An artist can only answer the same mundane questions with fake enthusiasm so many times. That being so, we were able to get past the generic conversation and get a true glimpse behind what has made one half of Candyland who they are today (for this particular interview, Ethan was attending a wedding). We were pleasantly surprised with the genuine and ardent answers Josie provided us, just hours before she stepped into her true self to perform at Lucky.
Here’s the crash course on Candyland: They’re a co-ed duo made up of Josie and Ethan, both from Santa Barbara, CA. They met at Ethan’s 17th birthday party, which incidentally was Josie’s first DJ gig. Eventually, Josie’s love of all music led her and Ethan to discover dance music.
Coming into the scene was weird. When we first started I was just into turn-tabling, I wasn’t into dance music really. I was obsessed with scratching and beat-matching and juggling. DJ AM is what my thing was. The more I got into that, the more music I discovered. When I found Ethan I told him we should try making this (EDM).
They continued on from there, honing their production skills and learning the finer points of the craft. Soon, their first song was signed. People started to recognize the name “Candyland” as more than just a childhood board game as the scene began to take notice. All the while, Josie and Ethan grew together both as artists and as people. After “the first song (they) made got signed,” Candyland was thrust into the spotlight all while dealing with plenty of their own demons.
Starting from modest beginnings, the duo has come a long way in a very short time, from learning to DJ (starting in 2011) to becoming a household name today. Lower class Santa Barbara may not have been an ideal starting point, but Josie and Ethan gracefully handled the cards they were dealt. They were never handed a set of keys to a new Mercedes Benz, or even supplied with the bare-essentials like a stable roof over their heads.
We were both homeless at some point when we were starting up. So, if we hadn’t gotten signed and gotten a manager, hadn’t gotten a lot of shows, I probably would be forced to do something else. There’s only so much you can take of not having any money, or food to eat. Just kind of the right time, right place, and we got better at it. I love it.
Candyland was not given handouts. Their parents weren’t lawyers, and they definitely didn’t receive special treatment from anyone along the way. Santa Barbara carries with it the stigma of being a town that “no one every really leaves.. no one really wants to leave.” With a stark divide among “middle class, hella poor, or super rich,” Josie began in the “hella poor end,” only to rise to unimaginable heights through her love of music and blossoming role in the dance music scene.
In the midst of a scene rife with fancy cars, private jets, and big names, the modern EDM movement was slowing down for no one. Upon reaching that fork in the road, it became a question of deciding to commit to the dream full time. Their modest beginnings only served to provide Josie with the motivation to constantly be better. Since nothing would be handed to her, it became up to her and Ethan to take control: “It felt like I was supposed to do something for myself or nothing would happen.”
Growing up, Josie faced the myriad of problems many high school kids are all too familiar with. Things like fitting in (that many of the more fortunate take for granted) were never a given. Regardless, they both overcame these hardships together through sheer force of will. Hopefully, this determination will one day lead to Ethan and Josie taking the biggest stages the dance music scene has to offer.
We made a pact, when we first heard about (EDC), we’re not going to go until we play. We still haven’t been.
With the meteoric rise of the Santa Barbara duo, we don’t envision that day at EDC being far off. Many kids face the same types of adversity that Candyland overcame on a day-to-day basis. Being homeless. Not knowing where their next meal will come from. Not having any friends because of stereotypical social “acceptance.” It’s evident that the less-than-perfect background Josie came from has made it show she appreciates true sincerity. Josie and Ethan are onto bigger and better things together as Candyland. You can see for yourself how far they’ve come and how their beginnings don’t have to define what they become.
Catch Candyland in Portland on April 12, at Branx with Kill Paris, as part of their ongoing Killer ‘Fro tour.