Charlotte Carpenter is a British artist who knows her identity
The bluesy singer-songwriter from Northamptonshire released her sixth EP this month, a record which sees her wrestling with the many emotions of a serious break-up.
Carpenter has channelled those emotions directly into her work and continues to find her feet as an independent musician.
We caught up with Charlotte to discuss her song-writing, the importance of independent venues – and Avril Lavigne.
Hi Charlotte. What you can tell people about your latest EP?
“How Are We Ever to Know? is a five track EP. It follows the journey, from start to finish, of my first serious break-up. It goes through loads of different colours and emotions – from doubt, to realisation, to figuring out that it’s going to be all good and that maybe some of it is my fault as well. It was a very cathartic EP, mostly.
“I also feel musically it shows quite a few different shades of what I do. You’ve got the bluesier, rockier side of things and then you’ve got the last track ‘Burn’ which is very much a ballad. I feel like it’s an EP I’ve grown quite a lot on and have been braver to kind of do whatever I want to.”
For some, this EP will be an introduction to you and your sound. What do hope they take away from this record?
“I hope that new people listen to it and can hear someone who is quite organic and genuine. Who is just writing songs about her life and maybe that’s going to resonate with them.
“I’m not especially trying to be anything. Or following any sort of rule book. I’m just going with it and enjoying myself. I’m finding out who I am as an artist and hopefully pick up on that.”
Your guitar seems to be pivotal to your sound and how you do things. Do you think some artists can shy away from playing their own instruments?
“I think a lot of people maybe do shy away from playing instruments and going for it.
“I can’t think of any that come to mind, but I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen singer-songwriters where, all of a sudden, she hasn’t got her guitar anymore. Maybe they did for their own artistic reasons but I love the idea of someone becoming a better musician.
“One of those things I’ve taken a lot of pride in is trying to be a better guitarist. I never really was, I was always a songwriter – then the transition happened where I became more interested in the guitar as an instrument. About four or five years ago I went on to electric and it was a whole new world.”
The video for ‘Burn’ is beautifully shot, what’s the story behind it?
“I have two lovely friends and they’ve just started their own music video and photography company based in Northern Ireland. I just said to them I’ve got this really delicate ballad which needs a visual, but I didn’t want it to be anything to do with me, because I had really poured myself on that song in particular.
“I wanted to tell the story from a completely different perspective, so the attention was off me. They had this guy called Shane McCaffrey, who is a really great up and coming actor. They described him to me as a really grizzly character, I said if we can make people feel sorry for this grizzly character then that would be amazing.
“I wanted to tell the story of a break-up from a character you wouldn’t expect. I think it will resonate with a lot of people and everyone has been in that situation before.
You said you poured your heart out on this record and that it’s about a break-up. Do you find that a cathartic process to go through?
“I think most of it’s very cathartic. When I write a song, I always feel like I needed to write it. A certain part of my emotions are released by doing it. I did find the majority of the EP cathartic. There was only one point when it was too much for me and that was after I finished the last song of the record.
“When I heard ‘Burn’ back for the first time, I realised what I had wrote. The perspective from the first song to the last song completely changed and then you finally realise something. I just sat there and realised it had been a pretty hard time and had a moment to myself. I was proud of it and I felt like I overcame something.”
You’ve played a number of the UK’s independent venues – do you have any particular favourites?
“Most of the venues I’ve played to this point have been independent and I always them the most enjoyable. It’s sad when you hear of them shutting or being under threat – but it’s also really exciting when you hear about them doing so well.
“One venue which has really grown with me, for the past five years, is the Cookie in Leicester. I started playing there when they had only just opened the venue downstairs. They’re now booking huge bands for this 150 capacity in Leicester. It’s amazing to see that transition really.
“I think independent venues are the ones that touring bands always remember because they’re treated well. When I’ve played the bigger venues, I’ve always felt completely shut off from the people.”
This is your sixth EP, but are there plans for a full record soon?
“I’m planning on taking my time. I want to be 100% sure. When the fans, my family and friends listen to each EP, they tell me that I’m changing drastically between each one. There’s only been the last two that have had the closest link between them both.
“I do feel like I’m beginning to step into a sound that I’m comfortable with and happy making. The blues and Americana vibe has surprised me and came out of the blue, but now I’ve made a little home for it. I’m going to keep going in that direction, but I think I’ve still got some more time and space. I don’t want to put a year’s work into something that won’t be relevant to me at all by the time it’s released.”
What’s the one record that made you want to pursue a career in music?
“Argh, it’s so embarrassing! I was 14 years old and absolutely adored Avril Lavigne’s Let Go. I loved it! I went to see her at the NEC with my Dad and thought ‘that’s what I want to do’.”
Charlotte Carpenter’s How Are We Ever to Know EP is available now