When you’re young, you really have no clue about where you’ll actually end up. While you may have an idea of where you’d like to be, life has a funny way of abruptly changing course. Lonnie Angle, vocalist of Cardiknox, knows this all too well. “In my teens, I dreamed of being an actor on the stage,” she shares. “That evolved into wanting to be a director, and, in a very roundabout, twisted set of events, I found myself making music.” Although the other half of Cardiknox, Thomas Dutton, has always dreamed of being a musician, Lonnie never pictured herself going down that route. “If you had told me when I was in my teens that I’d be in a band, I would have thought you were crazy,” she laughs.
Fast forward to three years ago, to 2013, when the duo met while working on a musical called Razia’s Shadow. They were reworking the standalone concept album so that it could follow a more traditional, linear storyline that would translate onto the stage as a bonafide musical. Lonnie details how their working chemistry was obvious very early on. “I had a lot to offer in terms of musical theater experience, and Thomas had a lot to offer in terms of the music industry. We were both fascinated with each other’s backgrounds, and we had a similar drive to create—whether it be pop music or musical theater.” They worked so well as a team that, eventually, Thomas asked Lonnie to sing on a holiday song by his old band, Forgive Durden. Evidently, he was enchanted by the tone of her voice. “I just remember him saying, ‘I think your voice is something special,’” she adds. From that point on, they started writing songs together, and, eventually, Cardiknox was formed.
Once the band was established, Lonnie and Thomas had to work on establishing their writing process, and, as of now, it is a collective effort between the two of them. “Oftentimes, one of us brings an idea or a golden nugget to the table. It’s normally the heart of the song. Maybe it’s a lyrical phrase, an idea, or a melody, and then we start to build around it,” she details. “I tend to focus on melody, Thomas focuses on the music and production, and we work together on the lyrics.”
For their debut album, Portrait, the duo was able to work with producer John Shanks, who “was a big piece of the writing as well. He was the big-picture man who knew how to take the songs and tweak, finesse, and fine-tune them to really bring them to the next level,” Lonnie elaborates. John was also a great asset in helping them push through the creative blocks that undoubtedly came up during the creation of this record. “It was helpful to have someone nudging us when we’d get caught up, for example, on a lyric. When it’s just Thomas and I working together, we tend to spend way too long on one thing. Oftentimes, it’s best to keep working past it and revisit it when you’re fresh,” she divulges.
With the start of any new endeavor, challenges are always inevitable, and Lonnie admits that creating Portrait was one of the most intense experiences of her life.
“We spent almost six months in the studio writing and recording every day. It took a lot of discipline, a lot of stepping outside my comfort zone, and exploring things both personally and professionally that I never had before. Also, trusting my gut,” she explains.
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WORDS: LEAH DICKERMAN // @thepictureofleah