Halifax musician releases first album as a new dad

Folk-rock singer/songwriter Callum Gaudet juggles music career, fatherhood

5 min read
A performer plays guitar and sings into a microphone outdoors.
caption Callum Gaudet performs songs from his new album at the Blueberry Jam music festival in Mabou in August 2023.

While preparing to record his debut album, Callum Gaudet was eagerly awaiting the arrival of his firstborn child.

At the age of 30, Gaudet is learning how to be a recording musician and a father at the same time.

His first album Ghosts was released Friday, but it has been in the works for over a decade. Its second single Winnebago Lovers was written in 2013. Over the next 10 years, Gaudet would write and perform the songs, many of which were written in his hometown of Antigonish. During this time, he carefully crafted his signature style – folky singer/songwriter instrumentation, bluesy guitars, and gently distorted vocals covered with layers of tape echo.

In April 2023 he finished recording the album. Listeners got their first taste of the record in the same month with its first single – the title track Ghosts. The song received airplay on CBC stations across Canada and its music video has over 2,000 views on YouTube.

The decade leading to this album was not wasted. During this time, Gaudet strapped a backpack to his shoulders and travelled across Asia, Eastern Europe, and New Zealand. In 2022 and 2023, he performed at Blueberry Jam – one of Nova Scotia’s hottest new music festivals. He also performed at the Floatchella festival, Bearly’s House of Blues, Gus’ Pub, and Ramblers in Halifax.

Gaudet was nominated, but didn’t win, for Best New Artist in online publication The Coast’s Best of Halifax in 2023.

A musician performs on stage with a backing band.
caption At Blueberry Jam, Gaudet was joined by the backing band The Broken Reeds to perform three of his original songs.
Landon Morris

When Gaudet found out his partner Sophie was pregnant, he decided it was time to start the album process. The recordings were done in Callum’s home studio and Fang Recording Studio in Dartmouth with engineers Thomas Stajcer and Alex Burris.

“That was kind of a fire under my ass, so to speak. To be like, ‘Okay, let’s book some dates.’ Thomas the engineer has a kid and he was like, ‘A little word to the wise: finish before the kid is born.’ ”

While his full-length debut album was in the development stages, Gaudet used YouTube to share some of his songs with his audience. He and his backing band The Calamazoo Crew recorded several live sessions and posted them online. One of these sessions was titled Songs for Sophie, which saw Gaudet and company performing to his pregnant partner.

Now that fatherhood is his top priority, Callum recognizes that the promotional cycle of his album will differ from the norm.

“I can be a father. I can be a musician. But I can’t be a father who’s a musician who’s recording, promoting an album and touring all the same time,” says Gaudet. “I can only focus on one thing at a time, so the planning stages that are coming up will be kind of different.”

While fatherhood as a musician can be challenging, Callum also appreciates its benefits. His son was born last spring and is already interested in what his dad’s doing.

“Whenever I’m playing guitar, he wants to come play the guitar too and that’s really exciting,” says Gaudet. “I hope that he keeps having an interest in music and that maybe I could even get him into some of that fundamental stuff like playing piano or violin … and maybe I can learn some of those things with him.”

Early in his music career, Gaudet met local musician Willie Stratton at The Company House, a now-closed bar in Halifax. The pair worked to find unique recording techniques while collaborating on Stratton’s 2014 album Deserter.

“Just two kids experimenting, basically, which is a lot of fun. At the time, we [were] just discovering a lot of techniques and stuff and it’s a very experimental kind of record,” says Stratton.

Gaudet’s taste for experimentation persisted over the next decade. Many of the tracks on Ghosts sound like they were recorded on top of the smoke-saturated carpets of a 1950s recording studio. The recordings’ warm sound is reminiscent of the rounded audio quality produced by vintage tape machines. At times, acoustic guitar tracks will gently distort like they’re plugged into an old recording console. The echoing and grimy vocals are reminiscent of a wartime radio broadcaster who is a little too close to his microphone.

On Ghosts, these vintage esthetics are mixed with modern technologies. The low-quality (lo-fi) effects can be applied to high-quality (hi-fi) recordings to get a similar sound without the problems of messy and unclear tracks. 

The song Brawl Blues details a muddy scrap between the singer and another man who stole his girlfriend. The low and high-quality sounds collide with each other after the first verse.

“I love watching people hear how it starts because I told Thomas I wanted to sound like the 1930s recording – and then it slams in hi-fi.” says Gaudet.

While no album release concerts have been announced, Gaudet says he plans to still perform the new songs with his live band.

Ghosts is now available on all streaming services.

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About the author

Landon Morris

Landon Morris is a journalist from Cape Breton. He specializes in arts and entertainment with a focus on music journalism.

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