Talks with Charlotte Martin
On Your Shore
From the road
Charlotte is currently out on tour in support of her CD Veins but she took time to send us a list (which she is famous for making) about the 20 Things you should know about Charlotte Martin on the Veins Tour. It gives us an understanding of what it's like to be out on the road and away from home and your stuff for long periods of time in support of your music. It also brought a smile to my face as I read down this eclectic list of what she felt you needed to know about her while she is out on road. Enjoy.
CEV: I've read a couple of the interviews that you have done prior to this one so we'll start this one with the one of those compulsory questions before we move onto other topics. Tell me about when you decided that your love of music was more than just a hobby and was something that you wanted to do for a living?
CM: I decided this from an early age. I always knew I would do music professionally, I just didn't know it would be performing and composing until I was in college. I thought I would be teaching. Either way, my path led me here and here I am, and I'm grateful to be able to be doing music in any form.
CEV: How long did it take until you felt that you had enough of a repertoire of original material to start thinking about working on your initial CD release and how much is enough in your mind?
CM: Well it was nice that I had a good couple years after being signed and One Girl Army being shelved to really write. I look back at that waiting period and am positive...I don't think I was ready to release anything when I was first signed to RCA. I didn't know my identity yet as a writer. I am still figuring it out and I am much more confident now. I think there was an overflow when I first started writing...now it comes and goes in waves...all the songs. When I get them, I'm a very very happy to get them...and when they don't come I don't force it. I could when I was younger, but of course I wasn't the most seasoned critic of my word either.
CEV: Your initial release was Test-drive Songs. What did you learn from this release about your music, the process of recording it and getting it out to fans who wanted to buy it?
CM: I learned how to be an indie artist on a major label and I learned how to run a small studio from Ken. I experimented a lot with percussion, programming and synths. I used Virus mostly on everything atmospheric on Test-Drive Songs and I am taking it out on the road with me now so I can start playing songs off of that EP.
I have to give props to Terami Hirsch because we became friends and she really steered me into the online world which is where a lot of people found me. She is one of the most successful and hardworking DIY artists I have ever met. I really like to be surrounded with people who just don't stop. I just made test-drive songs and put it up on CDBaby while waiting for the right people to come into RCA to let me make my records. It was really good for me to do that or I would have gone insane. Everything happens for a reason.
CEV: We the listeners aren't privy to what leads up to a release of a CD by an artist. We get to listen to in its finished form and it seems such an easy thing to purchase the CD and wonder why it took so long. What is the process like from your perspective as an artist in the middle of working on a new project and trying to get it ready to record and release?
CM: I am usually taking breaks to tour in the middle of making projects. It's been like one big record for me, well until Veins that is. Test-Drive, In Parentheses, On Your Shore, and Darkest hour could be one long record with demos attached at the beginning. Even One Girl Army because some songs got re-recorded. Only now does it feel like a new era for me but I like to tour, come home, write and record and then break. I can't imagine concentrating for more than a few weeks at a time on a record.
I need a lot of stimulation I guess. Seeing my fans inspires me. Seeing my family and friends, spending time with God, and reading. It all meshes together.
CEV: Do live performances of the songs that you write help you to work out the finished sound you would like to achieve once you hit the studio or is it pretty solid in your mind by the time you start the recording process?
CM: YES. the touring is where I get fed to come back and spill my guts. It's all about the constant inspiration from others and connections.
CEV: Where does your music come from? I know some writers consider it a cathartic experience that allows them to examine their own issues even if they are in a somewhat public forum. Are your songs commentaries on the external issues of life or the internal ones?
CM: God and the soul, they are the filters. They decide when it's time and when it's going to come. I realize this more and more as I get older. I just have to be ready and quiet enough to hear them.
CEV: How is it that songwriters take the influences that have shaped their likes and dislikes and incorporate that into their own music without it becoming derivative but something that is entirely yours?
CM: A lot of trial and error. I have homaged some of my favorite artists on purpose in past recordings. I am a huge fan of music. I guess the more you do it, the more you find your identity. Artistically, personally, emotionally and spiritually. On every level really. Experience is a very good teacher. To get a testimony you have to first have a test.
