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Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult: ‘Even if you shut down the world outside, you’re still there’

Cloud Cult at First Avenue in 2010. (Erik Hess, courtesy Cloud Cult)
Cloud Cult at First Avenue in 2010. (Erik Hess, courtesy Cloud Cult)

by Caleb Brennan

April 09, 2020

Jill Riley continues to check-in with musicians on The Current's Morning Show. She recently caught up with Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult to talk about his use of Patreon to keep the band afloat, living in the moment, and homeschooling your kids.

How's Cloud Cult? How are things going for you guys right now?

Well, we're faring pretty well. So the shutdown happened right before we were supposed to have a couple of sold-out Orchestra Hall shows, and we've been working on that for over a year. So we have plans for releasing an album. Like so many other artists we just kind of put the brakes on and we’re not sure when we're going to be able to start booking again. Our booking agents have been laid off and you know, everything is just kind of indefinite out there.

But we were kind of fortunate because about a year ago, we started something on Patreon where we started offering our supporters extra things like behind-the-scenes and live concerts and in-studio stuff. So we built this framework and worked out the logistics for that. And now we've been able to really lean heavily on that over the past few weeks.

What are some special things that you've been doing for fans via that Cloud Cult Patreon?

We've been trying to be really creative with it. A lot of the band members have kids. For Connie, my wife and myself. We have three young kids. So to manage that homeschooling element, we kind of realize that there's a fair number of our supporters that have their kids at home too and are familiar with us, so, we are doing kind of the usual fare where you have like a web concert or, you know, a song of the day that you're playing in the morning.

But for us also, Connie has been doing some homeschooling classes, streaming notes online. So like this week, she'll be doing a sewing class where she's teaching the people that tune in how to sow their own pandemic masks. And, yes, Sarah, our keyboardist did a group online piano lesson this weekend, which went really, really well. And I think some of the other band members are going to jump in on that too. Daniel, our cellist, this morning is offering half an hour of stress relief music, where it's improv that he puts together and just kind of winds down a few notches but we're just trying to be creative and create a consistent flow. So people that are trapped at home, you know, can tune in and have some live, daily kind of little snack for the spirit.

So Craig, what are some of the ways that you have been kind of coping with everything going on in the uncertainty, kind of the state of the world right now? I mean, other things that you can offer for The Current audience, maybe some suggestions about how you kind of keep grounded during a time like this.

That's a good question. I am very surprised, myself. I think a lot of people think that if things shut down and you have this extended stay at home, that either there'll be the next creative explosion or that there can be a lot of enjoyable things that come out of it. And for sure, there has been a lot of art. But at the same time, you're kind of faced with yourself and you realize that even if you shut down the world outside, you're still there. And so I see it as an opportunity to try and face some of the things in myself that maybe in the “normal world” it's easier to distract from and drive away from and be on tour and run away from.

But right now, it's me and my family and shadows of my past. So I'm trying to allow myself to experience the ups and downs and not get too distracted by the news cycle and to really try and slow down to the pace of our two-year-old. You know, for anybody that's got really young kids out there, you’re usually in a fast-paced lifestyle. “Oh, we gotta get here and get there.”

You know, with the two-year-old you're like: “Oh, come on, come on, come on,” and you're picking them up and you're rushing along. And it's a really interesting experience to just give my child space and time to go that speed. So we'll go for a walk outside and you know, maybe make it a block and back, but it'll take an hour and a half. Every single tiny rock and every leaf is a jewel and something joyful and in that child's eyes, and it's an opportunity to slow down and let all of those moments catch up to us.

I'm so glad that you pointed out. I have a four-year-old, Craig, and I think I got caught up in that cycle to have like: “Hurry up, we gotta get out the door, hurry up! We have to do this!” And I found that I'm learning so many lessons just from my son about how to be present and that's something that I think we lose a lot in the everyday routine. I have found that if I'm just patient, we'll eventually get there. Two-year-olds become four-year-olds become 16-year-olds, become 30-year-olds, you know, it just flies right by.

Yeah, I think the fact that as a globe, we're all going through this at the same time together, gives us an opportunity to maybe potentially have a silver lining of when we ultimately do come out the other side of this, maybe we're all changed a little bit. You know, for those of us that have kids that are pulled out of school and are homeschooled, if it stretches out for a while there might be a lot of families out there that say, you know, hey, I really enjoyed being around my kids this much. And maybe I'm gonna try cutting back at work and keep this homeschooling thing going. You know, different habits and things that you picked up during this shutdown that you realize you want to keep in your life.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.