Canadian singer-producer Charlotte Day Wilson’s classy style is evident on her self-produced indie EPs, 2016’s “CDW” and the new “Stone Woman,” both filled with lugubrious keyboards and rich, layered R&B vocals.
But before she broke through with “Work,” a tune that became a soundtrack for the 2017 Women’s March, she had no clue how to get her songs heard. She decided to learn the Toronto music business ropes from the ground up, by volunteering as an intern for Arts & Crafts, the posh label that’s home to Feist.
Wilson, who appears at the Independent next week, laughs about the risky career move now, wondering whether unpaid internships are even a viable thing these days.
For a year, she tried college in Halifax, where she majored in women’s studies and moonlighted as a musician, but dropped out to move back in with her family.
“At which point my mom said to me, ‘You know, you really don’t seem happy. You should just pursue music, full time,’” she says. “And her giving me the OK to do that was the catalyst for me finally taking music seriously. It was like a fairy tale, mixed with a lot of drive and unabashed ambition.”
As if by fate, the day after Wilson, who’s in her 20s, applied at Arts & Crafts, she bumped into its human resources director at a club she was playing, who remembered her resume and invited her in to interview the next day.
“It was the perfect storm of events,” she says. “So I came in, met the then-CEO Jeffrey Remedios, started interning there, worked there for eight months, and that’s where I met my manager, who started helping me out.”
A grant she received from the government allowed her to make ends meet, she adds: “Canada’s grant system is so amazing.”
At first she did grunt and gofer work at Arts & Crafts. She spent four months scanning and digitizing pre-2010 artist sales reports, and filling online orders from record stores around the world.
Then she started assisting in routing and budgeting tours and booking hotels for the label’s musicians.
“I learned the back end of how things work, and got a new appreciation for what goes into creating a career for an artist,” she says.
After a few months, she was put on the official payroll.
She thinks they kept her around because the staff enjoyed the songs she was home-recording on the side.
Gradually, she was introduced to the illustrious performers, like Broken Social Scene and even the reclusive Feist: “I met her at Jeffrey Remedios’ wedding, where I sang,” she says. “And now I’ve actually become friends with her.”
IF YOU GO
Charlotte Day Wilson
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. March 21
Contact: (415) 777-1421, www.ticketfly.com