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Hi Charlotte! Thanks so much for doing this interview with us! You’ve recently released the EP Coffee and Conversations; is this a collection of songs you’ve written over some time or was it a case of having the idea for the EP then creating the music?
They were written over a period of time. A couple of them were intended to be on the first EP; I know I had intentions for 'Remedy' to be on the first one but I wasn’t sure, same with 'Early Light'. The others came over time; I decided I wanted to release another record and thought why not have these songs that make a lot of sense to be together - and that’s how they ended up on the EP.
In 'Remedy' you ask ‘Are we meant to be each other’s remedy?’ – whilst it is so important to be strong within ourselves, we often find ourselves relying on the strength of those around us, whether it’s friends, partners or family. How important do you think it is to have these people who can heal you and make you feel better when you need it, and was there a particular person or event that you are discussing in this song?
Yes; certainly. I do think it’s important to have a support system. I think that’s the case for whoever you are - you could be the most successful and happiest person on the planet but you’re still going to need people; that’s a very human need and desire. The actual event that inspired this song was that one of my best friends in the whole world, who is actually a muse for a lot of the songs I’ve written, welcomed someone back into her life. Whilst I was friends with this person, I didn’t think it was a good idea because it seems like they can only exist when they’re both miserable. That was the idea behind it, I just remember being so angry with her that she was letting this person swan back in. I remember thinking ‘How would I write this song, what would my perspective be?’ That’s why it’s a little bit punchy and bitter at the beginning where it’s like ‘Are you doing ok? You left me a long time ago; how about we catch up’. So that was what caused me to write this song.
'On The Loose' is a feel good anthem! It tells the story of someone who has been on the end of some harsh criticisms from an ex, but instead of taking this negatively has decided to run with the names and turn it into more of a joke – as an artist, how important do you think it is to harness this ability to not take things too seriously and turn other people’s negativity into something positive?
I think it’s essential. It would be an absolute lie to say that things don’t affect you, and that’s totally okay, they’re allowed to affect you. Sometimes though you have to have a thick skin and brush it off. Especially as an artist; unfortunately no matter what you do, you could be the most talented artist in the world, someone isn’t going to like it. That’s just the way it is unfortunately, but you’ve just got to go ‘You know what, it’s not for them and that’s fine’ and let it wash over you and be okay - but that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy thing to do!
What was the inspiration behind this particular song?
I remember driving down the road and I saw an ambulance and all that came into my head was ‘Blue lights chasing me all over town’. That sort of sat with me for a few days and I kept thinking ‘I kind of like that!’ The idea I then had was that it would be funny to write the song about a woman who has just had enough! She isn’t going to tell you how heartbroken she is, she’s just thinking that it is time for her to get her revenge! I just thought that kind of feel would be quite funny, and it is a made up story by the way, before anyone thinks I’m being chased by the police!
'Praying for Rain' takes a different approach in that using the pathetic fallacy of the rain underlines the heartbreak of someone leaving, but also the need to release those emotions. In a world where there can be a lot of pressure to bottle things up and move on, how important do you think it is that we allow ourselves time to handle what we are going through?
I think it’s something that, whether you like it or not, we all have to learn to do. The idea for 'Praying for Rain' is saying the things that you’re too afraid to say, and not worrying about potentially regretting anything. I believe that the words that will hurt you more than words that you use to hurt someone, are the words that you don’t say because you’re scared of what might happen. You just need to say what you’re feeling and get it off your chest, but I think that’s a learning curve. When we have arguments in relationships we too often look back and think ‘I should’ve said this’; there’s no point, just get it off your chest! The reality is that if you’re going to say something that puts them completely off of you, then you weren’t right for each other in the first place!
'Early Light' again brings in that natural imagery of the weather, with the sunrise used both in the story of the song but also to represent the optimism and excitement of new romance – was this something that you planned to include in your songs or did the imagery come naturally to you?
I love metaphors and imagery! I’m such a literature nerd so stuff like that is definitely my cup of tea! For those particularly attentive listeners, they will have noticed that in the first EP the fourth song is called 'Passenger Side' and says, ‘I’ve seen the sunrise from talking all night’. 'Early Light' is actually the same story but just a little bit later on! It comes from the same inspiration, that experience of being in a relationship where you’re treated really well, which is always really nice! The relationship is healthier and everything feels so much brighter! I deliberately structured the EP with putting a more melancholic song then a really positive song to lift people up; I did that in the first EP too and I think that’s fun for people when they’re listening!
If you had to name one song from the EP that means the most to you, which would it be and why?
Probably 'Early Light'; it’s one of those songs that comes from a personal experience. I love singing that song and I loved creating that song; I loved sitting in the studio and coming up with all the fun bits that were going into it. I just love that it feels like it should be in a cheesy rom-com! That’s the dream!
Current climate permitting – what are your plans for the rest of 2021?
