This whole thing started at M for Montreal.
I can not tell you how often I was approached with this crucial question: ‘’Hey, are you Kandle?’’ No. No I most definitely am not. Unfortunately *tear rolling down my cheek*.
Discussing this with her at the No Name bar, apparently SHE doesn’t even look like herself: ‘’People come up to me and say: ‘Oh my God! I’m such a fan’, and I get really excited to meet someone that’s a fan of my stuff, but then they go on saying: ‘I love Shake it off’’.
Yes. Apparently I look like Kandle, and Kandle looks like Taylor Swift.
As one of the organizers of L’Estival, a festival created by NIGHTLIFE.CA where Kandle was one of the featured performers, it was a seemingly shy, almost uncomfortable girl that I met back in May. But with the stellar performance she gave that night, she was exactly where she was supposed to be. Eight months later, it’s a whole different ballgame: today’s Kandle was incredibly at ease (given I’m not very intimidating), taking the liberty of unzipping her skirt to maximize comfort and inviting me to do the same in the process (not in a weird way). This is the type of fun, easy girl I was dealing with and after 5 minutes, this is what we looked like:
Originally from Victoria, and daughter of Neil Osborne (54-40), the music life was obviously in her genes. But why choose Montreal instead of the benefit of her father’s shadow you ask? ‘’I tried living off my father’s contacts; I made this EP and thought hey, I’m super connected in this industry, this should be easy. So I sent it out to everyone I knew, agents and labels, and no one gave a crap. It was pretty much them saying ‘Good for you honey, you’re so sweet.’ I mean, my birth was announced on Much Music; they didn’t take me seriously.’’
The move to our lovely city wasn’t so simple nonetheless. I asked Kandle the hows and whys, and quickly realized I was gonna get my money’s worth for that question. In a lot more than a nutshell (sorry, but you should listen to the recording of this interview; we were all over the place!):
- Back when she was 16, Kandle was one of the members of Blue Violets along with older sister Coral, and friend Louise Burns.
- Eventually, Coral was offered a job in Toronto to work with Broken Social Scene. In an attempt to save the band, Kandle followed her big sis and lead singer while Louise stayed behind: ‘’But, Coral was really busy and I realized then that music was my priority and not hers. I found myself in a bit of a pickle and that’s when I met Sam’’
- Sam Goldberg (Broken Social Scene) that is, band mate and co-producer, big part of Kandle’s AH-AH moment.
- Before it was smooth sailing, it got real shitty for the musician. She quickly found herself without a band, a boyfriend or any money before returning home, defeated and mad at life: ‘’I moved back in with my parents and I started living in my pijamas.” (…Not THAT bad when you think of it.)
- Eventually, she was bound to make a move: ‘‘I said screw this, I’m just gonna do my own thing and write my own songs.’’
- It’s when Goldberg went to Victoria to record with Osborne, the father, that everything finally fell into place. In exchange for Kandle taking pictures of Sam’s band, he would play guitar on her record. BAM! ‘’He even said: oh I actually like your stuff, and I was like: don’t act so surprised.’’
- After recording the EP, Kandle finally joined Sam in Montreal: ’’He knew people and I had nothing going on back home really, living with my parents and crying all the time, so I decided to move and try at it somewhere else, on my own.’’
Then came the launch of the EP, and get this: the musician had never performed the songs in public before that very moment: ‘’ I was TERRIFIED. And when I started, I was a terrible singer. It was not natural, not even close.’’ Apparently, and this is SO HARD to believe, but she says she was so awful that: ‘’in my old band, The Kandle Solo Project was an inside joke. But I just wanted it so bad! I picked a few of my favorite songs and played them, recorded them, listened to them and fixed what was off. I did this over and over again’’
She maintains that you can hear a major difference in the quality of her voice even between the EP and the full record which was also, by the way, co-produced by her famous dad: ‘’He’s so chill, he’s like Yoda. It’s really hard to feel secure about every decision you make when you’re a young artist starting in this industry. I’m there with five guys, double my age and double my credibility, telling me how it should be. When I’m with my dad, it’s really the opposite. He keeps telling me to focus on what my gut tells me, and he’s there to back me up. But if something sucks, he’ll go: No. Bad idea. Try something else.’’
Her album, “In Flames”, launched earlier this year, but already Kandle has all the writing done for the second one, and even hoping for a collaboration with Taylor Kirk (Timber Timber) but the financial reality sets in: ‘’You know what sucks? I could be in a studio in a couple of weeks recording my next album, but I’m so in debt from the first one that I can barely survive. In other words, making another record right now means dying!’’
Another tough reality? Quebec is sort of a bubble for musicians. Without the proper (expensive) help, it’s difficult to gain success in other markets: ‘’The reason we do so well in Montreal is pretty much single handedly because of CHOM playing us all the time on the radio. We don’t have that in the rest of the country right now.’’ The rest of the country, mind you, also includes her hometown.
And the challenges don’t even stop there; Nominated at the GAMIQ awards that took place in November, she is not the least bit surprised that she didn’t win: ‘’There’s no way we can win; we’re an English band, and we’re not Arcade Fire. I do feel a bit stuck sometimes because on the one hand, the Montreal and Quebec support is so awesome and we owe this place so much, but on the other hand I feel like I can’t go much further as an English performer. Even when I was on the cover of Voir, it was a big deal because I was one of the first, if the not the first, English speaking person to be featured on the cover. What am I to say? Sorry?’’
But there’s also a lot of good. Playing at Osheaga last August was most probably one of the highlights of the year for the singer, even if she was called in to perform that same morning to fill a spot left vacant by Ingrid Michaelson: ‘’I’m always ready but the question is: is everybody else ready? I had gone out the night before so I was kind of hungover. I was lying in bed and I looked at my phone. There was an email about playing Osheaga that afternoon. I answered the email quickly but then the panic sunk in that I had to find all the guys. I didn’t know if they were even in town! I had to call Tim’s (Fletcher, The Stills, Beat cops) roommate to wake him up cause he sleeps in so late. But we loved playing Osheaga, it’s so fun.’’
I like this girl; she’s no bullshit but still manages to be ridiculously adorable. We bonded over how much we’d tap Thom Yorke regardless of how unattractive he really is. And I swear we talked about The Walking Dead for 30 minutes, just after discussing morbid crimes in Canadian history. She even admitted that she would love to play Christina’s Genie in a Bottle.
She said that, I fucking swear: ‘’It’s a pretty song and it would be funny’’, she says.
If you want to catch this blond around town, be sure to check out Bethlehem XXX, her absolute favorite spot in Montreal. Otherwise, DO check her out in concert; she’s the shit.
A HUGE thanks to The Emerald (also informally known as the No Name Bar) for giving us the perfect setting for the interview.