INTERVIEW: Be Charlotte

Scottish rising star Be Charlotte is confidently laying the foundations for an impactful pop career through a steady release of tracks that honestly introduce who she is as an artist. From the early beginnings of ‘Machines That Breathe’ in 2016, she was quickly catapulted into the spotlight with international touring opportunities and European festival slots.

From there she started to experiment and evolve into the artist she wanted to be. Through meeting likeminded collaborators, she began to create music that embodied a strong sonical cohesion intertwined with an honest and intimate lyrical message that addressed heartbreak and hope. 

Earlier this year she dropped her debut EP ‘Dreaming With The Lights Off’ which tied together all of her releases up to that point, and signalled to the future with the captivating single ‘Lights Off’ that felt like a true pop-star moment. But what we didn’t know was that her real pop star moment was still in fruition, and was about to be unleashed. 

‘Back To Life’ is that euphoric pop moment that you were waiting for. This empowering and bold pop moment is an exploration of wanting to do better. Written as a commentary on the struggle of going through the motions of everyday life and not feeling enriched with what you’re doing and not being genuinely happy deep-down, she really hits a universal nerve.

Sonically this one of the most straight-up pop tracks that she’s released to date. With a bold confidence layered over the vulnerable confessions, she balances all of the emotions immaculately well and has you ready to euphorically dance.

I recently chatted to Be Charlotte about the creative process behind her new single ‘Back To Life’, explored the euphoric sentiment of wanting to do better, and reflected on her artistic journey up to now. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: ’Back To Life’ is an empowering and bold pop moment that is a pure euphoric explosion of wanting to do better. So can you explain to me how this song creatively came together? 

BE CHARLOTTE: I was in London and going into a session with a guy called Phil Cook who is an incredible producer. When I go into sessions I like to have a bit of an idea of what I want to write about because it is a bit of an awkward situation when you meet a stranger and then have to pour out your heart and write a song with them. So I was just kinda writing some ideas down, and at that time I was feeling a little bit uninspired and not really enjoying myself because I was feeling anxious and not feeling great day to day. That feeling was then amplified by being in London as you see so many other people who seem like they are having a rubbish time. So the first thing I wrote for that song was the verse “we are just ghosts in the morning”. I was just writing that on the train on the way to the session. I wanted to to write the rest of the song as a bit of a hopeful reminder that I won’t give up, and I hope that other people won’t give up too when they feel that way. 

I actually re-wrote quite a lot of the song over the coming months and then went back in to finish it at the start of March. I had a show in London and now that I look back on it, it was like the last day of civilisation in the UK *laughs*. But I went back into the studio the next morning and recorded the vocals and it was great. 

TB: “I’m so tired of going through the motions, with all of the voices in my head” is a lyric that immediately stood out to me in the opening moments of the song. When you listen back to that line, where does it draw you back to? What do you immediately think of and feel? 

BC: I’m such an over-thinker and over-analyser of everything, it’s the detriment of who I am. For the past couple of years I’ve been able to do this as my job, but when it does become your job I feel like you become even more critical and constantly question if what you’ve done ,or how you’ve done it is good enough. I think for a long time I wasn’t able to watch videos from my live shows back because I was just so over critical. But once I did, it kinda clicked that I don’t need to be so critical. So that lyric makes me think of that. 

But around that time I was also living in Berlin for a few years which was great, but it was a little bit lonely too. So it takes me back to that time too where I was kinda questioning “what am I doing?” *laughs*. 

TB: The sentiment of this song is something that is very universal, especially right now where all of our lives have drastically changed due to the COVID pandemic. So how have you tried to look after your mental health during this year, and make sure you still feel happy with your path and journey?

BC: When we first went into lockdown I just got super productive straight away which was really good, and I just wrote a lot of stuff and finished a lot of songs. That was a real high. And then binging TV shows got me through the rest of the months. But now I’ve got back into writing songs again. 

I feel like this year has been creatively the best year I’ve had, which is quite weird. But for the past couple of years I’ve just been going between different places to either write or play shows, which was great and I’ve met so many amazing people. But at the same time It’s just nice to get back to writing by myself and building songs myself rather than relying on other people and having no distractions. 

