Somojo Magazine

Charlotte Sterland

“Sacrificial Scream”- solo album, 2010

Hi Charlotte, how are you?
I’m very well thank you. And you?

Which instruments do you play?
Voice, guitar, piano and viola

What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
I don’t think you ever “decide” what kind of act you want to have, you normally sit down and write something either alone or with other people and take it from there. 

Do you work with the same musicians when recording as you do when performing live?
It depends on what you’re recording.  I think the most important thing about anyone you work with is that they love what they do.  The people you tend to work with are the people who are interested in all aspects of the project.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Other people seem to identify me with indie folk, so I’m happy with that. 

What have you been up to recently?
I’ve had a very busy year, so I’ve taken some time to go on holiday and see family and friends.  I’ve also been working on some new material.

Did you always want to be in a musician/singer when younger?
I used to want to be loads of different things, but I always knew it would involve talking to people. 

What music did you listen to while growing up?
I’ve always had the influence of classical music behind me because my grandma used to listen to radio3 and my parents love going to the opera and would always take me and my sister, but I’ve always really liked music I can dance around to! 
I got into folk when I was about 19 because the stories seemed so real and there were always thing I could relate to.

How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
I’ve played the piano and viola since I was six so I’ve performed since I was little, and I started writing when I was quite young as well.  I only started performing sets of my own songs when I was about 20.

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
I had lots of piano and viola lessons, but now I play guitar when I perform and that’s self taught, although I’m sure the lessons I had in the other instruments helped me. 

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
I do a lot of home recordings because if I write something quickly I need a way of remembering it.  When you’re in a studio it depends on what need to be done when.  Sometimes you record the vocals at the same time as the backing or sometimes you do it afterwards.  In terms of inspiration, yes, there’s really are no rules.  Sometimes you sit down to write and inspiration comes, and sometimes inspiration comes so you have to sit down to write.How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?Probably too much.  I tend to think about all aspects of what I’m doing quite early on.  It’s actually great fun and an incredible challenge producing as well as performing, but it can be better to just focus on one or the other.

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
I think recording is a world of its own.  The main difference being that if you’re doing lots of takes you can hear what you’ve done and you can become critical, and find problems with things other people don’t even notice, which is dangerous.  I’ve learned not to say that too much now though, because I think your job as an artist is just to get into the song as best you can and go for it.  For me, recording is one of my favourite things, because there’s a lot of pressure, but good pressure, just pressure to get it done and do it well.


Do you have any favourite tracks on your album?
No, I think everything that goes onto an album is there for a reason.  That said, I definitely have those I prefer to perform, or should I say those I find easier to perform.

Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
No, I think that work that is influenced by personal experience and things you can relate to is always the best and feels the best to write, but that a huge amount of song writing is and should be fictional because it allows you to come out of yourself and be happy with your work.   

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
I’m not sure.  It depends on the song and the situation.  I think the easiest songs to write are the ones that are really about you, but these are the hardest to perform.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
There are so many great songs, some of them are traditional, some of them are modern, but two of my favourite well known writers are Dolly Parton and Burt Bacharach.  I always get the feeling they really mean what they say.  Also, their music has been used in so many different ways and by so many people that you know there’s a real strength in their writing.  I think Bob Dylan is an amazing artist and I also love Beverley Craven.

What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
Watching or playing?  No, I used to play background music at places, and didn’t really like it because I felt like people weren’t listening and it wasn’t really my music.  I don’t think I’d mind so much now though.

Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
I do, yes.  I used to get very, very nervous, now I still get nervous but not disablingly so.

Charlotte Sterland

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