American designer John Maeda once famously stated, “Our economy is built upon convergent thinkers: people that execute things [and] get them done. But artists and designers are divergent thinkers: they expand the horizon of possibilities.” Herein, we would like to introduce you to another place-marker in fearless artistic divergence: a French singer/songwriter and producer Charly.
Now based in Los Angeles, California, Charly has spent much of her life as a walking definition of a zealous endeavorer. Like most musicians, Charly’s musical background stems from an early childhood, during which time she sang and played guitar- a habit that quickly became regular practice and a lifelong passion project. Post high school, she severed herself from her dentistry studies to pursue a career that felt rooted to her: the Arts; specifically, music. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Arts and Communication at the ICART in Paris, France, Charly dove right into the music industry, finding standing and work with record labels, concert venues, and festival organizations. However, her appetite for artistic indulgence still could not be satiated, prompting her to turn focus away from developing other artists and fixating upon her own talents. In one snap decision, Charly moved to LA to pursue such a career- a place that she has firmly established herself for the past 4 years. In addition to her participation in several bands, such as Charly & Faust and The Sutra, Charly has released her third EP, aptly titled Awareness. Smooth and sultry, Charly’s ever-broadening musicality has led her to a path of smokey and soulful dynamicism, taking cues from groove and highlighting accentuation in conjunction with lyricism.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Charly to talk a bit about her background in music production, her composition of music and image (and the cultural references that influence both), and the evolution of her artistry. Enjoy!
Ouch That Hertz!: How does your background in production inspire your music as an artist?
Charly: My background in production consists of a year of study at the Academy of Art of San Francisco, so I don’t know if I can really say my production knowledge is really high and helps me a lot to compose. But for sure it brought me a better sense of music structure. I just think that when it comes to music production- once you know the basis- it is just a question of practice. It is not just all about theory; it is about getting better at listening and serving the music. For example, I tried to produce my 2nd EP by myself and I for sure added too many instruments everywhere. Whenever I listen to it again (which I try to avoid) I notice that it is too messy because of all those stuff going on at the same time. For this new EP Awareness, I still wanted to produce it, but I got the chance to be helped by Eric Reymond on the production. He helped me to stop putting too much and it really made the difference.
OTH!: Your music has a distinctly French sound, but your lyrics are more American. Has living in LA changed your perspective?
Charly: I love this description of my music. Thank you!
I think that this vision of music had always been there due to my education. I grow up listening to French artists with my mom in the car, but as soon as I was with my father we were listening to American artists such as The Who, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Patti Smith, etc. I have always been fascinated by sounds and melodies, but I think I discovered that lyrics could be powerful with those American musicians. It might be why I had this need of writing in English.
Moving to LA helped me to learn properly this language. I am still learning how to play with it and “manipulate” it, but for sure being in the USA is a big plus to understanding this language and the culture linked to it.
OTH!: You perform using the name “Charly”, do you draw inspiration from the “je suis Charlie” movement?
Charly: I am surprised you are the first one to ask this question, because I knew it was going to come one day.
But not at all. Charly was my stage name before all those tragic events happened.
People used to call me Charly because I was dressed like this character from this comic book called “Où est Charlie ?” (“Where is Waldo?”). It was also my grandfather nickname. Don’t ask me why I changed the spelling for a “y”. There is no deep meaning behind that. I just felt it was nicer like this *laughs.*
I have always been fascinated by sounds and melodies, but I think I discovered that lyrics could be powerful…”
OTH!: What is your ultimate goal in terms of the evolution and progression of your music?
Charly: Be able to play with the same crew through years. I don’t know where this project goes and if it will get enough exposure in the future to allow me to pay my rent with it. The only thing I know is that the people that I got the chance to work with today are the ones that makes this happening and I would love them to still be there in 10 years if the project is still going on. It would be awesome to get the chance to hire them full time. It would be awesome that “Charly” could at some point be an enterprise with its own staff, like Lady Gaga, Wil.i.am or Stromae did.
OTH!: Who and/or what are your inspirations?
This one is going to be short: Life. It is probably what most of the answer you get though. But it is so true. Inspiration comes from what you are living and what you read in the news.
OTH!: Who are you currently listening too?
Charly: I am now rediscovering Anna Calvie’s work. I am trying to figure out my guitar sound for my live performances (next show would be May 26th at Molly Malone’s) and her guitar sound is awesome. She inspires me a lot.
OTH!: Do you want to dabble in production again?
Charly: Well, I love production, but for my own stuff I need someone else to work with me. I am actually producing Buddhi De Mal next album. It is a lot of fun and a honor to work with him.