Kandle first appeared on the Montreal music scene a few years ago with an EP that made her one of the revelations of 2011. It was like a blond angel had descended from the sky to enchant humans with original compositions built on folk and blues, giving rise to rocking guitar riffs. This tantalizing musical appetizer was followed in March 2014 with In Flames, Kandle’s first full-length album.
Reminiscent of Marissa Nadler, Lykke Li or Nick Cave’s dark romanticism, the solid voice, direct style and musical sensibility displaced on that album are a far cry from the admittedly limited performing gifts Kandle possessed in earlier days:
“When I started out,” the 23-year-old musician recalls, “I couldn’t sing a single note! I was able to create a song, complete with words and music, in 10 minutes flat, but performing it was another matter. I was singing out of tune, and that made me so miserable! And I come from a musical family… My sister, my cousin, my dad, everybody sings!
“When I started out, I couldn’t sing a single note!.. I was singing out of tune, and that made me so miserable!”
“So I started recording myself. I would play a song back, identify what was wrong, and record it again. My goal was at least to stop singing out of tune, and that finally happened. Then I started developing my technical skills – broadening my voice range, controlling my vibrato, hitting more notes. And also defining my own personal style. I had no musical training, so it was trial and error, a self-teaching thing.”
Montreal is what Kandle calls her lucky town. She settled there three years ago after completing her début EP. Her musical partner Sam Goldberg, who produced her new album and is a member of Broken Social Scene, believed in her. “He told me if I came to Montreal, he could help me get a band together, and we could start performing live,” says Kandle. “Back in Victoria, I was still ‘Neil Osborne’s daughter’ [her father being a member of 54.40], so I wasn’t taken really seriously as a musician… But I’m hungry for that kind of life, I’m looking forward to touring and playing live shows. I’m raring to go! Montreal was my ticket for a new beginning. I dove into the void hoping for the best.” And, as it happened, she hit the ground running.
One thing that certainly helped is that Montrealers are musically curious and great emerging music fans. “It’s such an inspiring and exciting city! Here, people support local artists, they give us a chance,” says Kandle. “People come to hear what we have to offer, our songs are being played on radio. This is so important when you’re just starting out. I found the same openness in France when I was there a few months ago. There too, people go out to discover new music, whether they know the artists or not, and if they like your band, they’ll buy the album. Playing for this type of audience is a blessing.”
How can such a luminous and sparkling artist with a smiling voice create songs that – without being the least bit musically heavy – connote such darkness? “For me, this is part of a therapeutic process,” says Kandle. “Since I don’t like harbouring dark thoughts and sadness, I let them out into my songs… I get inspired by the people around me. And not just boys and love stories either! I sing about the way things affect me. I revisit these feelings onstage.”
Could there ever be too many female role models in the music industry? “There are so few women anyway! In this business, being a woman is both an advantage and a disadvantage,” says Kandle. “One the one hand, it’s harder for us to be taken seriously as musicians, but, on the other hand, when the time comes to publicize my music, I’m being offered full spreads in fashion magazines, and this is where some readers first hear about me… So there is eventually a kind of balance, I guess.”
For Kandle Osborne, finding her own voice was a priority, but she also needed to be able to have her say on the creative side of her recording, something that her father, as co-producer, helped her with immeasurably. “This industry is dominated by men, and they don’t mind telling you exactly what you need to do,” she says. “My father was with me in the studio during the recording sessions, and he kept telling them, ‘Look here, this is Kandle’s album. Let her make her own choices!’ Whenever I ask him what he thinks about something, he turns the table and asks me, ‘What do you think about this and that?’ He’s proud of his daughter, he enjoys watching me grow… although he’ll be the first one to tell you that I certainly did not choose the easiest path.”