I interviewed Kandle Osborne the day before her show in Montreal on October 16th, 2014. As she spoke to me over the phone she lay relaxed on her apartment floor after a big day of preparing for the show. Being back on tour had given her a "big shock back to reality" after the calm long weekend. She had just had her 24th birthday and spent the thanksgiving holiday at her boyfriend's place in Toronto.
I heard you were thinking of adding either "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" or "Girl You'll be a Woman Soon" to your show on Thursday. Did your birthday influence this decision?
Oh yeah definitely. I'm in a spot where I'm not quite a woman, but I can't technically be a girl, so I thought that was funny. I think we're going to go with "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon," which obviously fits us way better. Britney Spears was just kind of a joke, but still.
And now that you've had a birthday are you now officially a grown up or are you not quite there yet?
Oh I'm so not there. Will it ever happen? I don't know.
MUSIC AND BACKGROUND IN GENERAL:
When and how did music become your passion?
It happened kind of by accident. I started playing music in my late teens. Around 16 I started picking up a guitar and I kind of had an instant knack for song writing. I started writing songs, but I really couldn't sing. I had a really weak shaky voice. But I loved playing music so much that I got my sister to sing and we started a band with our friend Louis Burns, an incredible musician. So I stood in the shadows there, and fell in love with playing music and writing music. Being the front woman of a band seemed like it was never a reality. But things just kept changing and it was nice because I guess talent just took over.
Do you think you have evolved since the release of your EP?
Oh god yes. I was a scared baby in diapers then. I was terrified to sing. Before the EP came out I had never even sung at a show before. It was all very new and terrifying, but I had the support of Montreal and the great musicians here. So I just started getting confidant, figuring out my style, and growing as an artist. I've come so far, I can't believe that little child had become me.
You're originally from BC, but you moved to Montreal, what prompted the move?
I found myself in a really weird place around 19 where I moved from Victoria to Vancouver to play in a few bands, but it wasn't really panning out. So, I followed my sister who moved to Toronto and was working at a record label there. We had our little band together and I just wanted to make music work for me. But in Toronto she didn't really have time for me. I ended up not doing much and found myself feeling very alone and realised I didn't have anything going on. So I moved back with my parents all depressed, trying to figure out what to do and I started working on my EP. I managed to get Sam Goldberg to come play guitar for the songs because he was recording in my dad's studio. He mentioned to me that if I was ever in Montreal we could totally play at a show or band together sometime because he liked the EP we just made. That was enough for me to get on a plane to Montreal.
GEOGRAPHY AND MUSIC:
How does Montreal attract young artists like yourself?
Another big one for me was mostly people. One of my friends, she's an incredible photographer and one of my best friends from high school, moved to Montreal right after graduation. She would call me all the time and ask me what I'm doing and I'd just say "oh just sitting in my room watching the rain what about you?" And she was always like "oh I'm at an art show, or a concert, or an event with a mimosa." She was like "come to Montreal Kandle it's all art and fun." And she would tell me that every day until I eventually caved and said "wow what a really magical place I should probably follow her."
Now that you're travelling and touring do you still call Montreal home?
Yeah I still feel totally spread out, but it's definitely still home. I'm part of a community, part of a scene, and even though I'm rarely home when I am it's nice.
Do you enjoy being on tour? (and what do you like or dislike of it?)
I really like it. I love getting to play for new people and venues. And your band becomes your family and things get hilarious real fast.
At our level, for dislikes, we are still struggling and new and everything is a little difficult all the time. There is never a guarantee that people will come to your show. There's never anything set in stone that things are going to be okay. And money is tight and non-existent and those are definitely major stresses while you're on the road trying to make something and wondering hey how am I going to pay my rent?
Are you excited to be playing in Montreal?
I am! I'm really excited, it's the first show in Montreal since we released the record. And I'm excited to play a show back home where we are most supported and also more calm. I was so nervous about the record launch. I remember vomiting and shaking before we played last time because we were under so much pressure and it had been so long since we played while we were preparing to release. But since then we had played a ton of shows. We've had so much fun and the band is feeling great and is looking forward to having some fun this time and not being such a spaz.
Do you usually get nervous performing for a crowd? Does it make a difference that you will be playing in front of a Montreal audience?
Yeah I definitely get nervous before playing for crowds. But sometimes it's almost easier in a place where people don't know you because you know that there are no expectations, then you're the pleasant surprise of the evening. But here we're actually on the radio and have real fans so I feel a bit of pressure and nerves, but I really always do.
Do you have any favorite memories playing in Montreal?
I think probably both times at Osheaga. They were the best days of my life. It is one of my favorite festivals by far. Just being able to be a part of it in your own city when you know so many people there. There are so many bands there and getting to actually get a spot is an amazing feeling. "Like, hey I'm playing today with Nick Cave, what are you doing?"
You travel back and forth across Canada, does have an effect on your music?
I don't think it has that much of an effect on my music I mean definitely it's the life style I have, where I'm back and forth and travelling all the time. It makes me somewhat of lonely person which would definitely add to my music. I don't really have much of a social life so I definitely get very lonely and sad, so that would probably have the biggest effect on the music.
Does being a Canadian musician restrict you in any way?
