Photo by: Tess Ananda

On the heels of her independent debut, Kandle Osborne is back with another taste of what’s to come.

The Vancouver born-and-based cabaret-inspired rock artist drops her newest single “Honey Trap” – a sweet-but-fierce song about breaking free from a sticky power struggle joined by guest vocalists Louise Burns, Debra-Jean Creelman (Mother Mother) and Kendel Carsen (Alan Doyle, Great Big Sea). With four women around one microphone, the female-powered track oozes with liberation and echoes the underlying symbolism behind it: 

“It is easy to overlook the subtleties involved in manipulation. For women with drive and motivation, one may already be conditioned to believe that your body or sexuality are the only real assets that society values of yours. Under this conditioning, it isn’t hard to imagine all the ways these assets can be turned against you by an abuser, and the idea of using your body as a tool to move forward when all other avenues are closed doesn't seem so extreme. What other path is there? You start to believe it's your choice, albeit a self-sacrificial one. Only when you start to break free, it becomes clear that you were never given the choice in the first place. We play their game until we make our own.”

The accompanying music video – directed by Brandon Fletcher, featuring actor Keenan Tracey (Bates Motel, The 100), is a masterpiece of its own. The cinematically-stunning imagery draws symbolic parallels from historic arts in scenes where Kandle is suspended. The use of Shibari – also known as Kinbaku, is a form of Japanese rope bondage that focuses on friction and wraps instead of knots, derived from Hojojutsu, a martial art from the Edo period. The way the ropes were tied often conveyed the class or crime of the person tied up in it and served as a signature for the Samurai who tied it. The video’s symbolic visuals further amplify the song’s themes as director Brandon Fletcher reflects:

“We wanted to create a nod to our favourite noir films of the 40s – and its more modern incarnation of dystopic neo/neon-noir thrillers – entire worlds riddled with deceit, seduction, and crime, all while exploring themes of consent, entitlement, and responsibility. All these women ‘play the game’ without being fully aware of the deeper danger they're in. Throughout the video, a shadowy man exploits them all, coalescing in an unwanted touch – something I think anyone who's been manipulated can relate to – before he walks away with their livelihood.”

“Honey Trap” follows Kandle’s premiere single – “Lock and Load” from her forthcoming album Set The Fire – set for release this Spring. After leaving her label and releasing her first ever independent EP, Stick Around and Find Out, Kandle closed out 2020 with the stunning James Bond-inspired single.

With strong influences from powerful female greats – Nancy Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Shirley Bassey, Kandle delivers heartfelt words and music drawn from some of life’s heaviest moments. Following her independent breakout, Kandle is at her most empowered and authentic state, sharing her own stories of healing to help others do the same.

Breaking free from her label, Kandle takes full control of her music and artistry and stays true to her mission to creating a dialogue and advocating for women and mental health. Her advocacy through art also comes alive in the form of a collection of dark comedic illustrations highlighting sexism in the music industry:

“Instead of getting all dark about it I think making a comic about sexism disarms it and offers a different way to talk about it (and then hopefully change it).”

Kandle looks forward to releasing her debut independent full-length album this May and finding ways to share it with the world in a time where live shows are on pause:

“The connections that come from releasing new music and making new fan friends is what keeps me going.”

Q: Your style is said to be a juxtaposition between cabaret and rock – who or what are the main inspirations behind your artistry and sound?

I think the 'cabaret' influence comes from my love of jazzy, theatrical goddesses like Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan among others. The rock side comes from being obsessed with Zeppelin and Jack White growing up, and I think two sides morphed into one in my creative (bizarre) mind. Dramatic crooner with a distorted guitar.

Q: What can you tell us about your new song “Honey Trap”?

The song "Honey Trap" was inspired by manipulation in a relationship power struggle, and I think the way I decided to produce it feeds off of that theme. My vision of having strong female harmonies at the forefront mirrors how I tackle hard issues - with my entourage of powerful women. When I'm singing about (or dealing with) a heavy subject, sometimes it feels almost impossible to summon the strength needed to get through it with a lone voice. Having that female support makes me feel stronger and more powerful. I loved the process of recording this album without a label or manager hanging over my shoulder and I think this track showcases that freedom. Start to finish I had a clear vision and I was able to execute it exactly how I wanted to. Everyone in the room was supportive of my weird inspiration, tempo changes and all, and it was the first time I didn't feel any resistance. I like to break the rules. I don't make music for pop radio, and I'm not even close to mainstream, but I like to follow my instincts and what I hear in my head and bring it to life.

Q: You worked with notable Canadian vocalists Louise Burns, Debra-Jean Creelman and Kendel Carson on the track – how did this collaboration manifest and what was it that drove you to work with these talented artists specifically?

