CEV: When last we spoke you were about 3 songs shy of finishing up Stromata and as of Sept. 12 it's been released for all your eager fans to pick up their own copies. What are your feelings when you finally finish up a project like Stromata and send it out into the world?
CM: First, I start to obsessively call my mother 40 times a day to pray, cry, panic, see my shrink (that's new), pray more, smile-so-much-that-my-face-hurts, eat more salt, sleep less, take more ambien, have feeling intense of euphoria, break down, pray, worry, pray, have faith...then I make more music. a lot more....and write a lot of new songs.
CEV: For those who may not have read it out on the net somewhere what does Stromata mean and how does it relate to you personally that you would call your CD Stromata?
CM: One definition of Stromata is; the framework of an organ or group of cells.
This meaning really burnt up my brain. I find myself to always be writing my way through relationships that include myself and every other person I am connected to which is the entire planet. So my options are always open because I'm hopelessly addicted to people.
Whether we've met in the flesh or not you're my brother and sister, father mother, friend.
CEV: Do you feel like Stromata is the first truly independent record that you've released where you are responsible for the outcome from beginning to end?
CM: I honestly think I am as responsible as I want to be, and that just comes from learning more about myself and growing up. I wouldn't have said this 4 years ago. Or 2 years ago.
Or even a month ago. A friend once told me records are time capsules, which made me think about how these views and emotions of where we are as people have an equal influence like the actual time spent itself. I think the older I get the more of a mother hen I will be to my music.
I have more opinions about production and style, muse, direction than I ever have. It's all about the process and I never get bored because I feel like the music is always teaching me more and my relationships with people in general are teaching me extensively about my relationships with the music.
CEV: Why was it so liberating for you musically to finally step away from the demands of label execs? What could you do that you couldn't do before as an artist?
I left everything, did everything, gave everything and still do to the obsession that is music and the people I love. I tend to let my mind wander on the meaning of life but am still writing a term paper on that one. I ask myself, to my own demise, too many big questions. I overanalyze to a fault. Both my managers know I can talk about anything into the ground. Whew.
CEV: Tell me about how your time on the road touring for the last couple of years shaped the music that is now the CD Stromata.
CM: I was really confused before I started touring. Playing live is the best school for artistic identity. You learn the direct connection with a listener which is instant at a show. Someone either gets the connection at the show or they don't. I really listened to my audiences. I mean it’s an ongoing interpretation but I really believe in their ears and judgment, and I take the live show as seriously as making the record or more. I got started playing live. I am sure I will exit my career by playing live.
It's where I was born and always come home to.
CEV: What exactly does it mean that you "took the production helm" of this project and how much did that stretch you in regards to what you had to learn to take on these tasks?
CM: I spent a lot of years learning in the studio. I felt more and more confident over the last 2 years. Faster at the technical so I could actually be more creative.
I ended up programming most of the drums and producing almost the entire finished track and would send it to Ken. Now Ken's contribution is huge whether he changes something or not. He's just not producing all the parts anymore. I am and he is either adding and subtracting from that point and then mixing which is a whole different complex monster world in itself. I honestly don't understand the tedious mixing brain my husband has. I get pretty close in general and am definite in the interpretation. He can sit inside a kick drum for a long time. I mean, there a thousands of kick drum sounds. Which one is right? Ken has gotten better as a mixed with more experience. Like anything I guess. If you really care about, it will grow and if you don't it will die. The morals of all talent lies in this.
CEV: On Stromata you stepped into the world of analog synthesizers, digital percussion, and vocal collages. What motivated you to downplay the piano and move into this new terrain with your music?
CM: I was ready for it now...not when I started. It would have been funny if I had started with synths and moved to acoustic piano. Makes sense I was all about orchestra and live instruments since I started writing my last year of college when all I was surrounded by was opera and studying all things not pertaining to top 40, not that I study that school anyways. But I was in a total hole when I started writing, and it was a good place to be.
I didn't choose it, it decided to come after me. Now I’m here wanting to explore every keyboard I can get my hands on, as well as percussion and all software that makes cannon sounds and harmonics. I have been into choral collages since I was a little girl. I'm just in outer space right now.
I have a great shrink. I really thought that when I was 30, I would have peaked. Not the case at all. actually I feel like I've just tapped on the door. Wherever this muse leads me, I hope it's always in music because I approach most of my life as art. That's why I can't keep a secret very well.
I'm a junkie of an expressionist. Bad liar. Very, very bad.
CEV: After spending time in the studio with them what are your thoughts on electronic instrumentation as compared to the actual instrument itself? What were you able to do electronically that you could not do otherwise?
CM: I'm really excited about it since it's new. It's like understanding wine for the first time or getting inspiration from a scripture...it's like seeing layers and layers in my case. I put no rules on myself either way. If something really needed live drums, we got them...or guitar (like “Civilized”). There are live instruments mixed in with electronic which makes the record complex as a mix. But most records are like this now days. I wonder what it would be like to go ALL electronic. Scary in a really good way isn't it?
CEV: Stromata is the first release on your new label is it not? Tell me about the name of the new label, why you decided to create it and how your alignment with Fontana Distribution is going to get your music out to the public?
We were researching distribution for not too long when Fontana found us and we felt like we had a good home for our music. Fontana is relatively new and we loved their hunger for music and also really liked their catalog. They have a lot of really artistic labels on the roster. It seemed like a great partnership. Ever since then it's been full steam ahead. I don't work for the label since I'm an artist on it, but the people that are in charge of Dino Fight are people I trust with everything. It's awesome.
CEV: I've seen the new video to the song Stromata and it looks great. Were you responsible for that as well? What went into the making of the video and has making videos pretty much become something that just goes along with being a performing artist?
CM: I am only responsible for the performance and talking about the album concept. The video itself was directed by my husband, Ken and then the after effects were done by Dog Byte Design. This friend of mine is a genius. He did all the backgrounds on the video with a special effects friend of his. They are brilliant designers. Craig (from Dog Byte) also did the album artwork for Stromata. I'm super happy with how the video turned out and super proud of the moods and colors that are in the backgrounds. It's perfect to me.
CEV: If some of the readers wanted to check out your video where could they- see it either on the web or television?
CM: You can watch it almost anywhere. My site (charlottemartin.com), the Dino Fight web site, Blasto, Yahoo Music, YouTube…but you can BUY IT on iTunes!
CEV: Are fans going to find Stromata a different experience compared to On Your Shore or the Veins CD's?
CM: Definitely. Stromata is a different record. It's not a part 2 of any work I’ve done in the past. It is it’s own animal and within the album it crosses a lot of genres but the messages have a theme, and those are for the listen to decipher.
Stromata is even more personal than On Your Shore, but the lyrics have to be decoded more than my past releases. I'm still learning what I meant about certain songs as I tour more and play them live...which is usually the case with me. The motive for the writing ends up totally different from the lesson I learn over the years of playing it. So it's all a learning process for not only my listeners, but myself.
CEV: I know it is still early but what have fans had to say so far about the Stromata CD? Since this CD was such a one woman show in regards to how your music was ultimately was presented are you taking an even closer look at what critics might be saying about your music?
CM: The response has been overwhelming. People seem to really get this record and they are taking it very personally and that is all an artist can ask for at the end of the day.
That's the whole point, in my opinion.
CEV: Is Stromata indicative of where future projects from Charlotte Martin are heading or is the future pretty much wide open in regards to experimentation with your music?
CM: I could end up going even more classical as well as more electronic. We shall see.
CEV: Thanks for taking the time out to answer my questions and good luck with Stromata and as you take it out to your fans in your live shows.