WEST COAST ROCK WONDERFULLY WEIRD
Meet British Columbia’s answer to Bonnie Raitt.
rock,folk, swamp—whatever you want to call Kandle Osborne’s take on singer-with-a-guitar, it’s crazy good. She has a voice like fine-gauge sandpaper, a cool-girl way with knee socks and a talent for raw-lyric anthems you can stomp your feet to.
“If I ever write a happy song, it’s usually a joke,” says the 23-year-old B.C. native. “But when something is wrong, I wake up in the night and I’m like ‘Holy shit! Grab the guitar!’”
Osborne’s debut album, In Flames, produced with Broken Social Scene’s Sam Goldberg Jr., has gotten her indie-scene attention at home and a European tour. But like many talented Canadian musicians, she’s still struggling. “To survive as a musician in Canada is hard. You play sold-out shows and sign autographs, and then you’ve got to wake up early and go clean someone’s house as a day job.”
Those highs and lows are reflected on the album, which melds catchy hooks with gutwrenchingly-raw emotion. “I can’t even listen to the title track, ‘In Flames,’ without wanting to cry, it’s so dark,” admits the singer, who credits the soundtrack from The Good, the Bad & the Ugly as being her earliest musical influence. “I didn’t want to perform it at all, but then we did it at the album launch and it was so spooky and we really got into it.”
And, yes, Kandle is her real name. “If I’d made up a stage name, it would be way cooler than ‘Kandle,’” she says, laughing. “Last time I went to Starbucks, they actually called out ‘Cradle,’ and I was like, really?”
Eliza Robertson won the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, so you’d expect her debut collection, Wallflowers, to be beautifully written. (And it is.) What’s surprising is the delightful wackiness of a volume filled with tales of slugs and camels that is suddenly punctuated by a story about something as incredibly banal as setting up a bird feeder. “Those are just the things I was interested in,” says the 26-year-old Robertson. “I’m fine with being labelled quirky!” Although she has been living in the U.K. since completing her master’s there (for which she received a scholarship from the Booker Prize Foundation, no bigs), Robertson credits her Vancouver Island childhood, complete with roaming black bears, with making her writing a little “wild.” “I love where I come from; I can’t not write about it,” she says. “It’s almost an inevitability: Your surroundings seep into your work.” ■