Charlotte Cardin is on track to having her biggest year yet. The electro jazz-pop singer has been nominated for Songwriter of the Year and Breakthrough Artist of the Year at next month’s Juno Awards. Along the way, she has performed at Osheaga—an experience she calls “surreal”, having attended for years growing up in Montréal—and Festival d’été de Québec where she opened for Sting and Peter Gabriel. More recently, she has been touring behind her EPs Big Boy (Cult Nation Records, 2016) and Main Girl (Sony Music, 2017). Through this past September and October, she supported Nick Murphy (formerly Chet Faker), and she’s been on tour with BØRNS since January. This spring, Cardin will headline her own dates.
Prior to her full-time career in music, Cardin modelled in fashion which afforded her pocket money and freedom to work on her art. She also competed on the first season of La Voix, a francophone Canadian version of The Voice. But being on television, like modelling, was never her passion. “I never really felt that much pressure when I was on TV. For me, there’s something a lot more real about what I’m doing right now.” She feels more pressure performing her own music, something she’s invested in, something much more personal and honest. “It feels much more like I’m showing a real part of myself rather than just singing in front of a lot of people.” Cardin emphasises, though: “I don’t pressure myself that much, and I love what I’m doing, and I enjoy it so much that I don’t really feel a lot of stress.”
Modelling came with another perk: the opportunity to travel. Although Cardin travels more often as a musician, modelling frequently took her to one of her favourite places. “Paris is my favourite city after Montréal. When I was modelling—and with music—I got to go to Paris a lot. And so I think Paris is the most inspiring place. For me, at least.”
Fiction plays an integral part in Cardin’s music. As much as she enjoys romanticizing biographical details or at least narrative details she can relate to, she also enjoys making listeners wonder about the truth. “I think there’s always something real and something that’s very close to me in whatever I write. There’s always a part of truth in the lyrics even if it’s not necessarily a story about me.” But she takes greater inspiration from the quiet moments of life than from specific works of art. “I’ll get inspired by someone sitting alone on a bench in a park eating a sandwich, and I’ll invent a life for this person.”
Cardin has become known for her music videos—for the stories they tell and for their exquisite cinematography. For “Main Girl”, she and her film team travelled to Iceland where they shot every day for six to seven days. “We saw the most breathtaking landscapes I had ever seen.” The YouTube credits for “The Kids” show just how much human power was involved. Director Kristof Brandl envisioned something of a short film. “He really wanted it to be a full story with different periods in this kid’s life. It’s the whole process of [the kid] growing up in a super poisonous environment,” Cardin explains. The result is the most extensively produced video in her catalogue. “We’re so happy with how it turned out, and we’ve gotten really nice feedback about it.”
Despite the complementary titles, Big Boy and Main Girl were written during different stages in her life. Yet upon Big Boy’s release, she had already recorded a few songs for Main Girl. “They sort of follow the same themes, and they have the same kind of vibes, so in that regard, they’re for sure maybe siblings.” Think of them as varying perspectives.
An air of coolness pervades Charlotte Cardin’s music and videos, whether they’re shot in chilly Iceland or depict her and her friends hanging out in Montréal’s hip, creative Mile End neighbourhood. How well she can keep her cool if she wins at the Junos remains to be seen, but now that she’s doing what’s true to her, she’s more ready than ever to take on the pressure.
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while
What do you get when you combine the start of a worldwide tour and the release of a highly-anticipated album on the same day? Ask Lord Huron’s founder and frontman, Ben Schneider, and he’ll say a pretty damn exciting journey ahead. The band’s third album, Vide Noir, released April 20, is already receiving accolades for its raw, lyrical storytelling from songs like “Wait by the River” and “When the Night is Over”. To engage fans at a deeper level, the band plans on creating immersive experiences that elevate the album’s narratives. Lord Huron’s tour includes a stop at Toronto’s Sony Centre on July 25, and at Osheaga in Montreal on August 4. Schneider spoke to us about his love of storytelling, Raymond Chandler influences, and what it was like working with Flaming Lips’ producer David Fridmann. G—You grew up in Michigan. Is that where your interest in music began? BS—There was always music on at our house, and I remember imagining the people the songs were about. The storytelling of songs is what’s always captured me most. As time went on, I was able to convince my parents to let me play bass in the orchestra, which led to me
Morgan Saint was born into a creative life. Upon growing up in Mattituck, NY with a family of musicians on her mother’s side and parents who worked in interior design, Saint graduated from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she has lived for the past six years. With a major in illustration and a focus on photography and graphic design, Saint has executed a clear vision of her musical artistry. In 2017, at the age of 23, Saint released her debut EP, 17 Hero, on Epic Records. She is a storyteller at heart, combining all of her talents to reveal her narrative as truthfully as possible, one vignette at a time, as seen in all three of the EP’s videos, “Glass House”, “You”, and “Just Friends”. She co-produced each glossy, beautifully choreographed, and high-definition clip with Nathan Crooker, but the lyrics are all hers. They come from personal places yet are vague enough to be relatable. Her electronic pop is lo-fi, but you’ll most likely find yourself snapping your fingers to it. As Saint prepared for a sold-out show supporting Missio in Austin, Texas, Georgie connected with her to discuss coming into her own as a songwriter and