Having toured alongside the likes of Marika Hackman, George Ezra and Ethan Johns, Charlotte Carpenter creates beautifully emotive offerings filled with bluesy riffs and her smooth, soulful vocals.
Having just released her sixth EP How Are We Ever To Know on her own label, Charlotte Carpenter had a chat with Kate Crudgington to tell us more…
Hello Charlotte! How are you? What have you been up to this week?
Hey, I’m feeling relaxed at the moment thank you. I had two big nights out this weekend, so don’t have much planned apart from writing and drinking tea, with the occasional shift at work but there’s not many hours this week.
You released your latest EP How Are We Ever To Know on 10 June. What reaction did it receive? Are you happy with the final product?
It’s been positive, and people are beginning to soak in what it is I’m making – paying more attention, so it feels more resonant than ever before. However, I always find the reaction to EP’s quite bizarre. They’re stepping stones to me, and often quite big ones, but sometimes it feels like people can step over them too quickly and are looking for your next thing. Naturally, after as many EPs as me, along comes an album. But I’m not rushing into that just yet.
Last year, you released your EP The Fault Line. Can you tell us how the sound on this recording compares with your latest release?
These two EPs are musically more closely linked than my previous releases. I feel like I’ve found a sound that feels like home to me, and a direction which makes me feel excited. The difference between them both is that How Are We Ever To Know? shows more colours of what I can write and play. I’ve been braver, and embraced the idea of each song being its own entity, rather than having to be genre specific across a release all of the time.
You’ve released six EPs through your own record label, Let It Go Records. Would you encourage other musicians to pursue the DIY route? What are the pros & cons?
Being DIY is tough because you have to do a lot of the work yourself. From self-booking, to touring, to videos, press, radio etc etc. I think the industry is changing and being DIY is so much more recognised than what it was when I was first started out. Often, doing it DIY means you’re running with the wind against you and it feels like a much slower process, but when the success begins to take off you feel so elevated because you know you’ve done these things on your own terms. As a DIY musician, the only trick is to never give up. It’s cliche, but it’s so true. You can’t afford to drop from view, you have to keep making the music, and picking up those fans one by one, and eventually the cogs begin to turn. In the state of the industry today, I would massively encourage it, there’s not that much money to made anymore, so why let a major record label take majority of everything you earn? There are so many ways of success in music nowadays, there isn’t any right or wrong way anymore.
You’ve recently finished touring the UK; playing in Leeds, Brighton, London and Birmingham. What’s your favourite thing about touring (in general), and your favourite thing about this tour in particular?
My favourite thing is meeting those who speak with me online, I love putting a face to a name and thanking them so they know I mean it. This tour was interesting, every city was wildly different but London comes to mind. Firstly, we had an amazing kebab and then played to a room of people who I felt completely got what it was I was doing. You can sense it in the room when this happens, it’s rare and it felt great.
You’re visiting Lithuania in July to play Bliuzo Naktys, which will be your first show outside of the UK. What are you most looking forward to about this performance?
I’m excited to see what their reaction will be. I’ve never played to a crowd whose first language isn’t primarily my own, so I’m intrigued to see the way they respond. Also, we are staying in these little wooden huts on site, and have somebody greeting us at the airport with a sign. I feel like a child.
There’s a lyric on ‘Electric’ which says “We won’t let them in ’til they’re really listening”. As a songwriter, have you ever felt anxious about the idea of people not “really listening” to your music? Or is it something you have to push out of your mind?
I wrote that line when I was frustrated and feeling unsupported with some people around me. They were trying to place me into a box, make me choose between certain things and I felt uncomfortable with that. It’s a line reminding myself to be picky with the people I chose to have around me, professionally and personally.
If you were only allowed to listen to three songs (excluding your own) for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Bruce Springsteen – ‘Atlantic City’
KT Tunstall – ‘Feel It All’
Led Zeppelin – ‘When The Levee Breaks’
What artists have you been listening to recently, and who are you hoping to catch live later in the year?
I’ve been listening to Nikki Lane from South Carolina, and Lera Lynn from Houston. Both of whom have recently been in the UK and probably won’t be again before the end of the year, so I hate myself for missing them!
Finally, what else does 2016 have in store for Charlotte Carpenter?
I’m spending the summer writing and recording mostly, with a nice trip out to Portugal at the end of the summer. I’ll be playing some shows in the Autumn and I’m wondering whether to do a Christmas song too as a freebie. Not an original, that seems impossible.
Huge thanks to Charlotte for answering our questions!
How Are We Ever To Know, the new EP from Charlotte Carpenter, is out now on Let It Go Records.