SXSW Interview: Charlotte OC (UK) tells us why she “isn’t faking it anymore”

The incredible Charlotte OC has been dripping back into our consciousness over the last few months, with her recent signing to Neon Gold Records and tracks like “Satellite” and “Boyfriend” showcasing a powerful new direction for the UK artist. While at SXSW we sat down to talk about the new music, and where she is going from here.

So it was four years ago to the day when we last sat down.

Yeah, a long time.

A lot has happened since then. Of course, you released your debut record. You’ve got two new singles that we’re here to talk about today, out with Neon Gold. Firstly tell me how Neon Gold came on board? What an incredible label to be working with.

Yeah, they are amazing. I think they got played my stuff and straight away they were like “we want to work with this.” I just recently parted with my last record company, and I just needed a new home… they are the perfect home for me I think. So, yeah it’s been lovely. Just kind of natural.

Has it changed your approach to all to kind of the music you’re working on now in terms of who you’re working with? How you’re producing your music?

Yeah, definitely. Just after releasing that first record, Careful People, I had to sit back and think there was something about it that wasn’t necessarily sitting right with me. I think that’s when I decided to have a fresh start. I started producing. I started the whole process of going in with big writers, and all that, it’s lovely but it’s actually more intimidating than it is actually you’re going to get something creative out of it. It’s kind of an old school way of doing things. I also think that I’m not that kind of artist. I need it to all come from me, and I think that this is what this new stuff is definitely doing. I produce quite a lot of it, and it’s been a total different experience all together. I feel like I’m not faking it anymore, which is nice.

With “Satellite” and “Boyfriend” it definitely feels like you’re going down a more personal road than you have in the past. Is that what you mean by not faking it anymore?

I just know who the fuck I am now. I think I was always comparing myself to somebody else. I was always feeling pressures of a world that I didn’t necessarily belong in, and I think that’s why it makes sense for me to be with an independent. It just feels more like I can be more honest, because I am being more honest about every single bit of it in terms of the production and everything. You can tell when somebody’s not being honest. People can see through fakeness, and I think that’s why I just kind of bit the bullet and decided to just be me.

And this is leading us to an EP later in the year?

Yes.

Do the singles give us an indication of what we can expect?

Yes. Just more, kind of, direct lyrics. It’s got a mix of Americana but with a hint of electronic.

It sort of weighted the other way around before.

Yeah, exactly. Now I’ve written a majority that started on guitar. I think that’s where I kind of make sense the most. It’s just gone that way, and I think that it’s just who you are when you do it with your core instrument. Yeah, I don’t know what the hell it is actually. I don’t know what I’m doing, but it’s just me.

That’s all that matters though. Really at the end of the day no one knows what they’re doing.

No.

We’re all just fucking making it up.

Yeah, totally. Totally.

Then if it works, it works.

Yeah, exactly.

You’ve got quite a bit of touring coming up as well. You’re doing, obviously, quite a few shows here at SXSE. What’s the next few months look like for you?

So, I go home on Friday. I go home for a couple of days, back to London, then I am heading out to New York to support (Australia’s own) Wafia. Then I’ve got a couple more shows in New York, one at the Standard Hotel. Then I’ve got some writing, then I head over to L.A.

Then I’ve got some more shows basically over there. Then I’ve got a European tour. All the dates are online, but there’re ones in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, and London. So, yeah busy. Busy summer.

Very busy summer. Of course that’s all going to be revolving around the release of the EP as well. Can you tell me a little bit about who you have been working with for this release?

The guy who has helped me massively, is a guy called Liam Howl. He was in a band called Sneaker Pimps. Yeah, he’s been amazing with me. We wrote “Strangers in the Dark” together. He kind of taught me how to play bass, and that’s me playing bass on the track. I’m playing it. He just kind of pushes me, which is really good. He knows where I shine most. He just allows me to do whatever the fuck I want.

Which is the dream.

Yeah, also it’s really nice to have that. I work so well with Tim Anderson, who I did “Boyfriend” with, and “Call of My Heart” years ago. It was nice to have that kind of character back in the U.K., because otherwise I’m trying to spend butt loads of money trying to get to America just to work with somebody that I have that connection with. Yeah, Liam Howl’s amazing. Fred Abbot, who’s actually on stage with me, we wrote “Falling For You”. “Better Off Alone” as well, so those two guys have been amazing. Again, they just both allow me to do whatever I want, and leave the production ideas to me. It’s nice.

You’re keeping things pretty simple in the stage show, at least for South By. Is that reflective of what you’re going to be doing when you’re touring later in the year?

It’s only that way because I can’t literally can’t afford to bring a drummer on board really. I think for the live set, for the European tour, I’ll have a drummer. It’ll be a little bit fuller, but I think it’s done already for here. So lot of hassle, especially with South By being so hetic, the less is more element is so important.

But it sounds great. So much of what you bring to a performance is you. It’s your stage presence. It’s your energy, so you’re able to shine on that which is what it’s all about.

Yes, thank you.

Have you been enjoying it I guess is the truly important question?

I really, really, really fucking have. I’ve been really sensible. I’ve been going to bed when I need to go to bed. I haven’t really been drinking that much, but performance wise I think I’ve done my bit. I’ve got one more show. My voice is packing out, so I’m panicking a little bit, but yesterday and the day before I gave my absolute all. I think that’s all I needed to do.

A couple of lozenges and some whiskey, and you’ll be right!

I think I need a hot toddy for sure.

Hot toddy’s all around.

Yes, exactly.

That should be the official drink of SXSW to be honest.

So, I found this place around here that’s just like a whiskey … They had like 600 whiskeys on the wall. One of those ladders climbing up to get, insane. They gave me one of the best hot toddy’s I have ever had. It was like sprinkling nutmeg, cinnamon, it was like…

Smells like Christmas?

It was amazing! I was smashed as well. I was so drunk. It was great.

Well it’s been great to see you again, and on this new path with the new record. I can’t wait to hear it.

Thank you.

We hope to see you back in Australia as well on this run!

Yes, definitely.

It’s been a few years between drinks.

Yes, exactly. I’d love to go back. Thank you so much.

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Charlotte OC’s latest single “Boyfriend” is out now. To keep updated on the artist, head to her Official Website.

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Larry Heath

Founding Editor of the AU review. You can find him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.