Canada has given us many wonderful things over the years: Ryan Gosling (we could probably stop there), Artizia (our go-to retailer for quality, elevated essentials), poutine (a guilty pleasure too good to pass up), and, of course, a slew of amazing musicians, like singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin. The Montreal native is making a name for herself in the U.S. thanks to her electro-pop musings and a covetable opening gig on the Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker Missing Link tour. Within 30 seconds of listening to “Main Girl,” a single off her new EP of the same name, we were hooked—as in, on repeat all day, every day kind of hooked. And while she’s still a relative newcomer to the scene, it’s only a matter of time before this stylish songstress strikes it big.
The cherry on top of Cardin’s soulful sound is her effortless style, an endlessly chic uniform of black and white, amplified with statement footwear. So we caught up with the singer at The Shrine in Los Angeles—one of her last stops on the tour—to chat music, fashion, and what’s next. Keep reading for our exclusive interview with Cardin.
WHO WHAT WEAR: Describe your music in three words.
CHARLOTTE CARDIN: I think it’s pop, jazz, and electro.
WWW: Which musicians, past or present, inspire your work?
CC: A lot! Snoop Dogg, Etta James, Radiohead, and Celine Dion.
WWW: Do you have a playlist you listen to that gets you pumped up for a show?
CC: I don’t usually listen to music right before a show. There is always a lot of noise at the venue. But when I get ready for other stuff, like to go the studio or just to hang out with my friends, I do listen to a bunch of different things. I’ve been into listening to full records for a while. It’s just such a cool experience to listen to an album from A to Z; I feel like we don’t do that anymore. When it’s on the turntable, you don’t really have the choice but to do that, and it’s been so great. I’ve been buying a bunch of records, but not just old stuff, like I got Justin Timberlake and a bunch of cooler newer stuff too.
WWW: You launched your EP Main Girl last month—congratulations! What is the story you are telling with these three tracks?
CC: They talk about relationships and are basically about letting go of something or someone that is just not healthy in your life. I don’t only write about personal experience—I’ll get inspired by a bunch of different things, like my friends will tell me stories or I’ll see something or hear someone talk. So it’s basically about letting go of something unhealthy, and I like writing about and putting myself into different characters, different situations. I would say it’s 50/50 personal and fictional.
WWW: Tell us about your writing process.
CC: It’s actually really simple. It’s always at home, either at my parents’ or at mine. I just sit at the piano. I have a Wurlitzer at home, which is like an electric piano and sounds really cool. My parents have an actual grand piano that I really like playing on. So I sit at the piano or the Wurly, and I just write. I don’t usually come up with anything good. I’ll work for a half-hour and not find anything, but then the next day I’ll come back and then maybe use a part of what I didn’t like and then turn it into a song. Normally when I have something I like, it usually takes like an hour.
WWW: What’s a big source of creativity for you?
CC: I love seeing live shows. That’s something that is really inspiring to me, seeing other artists up there, just singing or playing or, you know, even instrumental or dance. I just love seeing live shows. I just find that’s the most inspiring thing to do.
WWW: What was the last live show you attended?
CC: What was it? I saw my friend Aliocha in Montreal like two weeks ago. He’s a folk artist and a good friend of mine. He actually opened for us for almost a year, so we did like 20 shows with him. But I saw a bunch of cool things at festivals this summer. I saw Alabama Shakes at the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival. Alabama Shakes is super inspiring. [Brittany Howard] is so badass, and her voice is insane.
WWW: Your current tour with Chet Faker is coming to an end. What has been your favorite memory?
CC: I mean just in general playing to brand-new crowds, playing in brand-new cities that we’ve never played in before. It’s just so cool to be able to do that. We did a bunch of cities, and it’s just nice to meet people and to play to people who had never heard us before and to see the first reaction. That’s really motivating and stimulating because you want people to remember you, but at the same time, it’s the first impression; it really counts. It’s like a challenge and really cool.
WWW: Do you get time to explore the cities or shop local?
CC: A little bit. In Boston I went to Uniqlo and bought a bunch of touring essentials. Just a bunch of basics, like white shirts.
WWW: What are you looking to convey with your stage style? Do you put a lot of thought into your outfits?
CC: There’s honestly not a lot of planning going on. It’s very simple. I wear on stage what I’ll wear during the day. I usually wear black jeans and a white top, like either a T-shirt or a nice shirt. Sometimes I’ll wear a black turtleneck that is fitted. I don’t wear loose sweaters on stage; I like [my clothes] to be closer to my body because it’s easier to move around and to play instruments that way. And I always wear pants on stage because I play the piano, so you don’t have to be self-conscious about wearing a skirt.
WWW: Do you have a favorite denim brand?
CC: The ones I wear at the moment, I have two pairs—I have a pair of Levi’s that are just black, and then I have this pair I’m wearing, which are a little more high-waisted from Urban Outfitters. Topshop has really good ones too. I had a really good pair of Acne jeans that I wore for two years nonstop. They ripped on the butt, like the biggest rip ever, but I never found the same style. That actually happened on tour in Winnipeg. I bent over to pick something up, and they just ripped, and I was like, “Shit, that’s the only pair I have.” So I had to run to Hudson’s Bay (that’s a big department store they have in Canada) and was lucky enough to find a pair that fit like five minutes before sound check.
WWW: How do you even begin to pack for a tour like this? What are the essentials?
CC: I plan it out. I only travel with carry-ons, so I’m a very strategic packer, but it is easy because I always wear the same stuff. And since we stay at Airbnbs most times, we have access to a washer and dryer, so it’s different than when you stay at a hotel and leave every day because you can’t wash your stuff. But I bring three or four pairs of pants, a bunch of white T-shirts, and then a few sweaters.
WWW: What are your carry-on packing tips?
CC: I used to overpack. But since I’m always on the run, I need to have a lighter suitcase. There are always like three pieces you’ll wear the whole time, and after a while, you sort of figure out which are the pieces you are not going to be wearing. Everything has to mix and match. You can have a few dresses for events, but the tip is to bring stuff that you are going to be able to mix and match. It’s more complicated to pack because you have to think about it a little bit more, but after, it’s so nice because you can just throw things together.
WWW: I did a little Instagram stalking on your account, and I kept seeing this amazing varsity jacket with your last name on the back. What is the story behind that piece?
CC: Thank you. It’s from Roots; that’s a Canadian brand. We collaborated with Roots last year. They did this huge campaign where they picked eight or 10 local artists, so Canadian artists, and basically, we did a photo shoot with them, and they promoted our music, and we promoted that jacket, which we designed ourselves. So they took a few photos of us, talked a lot about music, we played a few showcases with them, and it was a really cool collaboration because it was a win-win situation. And those jackets, so they sent us a PDF document, and you could choose the color of the sleeves, you could add patches and stuff, and I just chose all black because that’s my thing.
WWW: You’re here in L.A. for just a few days. What’s an essential stop for you in the city?
CC: I don’t even know yet. I guess the beach. I live in Montreal, so any time I have access to a beach, I love to go. I don’t really know L.A. enough to have this one spot that I love going to. I really like going to the Paul Smith store on Melrose. They just have really nice socks, and I always get a pair of socks from Paul Smith when I’m here. It’s just for the socks that I go; I just really love the socks.
WWW: Okay, so what’s next?
CC: We have five shows left on the tour, and then after this tour we’re going back to the studio, and I’m going to be writing more songs and recording new songs and work on the full-length album.
WWW: When can we expect that album?
CC: Hopefully next spring, but it depends how it goes. We have been taking our time because the songs weren’t ready when we wanted them to be, so hopefully next spring.