"The road is one of my closest friends. It’s taught me a lot about myself and my music" We chat with Charlie Marie
2019 is seeing quite the comeback for a more traditional country sound in the mainstream, with Luke Combs conquering everything in his path, Chris You and Blake Shelton going more "trad". But on the fringes of the mainstream is where the really interesting music is being made, and where Charlie Marie has garnered some attention for herself, particularly with her recent track, 'Rhinestones'. With the release of her debut EP we spoke with her about her music, the challenges she's faced so far, karaoke, and having three jobs.
Hey Charlie, how the heck are you?
Hey Max, doing pretty good!
What have you been up to today, and where are you right now?
Today is Mother’s Day and I just finished playing a set at the Lafayette Club in Taunton, MA. Now my pal from Arkansas, Dylan Earl, is tearing up the stage with his band.
Can you tell us a bit about you, when was the first time you remember singing or playing music?
My grandmother first introduced me to country music. When I first started out, I would sing at karaoke. The first spot I sang karaoke at was this small, family-owned restaurant called Casa Fernandez. I sang 'Crazy' by Patsy Cline and no one could believe it was a kid singing. From there on, I was hooked.
What’s the road been like for where you’ve got to right now?
The road is one of my closest friends. It’s taught me a lot about myself and my music. One of its greatest lessons is to just keep going, even if it’s foggy or rainy and you can’t see more than five feet in front of you. You just have to keep driving, no matter what.
You just released your EP, what can you tell me about it in two sentences?
It has been an amazing roller coaster ride. I am blown away by people’s responses!
Your calling card has been “Rhinestones,” how did that song come about?
The idea was inspired by a Dolly Parton quote. I’ve met a few people who try to be someone they’re not, as I’m sure most people have. I wish they realized that people would like them more if they just embraced who they really are.
'Countryside' is another cracking song, what can you tell me about that?
A lot of people can’t believe that I sing country music, since I have such a strong Rhode Island accent. Country is in everyone and essentially, everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you come from, anyone can experience how the country and country music makes them feel.
And 'Shot in the Dark' has such a classic country sound to it, how did you go about constructing that song?
I had just recently moved back to Rhode Island and was getting over a break-up. When a relationship ends, it’s usually a dark time and a moment when people need a glimmer of hope. I didn’t think much about constructing this song, it just came to me. The good ones are like that. I wanted to make people feel like love is and will always be out there.
What did the writing of this EP look like?
Most of the songs were written outside. I find I am most creative when I am surrounded by nature. Each song was also constructed around the “hook.” I’ve found that having a central direction helps the inspiration steadily flow.
What’s the key to writing a damn good song?
I’d have to say having a damn good “hook.” To me, writing a memorable song is all about saying something different in a clever way. That is where the “hook” comes in. It’s the phrase or sentence that ties everything together.
And what was the recording situation, I believe you took a pretty stripped down approach to it?
99% of the time, it’s just my guitar player, Brian McKinnon, and I playing gigs. We don’t usually play with a full band. We also did the EP without a producer, which was a bit intimidating at first. My thought process behind this stage was to find Nashville musicians that specialized in “old country.” My friend, Brandan Malone, helped me with that. We only had two days in the studio to record. The first day was drums, bass and acoustic guitar. The second was electric, steel, keys and vocals. My friend, Ben Klise (an engineer), did a really great job mixing the songs and tying everything together.
What else is going on with you in 2019?
2019 is full of playing live and writing songs. Those are my top priorities right now. They are the two things that make me feel most alive.
I’ve actually been to Providence, RI, but if I hadn’t, why would I want to go there?
It’s a pretty awesome place, especially in the summer and fall. We have unique beaches and there are a lot of sights to see in Newport, RI. Also, the seafood and pasta is damn good!
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
Honestly, I think both genders have their positives and negatives. Overall, I think I’ve been treated fairly by the people I’ve come in contact with. I know mainstream radio has a tendency to be male-dominated, but I have faith that, in the future, things will change.
Lots of independent artists have other jobs to support themselves, which surprises a lot of people. Just how hard is it to be an independent artist?
It is pretty hard, but anything worth doing usually is. I have a couple of part-time jobs as well. If I’m not singing, I am either at the Coachmen’s Lodge (Bellingham, Ma) or working as a cocktail waitress at Twin River Casino (Lincoln, RI).
What kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?
I tend to listen to light rock or traditional country music.
What do you do for fun?
When I have free time, I try to be outside. I always feel grounded when I’m at the beach or somewhere in the woods.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
Dylan Earl is one of the hardest working kids I know. I believe he is putting out a new record this year and if you like old school country, his music will be right up your alley.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
“Why have you continued to pursue music?” Being an artist is tricky business. There are a lot of highs and lows, but having the capability to make someone feel special is why I continue to do music. It’s all about making the world a better place and when I’m on stage, I feel like that is
what I’m doing.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
It depends on the day, but typically regular cream and one sugar. Also, if you ever go to Providence, Nitro Cart has the best coffee ever. Their nitro brew tastes like chocolate and I can drink it black!
To find out more about Charlie you should visit her website, where you can also find out where she's playing live shows. You should also check out her socials.