It’s looking more and more likely that the world is going to open up, and hopefully it won’t be locked down again! If that is the case and I can go out and perform then that is the main goal. I want to go out and sing, go out and meet people and thank the people who have supported me face to face! I want to create more content and keep amping it up, because although I’ve had a great response there’s only so much I can do during the lockdown. You do need to tour ideally, and meet more artists and travel. Most of the people who are supporting me have never even seen me live or met me in person, so it would be really cool for me to see them, and hopefully that’s the case!
Finally, one thing we ask all of our interviewees is to name their top three songs that relate to mental health. What would be your top three?
My Girl - Temptations
Stars - Grace Potter
The Archer - Taylor Swift
I’m sure most of you have heard the phrase ‘vision board’ being bandied around. You might have seen this being mentioned in a self-help article, for example, or perhaps in an interview with rapper-turned-spiritual-guru, Big Sean. Celebrities such as Oprah and Reese Witherspoon swear by them. Physicists probably swear about them. But what actually are they?
Vision boards are said to be visual representations of your goals. You cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers that inspire you, or that symbolise a particular change you want to bring about in your life, and collate them on a poster.
Many people put their trust in vision boards, and there’s scientific evidence that visualisation is an effective way of achieving your goal. When preparing for a big race, for example, Olympic athletes are known to use visualisation to improve their performance.
But even if you’re not Usain Bolt, visualisation is really powerful on a broader scale. Some people believe in the ‘law of attraction’, which states that your thoughts are hugely powerful in determining what happens in your life.
On a less spiritual level, there’s a famous quote from Greek philosopher Epictetus that really rings true - “You become what you give your attention to”. I mean, it’s stating the obvious really - if you devote the majority of your energy and attention into your relationship, you’ll likely develop a really strong, long-lasting bond. Equally, if you put most of your attention into your career, then you’ll be more likely to succeed than if you hadn’t put that same energy into it. “You get what you give”, as Drake wisely said.
So bottom line - vision boards and visualisation practices are great. However, have I ever made a vision board? No, I haven’t.
But why not, given I’ve just spent the last four paragraphs harping on about how amazing they are? The trouble is, although making visions boards can be a therapeutic practice, it takes quite a lot of time.
Ah yes, time. That elusive commodity that none of us seem to have anymore. The irony is that technology was brought into society to supposedly give us more time for leisure, because we’d have machines doing most of our work for us. Yet the more we’ve digitalised, the busier we’ve become - how does that work, right?
But that’s a rant for another day. The point is, a lot of us don’t feel we have time to sit down and spend an afternoon making a vision board, regardless of how helpful it might be.
My solution is, instead of making a visual board, what about making an audio board for all our dreams and aspirations. We draw just as much inspiration from music as we do from images, so in theory, if we listen to music that represents certain changes and lifestyles that we want to emulate in our lives, then it should have a similar effect.
Vision boards are really just cues to remind us to keep visualising what we really want to happen, so I’m suggesting we curate playlists around the same principle. There are so many artists who’ve built their ‘brands’ around a lifestyle, with the music being almost secondary to this.
Take Jimmy Buffet for example, whose sun-soaked, tropical Country brand has spawned an army of fans - called the Parrotheads - who are known for their Hawaiian shirts, parrot-hats and island-inspired living. Buffet’s music is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s no better than any of the other artists that were around at the same time. What’s made him so popular is the way of life his music promotes.
So instead of making a vision board, as an experiment, I’ve tried putting together a playlist of songs that represent the kind of mentality I want to have in life. It’s thought that the best vision boards don’t just represent material things that you want, they also include emotions you want to have. So you could put in songs that make you think ‘Wow, I want to feel like that’, as well as songs about living a particular lifestyle or having specific possessions.
As a suggestion, I’ve found that Country music often has an overwhelming tone of gratitude, with these songs often championing the pleasures of a simple life, as opposed to one spent chasing lofty aspirations. So if this is what you’re after, you could include songs such as Devin Dawson’s ‘He Loved Her’, Florida Georgia Line’s ‘Simple’, or Zac Brown Band’s ‘Chicken Fried’, for example.
Alternatively, if you’re after a more materially ambitious lifestyle, then Rap and Hip Hop are perhaps where you want to look. EDM is great for those whose vision boards would be more adventurous and travel-centred - the music videos for Avicii’s ‘The Nights’ and Jonas Blue & William Singe’s ‘Mama’ epitomise this. Similarly, Reggae is perfect for bringing some island-holiday vibes, while Contemporary R&B and Tropical House can bring a great sense of relaxation, for those who are striving to become more peaceful and less stressed out.
These are generalisations, of course, and don’t hold true for every song in that genre. But they’re just to show how different musical palettes often do represent a certain goal or feeling that we’re aspiring towards.
I’ve included my own audio-board below, containing a mix of simple moods and mindsets I want to emulate, along with some more concrete aims (my daily goal is obviously a little bit of ‘Chicken Fried’…).
Maxim's Audio-Board Playlist:
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