Paul Federici still has the doctor’s note explaining why he stepped down from his position as manager of a mental health crisis team in Mississauga – it reads: “acute psychiatric difficulty.” “I actually keep in framed in my office,” says Federici, “it’s not something I want to forget, and it also helps me realize how much my life has changed since then.”
It was 3 years ago this past August that Paul Federici, a Master’s level social worker, was fighting a silent battle. He found himself burnt out and in the grips of a crushing depression – fixated on suicide, things seemed bleak for the 35-year-old Grimsby resident. “At one point I remember going to work one day, then driving to CAMH’s (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) Emergency room that evening unsure if I’d need to be admitted,” he said. Despite having the greatest opportunity of his young career, Federici had never been unhappier. To try and cope, Federici turned to his long dormant acoustic guitar, writing songs that helped him make sense of the chaos in his mind.
Federici had quietly been writing songs for years, but an anxiety disorder combined with tremendous self-doubt prevented him from playing his songs for others, saying “I just didn’t think I was good enough, or that anyone would want to hear them.” But it was during his darkest days that Federici ironically found hope “When you find yourself in that kind of situation, it forces you to take stock of your life in way I never had before, and for me it kept coming back to music.” Deciding to refocus his life and follow his heart, Federici stepped down from his full time job to pursue music and hasn’t looked back since.
In January 2012 Federici released his debut album Relative Importance and, contrary to his fears of no one wanting to listen, the record instead climbed to #1 on CFBU 103.7FM Brock University Radio’s charts, and that summer Federici took home a Niagara Music Award for Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year. More recently Federici released his sophomore record Now and Then in June 2013 which, for the second year in a row, took home the award for Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year at the Niagara Music Awards while also earning a nomination in the same category at the 2013 Hamilton Music Awards. His single Strange Disease landed him a spot as a Top 10 Regional Finalist in CBC’s 2014 Searchlight Competition, while the music video for the song (that features Federici walking around downtown Toronto in a hospital gown) has garnered attention for its depiction of the social isolation and loneliness that often accompanies mental health struggles.
Three years into his life as full time musician, Federici recently completed his most extensive tour to date: a self-organized tour of Western Canada where he spent 28 days driving over 10,000km alone across the country and back playing shows with other independent artists in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
What others are saying about Paul Federici:
“The dulcet-toned singer-songwriter’s debut is a strikingly honest effort; all emotive vocals, melancholic pianos, haunting strings and alt-folk acoustic guitar. Comparisons to Dallas Green are inevitable, given the similarity of their vocal range, but Federici’s work deserves to be judged on its own merits — and rightly so, as it’s remarkably good.”
“His silky-smooth voice is something lacking in numerous artists today…and Paul hits home with his music and lyrics; singing from experience and the heart, his music is relatable and real.” (Brock University Press)
“If he keeps releasing music this good, the future looks bright indeed.” (Hamilton Magazine)
“Relative Importance is too good to miss.” (Greater Hamilton Musician)
“I’m not sure if he’s quit his day job, but considering the honest quality of his music chances are he will have that option soon.” (Exclaim Magazine)
“Paul Federici’s first release, has all of the highlights we might expect from a City and Colour record—a blend of emotive lyrics, vivid harmonies, authentic instrumentation—but Federici’s voice is an instrument of it’s own power. His singing possesses an ability to be soft-spoken and gripping at the same time. It’s, dare I say, beautiful.” (Sounds that Matter)