I was raised luckily during a time where we did not rely on the internet to find information. Where you figured out your love of things on your own and passed it onto your friends so they can understand your appreciation. These days I feel desensitized, and sometimes forget to even have a moment to myself instead of being connected to the cyberweb.
So it was a really nice surprise when my good friend Seth came over and put on a song for his brother and I to hear by musician Charlotte Day Wilson during the Christmas holidays. Her voice sultry, full of feelings, pure, belted out of my speakers and captivated her audience in the room. To me there is something poetically magnetic about having a moment like that experienced with a core group of friends.
Charlotte Day Wilson star is rising. Music has always been a fundamental part of her life, and a natural tool she used to express herself during her formative years growing up in Toronto. The conversation we had was mellow and her responses was thoughtfully answered. The energy that I got back from her came from a humble place. We caught up with Charlotte via Facetime in between her busy schedule touring and recording new music. We talked about heartbreak, the price of fame, and her chosen path as a working musician.
Photos by Seth Fluker
Styling by Basia Wyszynski
Interview Redia Soltis
I am such a big fan of your music FYI. Seth(Fluker) was the one that introduced your music to me around Christmas of last year. Now your music has been playing on repeat at my studio. When I first heard your music I said: ‘Wow her voice is incredible.’ You are so young but you have this old classic soul familiarity to your voice. How old are you by the way?
How long have you been singing?
Well it’s kind of a generic answer but I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. But I didn’t start writing my own lyrics til I was 18.
Do you compose and write your own music?
Ya I do. I write the music and do the instrumentals most of the time.
When did you have the epiphany that you wanted be a musician?
I always had the tool to be able to play music, and music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. But when I was younger I was also really into sports so I spent a good chunk of my time playing hockey. I think it really hit me when I had my first heartbreak. I just didn’t have any other type of outlet. I didn’t know what to do with my time or with the amount of sadness I was feeling.
How old were you?
I was 20. And then I just started writing songs and then it kind of just went on from there. I put the songs out cause I wanted the girl that broke my heart to hear it. I wanted her to know how I felt. That was the only way I knew how to do that. And people responded well to the music, and I was like ‘ohhhh….interesting.’ People gave me really good feedback. And I was like ok, maybe this is something I can do.
How did you feel singing to the public on a microphone for the first time?
It was pretty good. I think the first time I ever sang in public, not in a choir, was in highschool. I get nervous every time I am about to perform. But once I’m on stage I feel good. In real life I am generally shy but when I’m on stage I get this weird confidence and I feel quite comfortable.
Do you have a process or formula that you follow when you are making new music?
I almost never write lyrics first. Usually I’ll write the chords on piano or guitar. The big thing for me is that I produce a lot. My songwriting process is very intertwined with my production. I’ll have an idea, write some chords and record it. Then maybe I’ll add a beat on top of it, and start humming along, and sometimes I sing in gibberish and kind of go with what comes out. Some people edit their lyrics a lot. Most of my lyrics are a stream of consciousness which could be a good or bad thing. But a lot of the time I surprise myself with the lyrics that come out, they’re often words or phrases that I don’t use in my everyday life. Sometimes I’ll conjure a thought or feeling that I didn’t know I needed to express until it’s written on the page. That’s pretty powerful.
I love the song ‘Work’ along with the music video you made. What is the song ‘Work’ about?
When you’re a musician, work is kind of a weird concept. Even that this interview now is work is funny to me because it’s so casual. And music also just comes naturally to me. The song was about me wanting to get my shit together as an artist even though so much of the lifestyle of an artist is so casual. You have to give yourself room to experience life and live in a creative way but there’s also an insane amount of hard work that needs to go into the music and I guess I wrote the song as a mantra to myself to say:
‘Hey, if you want to be a musician you need to really make this work.’
It started with that but there were undertones of things that were happening in my relationships, with my partner and friends. It’s not really about one thing. I didn’t necessarily have one intention when I wrote the song.
When I listen to your music there is an element of old soul sound but modernly executed. I assume your musical influences are from old type of jazz vibe. Who are your musical influences?
I grew up on a lot of soul music. That’s what my parents had playing in the house. So I fell in love with it at a very early age. I would listen to new music as well but I would always go back to listening to the oldies. Maybe I was trying to be different and not listen to the Spice Girls, but I totally did when no one was looking.
Aretha Franklin is kind of like my number one influence. There is something about her voice that when I listen to it I pretty much just crumble.There are so many elements to her songs that every single time I hear it I cry.
To be able to be a musician and make it in this type of business must be hard. There are only a few fortunate enough to make being musical artist a career. Fame is kind of the price you pay when your music resonates with people. Right now you are getting quite a bit of notoriety with your music. Do people recognize you sometimes when you are walking down the street in Toronto?
Ya people definitely recognize me from time to time in Toronto, and it is a little bit weird to be honest. It does make my heart feel good when people take the time to come up to me to say they like my music. It is amazing but it’s still like a very strange thing. My girlfriend and I will just be out for coffee or whatever and someone will come up and say something. I check my ego all the time though and make sure things don’t get to my head.
How was it growing up in Toronto?
It was great. I grew up in the West End. The high school I went to was very preppy, athletic and academic. When I was in high school I was very into that and played hockey very seriously. Hockey was kind of my thing before music. That was a huge part of my upbringing, and I think one the reasons why I ended up in music was because I would have to drive out to the suburbs every day with my parents and we would always listen to music in the car. It would take hours to get to and from practice, and I was always searching for new music to listen to. I was actively listening and singing along to songs in the car.
So when did you learn the guitar and the piano?
I took piano lessons my whole life. So I took lesson at the Royal Conservatory in classical music when I was young. My parents were very adamant about me doing that. And then I taught myself guitar, then bass, and studied saxophone in University for a couple years. I have never taken formal lessons in singing though.
Are you touring right now?
Yes I’m going on little tours here and there. I am going to London tomorrow to play two shows and then going back to Toronto to play a couple shows here and in Montreal. And then I’m off to Montreal then back in Europe in May.
Is your parents supportive and proud of your music?
Ya they’re super proud.