Oh god yes. It's the hardest thing ever. We are the last country to get taken seriously by the United States and all through Europe. We have to fight to get heard. People struggle to give Canadians a chance, I find. And in our own country it's hard because it's so big and spread out. So touring costs are through the roof. Even when we got out to BC for the first time it took us years to be able to afford it even though it was in the home town where I'm from. It just wasn't even a possibility. So there are many struggles with being a Canadian musician.
LYRICS AND SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
Your lyrics seem to come from an old soul, what inspires this wisdom?
It's nothing I really try to go for, that I'm conscious of. Writing is very therapeutic for me. A lot of people think that I am going to be this dark gloomy person because of my music but for me that is just one side of me one bit of my energy that I get out through music. So I usually write when something is effecting me. Whether it is someone I'm worried about or something going on in my life that is keeping me up at night, which is when I start writing. And I just usually write a song all at once, music, lyrics, everything, and it just pours out in an hour and I send it to Sam and ask "is this good?"
In "It's Not Up to Me", the end of the music video addresses women with self-image problems, does this come from any personal experience?
Yeah, that's one of the most personal ones that I have ever written. It is about someone who was very close to me who went through a very dark time, and it went to a point where we thought we were going to lose her that she wasn't going to last. So I wrote that for her because nothing else was working and she wasn't listening to anybody and wasn't taking any advice. She closed herself off to the world. I wasn't planning on recording that song, but shortly after, she started improving and help did work and she pushed me to put the song on the record. We ended up making the music video as like a true story of what happened. Then we sat with the Canadian Women's foundation to try to send the message to young girls that every girl is beautiful and that you're never alone. It's a great foundation, it was something really great to do. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to cry when I play it
Is there a song from your own music that you feel like you have a particular connection to? Is there one that you dislike?
Not really, but there are certain songs I don't like playing live. Because it's funny, when I record and write I like to do certain things, like vocal things, that sound really great on record, such as singing low, I like singing really low. But when you're on the live stage with a band of five people who are really loud and noisy, you can't hear anything! So I end up raising the key for when we play live because I can't hear anything. For songs like "Give Me A Pill," that has dirty, loud guitars and a really low vocal, I find it so frustrating. The boys fight me on it all the time because they always want to play it.
Different people have any different interpretations of what your music sounds like; rock, blues, folk, indie, and what genre it is? How would you yourself describe your music?
Nobody seems to want to make up their mind. But for me I really have no idea, I struggle, and I get peoples references, like "you sound like a bit of this and this and this," and I'm like okay. I really don't know. I guess I'm in the wide general genre of rock and I guess you can narrow it down to bits of indie and folk and alternative, but I don't know I'm just writing you can call it what you want.
Are there any people or bands or specific sounds that have inspired your own sound?
Oh yeah for sure. I'm always getting inspired by Tarentino movies so that's a big one for me, and artists like Nick Cave and Tom White and PJ Harvey. They always seem to have that extra bit of cool and creativity that definitely gets my wheels turning.
Did you have an old-west image in your head when you wrote "Demon?" Where did this type of style come from?
I actually wrote most of that after I watched Django. I just imagined digging those graves like "ooohh ooooh," just singing those sad deep sounds. And the sounds of the whips and chains and things like that. I really got into it. I wrote that song and then brought it to Sam to hear what he had to add to it. The drummer we used on the record was the same guy who we used on the EP who's this amazing Native guy. He actually used a sacred beat that he had to get permission from the elders from his tribe to use. It's in the solo, it's the sound of a limping animal or a heartbeat. So he had to bring the lyrics to his tribe and get permission, I was so nervous. So there are a lot of cool ideas coming into one song which is what I think makes it have that sound.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
I've been writing lots as always I really have no idea what the timeframe is for making the next record. I'm still really hoping that we'll get this one out somehow in the US and hopefully in Europe. And be able to keep riding off of this record for a while because we worked so hard on it! I never know, I'm just flowing with it.
THE ARTIST, HERSELF:
Have you ever experienced any sort of writers block? If so, how were you able to get out of it?
Sometimes, it's funny because I write so much and am constantly writing and having ideas and scribbling things down. So a writer's block for me is never more than two weeks. But sometimes I get a panic, like, I don't know what my sound is anymore and what my vibe is. But I think that usually coincides to me not liking the music on my iPod. Like, I over listened to everything I like so I'm not feeling musical, I'm not getting excited by anything. I usually find the best time to write, whether it is like a movie or an album, but something that makes you really excited about it and makes you want to create something really great too. So I just kind of have to go out and discover something. Or it just happens when I'm just really pissed off which seems to happen a lot.
After you graduated from high-school you studied photography, did your photography skills come before music, or did they both evolve simultaneously? Why did you chose to pursue one but not the other?
I started around the same time. I definitely took photography more seriously. I was working as a photographer at a school. I was shooting bands, portraiture, and weddings. I actually thought I was going to make a career out of it. But, I was always in to doing both, music just seemed less realistic to me. It wasn't until I moved to Montreal that I realised how competitive it is here for photography, everybody is a photographer here in Montreal. I couldn't get any work and I wrote a lot of people and I tried to put myself out there and I didn't find one job. But I started getting a lot of attention for music and got shows booked, and it just worked, so I guess that was a sign.
Kandle, an emerging Canadian artist struggles to get her music out into the world, but she has the talent and the positive mindset that an artist needs to succeed. I wished Kandle good luck on her show and tour; hoping that this star will keep on blazing.
(Photo credit: Olivia Robinson)