Charles, raised on the groove of Prince and smooth tone’s of Luther Vandross; uses these influences to inspire his music. The songwriter, born in Stevenage, explored Musical Theatre before finding his voice in music. His effort to express himself has birthed a unique sound, presenting his deep vocals as a current for his 70’s style funk to ride. Paired with his modelesque stature and youthful nature, his lyrics exposed arouses feelings of timelessness. Here’s what happened when we met.
Where do you draw your inspirations from?
A lot of current artists have influenced me; like Tom Bailey, Nao, Jordan Rakai. When I was younger my Mum would play Prince and Pink Floyd and my Dad would play and lot of Luther Vandross. So its really just a merge of the two.
So I know you from your theatre background, what made you want to make the change from Musical Theatre to making your own music?
I love Musical Theatre still and I’ll never speak badly of it, but I feel like I was put into theatre as a child because my Mum didn’t know what else to do with me. All I knew was that I wanted to be creative, and Musical Theatre was a way I could express myself. As I got older, I realised I wasn’t able to be free in the way i wanted; I went to a Musical Theatre college, was constantly told that I wouldn’t work because my voice was too low and that I needed to sing higher. I was constantly told i should be something else, until I decided I was gonna make my own music.
You were the first person out of your year to get a professional job; how did it feel expressing yourself within the perimeters of a show?
It was hard. It was weird performing in front of over 2000 people and feeling nothing. Obviously, you feel something the first couple of times, but after that I felt nothing. It’s sad really. And there’s loads of people out there that would’ve loved my job, which is why i chose to leave.
What are your thoughts on British music now?
Its all about Grime and girls now at the moment, you have people like; Ray Black and Nadia Rose. They’re really pushing the British girl’s as well, which is great. I’m really trying to push my music though, to show a different side to British music.
Do you find it daunting having such a unique sound and going up against the mainstream?
It is, but its nice. I like the idea of having a sound that its unique.
Thats how stars are made, you just have to be true to it.
100%, this is why I’m doing it, so I can express myself truthfully. I know that its not gonna be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s an acquired taste; my mum plays it to her mates and their like, “Oooh, I think maybe he’d sound good on one of them house tracks”. I’m like no.
Do you feel like you’ve found your sound and was it easy to attain?
No, I’ve been trying to work it out for the past 3 years. Last year was funny; I was just singing on tracks and there wasn’t much connection to the actual music. I just couldn’t work it out. I always knew I wanted a funky/sassy/soulful sound, so I could really feel it on stage, but it wasn’t happening. It’s only in the last 6 months or so that it’s come together. Now people listen to it and know that that’s my music.
So what does the EP sound like?
Some of the songs are quite old school, with a 70’s chilled vibe. It’s like a mellow-chill Prince track, that you’d just sit in the bath to.
With a cigarette.
Yeh and just act boujie!
So tell me about your recent trip to China?
It was good, but strange. I found it quite hard to switch off. Its like when you go on holiday; you love it for about 2 days and then get anxious about all the things you need to do back home. I was battling with that for ages and I had to keep telling myself to relax.
How long were you there for?
3 months. The first month was the hardest, but eventually I relaxed and that’s when the lyrics started pouring out. I was alone a lot of the time and there was language barrier; so I wandered around a lot.
Did you use any inspirations from your trip to China for your music?
That place is weird; Its like living in a concrete jungle, there are so many high rises, so much pollution, but they’ve put so much money into it, so next to these sky scrapers are a forests. I got a lot of inspiration from the beauty and the ugly of it all.
Do you find it hard to turn music down from producers, when it doesn’t fit your style?
Yeh, for so long I’d walk out of a studio and be like what am I doing. I felt like, ‘shit is this ever gonna happen, am i ever gonna find it’. When I went away it gave me time to just let things settle. I spent half the time trying be the artist I thought was suppose to be, instead of just being me.
It must be hard to keep your identity when there are so many musicians that have been pushed to a specific aesthetic. If you were approached by a label in this way, how would you deal with that?
I wouldn’t do it. I have my manager, Chloe, she believes in me just as much as I believe in myself. Everything is self-funded, on my terms and I love it this way. I’d love it if I never signed to a label actually, i’d love to just self-release and have control.
What has been the best moment in your career so far?
When I was sat with my boyfriend and we just listened to my music. I was so proud; usually I’d be shy, but I was really proud. Jim and I had a year plan, and he’s done everything he’s set out to do and so have I. It was nice.
What are the plans for the future and how do you plan to keep inspired now your back from China?
The EP comes out in May. I have some big plans, but you’ll just have to wait and see. It’ll be fun.Creatively, I just like to go in the studio, jam and see what we can come up with. Keep it fresh and organic. I have group of really talented friends, all in there own way. I get a lot of inspiration to keep going on from them, they’re all doing so well and they keep me going.