Interview: Amy Bell
Photo Credit: Charlie Denis
Charles has indisputably been making waves in London’s underground music scene over the last 3 years. Having always taken a keen interest in the neo-soul, R&B and funk genres, Charles decided to not just stick to one but to intricately weave the three together to create his organic yet extremely charismatic sound as it stands today.
It is this sound that has caught the attention of the prestigious backbone of UK music BBC Radio, with BBC Introducing selecting Charles for their ‘Ones To Watch’ round-up for 2021. BBC Radio 1 have also shown their support, having shortlisted Charles with his cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ for their ‘BBC Live Lounge Introducing’ competition, with Charles being selected amongst 10,000+ entrees. Most recently, in October Charles co-hosted an incredible BBC Introducing ‘Black History Month’ special show with Danny Fullbrook with Connie Constance as their guest appearance.
Hi Charles, in 3 words describe your sound?
Bold, Soul-soaked & Genre-less
Growing up, what type of music did you listen to, and does that portray in your songs still to this day?
Growing up my music taste was so vast. I would be listening to soul icons like Luther, Sade and Boys 2 Men whilst the next song cued on my walkman would be Beyonce, Usher and OutKast. Which on reflection all these artist seem to blend in my music I create now.
In October, you co-hosted a BBC Introducing for ‘Black History Month’, why did you decide to do this, and has it impacted you in any way?
Truthfully, my first reaction to being offered it was that I didn’t want to do it. I remember feeling quite anxious about the whole thing as I didn’t want to come across in the wrong way, or struggle to get my point across. Wasn’t after a strong word with myself and realising that all I can speak on is from my own experiences as a black man was when I agreed and started curating the show. I remember being sat in the BBC studios after the show had finished and I was taking everything in that just happened. I remember holding onto that moment and wishing that my 8 year old self could have seen me now, being black, gay and proud speaking my truth on the big BBC and thinking that I would never question speaking out on racism, sexism and homophobia ever again.
You have a new single out named ‘Dirty Little Secret’, is this from a personal story?
It is indeed. I know from listening to it everyone expects it to be about a secret lover, which isn’t the case. I wrote ‘DLS’ about 4 years ago, in the response to being in the shadows for 2 years with my long term partner. Not because of the obvious reason like the song may give off, but to hide his sexuality and our relationship from the public. This track is a message to those companies/productions that advice hiding who you are will benefit your career. I'm here to say hiding who you are will never help your career, as there is nothing to hide. In a time of feeling so angry, isolated and embarrassed of the lie we held for a short time, ’DLS’ was written.
What is the recording/writing process like when you were creating this song?
I wrote this song about 4/5 years ago with Dec Gaffney & Barry Gorey in their studio in East Ldn. It was a miserable day and after feeling a certain type of way with the situation I was in we got stuck into writing ‘Dirty Little Secret’. If I remember correctly we wrote it in a day everything seemed to flow so naturally. We switched off all the lights and they made me sing the song again and again till it was ingrained in my soul.
Where do you source your inspiration from, is there any songs, that you draw inspiration from?
My main source of inspiration is from the people around me, and the every day struggles of my own life. Nothing quite inspires you more than a huge tax bill you haven’t saved for.
How is this different from any other release?
It’s the first time I’ve been able to open the door into the more vulnerable side of myself. I have always struggled to let people in when it comes to personal matters, so this was a big step. Feeling very grateful and supported from the response of the song so far, so it’s definitely time to keep that door open.
I’m sure everyone is excited to know, what is next for you?
My second EP ‘Hands Behind His Back’ will be dropping in the summer! You may even see me on tour at the end of March… But all will be revealed! Follow me on insta to hear more.