Each band I’ve had the pleasure of covering throughout our extended stay indoors has described how they’ve come together. These groups have found comfort in one another. They have pooled ideas to scratch the creative itch that has been nagging at them, as they eagerly wait to get back out playing shows. But, the quarantine dilemma likely offers a different experience to solo creatives; musicians who originate each piece of their instrumentation, lyrics, and stylistic choices. What’s it like to be an independent creator during the pandemic, especially one who’s used to playing shows over 1,000 miles away from home? I was able to sit down with Lindsey Candler to better understand this perspective.
Like me, Candler grew up in Bergen County, but is currently enrolled at Tulane University in New Orleans and is a huge part of the DIY scene down there. However, she is still a New Jersey kid at heart. “I’ve been playing gigs with different bands for what feels like forever. I’d usually be doing covers at my high school’s open mic each month. But I started writing and playing my own original music probably around 2017 when I was 17 years old. I think one of the first shows we ever played was at Boontunes, and that’s still one of my favorite venues to play at. It is such a welcoming environment and every time I play there, I have such a great time.”
A career that started humbly at monthly open mics in her high school cafeteria has blossomed into Candler playing shows in multiple different states. However, recent events have proved to be an obstacle, despite all the momentum she has built throughout the past year.
With her natural stage 1,000 miles away from home, Candler has taken productivity into her own hands. She informed me of her current goal to produce “100 songs by the end of the summer.” Producing under time constraints seems to be a non-factor for Candler, as the entirety of her debut album’s instrumentation had to be recorded “in just two long, exhausting days” due to the chaos of juggling class schedules and different availabilities between her recording bandmates.
This comes off the heels of Candler’s first official album, “Drive,” which debuted in March of this year. “The hardest part of recording ‘Drive’ was probably our lack of funds, but I think it played to my advantage,” she explained when asked about the process. “We recorded all the music live in our drummer’s living room, and it gave us this energy that we really wanted to convey into our recorded music. It was so fulfilling, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
Check out Candler’s lead single, “5am,” which was just featured in an official lyric video linked below.
Most of my coverage goes into New Jersey DIY artists, and although Candler certainly remembers and appreciates her roots, the New Orleans scene has offered her both a new perspective and new opportunities: “Living in New Orleans these past couple years has definitely helped me grow as a musician. The city is practically overflowing with music, and I have met so many amazing artists that I have had the privilege of working with and who have made me better as a musician. Playing shows in New Orleans is so amazing because people have this energy toward live music that is really incredible and inspiring.”
Much like the title of her album, Candler’s drive will be the sole determinant of her success post-quarantine. In this age of extended free time, there has perhaps never been a better time for solo artists to get to work, crafting the best lyrics and melodies they have to offer. When normalcy returns to our country, it will likely be a mad-dog race for artists everywhere to put forward the best content possible. Candler hopes she can outlast the rest of the field ahead of another successful year playing in New Orleans.
Speaking of her New Jersey roots, Candler offered a few great answers when I asked her my weekly question: Who else do you wish to see have success from the New Jersey music scene?
“My band is really great friends with No Soap Radio, and we really admire their work! We’ve played tons of shows with them and they always rock so hard. Also, Slow Driver is another band we love playing within New Jersey. They have an album that came out recently which is amazing. Both bands are incredibly deserving of everyone’s appreciation!”