Charlotte OC played Preston’s 53 Degrees this week and Katie Driscoll caught up with her before the gig. Did any budding journalist out there go to the concert who wants to write a review with a byline for the LEP. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlotte O’Connor was just an ordinary teen from Blackburn, Lancashire-albeit one signed to Columbia Records. Dropped, you would expect her to fade into obscurity. That hasn’t happened- and now 23, she has come back and reinvented herself as Charlotte OC, with a sound that is influenced by an eclectic mix, ranging from diverse sounds from Joni Mitchell to Bohemian Rhapsody, and infused with the dark hedonistic spirit of dank Berlin Nightclubs (most famously, the notorious Berghain, a “Temple of Techno”). “I’m inspired by a lot of traditional artists like Joni Mitchell , James Taylor , Aretha Franklin and a lot of 60 folk /soul. On the other side I also love house music, so combining the two together came very naturally to me”
She has emerged out of the chrysalis from the same house of style as Cyril Hahn et al- electric melancholy- the “Soundcloud Generation”. Everything on her EP is all sultry whispered seductions laced with stormy trance-like beats, bass and synths. The contradictions are weird and wonderful; in her stand-out track “Hangover” the repetitions echo the state of mind after a particular hardcore night of drinking, the feeling of losing your memory and your mind. She sings, almost like a pagan chant, “hangover in the morning/in the night” whilst the bass beats like a tribal drum: it brings to mind the cavernous dancefloor of Berghain, which she was inspired on a visit by, “I always hide myself away from things that scared me….and that place scared the hell out of me…but whilst being scared I felt extremely welcome in this strange little community. I think the clash of the two emotions really inspired me”, apt seeing as the club is often described by goers as a “religious experience”.
This revelation led to “Color My Heart”, a more low-tempo minimalist work of heartbreak and disappointment in love. Her lyrics combine aching sentiment with warped, perky-pop beats, “ Cause you left me with tears in my eyes/And you left like a thief in the night/I’m falling and I’m fighting”.
“Cut the Rope” is a song that is haunting in its ghostly, other-worldiness, a song that evokes an empty, echoing church hall. Her sound is full-on sensitive Dylan with the sultry moodiness of Lana Del Ray.
Now Charlotte OC has pilgrimaged back to her homeland- Lancashire- to play a gig at Preston club 53 Degrees- where she muses on how strange it is being back, “Sometimes it is strange to be back…but a lot of the time it isn’t. I’m always so excited to come back, but I’m even more excited to be coming back and playing these shows up here “.
Having a modest upbringing in Blackburn, OC was brought up by a member of the Merseybeat’s in her father and a hairdresser mother- a place she often helped out at after the dropping of her album as a teen. You would assume that music had always been in her blood. “If wasn’t for my dad I wouldn’t have picked up the guitar or had my massive passion for music like he does . He has inspired me to whole heartedly love music”.
She says, “I struggled a bit in school… but music came so very easily to me .i really enjoyed the other sides of performing arts like dancing and acting, but it didn’t feel natural… But with music it felt really right. i think I really fell in love with music when I learnt to play the guitar… I felt like I could properly get stuck into it instead of just admiring or singing over the top of it - playing the guitar allowed me to create something of my own “.
Plans for a debut album are already on the horizon for this determined young woman, who describes her ambitions for it , “ Just to make something that represents me in the best and worst possible way “.