It’s not often a new artist appears and releases a consistent string of incredible pop songs that could make a lot of your favourite’s envious, but Charley is establishing herself as one of Australia’s finest new pop stars in the making. The Gold Coast raised, and now Sydney based, singer-songwriter has only been releasing music for 12 months, but in that short amount of time she has already cracked a million streams on Spotify for her debut single ‘Hard For Me’, and appeared on many “artists to watch” lists by industry heavyweights.
‘Hard For Me’ was a dreamy pop-perfection moment that channeled early 2000’s pop similar to Bonnie Mckee’s songwriting credits. From there she stepped away from the bubblegum pop sound and into the emotionally raw and sonically experimental alt-pop track ‘Arizona’ which heard her addressing her struggles with social anxiety. Now for her third single ‘I Suck At Being Lonely’ she has stripped everything back for a vulnerable breakup ballad. Beautifully articulating the emotion behind the intimate grieving of a breakup, even if you aren’t currently in that mindset personally, you will be drawn into that heaviness and will find yourself reminiscing on a time where you felt uncontrollably lonely. “1000 cabs without ya. Drunk and sad without ya. I’d say I suck at being lonely” she sings during the stunning chorus.
The powerful single has been released ahead of her performance at Eurovision Australia Decides on Saturday 26 February which will see her competing to be chosen to represent Australia in the global Eurovision competition. With its Julia Michaels and Olivia Rodrigo styled sweeping production, you will be immediately entranced by the heavy emotion this song envokes.
I recently chatted to Charley about the heavy emotions behind her new breakup anthem ‘I Suck At Being Lonely’, discussed her upcoming performance for Eurovision Australia Decides, and reflected on her previous introductory singles ‘Hard For Me’ and ‘Arizona’. Check out the full chat BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘I Suck At Being Lonely’ is a powerful and beautiful ballad all about heartbreak and finding yourself again as you deal with that grief. There is a lot of heavy emotion at the heart of this song, but it also feels cathartic as you allow yourself to feel those emotions. What was the energy like when you wrote this, and did it feel like a breakthrough moment for you?
CHARLEY: I wrote this with JIM ALXNDR in Los Angeles. It was honestly one of the worst times of my life. I was already so lonely being in LA, and I know it’s such a typical thing to say, but it really does happen. And then you add a break-up that happened for the fourth time to the mix, and it’s just a lot. So when I got in the room with Jim I just felt really helpless, and really sad. He’s the sort of person who likes to get to know you and get comfortable, so he just drew this whole song out of me. It was kind of a relief to get it out, but it’s also a very triggering song as the feeling’s still haven’t changed.
TB: “One thousand cabs without you. Drunk kinda sad without you” is a lyric that may seem simple to some people, but for others it’s going to resonate deeply. When you hear these lyrics back now does it take you to the heaviness of feeling alone?
C: To be honest I’ve gone through so many different phases after writing this song, and only recently it’s happened again, so it’s very fresh to me again. That line is all about going home from a party where you are trying to go out and be happy, and then you’re sitting alone in a cab alone while it’s raining, and you wish you were going home to them. So that feeling hasn’t really changed for me.
TB: Sonically it’s very dreamy with soaring strings and light piano leading the production, which reminds me of Julia Michaels and Olivia Rodrigo, meets a Disney film score. So what or who was actually inspiring you sonically for this palette?
C: We tried so many different sounds when we first started writing it, and I remember Jim suddenly jumped on the piano and started playing these chords and added a kick drum, and it kinda just fell into place from there. To be honest, we actually didn’t have any sonical inspiration from any other artists for it. I just needed to feel it. We added live strings, a flutist, and real pianos, and just wanted to make it feel as real and emotional as possible.
TB: This single is also your entry into the Eurovision Australia Decides competition which is going to be filmed in your hometown of the Gold Coast. When you have been putting together this performance, what has been the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself as an artist?
C: I think I’ve just learnt to trust the process. In the past when it’s not been a certain way I’ve been really annoyed about it. But this time I’ve had my say in the song, and everything has just fallen into place from there. You sometimes just have to let it be. I’m so excited for Eurovision, and I’m just so happy to be performing this song and giving it its best potential with the performance.
TB: I know you can’t give away too much from the performance. But can you give us a little easter egg that might now make sense now, but once we see what you do it will make sense?
C: …..Hotel room …… France….. That’s all I can say *laughs*.
TB: Your debut single last year was a bit of a pop moment. ‘Hard For Me’ is quite the juxtaposition to ‘I Suck At Being Lonely’. What did that studio session look and feel like?
C: Yeah that was completely different. Everyone in the room was so hyper. It was the best energy, and it’s genuinely still one of my favourite sessions of all time. Whereas this one was just me and Jim crying next to each. He was like “I haven’t cried this much while recording a song”, and he was just sitting there trying to sob silently *laughs*.
TB: To me the song reminded me of Bonnie Mckee who co-wrote ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry, which in my opinion is one of the most perfect pop songs. SO, what is a song that you think is a perfect pop song?
C: I agree! ‘Teenage Dream’ is hands down one of the most amazing pop songs of all time. But I would also say any Julia Michaels song is perfect, and ‘Into You’ by Ariana Grande is too!
TB: The song has just hit 1 million streams on Spotify which is insane. As someone who does deal with anxiety, do you find yourself trying to not focus on the actual math of that?
C: I’m actually just really happy about it. I’ve made and put my music out there for other people to listen to, so I don’t think I get anxiety about that. It’s more-so creating a world for each song and making sure it was perfect so that when people listen to it they get the whole idea and make it into their own world, which is what gives me anxiety.
TB: ‘Arizona’ is a very special song as it does address your struggles with social anxiety. The production is absolutely incredible, with the experimental outro actually physically representing the tightness and chaoticness that is felt in that moment. How many versions of this song did you go through to get it to where it is now?
C: Literally two versions! We wrote and made that song in a day, which is crazy. I explained to Cyrus who produced the track that I wanted the outro to be like Charli XCX, and go hard and feel like an anxiety attack in a song. The next morning I walked in and he was like “so I’ve worked on the outro a little bit, let me know what you think”. He hits play, and I sit back and just start sobbing as it actually felt like the energy when you have an anxiety attack. He also had this beautiful outro for when you slide out of the anxiety attack, and he just honestly killed that production.
TB: The music video is a cinematic affair. What was one of the funniest or weirdest things that happened on that shoot?
C: Hmmm, there were actually a lot of serious and hard moments on that video shoot. I had to act out so many anxiety attacks that it mentally became difficult pushing myself into that place. But for the ice bath in the end we tried to get it warm for me, but we couldn’t because when you put 6 bags of ice in the bath it just goes freezing. So when I got in there I was just shaking *laughs*, it sucked so much. I then had to put my head under, and couldn’t see when I came back up. It was a whole experience *laughs*. I was in there for 15 minutes, and it felt like forever.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. Are you ready?
TB: The emoji that best describes my new single ‘I Suck At Being Lonely’ is…
C: The little simp-watery eyes.
TB: My morning ritual involves…
C: Matcha latte’s, going to the bathroom, and now making my bed!
TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…
C: Blue! It’s a little electric blue one. I upgraded!
TB: My calming activity when I have massive anxiety is to…
C: Crying *laughs*. I don’t really have one yet.
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
C: A hell nah! It’s a no go zone for me.
‘I Suck At Being Lonely’ is out now!