Relatively speaking, French-Canadian chanteuse Charlotte Cardin is at the beginning of her music career. But all it takes is one listen to her debut EP Big Boy EP to understand that the 21-year-old has a certain je ne sais quoi. Her sultry vocals on "Dirty Dirty" evoke Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm Know Good," yet she also carries the piano-driven French-language ballad, "Faufile," with remarkable control and maturity.
Cardin has been performing, in some form or another, nearly all her life. She started singing lessons at age eight, and began modeling seriously when she was a young teenager, a field with which she has a complex relationship. But it wasn't until her late teens, when a friend suggested she audition for La Voix (the French-Canadian equivalent of The Voice), that she considered pursuing music seriously. At the time, she was studying to be a doctor, but she tried out anyway—and made it all the way to the finals.
"I remember thinking, 'What the hell just happened?'" Cardin laughs, speaking over the phone from her home in Montreal. "It all went by so fast. It my reality check that music was really what I loved doing."
Now, between a slew of upcoming shows in Quebec, a mini-tour in the United States, and finishing up her debut full-length album (slated for release in 2017), Cardin has much to look forward to. But, for this #throwbackthursday, she took us on a journey through some of her life's most meaningful moments, so far. Plus she shared a new remix of "Faufile," below.
I sent this photo because my sister, Camille, has always been my idol. I thought that photo was very representative of that: she's holding a new Game Boy, and I'm holding the old version that she gave to me! It's like I'm trying to copy her, but obviously I don't really know what I'm doing! My sister as always been my number one support in everything that I've started and everything I've done, so I thought it was cool to start with that one.
I was a pretty intense child. I've always been an intense person. My emotions have always been extreme—either I'm every happy or I'm very sad, and on this photo, I look like the mix of a devil and an angel! My mom has this photo in a really big frame in our living room, and every time she sees it, she's like, 'Ugh, I can never tell if you're plotting, or if you're zen and really nice." She was like, "When you were a child you were like a tiger!" So I thought it was a funny photo to send.
In so many child photos, I'm either doing a peace sign or posing. And that's because my sister and I were obsessed with the Spice Girls—and they always did the peace sign! I remember Posh Spice would always put her thumb out like I'm doing, there—it wasn't just like, a regular peace sign! It was a peace sign with the thumb, and I would do that in all the photos. Obviously, my sister had taught me how to do that, too.
I'm the dinosaur one, here—you can barely see me! When I found this photo, I sent it to everyone. It made me laugh so hard. I was like, "Mom am I even on this photo?" And she was like, "Yes, you're the dinosaur!" My sister's the punk, right next to me. The tiger is my friend David, and the princess or lady is my other friend. We were all neighbors, and I'm still really close with David! My mom actually sewed this costume for me—it's really funny. It was like a huge jumpsuit and I thought it was so cool.
In elementary school, we had big parties at the end of the year—we would dance and sing and dress up. Those were huge moments for me, because I loved those school performances. I loved dressing up and being onstage and performing things. And that year, the theme was sports, so my friend and I had gone as cheerleaders. Once again, my mom had sewn those letters to my tank-top. I thought it was cool to send this because it reminded me that I always loved performing and presenting things to my friends and family.
My sister and I have always loved arts and performing—she's a journalist, and so she's still in a very artistic field—and my parents have always been very supportive of that, even though they are scientists. They have very different careers. But I thought it was important to send a family photo because we're a very close and united family. We still have that dynamic where we play around and laugh so much and talk about our projects. We're very open about everything. That's the family vibe.
I'm the one in the middle, here, facing the crowd. I always loved doing talent shows at school, but that year [Grade 8] for Halloween, they had a big show and asked us to sing "Highway to Hell," so my friends and I did this really funny choreography and dressed up as rockers and I was singing. We performed in front of the whole school. It was more of a joke than anything, but it was really fun. I'm not really the dancing type—I definitely don't have many good moves—but all my friends were in the dance group at school, and so they did a little choreography. The photo isn't very good, but it's a good memory I have.
