Charlotte Cardin Channels the Feeling of Being "Happy and Really Lonely at the Same Time"

Having found success ahead of sophomore album '99 Nights,' the songwriter says, "I always wanted this life that I'm living right now"

Photo: Aliocha Schneider

BY Heather Taylor-SinghPublished Aug 24, 2023

For Charlotte Cardin, and most of us, the summer of 2021 felt restless. "I was dealing with a lot on a personal level, and I was at a crossroads in my life," the 28-year-old Montreal-based singer-songwriter says during a brief stop in Toronto, where she's gearing up to perform a sold-out show at History.

For Cardin, those warmer months were filled with angst, desire and chaos, which flourished into Cardin's sophomore album, 99 Nights (out August 25 via Cult Nation / Atlantic Records). "It feels like a musical diary of what I was going through," she explains. "Those moments in the studio with my friends were pure fun, sharing stories and telling stories. The album feels like the soundtrack of that summer." 

Rewinding a couple months before, to April 2021, the bilingual artist effortlessly captured the complicated dynamics of relationships and love on her debut album, Phoenix. With sultry, moody beats and brooding lyrics, Cardin was reborn as she revealed herself to the world. The album won her six JUNO Awards, including Album of the Year and Artist of the Year.

"It was a nice, rewarding moment," she recalls. "My music had been doing very well in Quebec for a long time, but the JUNOS helped my project cross over to more of the English-speaking provinces, and a lot of people discovered Phoenix through that exposure."

But Cardin, who has been releasing music since 2016, hasn't ever really stopped creating. In the midst of Cardin's success with Phoenix, she was already working on 99 Nights. "It feels good to finally put the album out. I've been holding onto songs that I put so much work into, and I'm ready to share it with people," she says. "Timelines are so weird when it comes to making an album. When I released Phoenix, those were old songs for me that I had written years before, and I feel like I have grown a lot since." Case in point, she's already working on her next body of work.

While Phoenix received much praise, Cardin says didn't feel the pressure for 99 Nights to top its predecessor. "Someone asked me this exact question today and I hadn't even thought of it," she explains plainly. "Whenever I start to lose myself in thoughts of comparison, because I do have them, I try to just focus on the music. I'm proud of the album, and I have very fond memories of the process."

The sophomore LP is a departure from the debut in the best ways. Cardin is still singing about complex relationships and love, but also unpacking her own anxieties, intrusive thoughts, and the relationship she has with herself. The album's lead single "Confetti," strongly illustrates this, detailing Cardin's qualms with being at a party.

Even the album covers feel vulnerable, as Cardin is photographed on film sitting nude a table. "The album was a breath of fresh air, with the weight of nostalgia to it. I really like that about the album because that's exactly how I felt — I was really happy and really lonely at the same time."

For 99 Nights, Cardin opened up her "musical playground," and the album's energy is lighter. Most notably, guitars are heavily featured on almost every song — standout tracks like "99 Nights," and "Somebody First" sound straight off an indie record. Recorded between Montreal, Los Angeles and London, the album mirrors each city's distinct personality. Each track feels very detailed and sonically unique, as Cardin recalls pivotal moments from two summers ago.

"It was just us in a room playing music, and each song feels like a little chapter of how we were feeling that exact same day," she explains. "I never really wrote music like that. When I was writing before, I would really dig into my wounds, whereas on this album, it was just anchored in the present moment."

In this exploration, Cardin sings about her many personalities on the track "Jim Carrey," after the beloved comedian and actor. The song features an upbeat melody and fun lyrics, where Cardin says goodbye to her ego and asks Carrey to marry her. Their love runs deep — Cardin even has a part of Carry's 2014 Commencement speech at Iowa's Maharishi International University memorized. 

Cardin worked with her close friends — producer Jason Brando, her bassist Mathieu Sénéchal, and Montreal artist Lubalin — who all come from various musical backgrounds. "We all put ourselves into this album, so you can hear that eclectic vibe on it. But it's a pop album for sure."

It's clear 99 Nights is a celebration of friendship and a labour of musical love. Through the recording process, Cardin grew musically, but also within herself. "I was writing this album in a phase of my life that was a little bit weird, but I wasn't judging myself for feeling bad, which was a new thing for me. I'm very hard on myself, and I'm very anxious, and my inner voice isn't the kindest," she reflects, pausing to gather her thoughts. "This feeling was something that was new, and writing that music allowed me to forgive myself and explore things and really just have fun."

This journey of self-discovery is something Cardin is in for the long haul. "I'm so complex," she says. "I'm still looking for parts of me that I don't know exactly what they are. Art allows you to do that in a way that's therapeutic and also exciting. Every single project, every single show I play teaches me something new, and I'm forever evolving as an artist and that's an exciting thing."

Cardin says she's grateful for the audience she has built over time, not necessarily chasing a viral moment. "I have a really loyal fan base. They've seen me in pubs and then they've seen me in small venues and then a little bit bigger and then a little bit bigger — we've grown together, and it's just really special to have that," she says. "It's just been milestone after milestone and working on my craft, my songwriting, and learning about myself to create new music."

As she steps back into the world of 99 Nights, Cardin's energy has been restored. "When I was seven years old and started taking singing lessons, if I only had known that I would be lucky enough to release a second album and have people excited to hear it," she says. "I always wanted to sing for people and share stories, and I always wanted this life that I'm living right now."

Tour Dates

Latest Coverage