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Ladies of Pop: Caitlin Grieve (Cai.ro)

 - Ladies of Pop: Caitlin Grieve (Cai.ro)
Cai.ro took the Canadian music scene by storm with the release of their first EP, Young Love, in 2011. Nate Daniels (vocals/guitar), Matt Sullivan (drums/percussion), Caitlin Grieve (strings/vocals), Dante Berardi Jr (guitar/vocals) and Wooyoung Kim (bass) are masters of the slow orchestral buildup. Their dark and haunting melodies have been described as “the love child of Gotye and Arcade Fire” by XM Radio’s Discover Music Canada.

Caitlin Grieves is the only female member of the band. We sat down with her in the Pop Montreal lounge as she described the difficulties of choosing the right band name, the Montreal music scene, and Nate’s addiction to sugar. 

So first things first, how did you get involved with Cai.ro?

I was sort of forced to start music. I was four and my mom forced me to play the violin so all my training was basically classical growing up until grade eight. [In] grade nine I had the choice to continue or quit and I decided to continue, so it was all classical. Later on, I think when I was in third year of university, we actually all met on Craigslist. I was scanning the “Musicians Wanted” section and they had posted “Seeking strings.” He [Nate] mentioned his influences were like Radiohead, who are my favorite band. So sketchily enough, I went over to his apartment in this sketchy Toronto area, thankfully everything worked out. We just played together and that was about four years ago now. Since then, you know, we live together. We’re just a little family now and it’s been so natural.

It’s an interesting name. How did you come up with it?

We used to be called the Nate Daniels Band, but over the years our formation of players kind of changed and Nate decided he wanted to be more reflective of all of us because the way that we write songs now is very much organic. With six people in the band, it’s really hard to choose a name without fighting so we just sat down one afternoon with a bunch of dictionaries, and our drummer picked up a travel dictionary and he was skimming through and was like “Oh! Cairo!” and for some reason it just resonated with us, for different reasons. It was the first one we sort of all agreed on. Also sort of serendipitously, Nate had this word of the month, which was “to conquer,” and Cairo actually means “to conquer.”

You’ve played Montreal once before. Do you have a favorite spot in the city?

Tam tams is fun! Just wandering around the city. It’s actually quite small, you can walk everywhere. Just wandering down Saint-Denis, patio-hopping, sitting in a park. It has such a special culture that not a lot of other places in Canada have.

Do you think the audiences respond differently here?

Yes, totally! There’s just something about Toronto, where everyone is just so judgy. I love Toronto, I’ve lived there for five years, but in terms of music, there seems to be a greater appreciation for music here. The vibe we were getting from the audience was really responsive. Everyone was there to have a good time and appreciate music. It’s such a small community here that it’s really easy to become integrated and infused within it.

Do you have any themes that you or the band kind of go back to?

There are two themes--one we’re trying to get away from, reverb. We do so much reverb on our songs it’s kind of overkill but in terms of the actual structure, a lot of our songs build from the beginning; they start out slower, sort of orchestral and melodic, and then they’ll build and the song really starts. That sort of has been a recurring theme, but we’re trying to spice things up and now limit ourselves.

[The lyics] are very open to interpretation. Sometimes when our friends or people listen to us, what they think the song means is not what it means at all. So for example in our song, “Addict,” it sounds like Nate is singing about a woman: she’s dressed in white, walking down an aisle, but in fact it’s actually a song about his addiction to sugar. So the lyrics are not what you would expect.

If you could work with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Can I give a ridiculous answer and an actual answer? I was going to say Katy Perry, because I have a massive crush on Katy Perry... I don’t know why, the first person that came into my mind would be Tchaikovsky. He’s one of my favorite classical composers and I think that if Cai.ro met Tchaikovsky, it would be really cool.

Growing up, my favorite pieces to play were always his violin concertos. They just grab your heart. I don’t know if it’s because of the progression or it’s just in terms of the structure of the melody. As a violinist with Cai.ro, I definitely want to see it take a little more of a classical infusion kind of twist.  I think that would take us in a different direction.


Oh, is this the ridiculous question?

Yes, time for some silliness. Any favorite Disney songs?

Oh my gosh...The first thing that popped into my head was The Little Mermaid. “Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat...” But I don’t think it’s as deep as other Disney songs...Hmm...Beauty and the Beast... Lion King?

No, I’m gonna stick with my gut feeling and go with the Little Mermaid.


Anne Cohen
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