This is one of the very first photoshoots I ever did. I was 15, and it looks like I'm 35—they put so much makeup on me. I feel so disconnected to this photo. I see this and think, "Oh, this is a glamour girl from the 1950s," or something. I find the photo really beautiful, but I don't see myself at all; this definitely does not look like a 15-year-old girl that goes to school, that has a uniform, that still has her mom give her a lunchbox in the morning. I've always felt this disconnect to my own personality and my own self with modeling, and I thought this photo was most representative of that.
This photo is from when I was 19, and I lived in Paris for about three months. Basicaly, after being on La Voix, I decided to go back to school full-time and focus on my music to write. But at one point, I had an offer to go and travel for modeling. So I thought to myself, even if modeling is far from being what I want to do, I'd still regret not doing the whole traveling thing and meeting people. So I took a semester off of school, and lived in New York for two months and Paris for three months. I wanted to share a photo of my time in Paris because it was one of the most important periods in my life. It built my character so much. I had never lived alone. I was in a country and a city that I didn't know, where people had different values form mine. I was in an industry that I really didn't like from the minute I arrived. But when I was in Paris, I got this huge burn inside me that was telling me that I didn't want to spend one more minute not doing music.
That's a photo that we took two years ago at Osheaga, a huge music festival we have here in Montreal. In the middle is Alex, who's on my management team and is also one of my best friends. On the right is my friend Janie, a French-Canadian girl I met in Paris. Basically, we go to Osheaga each year; there's something really magical about those weekends we've spent there. We have awesome ideas for projects—my whole team bonds, we meet new people. It's the highlight of my summer every year. But each time we'd go, we'd be like, "We'll perform here someday, but we don't know when!" And this year, we actually performed there! We didn't think it would happen so fast.
A year and a half ago, I got to open for MIKA. For me, it was the biggest show I'd done so far, and it was my first time performing with the musicians I now play with. We basically learned three weeks before the show that we had the opportunity to do it, and I didn't have a band at that time. So, in three weeks, we found a bassist and a drummer, and we built a show. And actually, we ended up with two shows, two days in a row, and it was magical. It was in one of the most beautiful venues in Montreal, called Place Caesar—which is a huge auditorium, but the architecture is so intimidating and beautiful. So right before the first show—literally a minute before going onstage—I took a selfie with my sister. We were like, 'We have to remember this! We have to remember that we were here together!' It just sort of marked that moment when I saw my own career really start.
This photo is from last year, from the session where we recorded two songs from the EP—"Dirty Dirty" and "Like it Doesn't Hurt"—plus another demo. We spent two days in the studio, and were super productive. It was the first time we'd recorded as a full band, including my sound manager [at the computer]. It's very intense—you literally spend 40 hours out of 48 with people that you have an artistic connection with. It was a super good bonding moment.
That was of my sister's birthday this year! She turned 29 on August 27. I wanted to share that photo because, once again, I'm very close to my sister and that was a really fun evening. And she had recently gotten a job in her field that she really liked, and we were just celebrating everything.
Someone posted this photo on Instagram, but I just found it! It's a photo from a show I played a few months ago, at a festival. It really represents the kind of shows that we play now. Very laid back, mellow, simple—there's nothing glamorous or over-the-top, but we have fun and play our songs and share them with the audience. I think there's something very intense yet soft about this photo. There's [a quality] like that in my modeling photo, as well, but in that one, I wasn't moving like I move; I was moving like the reference they had given me. But here, I'm living an actual moment rather than pretending I'm in in a certain spot.
Photo by David Leyes
That was literally two weeks ago! It's just a band photo, but it's very representative of us. It's very casual. We're not really posing; we're just interacting in a very natural way. That's our vibe.
Follow Avery Stone on Twitter.