Charles Baby have been very busy recording the debut album, in some rather unorthodox places, and are now gearing up for the album launch. In the lead up to the launch we were able to have some questions answered and find out a little more about Charles Baby.
Hello, and welcome to Beauty and Lace.
Can you tell us a little about how Charles Baby formed?
I’ve been playing around town for nearly ten years. When I started playing my own songs I adopted this name so I had a nice bit of separation from stage persona and real persona. We’ve had various lineups over the years. At the moment we play with drums, violin, double bass and me.
Where did the name come from?
I’d been playing open mic nights and the bar owner mentioned they needed a support for Tim Rogers from You Am I. It was my fist gig and he demanded a name. I have no idea where the Baby came from, I just blurted it out. He listed me in the paper as ‘the very sexual Charles Baby.’ It kind of stuck after that.
How would you describe your sound?
I tend to keep saying ‘apocalyptic folk’. It’s very lyrically driven. That’s probably the focal point. Lot’s of these songs seem to sound like they have these unnamed disasters looming somewhere in the background.
You have recently finished recording your debut album, in the studio and out. Can you tell us about the recording?
We recorded in a couple of abandoned school halls out in Gippsland.
Our producer J Walker has had some success doing that in the past. Those halls have a real natural echo that is fantastic. It means that everything you sing has a certain gravitas. We did everything live this time. I didn’t want to use click tracks and play over the top. I wanted it to sound like I was sitting right next to you, singing into your ear.
Speaking of the album, can you tell us a little about it?
It’s probably got a new style of songs from what I used to do. I made a concerted effort not to write personally on these songs. I began to feel really constricted by being tied to the truth of events. So all of these songs have characters that speak on my behalf. And in a funny way that helped to get closer to the issues I was trying to explore in these songs.
There was a period before the record where I lost my voice before recording the record. For the first time in years I couldn’t write. It forced me to analyse what I wanted to sound like from a distance. It was a bit of a blessing in disguise. I decided to use much more poetic structures in the songs and to write in the third person more. I think that all comes out in the narrative of the album.
You have some launch shows coming up this month, what can we expect from them?
I think you can expect to make an emotional connection. There’s not a lot of fanfare about what we do but we are pretty genuine.
Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?
Certain words and phrases really. I tend to write and write until a find a phrase that I get a response from; something that kicks me a little. I always try to write about people that are on the cusp of something but we often don’t find out what it is. I like to leave a lot unresolved and have mystery in the story.
Do you have a process for writing songs?
Always music first. There’s no point having good lyrics if they don’t fit the tune. I play the melody until the whole song is finished and then write. I write a lot and I edit a lot until I’m happy.
What’s been your career highlight to date?
Hmm. Any time you play a new song live and it really works is pretty amazing. Playing a song for a crowd is always the best litmus test and sometimes you can convince yourself something is better than it is. But playing a new thing and feeling it work is very rewarding.
Where has been your favourite venue to play?
I really like the Worker’s Club, where our launch is. Love the Toff in Town as well.
What’s next for Charles Baby?
I’m excited about writing the next set of songs. I’m excited to see how I react to this set and what corrections I’ll make. I’m going to be overseas based for a while as well so I’m looking forward to that.
What does being a musician mean to you?
It’s a big part of my identity. But it’s mainly about the writing. Being a person that rehearses, drives to gigs and plays shows is great but it doesn’t affect my outlook like writing songs does. Being able to explore things through song is really powerful. Being able to unlock puzzles gives you a particular outlook and exercises a particular part of you.
Thanks so much for your time and good luck with the launch.
The lead single from the upcoming album is A Happy Affair (With A Terrible Consequence) and you can check the video out right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sYNlA6CNEQ
And if it’s album launch shows you’re after:
May 10th – The Newsagency, Marrickville
May 16th – Workers Club, Fitzroy