As if sculpting a statue, we chip away at one layer after another to uncover our true selves. In doing so, we shed insecurities and inhibitions and embrace our identity. Charlotte Cardin continues to learn about herself through her music. The more she learns, the closer she connects. The Montréal-born and Paris-based singer, songwriter, and creator exhales raw truths through a haze of nocturnal production, leaving pieces of her story on tape. After generating hundreds of millions of streams and earning widespread praise courtesy of Harper’s BAZAAR, The FADER, Interview, W Magazine, and more, the four-time JUNO Award winner opens up like never before on her second full-length offering, 99 Nights [Cult Nation/Atlantic Records].
“Making music was always my way to feel like I was not only in touch with myself, but attuned to the world through telling stories and achieving self-discovery,” she observes. “In a way, my purpose was to connect with other people through my introspection. I’ve owned up to a lot of instincts, needs, and realizations, and I’ve decided to make a move to do what feels right.”
Surrounded by music as a kid, writing and performing always felt right. Following the Big Boy EP and Main Girl EP, Charlotte emerged as an international phenomenon with her 2021 debut Phoenix. At the 2022 JUNO Awards, the LP took home “Album of the Year” and “Pop Album of the Year,” while “Meaningless” garnered “Single of the Year” and she personally received “Artist of the Year.” Not to mention, it picked up the Felix Award for “Anglophone Album of the Year.” Inciting unanimous tastemaker applause, HYPEBAE christened her “one of Canada’s brightest young talents.” Following sold out headline dates and powerhouse turns at Bonnaroo and Festival d’Été de Québec, she topped the bill at Osheaga, marking a momentous Montréal homecoming. Along the way, she carefully assembled what would become 99 Nights. After initial sessions in Montréal, she wrote and recorded in London, Los Angeles, and Toronto to “fuel a creative free flow.”
“We called it 99 Nights, because it was a big journey through all of these worlds I needed to explore in order to touch base with the most important things in my life,” she reveals. “I realized I needed to get the fuck out of where I was. The 99 Nights are a symbol of one chapter closing and another beginning. It’s nostalgic because there’s an ending, but it’s very hopeful since I’m starting over. The first few months of the process traced a path for the sound, emotion, and stories I would be sharing, hence the title.”
She starts sharing with the single “Confetti.” Snaps brush up against a thick bassline as her honeyed intonation melts into piano on the chorus, “I feel like a zombie. I’ll die at the party. You’ll find my body fully covered in confetti,” as harmonies twirl atop a danceable beat.
“It’s an ode to introverts,” she reveals. “I get anxious in social situations, so I tend to act in a way that isn’t fully me because of expectations. It’s about how you don’t need to be loud to be a badass and own up to who you are. You don’t need to be what other people want to be happy.”
The upbeat “Jim Carrey” shuffles along on handclaps and head-nodding bass towards the manically chantable refrain, “I got so many personalities. Jim Carrey, will you marry me? Goodbye my worthless ego. Without you, I’m finally free.”
“It’s a special one,” she smiles. “I went into this rabbit hole of Jim Carrey interviews. He discusses ego in an interesting way. In his perspective, our need for acceptance holds us back from embracing who we really are. The track explores getting rid of your ego. You can decide what your destiny is if you take a risk and accept to be who you really are at the fullest. It’s a metaphor, but marrying Jim Carrey is a good way to start the inner work.”
Meanwhile, the opener “Puppy” hinges on airy guitar and neon keys as she rushes towards a new era, “I’m trying to run from a version of me stuck in the past.”
“By living in the present, you open yourself to the freedom that comes with that,” she notes. “We loved the image of a careless puppy breathing out the window with the wind in its hair. Its sets the tone for the way we wrote the songs about enjoying the moments in the studio and harvesting this deep connection.”
Then, there’s the evocative finale “Next To You.” Over soft strains of piano laced with strings, her voice rings out in a heavenly high register as she confesses, “I’m just looking for a better me.”
“I knew I was going to be moving,” she recalls. “It’s literally about leaving my hometown. It was the last song we wrote and wrapped this chapter. This in-between phase was an emotional process, but it was also super exciting. It’s very personal, and it concluded everything in a beautiful way.”
In the end, 99 Nights empowered Charlotte to realize who she was meant to be.
“I’m more comfortable with my true instincts than I’ve ever been,” she leaves off. “This process helped me with a lot of things. I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time too, so it’s really positive.”