CEV: On Your Shore was your next full length CD but it did not make it out as quickly as you would have liked. Many would say that the way to success is to have record deal with one of the majors, would you say that now after your experiences with RCA records?
CM: I can't speak for other labels. It's even hard to really just talk about RCA because the people working with me shifted so many times...I mean, I was there longer than a lot of people that worked at the company before I started my record. I am not sure where "Stromata" will land. I don't really care whether it's major label again or indie. I just want to be with the people that get me as an artist and are committed, and who don't look like they'll be exiting the building before I do.
CEV: With technologies and distribution being what they are these days is it more attractive to be an indie artist as opposed to getting that major record deal? What has the internet meant to you, your music and connecting with your fans?
CM: The internet is what started things rolling for me. We concentrate most of everything we have to the online world. My online publicist is very close with Ken and I and we've been working together from the ground up for several years. She is growing with me. Have you seen the new video ipod coming out? Yeah. HELLO.
CEV: You seem to have a pattern with your releases. Full length CD, EP, Full length CD and coming up in 2006 is the EP Veins. What do the EP's mean for you and your music? Is it a way of giving your fans something of your music while you are working on your next full length release or are they viable entities on their own merits?
CM: The EP's are viable on their own merits and mark a specific point in my composition and mind-set. They also give people a taste of what is to come. I have been known to let a track or two from an EP later stumble onto a full length CD...recorded and mixed.
CEV: What musical ground are you exploring with Veins in regards to the subjects tackled and will fans be at home with what they find there or will it be some new ground for them and you? Any date set for the release of this new EP yet?
CM: Veins is sort of two parts even though it's an EP. The first 5 tracks represent more of Stromata and the last two really are extensions of On Your Shore even though they were written and recorded much later. If you like Veins, Bones and Four walls, I think you'll understand where I'm going with Stromata. Veins doesn't have a specific release date yet. Right now we are preselling it exclusively via Itunes, Music Today, CDbaby and on tour.
CEV: On the horizon a little further out there is another full length CD in the works called Stromata. How far along is this project and what does it look like so far?
CM: We are about 3 songs away from finishing.
CEV: When you are working on a new CD when is it that you know you are done and that you have tweaked it as much as you can? Is it your gut feeling about the project or is it a consensus of all those who are in the studio working with you in getting it recorded?
CM: I tend to over tweak. Although I am not sure I'll have time on Stromata. I'm a bit more confident in where things are going..and Ken is a great measuring person. Although sometimes we agree to disagree. I wouldn't recommend being in the room during those sessions.
CEV: What are your feelings about your live performances? Do you enjoy taking your music on the road and how important is the word of mouth that is created by these performances to an artist's career?
CM: I love touring. it's my life and word of mouth and the road have been my biggest promotion ever. My fans are my best promoters because they understand me and they connect with the music obviously on very personal levels.
CEV: One of the songs on Veins is a live version of On Your Shore. What are the difficulties inherent to doing live recordings and how is it that you get the sound that you want when you can't always control the acoustics as much as you'd like in a live venue recording?
CM: I really depends on the venue. We recorded the live 'On Your Shore' at the Hotel Cafe on the board and I really wanted to give everyone a memory of the Darkest Hour tour.
CEV: Between doing interviews like this, touring, writing new material and then recording it what do you do for fun or to keep your creative battery charged so that you don't end up draining yourself too much?
CM: I have 3 little chihuahuas. I just got married and we moved to East LA and I am way into my new neighborhood when I am home. I haven't been in our house for more than a month so. I am kind of trying to meet the neighbors and potty train the new doggie we just got. I have a lot of reading to catch up on and many many episodes of 'simply wine' to watch. eeee
CEV: To close this interview out tell me what music has meant to you in the overall picture of your life. Could you imagine what your life would be like without it?
CM: Could you imagine what your life would be without it? Could anyone? It's a precious, precious gift. It's like air. What would I do?
CEV: Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us Charlotte and I wish you well as you finish out the Veins tour and I hope that your future releases do well for you as I know they will.