Let’s face it: Wayhome can be an overwhelming experience. With an onslaught of new artists being featured each year, it’s often hard to know which set to choose and you can easily get lost in the chaos. Once in awhile, if you take a break from the Bacardi tent and head over to one of the three stages, you can experience something magical.
This is what I noticed when I, along with our editor-in-chief, Drew Brown, skipped a round and went over to check out Charlotte Cardin’s set. I’ve been a fan of Charlotte’s for the past year, after hearing her debut EP, Big Boy. I quickly became a fan of her soul-enriching voice, and lyrical genius. I felt I related to a lot of her music — her stories of heartbreak and love lost, and wanted to meet the genius behind the music.
We were lucky enough and had the opportunity to sit down with Charlotte for a few minutes after her Wayhome set, and learned a bit more about her process and what is next to come.
Kimberley Drapack: How is your Wayhome experience treating you so far?
Charlotte Cardin: I love it. We got here at 11. I haven’t seen anything yet, but we were the first show. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more acts. Solange, for sure.
We had a show yesterday in Quebec, and it was a two hour drive from our house, so we got home at like 2 AM and woke up at 4 AM to catch the flight, so we had no sleep.
K: You expend a lot of energy on stage. Your show is really live and fun to watch, you must be really tired afterwards.
CC: There’s a bit of a crash, but we’re going to eat and then take a nap.
K: Is this your first music festival?
CC: No, we played a few. This year we played Bonnaroo, the Montreal Jazz Fest. We also played one in Quebec, and last year we played Osheaga, and the Winnipeg fest this year.
K: Do you have any special prep you need to do before a festival performance vs. a show at home?
CC: Not really. I see both performances the same way. The only preparation I do is I go through the setlist with the band and if we have questions, we bring it up. That takes like seven seconds.
K: By now you must know your set so well.
CC: We played it a lot, so definitely. Sometimes I sort of visualize when I’m more nervous. There’s no crazy preparation.
K: I always wondered how you remembered your setlist so well, because the transitions in between songs are so seamless.
CC: Sometimes you’ll just skip one, and think, “Oh, I forgot to play that one.” The first year and a half, we always had a written setlist, but now we just know.
K: When did you first learn that you loved music and started to write your own?
CC: I started singing when I was very young. I started singing lessons at eight but I had already been singing with my mom and my sisters for fun. I started writing when I was sixteen or seventeen. I had written a few songs before that, but just to try something new. I’m twenty-two now.
K: You’ve done so much already.
CC: Yeah, it’s been really great. I’ve been working hard and a lot of really cool opportunities have presented themselves.
K: Who are some of your musical influences?
CC: I love Radiohead, very much, although we have very different genres, I just love the atmosphere they create. I love old jazz. Nina Simone, Etta James… I listen to a bunch of different stuff… Celine Dion. Those are my main influences.
K: Your EP, Big Boy, was released in 2016. Can you tell us about the prep behind it and your writing process for it?
CC: I wrote the songs over three years. It was my whole life’s work. It was six songs, but I threw a bunch away in the process.
I took the songs that I liked the most and put them on an EP and it’s sort of this story linking the songs together. I don’t always write from personal experiences. I put myself into a certain zone and sometimes it’s even a certain character that writes.
It’s not always me talking in my songs, sometimes it’s someone else. I sometimes pretend I’m a boy writing myself into a bunch of different characters, and it’s a really fun exercise to do. People always ask, “have you been heartbroken a hundred times or are you a super dirty person?” I’m a normal person, I just like putting myself into character to write songs.
K: People often assume that there is one really bad breakup in your life and that each song is about that one person.
CC: Yeah, like Adele’s ex-boyfriend. People always ask me about that. I’ve had experiences, but I don’t feel like it’s important to talk about them. I say a lot in my songs but what’s true and what’s not true is up to people to take what they want.
K: At the 2017 SOCAN Songwriting Awards, you were a nominee in the English category for “Big Boy” and in the French category for “Faufile”, becoming the first artist in the history of the award to be nominated in both categories in the same year. What was this experience like?
CC: It was really nice. I was nominated in the French category last year. It’s nice to see that people recognize what you do and it’s not the same board judging the English part of the contest and the French part, so it’s pretty cool to see that it just sort of happened, they didn’t necessarily talk to one another. I’m not sure of that information is correct but it’s really flattering.
K: Do you have a different process when you’re writing a song in English or in French?
CC: Not really, it comes out. I don’t overthink it. I just start playing and whatever comes out is French or English. I try not to limit myself and I don’t want to censor anything. I’m not able to write on command and to write all the time, so whenever something comes out I just let it.
K: Do you ever have late nights where an idea pops into your head and you write it into a journal beside your bed?
CC: In my phone, usually. That’s way less romantic. Sometimes I’ll be on the bus and write a sentence or some words that inspires me.
K: What’s coming up for you? Do you have any new music coming out?
CC: Yes, new music really soon. We have a new single coming out called Main Girl. I don’t know when it’s going to come out but we are going to release it soon.
We’re touring with Nick Murphy, for two months, leaving in September and October so it’s going to be fun.
K: You’re a great duo because your voices really compliment each other. Do you think you’d maybe get a song out of that collab?
CC: That would be really cool. I’m not thinking about that, but I’m super grateful to be on that tour.