TB: Is there anything that you want to do better right now personally?

BC: This time of year in Scotland is very dull, and I always find myself shifting mood with the weather and start to feel really dull personally. So I guess the biggest thing for me right now is to stay positive. Like some days I’m fine, but then other days I’m not. I know what I can do to make myself feel better, but sometimes I just don’t do it. Like I know if I get up and do exercise or Yoga then I’m going to feel like I’m ready for the day. So I think my biggest thing is to work on motivating myself to do that so I can be in top form. 

TB: Earlier this year you also released ‘Lights Off’ which heard you creating an empowering anthem about the importance of dreaming, even when you feel depressed and unmotivated. So what is a dream or goal that you still have that you want to manifest to life? 

BC: World peace *laughs*. A dream for me musically is to write songs that I love, release songs that I love, and travel the world and play them to people. Obviously that last part is on pause right now, but I guess a dream for the world I do have is that the music industry becomes more equal for everyone no matter where you’ve come from, what your background is, and who you are as a person. None of those things should change anything. I think this year, more than ever, feels like theres more of a conversation happening about that sort of stuff, especially with women in music, and other minority groups. While there is heaps of talk happening, there just needs to be a bit more action. The music industry can definitely do better. 

TB: The song also saw you having a big pop star moment with the accompanying music video which even saw you doing some choreo. So what was the hardest thing about that shoot?

BC: The hardest thing was that it was freezing. Like beyond freezing… minus something freezing. It was in February in this giant warehouse in Glasgow, so that time in Scotland is pretty much still Winter. So that was the hardest factor to overcome. 

I had all these amazing dancers on set so I knew I had to just be strong and not let the cold get to me so they could get through it too. 

TB: Reflecting on the process between writing ‘Machines That Breathe’ to ‘Back To Life’, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself as an artist? 

BC: When I wrote ‘Machines That Breathe’ I had never collaborated with anybody else. I was too nervous to do that as I had only ever written songs in my bedroom or by myself, and then shared them with two or more people later. So I think releasing ‘Machines That Breathe’ opened up a lot of doors for me, and it allowed me to do a lot of gigs in Europe, and even do a South East Asia tour which was incredible. Then the years that followed I got into rooms with people and started collaborating which was the biggest thing I’ve learnt how to do, and that I CAN do it. It was always something I was scared that I wasn’t going to be good at, but I realised I just needed to try, and I did, and it worked out. 

TB: You’ve opened for the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Tom Walker, Major Lazer and Frightened Rabbit. So what is one of the funniest, scariest or most stressful thing that has happened during a support slot? 

BC: Well… when I was supporting Tom Walker last year I actually lost my voice during the gig *laughs*, so I think that wins *laughs*. 

The night before I had performed an outdoor show in Germany, and I was feeling a little bit funny but I ignored it. The next day the Tom Walker show was in Glasgow at the Barrowlands which is an iconic venue that you dream about performing as a Scottish artist. Before the show I was warming up and something felt really wrong. I phoned my vocal coach and she was like “it sounds like you’ve just picked up a bit of a virus. Just power thorough tonight and don’t mention anything on stage”. So I did that, but during the first song my voice was just like “nope” *laughs*. So I could only really sing certain bits and couldn’t hit any high notes, but it’s crazy because no one mentioned it or really noticed *laughs*. 

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. You ready?

BC: Yes, I think so *laughs*. 

TB: The emoji that best describes my new single ‘Back To Life’ would be…

BC: The blue butterfly!

TB: When I think of Australia I think of…

BC: Kangaroos, but also ‘Dance Monkey’ by Tones And I! What a banger of a tune!

TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…

BC: White… I’m boring *laughs*.

TB: A TV show I’ve binged during lockdown has been…

BC: So many! Rupaul’s Drag Race has been one I binged a lot, and also some Scottish game shows, and The Great British Bake Off. 

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

BC: *sighs* It’s a no from me. But controversially, I do like Tuna on pizza which some people think is disgusting. 

‘Back To Life’ is out now!