there’s a lot of walking around from venue to venue, and rain makes that no fun.
You can see all of the ticketing options here. Remember, the day party stuff is free, and some of the same bands from the main festival will play smaller shows during those parties. See the day party lineup, which is totally subject to change here. I’ll be roaming around all day and all night all weekend. Find me somewhere, and make me buy you a beer.