WITH HARD-DRIVING guitars, four-on-the-floor drums, and optimistic vocals sung in phased-out unison, Candace's self-described "witchgaze" stands out in an era of new-rock. Although the trio originally hails from Minnesota, Candace has a distinctly West Coast sound—it's as though they saw into the future and knew the Northwest was destined to be their home.
This week, Candace releases their latest full-length, New Future, on Found Object, the culmination of a journey full of hardships. "I had to get out of my hometown. I made a leap and came here with a suitcase," says drummer Mara Appel DesLauriers of the two-year hiatus that temporarily broke up the close group.
Sarah Rose, Sarah Nienaber, and DesLauriers first met in Minneapolis. As sixth graders, Rose and DesLauriers bonded over guitars in their parents' houses, later meeting Nienaber at a show. "Seeing Sarah's band, I was like, 'Wow! She likes [the things] that I'm just getting into,'" DesLauriers recalls. "We were so excited."
After bonding over Patti Smith and the Jesus and Mary Chain, the three started Candace (then known as Is/Is) in 2009—the rest is history. They seem like a family, easily finishing each other's sentences. This unmistakable sisterhood is the cornerstone of the band's easygoing collaboration.
"The separation was never easy for us, it was just a matter of time [until they moved]," DesLauriers says of the nearly two-year span before Rose and Nienaber joined her in Portland.
"We would have moved anywhere Mara was. If she were in New York we would have gone there," says Rose.
Since reuniting, Candace has been a staple of Portland's pop-rock scene. The three started growing roots in Portland during the Know's 10-year anniversary series in early 2015, where they found their footing on a bill with bands like Talkative and Ah God. This formative show grounded them in the local scene. They've continued to play on important bills, including a recent appearance with Pure Bathing Culture at XRAY.fm's 2015 Awards. They also make "constant" trips to play in Seattle with friends Draemhouse.
Last year was rough for the band, between their name switch from Is/Is to Candace—which became necessary for obvious reasons—and a near-death experience on the road during the first leg of their summer tour. While they were travelling at 80 MPH, "The whole wheel flew off and the van landed on its ass, and it was skidding on the road and there were sparks flying. It was our first van, and it was so traumatic," says Rose.
DesLauriers adds, "It was this crazy thing, and I think that we just had to buckle down and make sure this album came out, and luckily it has."
Candace describes their writing process as "trying to find a feeling." For New Future, they challenged themselves in new ways as they tried to capture a clearer pop sound. On this album the band also returns to their first instruments—a move they believe has made them better songwriters.
For the recording of New Future, Candace flew in longtime engineer and "fourth member" Neil Weir of the historic Minneapolis studio Old Blackberry Way. They took advantage of Jackpot! Recording Studio's plethora of tools—reverb walls, a Moog wave, and more—taking risks and using everything in the studio to expand their sound.
What has emerged is a mature and spirited album that is a testament to the energy and camaraderie of the three women. DesLauriers says it best: "It took all six-and-a-half insane years to come up with something like [New Future], through all the hardships, it took the crazy timeline of this, ourselves, our band and what we've gone through to somehow get to there. Wherever we are, we could do it together."