TBT: Interview with Charlotte Martin, 2005
[So old, my last name started with an S! And finding things online was tough!]
AS: Tell me a little bit about your new album, “On Your Shore.” What does it tell us about Charlotte Martin? What important stories are being told?
CM: There are many many stories in each song. I wish my songs were more focused. I attempted to sum up my take on about a billion experiences, emotions, heart aches, disappointments…I think what’s most important is what stories the songs are telling to the listener.
I’m just the channel. They come through me and are filtered through me but their real meaning takes form when someone else listens. I don’t believe it’s my job to decipher the meanings of my material. I just have a responsibility to compose it the way it comes through me.
AS: Your lyrics are intense and personal, but has there ever been a time where you’ve said “This experience/feeling cannot be translated to music”?
CM: I think everything I have gone through in my life time has peeked through a composition. Sometimes the most traumatic things that have happened to me just come out in certain chord, or in a note uncomfortably hanging over what should have been a very structured easy to pick a part chord structure. the emotion will make its presence known in a moving bass line.
The answer is, feelings always come out in the music, just not always lyrically for you.
AS: What happened to “One Girl Army,” your first album? Are the songs completely unavailable now? I’d pay to hear a song called “I’m Normal, Please Date Me.” 🙂
CM: One Girl Army was on a independent label called BongLoad records. The label went under, my record got shelved.
I released an EP version of it on my own several years ago. Some of my fans have a few of those original One Girl Army songs. I sincerely doubt the album will ever see the light of day. But save your money for I’m Normal Please Date Me.
That one will come around maybe??
AS: I remember when I first heard about you, there were many comparisons made to Tori Amos. How do you feel about being compared to another artist? Do you think it helps or hinders you and your career?
CM: I think comparisons are inevitable. If critics aren’t comparing you to someone else they are comparing you to your younger self many records ago. Either way you can’t run away from it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not everyone has the ear to hear differences in music. It’s much easier to shove music in a small box and say ‘this is this’ or ‘this is that’ and then no one has to really listen. but there are many wonderful and talented listeners out there. A skillful listener has a rare talent. they are able to enjoy music on many levels maybe someone else can’t. But understand I’m not saying that makes someone better or worse. There is music to just graze the surface of, and then there is music where you have to decode the layers and try to understand what they mean. I’m speaking harmonically, lyrically, emotionally, structurally…
AS: You’ve opened for Howie Day and Damien, and played with The Cardigans, Katy Rose, and Liz Phair on the the Maybelline “Chicks with Attitude” tour. Do you think there is any difference between playing with female artists and playing with male ones? Did you pick up anything from Phair or the Cardigans, who’ve been part of the music scene for over a decade?
CM: Yes I think there is a difference. Women have periods.
Liz taught me the powerful tool of eating from Whole Foods Market
while on tour.
But I still love Chik-Fil-A when I’m down South.
AS: You have a journal on your website, and on your bulletin board, there’s a section just for fan questions that you answer. How do you think this affects your relationship with your fans? What advantages do you think the Internet gives a musical artist? What disadvantages, if any?
CM: I think my fans are intelligent and talented artists in their own rights…which is one of the reasons I like to have an open communication with them via the internet. I learn as much about them as they learn about me through the ‘question and answer’ thing. I am
also fascinated with knowing what songs they connect with and why.
There are no disadvantages I have experienced.
AS: I have an old MP3 (from the times before the Flash website) of you covering the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” Where can fans find that?
CM: I’m not sure that was ever released anywhere. The studio version might come out on a compilation or a selection of b sides. But fans better know other fans to get a copy of that at the moment! 🙂