Ian William Craig’s work involves pushing vintage reel-to-reel tape decks to their physical limits, often through modification or manipulation. The tape that runs through them is oversaturated with sound to create unpredictable – yet beautiful – distortion and noise. The element of chaos produced by the manipulated machines is contrasted with meticulously-crafted keyboards and intricately-harmonized vocals. Over the course of his residency at Western Front, Craig will explore the AC bias of his tape machines. In sending a blasting sine wave in the inaudible range of human hearing through the machine at 40,000-150,000 Hz (the keys on a piano, for comparison, range from 27.5 Hz to 4,186 Hz), the AC bias forces newly-recorded sounds onto the magnetic tape, rendering them audible. Typically, artists prefer recordings to be as noise-free and distortion-free as possible, but by electronically manipulating the bias so that it runs below 40,000 Hz, Craig turns this desire on its head, and new sounds are created.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1980, Ian William Craig grew up performing in a jazz choir and in rock bands in high school, followed by an immersion in musical theatre and the choral tradition while studying printmaking at the University of Alberta. After being exposed to drone-based music, he began exploring his own path as a vocalist and sound artist.
After moving to Vancouver, Craig began to create albums, self-releasing his first recordings via Bandcamp between 2011 and 2013. Upon signing to FatCat’s post-classical imprint, 130701, Ian’s debut album for the label, Centres, was released in July 2016 to widespread critical acclaim, and was followed by his debut UK/European tour. The album made numerous end-of-year lists, including Rolling Stone and The New York Times. Ian’s most recent album, Red Sun Through Smoke, was recorded in the midst of forest fires in Kelowna in August of 2018, while his grandfather, whose lungs were affected by the smoke, was moved into palliative care. Red Sun Through Smoke was released in March 2020, at the beginning of the world-wide pandemic.
Western Front acknowledges the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Government of Canada, British Columbia Arts Council, Province of British Columbia, City of Vancouver and SOCAN Foundation.