Likened to soulful legends like Amy Winehouse, Montréal-born Charlotte Cardin is an up-and-coming artist to get on your radar right now. The 22-year-old Jane Birkin doppelgänger is playing WayHome Music Festival with her all-dude band on July 29—her first time playing a festival outside of her hometown—and she couldn’t be more excited.
The singer-songwriter got her start on TVA’s singing competition La Voix, the Québécois version of the popular reality TV singing competition The Voice, where she became a top four finalist. Cardin auditioned for the show with Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good,” nailing every note like the late British powerhouse herself.
Cardin presents a dreamy mixture of pop, electronic and jazz to create something beautifully original with mature messages of love, loss and heartbreak on virtually every track of her debut EP, Big Boy. FLARE spoke with the artist about her obsession with Radiohead, her fave places to go in Montréal and childhood memories of learning how to sing.
You’re playing at WayHome this year! Who are you most excited to see perform?
I’m super excited to see Frank Ocean. He is definitely in my top five most influential artists. I love his music, the way he produces, the way he writes songs. I’ve listened to his albums so many times. His whole universe is extremely unique and I’m really excited to see him perform live because I never have.
You started off as a model, then moved to music. Why did you decide to switch professions?
Modelling was never a passion. It was a hobby I did to make a few extra dollars to be able to focus on music in the first place. It taught me a lot and helped me become more comfortable in front of the camera and in interviews, but my main passion has always been music. When I thought music was taking up more and more time, it was obvious for me to put modelling aside. It didn’t sadden me at all; it was [what] I had to do to focus on my path.
Where does your passion for music come from?
I took singing lessons for 10 years. My mom is a very musical person. She taught my sister and I how to do harmonies and we would sing in the kitchen. Those moments—when I was a kid and my mom would teach us how to sing choir songs and I learned how to focus on my own melody—helped me realize my passion.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I write the set list with the band. We go through the set together and have a moment where we visualize the show a little bit, too. I do a lot of visualization on my own. I like just sitting down, closing my eyes and focusing on what could happen and how I want the show to go. Other than that, I do a few vocal exercises.
I’ve heard you’re a huge fan of Radiohead. What about them draws you in?
It’s how unique their musical universe is. Their songwriting is also impeccable and I love bands that stand out because they do something totally different, but create music that’s not annoying to listen to. Some people go all the way for something different but it doesn’t sound that good. Radiohead has such a good balance between total originality and still pleasing the listener.
How would you describe your everyday style?
It’s very simple. I dress the same way in real life [as I do] on stage or anywhere else—maybe not at a wedding (laughs), but for normal occasions. I like good quality things but not anything over the top or too glamorous. My ideal outfit is black jeans, a white t-shirt and either sneakers or a cute pair of boots.
What are some of your favourite things to do when you’re home in Montréal?
I love going to a cafe called Olimpico. They have a nice terrace outside and [it’s in] a super fun neighbourhood (Mile End). I usually take a long walk to get my coffee. It’s a nice ritual that I have. In the summer, I love going to Mount Royal, the little mountain we have in the city. It’s nice to have a picnic and walk around. I like having a drink at Buvette chez Simone, a really fun place that also has a terrace and good vibes.
Many people get their deepest thinking done in the shower. Where do you do your best thinking?
Sometimes when I’m in the car, either when I’m driving or being driven. Also when I see someone perform, and I’m in the audience, it gives me so many ideas.
A lot of your songs are about love, but what’s your favourite love song?
I love the song “La Boheme” by Charles Aznavour. It’s so beautiful. It talks about young love. It’s a song [of memories] about the lover that he had when he was a young painter. I also love “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak [editor’s note: Cardin also did an amazing cover of this song]. I love love songs.