For her debut album, Charlotte OC didn’t hold back. She worked with renowned songwriters and award-winning composers, and recorded it in a legendary studio in Los Angeles. With its imminent release, we talk to Charlotte about making the album, the highlights and how it all began.
Singer Charlotte OC had her sights set on becoming a hairdresser when she was younger, wanting to follow in her mother’s footsteps. “I was and still am obsessed with my mum,” says Charlotte in her Blackburn accent. “I wanted to do what she was doing and I wanted to wear what she was wearing.” But then her mum bought her a karaoke machine and everything changed. Now, Charlotte is about to release her first album, is touring around Europe and has been working some of the most influential people in music. Thank God for that karaoke machine.
Careless People is Charlotte’s debut offering and it’s fiercely assured and truly beautiful. It’s a roll of ethereal highs, haunting moments and swirls of angst, all showcasing the talent and reach of Charlotte’s voice. In 13 tracks, she shares her own stories about family and love and other people’s stories, such as Princess Diana in In Paris. “I wanted to make good songs that people could listen to time and time again and always find something new.”
Pulling the album together, Charlotte’s manager arranged for her to spend time with renowned singer-songwriter Linda Perry, who has worked with the likes of Adele, Christina Aguilera and P!nk. Together, they wrote Where It Stays, a moody number about a dissipating relationship. “She completely blew my mind. I think I cried in the first ten minutes of meeting her. I was so inspired,” says Charlotte. “I am already quite an emotional person, but she brought something out in me. She made me excited to be a woman. Where It Stays is a song that I’m really proud of.”
She recorded her album in the legendary Sunset Sound studios in L.A, joining the ranks of music legends like Aretha Franklin, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and Whitney Houston who have all made records there. “There’s so much history that’s gone down there. You can just feel it,” she enthuses. She made her own album in Prince’s old studio.
As well as recording in one of the best studios in the world, Charlotte also worked with Grammy Award-winning conductor and composer Paul Buckmaster, who has collaborated with greats such as Elton John and David Bowie. “I was in Berlin for my birthday, Paul was in L.A, and we were having a three-way Skype call with an orchestra in Lithuania. I was hearing the strings that were being put on my record for the first time and it was just the most emotional moment,” she recalls. “I didn’t actually realise that I was on loud speaker and I was going, ‘fucking hell, this is amazing!’”
Despite all the highlights and working some of music’s key players, the process of creating the album wasn’t without its trials. “It was a challenge being away from home. I was living in London, I was constantly in America and I was also falling in love for the first time,” she reflects. “Being so far away added to the pressure of everything. Plus, being a Northerner and going to America – it’s two completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of people. With L.A, you’ve got to just go with it and I was pulling against it. But it got the best out of me creatively because I was totally uncomfortable and I don’t think you should be comfortable in your work environment.”
As she looks back on creating the album and looks forward to its upcoming release, Charlotte is rightfully proud. “It was a bizarre experience making the whole record. There were so many moments when I was like, ‘if I never make another record ever again, I’ve made this one exactly how I’ve wanted to make it.’ I got to do the thing that I’ve dreamed of doing since I was child.”
It’s an exciting time for Charlotte. The album is about to be released, she is touring in cities like London, Paris and Berlin, and she is looking forward to performing at Secret Garden Party in July. Add to that a recent performance on American talk show with Seth Meyers, taking her sound to an international audience, and the buzz already surrounding Charlotte is only set to get louder. Although she is just at the beginning, you know she is going to do great things. She’s come a long way from that karaoke machine.