Mostly lucky timing for this record! Over the years, I've played and collaborated with each woman separately but when I was starting this album I told Louise I wanted 3 gals around one mic. She suggested Debra-Jean and then Kendel happened to text me out of the blue that she was in Vancouver and I wrangled them all in the studio the next day just before the world started shutting down from COVID-19. I think the seed had been planted early 2020 though, when I played Commodore in Vancouver with Louise and Kendel as my band. Debbie stopped by to just hang out in the green room with us and the magic and camaraderie between the 4 of us was already apparent!

Q: Your music video for “Honey Trap” is stunningly cinematic, what is the story/symbolism behind the visuals?

Thank you, we're really proud of how the video turned out. Brandon William Fletcher (the director) is a force of nature and managed to put together an incredible team even within all the regulations of COVID. I knew I wanted the live band feeling to play a big role because I know I'm not the only one missing shows! But the story / symbolism is meant to show the confusion of manipulations and power dynamics. I find humans often enter relationships feeling in control and as though nothing is going to hurt them, that feeling of "I know what I'm doing...", but it's so easy to end up completely on your ass. These subtle shifts in power can happen in the blink of an eye. To take the symbol of manipulation and control a step further, Brandon enlisted a BDSM educator (amongst other skills) who goes by Squid Kink to tie me up before I was suspended mid-air. Rene (Squid Kink) introduced us to Shibari (kinbaku) which is a form of Japanese rope bondage that focuses on friction and wraps instead of knots, derived from Hojojutsu (a martial art from the Edo period). The way the ropes were tied often conveyed the class or crime of the person tied up in it and served as a signature for the Samurai who tied it. We loved the parallels of that history with the story we were telling.

Q: What can we look forward to from your forthcoming album Set The Fire?

I think you'll feel me embracing my newfound creative freedom channeled through 60s golden era type songs fused with alt rock! I'm making the music that I would listen to, the music I want to make. I'm trying to leave behind the victim feeling I've been carrying for so long. I looked back at my older albums and forgot how truly dark they are thematically. I feel I had to get those songs out of my system and they were necessary for me to write, but I'm trying to move on from that and show the other sides of my personality. Working with Michael Rendall (producer) felt like such a vital piece of the puzzle for this album. We met at the perfect time when I was in London and without a home base, feeling really stuck, honestly. We completely aligned musically and we were both so excited to make music together without money or success being the driving force. Just creativity at it's best. I know that doesn't happen often and I'm still basking in the magic of it arriving when I needed it most.

Q: Growing up with a first-hand look into the music industry – as the daughter of Neil Osborne from 54-40, how have you seen the acceptance and inclusion of women and other minorities shift and/or grow? In what ways does the industry need to evolve to be even more inclusive?

I feel like I can see a change in the younger generation of artists, I think they're less and less under the thumb of the old guard, but honestly I think there's still a ways to go. I'm glad people are more vocal about it these days and hopefully it will keep things moving in the right direction of inclusion and parity of all genders and races. Louise Burns and I are starting engineering lessons with an amazing lady here in Vancouver (Elisa Pangsaeng) to feel more confident and comfortable producing. I've never felt seen as an equal in the (still) very male heavy environment and I want to take my own steps to change that. I look forward to when it's not a rarity to have a female engineer or producer in the studio.

Q: You have started a collection of dark comedic illustrations highlighting sexism in the music industry. Can you talk about the topic’s importance to you and how the project came about?

It just came from the desire to laugh. It's absurd how common those experiences have been for me and for my female-identifying peers and it feels so f*cked that you just gotta laugh. I think it makes a challenging subject more palatable too. Instead of getting all dark about it, I think making a comic about sexism disarms it and offers a different way to talk about it (and then hopefully change it). On that note, there's a new one coming soon from my latest experience trying to buy a new piece of gear...

Q: You’re an advocate for mental health and helping other women overcome their trauma. What advice would you give to those who are on a healing journey?

I'm such an advocate for it because I'm so familiar with it. It's not an easy fix and I have not figured it out, but what I do know is how crucial it is to have a good support system around you to be able to work through these issues surrounded by people you love and trust. It's definitely a cruel game of 3 steps forward, 2 steps back and I don't know if I'm ever going to be unaffected by the trauma I've experienced but I'm optimistic that healing is possible. I don't think anyone should have to suffer through this alone and that's why I'm so open about the subject. I know how it feels to try and swallow it and bury it and I think knowing someone else is also dealing with these traumas offers solace and hope. I'm lucky I have songwriting to express myself, I think creative outlets are an extremely healthy way of processing hard things. I know some people listen to music to feel understood and I hope my songs can help someone else know that they're not alone.

Q: What's next for Kandle?

Rolling out this record and finding a way to share it without having live shows. I'm trying to keep a consistent routine of writing and playing to stay in a good headspace of creativity, which helps me detach from the often toxic music industry. I love making new connections with people who are moved by the art I make, so I'd love it if you'd come find me on social media and let me know what speaks to you! The connections that come from releasing new music and making new fan friends is what keeps me going. xx