MY final interview today...
is with Brighton-based Charlie Melrose who talks to me about her single, The Original Ghost, and its background. I ask what it is like having famous musicians in the family and what she has planned going forward – Melrose talks about some rising artists we need to get behind.
I was curious to discover what her early life was like in terms of music exposure; whether there are plans in her mind for next year and which musical memory stands in the mind – she ends the interview by selecting a great song (or two)!
Hi, Charlie. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m good! Are you? My week has been manic but good. I’ve been prepping for the upcoming single launch; we’ve got a lot planned for this event!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m am Artpop/Neo-Soul artist brought up in Scotland/Cornwall and now based in Brighton.
The Original Ghost is your new single. Is there a story behind it?
Yeah, there is…
I suppose perhaps it comes across as a song written by a ghosted lover…but it’s not how it is. The song is about my biological father - he is the ‘original ghost’ in my life story; coming in and out of my life (mostly out) as he pleased and me spending most of my childhood and adult life not knowing his address or where he might be. Maybe some would shun a ‘father’ like that…unfortunately, for me, I just accepted it and got hurt and hurt over and over. It affected my relationships with men and I got into a vicious circle of going out with men who would treat me in a similar way to him; not taking any of my feelings into account. I didn't see myself as worthy deep down because the child in me thought ‘there must be something really bad about me that I’m not worth contacting or caring about’ - so I let it keep happening.
But, one day (about this time last year actually), I stood up to my ghost. Through a lot of hard work, I have convinced myself that I am worthy of better treatment and…love. I agreed to meet him in Brighton (he was on tour with Hazel O’Connor - his sister and my aunt) and I was extremely brave. I stood up to him and told him that what he had done to me was wrong and that I was in charge now - and I told him I was never to hear from him again; he is not allowed to contact me ever again and he shan’t ever hear from me or follow me on social media. I took control of the situation and ghosted him back. Forever, done; capiche.
I walked away crying and laughing at the same time. It was the single most empowering and terrifying thing I have ever done. The Original Ghost embodies some of that empowerment and also tells of some of the story that I have been through with him and relationships.
Might we see some more material coming next year?
Absolutely! This is just the beginning - I’m aiming to release an album; there may be some more singles first.
Hazel O’Connor is your aunt! How influential is she in regards your music?
She is! She’s not been massively influential on purpose. Weirdly, I got told something very strange when I performed in my first band at nineteen. It was a battle of the bands-type thing. The judge said “You probably don’t know who this is but you remind me of Hazel O’Connor”. I was astonished. My response was “Well, I don’t know her personally…but she is my auntie”.
The first time I met her I saw her at a gig and it was very emotional for me. She was fantastic. I felt so sad that I had missed out on having her in my life for my whole childhood. She seemed almost like a myth to me…but we really were related. Maybe she was another sort of ghost; someone I looked up to but never knew...
Did you grow up in a musical family? Which artists did you discover at a young age?
My musical family are my ghosts - Hazel and Neil. My mum and my stepdad are not musical at all: my mum has always been really supportive but admits she didn’t particularly want me to sing because she knew how unreliable of a career path it was. But, it was impossible for me to not pursue music. It feels like it’s a huge part of what makes me who I am.
Artists I loved at a young age weren’t particularly good. Haha. My favourite singer was ‘Sporty Spice’ when I was a kid, no joke! I loved her. I used to dress like her and everything. In my teens I was into Emo and Punk (and Metal apparently but I was massively lying to myself on that one) and, in my late-teens, I loved Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black (and still do); Wallis Bird’s Spoons and Kate Nash’s Made of Bricks.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
A successful launch of The Original Ghost and some festival slots booked for next year.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Absolutely: write and record the album, tour and play festivals.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Yeah. I sure do. I used to front a Punk/Rock band and we opened the Main Stage for the Buzzcocks at Rebellion Festival (2012) to a huge crowd in a big ballroom (Blackpool Winter Gardens). The feeling on that stage was phenomenal.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
So beautifully written; so real, so heartbreaking; just incredible. Amy touches my soul.
For All We Know - Nao
Amazing music with pure passion and GROOVE. My favourite modern artist besides Christine and the Queens.
Spoons - Wallis Bird
Every song means something to me; it’s such a brilliant album. I think songs you really incredibly love as a teenager will always take you back to those moments that you identified so deeply with at the time. It’s very nostalgic for me.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Christine and the Queens, please! That would be so sick.
Ooooh; rider. Prosecco, grapes; loads of water (boring but essential. Haha), roasted vegetable wraps; roast potatoes (for afterwards, please); dairy-free chocolate milk and vanilla yoghurts.
Haha. I’m talking to you like you’re booking me.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
If you have a passion, drive and a plan you’re halfway there. Want it. Want it bad. But, don’t want it so much that you forget to enjoy the journey. There will be moments where you’ll tear your hair out and you’ll wonder what the point of it all is - and then you’ll play ‘that gig’ and that’ll remind you exactly why you’re doing it.
IN THIS PHOTO: Yazmyn Hendrix
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yazmyn Hendrix is epic! Loop artist with all the vocal chops and a fantastic songwriter. Tasha Robertson is wonderful. I sang backing vocals for her for Sofar Sounds Chichester. She has a lovely, sweet voice and folky, poppy tunes. She’s like a sweeter more tuneful Kate Nash.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I love yoga and surfing. I love exploring and adventures. I really need an adventure every once in a while to chill my mind out. I’m quite a highly-strung anxious sort of person who needs to be reminded to have a day off. I love countryside missions and riding horses. I also love to DANCE.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Christine and the Queens - Girlfriend
Bad Blood - Nao
Both are wonderful
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