Charles Connolly - a brand new artist on the scene - has been writing and producing songs for a number of years in his hometown of London - but has only recently decided to go public with it all, having had critical acclaim from various renowned songwriters such as Mike Batt among many others. Charles manages to perfectly blend the old with the new, but with a freshness that leaves one wanting more. Originality is his key attribute, whilst not alienating anyone with anything close to avant-garde or ‘weird’ music - he keeps within the realm of pop but shifts it to the side. In a world of strict genres, Charles breaks barriers and conformity, managing to mix things up a bit, but in a way that feels so right and so natural. There is something different and something classic with every song.
If you were to introduce your genre to someone unaware of your music, how would you?
I don’t really have a specific genre. I have always listened to so many different styles of music, and so I write with that in mind. I write and produce in all sorts of genres, often melding and blending several during the course of one song. This will range from jazz and classical, through rock and pop of the 60s/70s/80s/90s, and then on to electronic and dance music of the last twenty years…! I mix the old with the new. I suppose the best of what people love about older music, and the best of what people like about more modern music. I blend real instruments with synths. Drums with beats. Organic vocals with synthesised vocals. All amalgamated with taste though - nothing mushed up and slapped together.
Have you been naturally inclined toward music, or did you pursue it professionally?
Bit of a funny question here, as I would assume that anyone pursuing music professionally was naturally inclined towards music… And so, I would say both. Unless you are talking about education and whether I am self-taught or privately taught? If so, I did go to music college and study music at school, but I really think almost all of it just came naturally - I don’t really feel I learnt anything from those institutions. I was privately taught drums for years. Other than that though, I have been singing all my life and taught myself how to play guitar, bass and piano/keys. Music has always been in me. I sort of feel it. No, I definitely feel music.
Tell us something about your new single “You Tap and Unwrap Me”. Idea. Conception. Challenges
I think initially this song was meant to be a very simple piano ballad, and pretty much the way it came to me as chords and melody simultaneously. Then I felt a groove; a persistent yet subtle underlying kick, riding four to the floor. I realised the song was darker and creepier than I had anticipated, and so I wanted a haunting vocal (I had Shirley Bassey in mind, but she was busy). That female line I actually sang myself, recording it with a strange tone in my throat and a curl in my lips, and then messed with it afterwards to make it sound realistically female. The song is a ballad at heart, about an unhappy woman whose only solace can be sought from one man alone - the only person who truly knows her. The lyrics in the chorus can also be construed as sexual, which I thought was a nice double entendre. The song is orchestrated subtly with Chinese violin and saxophone, before the whole song explodes with huge impact as the breakbeat/dubstep beat bashes one’s face off. The intro of the song sounds almost like a sample from one of Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti-Western scores, but in fact I just wrote and recorded it. For me, “You Tap and Unwrap Me” is the James Bond song that never was.
Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud how does your music reach your target audience and what struggles do you face?
It used to be Soundcloud, but as of this summer I wanted things to be a little more professional and proper, and so went for the proper streaming platforms, such as Spotify and Apple Music. Soundcloud very much still has its place - mainly a way for artists to try out their music on a smaller platform to see its reception. As to struggles, the biggest is regardless of platform. I used to mainly use Soundcloud. I now mainly use Spotify. The problem is that although it’s there, it doesn’t mean thousands of people will stumble upon it and press play. The universal struggle is to get the word out and get people to press play. Something the radio doesn’t have a problem with.
How has the struggle been so far to your current standings?
I think the difficulty and the tiresome aspect of it all is relentlessly having to put almost every hour of every day into promoting myself and the music. I am doing it all on my own - just like the music itself - and it can get pretty hard and heavy sometimes. But also, I can be so engrossed in it that a simple thing like going to the loo can be a nuisance and an interruption. The struggle remains the constant work one has to put into it all, and the constant effort to get people to press play. The internet has in one way made things a lot easier, as there are more avenues and more ways for people to engage and listen. But in another way, it has made it harder because there is that much more competition. Spotify is now so oversaturated with poorly produced drivel that it feels so much cheaper. Spotify then compensates for this by trying its best to bury all the smaller artists until they are almost entirely hidden, so all the “struggling” artists have to work even harder.
5 years down the line, what’s that one thing you want to achieve?
I hope less than five years down the line I will have a fully fledged career in music. As well as myself as a recording artist in my own right, I hope to be writing and producing for known singers and artists in the mainstream. I have noticed already the amount of praise I get from fellow producers and writers, both striving and successful, and even regarded.
How has your place of Origin been an influence to your music? And how much local support you garnered during the nascent stages?
I am from London. I live in London. In London, the word ‘local’ doesn’t really feel like it exists anymore. In the age of the internet, with most lost souls staring vacantly or even yearningly at their screens of varying sizes, I feel ‘place of origin’ is pretty much irrelevant. Although I live in one of the “lands of opportunity” I do feel that in this day and age one can achieve anything from anywhere, IF one is good and talented enough. Contacts will always be the most direct path to success, but I do still think that true art prevails and will always eventually find its dignified place on the mantle. It may take a little time and a lot of effort, but quality wins every time. This could be a load of rubbish, of course, but one has to stay positive and look to the sky at all times…!
How are the psychological rewards in this career you have chosen? Have you ever second guessed your choices?
The biggest reward right now can be defined not by money, but by praise. It does tremendous things to one’s soul to hear praise for one’s art. I can personally always see through fake praise, and I simply ignore it. I don’t take it personally, as art is all down to personal taste. But when one person details exactly what they loved about one of my songs and what made them so excited, I am in my element and truly lifted. When someone says something along the lines of “dope track”, I completely ignore it or politely thank them, despite it being positive, as the music evidently didn’t hit the spot for them. Which is completely fine! As to the second part of your question, there is simply nothing else in the world I can do better than music. So why bother doing anything else? I didn’t choose music, I just simply can’t help but do it.
What’s coming up for you down the road?
A few more releases before the year is out. Possibly a ballad is coming soon (with swooning strings and luscious sound), and possibly even a Christmas song towards the end of year. Who knows! Stick around and you’ll see.