Today, I have a special guest. This interview is out of the ordinary for me, but I hope to have more like it. I’m excited to share my interview with Cardiff Gerhardt with you. He’s an up and coming actor and musician from Salt Lake City, Utah. If you’ve seen the movie MistleTones over the holidays, you may know him as Ludacris Kringle who takes the stage during a competition scene and raps ‘Away in the Manger.’
C: My pleasure!
So, I read your IMDb biography and saw that MistleTones was your first acting job. However, you weren’t really acting, you were rapping! You did a rendition of Away In A Manger that I absolutely fell in love with. I tried to find the song to purchase and when I couldn’t, found you instead. Was that an original composition of yours?
C: When I auditioned for The Mistle-Tones, I had to rap Mary Had A Little Lamb. When I got the callback, it was that same song. I didn’t know that I had to rap Away In A Manger until 9:00 PM the night before my shoot day at the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s not even my voice! I just had to memorize the lyrics for lip syncing purposes. In fact, the vocals were originally of African American accent but later changed to mesh better with my features. Therefore, the song is owned by ABC Family.
Interesting! I’m a big fan of Jesus Rap so I enjoyed it immensely. Too bad they didn’t just have you do it all, I know you’re a rapper as well. When did your interest in music begin?
C: I got a car when I was fifteen and was driving on my 16th birthday. I listened to the radio every day, everywhere I went. After hearing the same songs on the radio, I told myself that I could do the same. So I started writing through high school and into college. After my first year at Westminster College, I decided to go to a recording studio for the first time to turn these lyrics into songs. It’s been a long road since, but that’s how it started. Now I have my first single on Spotify and iTunes. Coincidentally, I’m a rapper (though no jingles… yet) similar to Macklemore, Mac Miller, Eminem and 21 Pilots.
Are you strictly a songwriter or do you also compose?
C: I’m the songwriter, vocalist, performer and CEO among many things. Composing is one thing I didn’t enjoy as much. I have worked with many different producers around the world (Spain, Italy, USA) via the internet. The composer I choose depends on the song.
Are you putting yourself out there in hopes of getting picked up by a label or are you going Indie?
C: I’m currently filing my articles of incorporation to be an S-Corp in Utah. In September, I filed for NonProfit status in New York and was held up at the 501 (c)3 paperwork. I went to a class for help, which cost $150, and was told that it would be way too complicated to what I wanted as an NGO. The plan is to change the world and alleviate monetary dependency by creative infrastructure that lowers the world’s monthly bills (food, rent, utilities, transportation), and do it all through the messages and money earned through music. Apparently no one had ever tried that in the NonProfit sector… So an S-Corp was the next option. Now the question is, do I file to be a Public Benefit Corporation… That’s the end goal, alas the team is four people and we don’t have the resources to get bogged down in this long complicated legal work (why does it have to be so tedious and complicated?). So we’ll save that for another day.
Your idea for a nonprofit sounds wonderful. I believe it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen.
C: I agree. Once I can afford the $100/hr+ lawyers to file all the paperwork for me, lol! I’ve realized that independence is not that same as doing it on your own. I do a few things very well, and I would rather utilize my resources to work with a team whose strengths counter my weaknesses, so the overall team goes farther than the individuals. I’m nothing without at team.
I can second that thought wholeheartedly! Tell me about your songwriting process. Do you plan time to work on it or do you do it when you’re feeling inspired?
C: I never plan time. Back in the day, I would spend my nights all alone in my room. I would go through beats that producers would market online and find the ones that hit emotional chords with me. I saved and built a catalog up. I would sporadically write to each one. Once I found a theme that fit well with the beat, I would spend hours trying to tell a story and fitting the tempo of my lyrics into a nice flow.
I think I know the answer… but if you had to pick music or acting, which would it be?
C: I can’t! I gave up on music to move to New York and pursue acting. I gave up on acting to move back to Utah to pursue music. My TOP 3 life aspirations are to succeed in acting, business and music. Acting and Music are my yin and yang. They’re polar opposites in so many ways, but only combined do they make me whole.
I live with a composer, so I can relate to the passion you have for your work. Music runs through his veins.
On another note, some of the topics I tackle in my book and in blogs are homelessness, self-harm, and PTSD. Have you had any experiences with any of these issues directly or indirectly?
C: I’ve slept out in the streets of New York for a night. Concrete’s a tough pad to sleep on, and I have enormous sympathy for the homeless who live there. I also spent two weeks in the woods while preparing for We All Fall Down. I drove to and from set every day from a tent in the canyon. I’m also a method actor and have gone through some extremes self-inflictions to portray certain characters. We All Fall Down got me to bleed, burn and cry.
Yikes, I’ve heard of actors going through extremes for movie preparation before. I’m not sure I’d have the same level of dedication that you possess. I want to finish up with a couple of random questions. Is that okay?
Do you play video games?
C: I spent three summers playing video games growing up. My dad made sure that my brother and I had the best childhood he could provide. We grew up on N64, Xbox, PlayStation, GameCube and computer games.
That makes me feel a little old. I had an atari when I was nine and then later we had a Nintendo, lol. Just the Nintendo. You know… huge cartridges. You could often fix them by smacking the unit.
Tell me something most people don’t know and won’t read about anywhere else.
C: I have scars on my chest after going on Accutane in college. It was the second time I had gone on it, after seeing success in high school with my face. However, I had a reaction where the tissue inflamed on my chest and formed thick scabs on my chest. As it turns out, the skin wasn’t able to heal because the tissue was so inflamed that it raised above the skin line. They eventually injected me to numb the pain, though, it didn’t work out well, and took paper clip remover type chompers that chopped off the inflamed tissue. It’s become pretty unnoticeable now because my chest hair has grown in. I shave my chest every winter to grow it in thicker.
Oh, man! Acne is so difficult to deal with on a normal basis, I know you were probably extra concerned since you were seeking work as an actor.
How about your favorite hobby?
C: I got really into Marco Polo on Netflix and created a pseudo account on Twitter as ‘The Khan.’ Fans of the show love it.
C: I love ‘Meet the Robinsons’ because, though I’m not an orphan, I have so many ideas and I’m piecing together my family of friends as I grow up. I love the mind of that child and can identify with the movie tremendously. Keep moving forward.
Is there a way for people to contact you?
C: Yes, just go to my website!
And that is a great way to end the interview. Thanks for your time, Cardiff. I hope you have an amazing year this year.
C: I appreciate that. You do the same!
Photos of Cardiff Gerhardt go to Jackie Alvidrez Photography~