Interview with Charles Connolly
Hello everyone, today I have an interview with Charles Connolly, a really unique musician and producer. Charles Connolly is someone who’s been making music for a while but has only recently been releasing his music. I was lucky enough to have Charles answer some questions about his music for After Midnight. I will leave links to his music and social media profiles at the end of this post. It would be really great if you guys could give it a listen.
How would you describe your musical style to the readers?
It’s a funny one and a surprisingly difficult question, because each song I make is entirely different. In general, I would say it is a sound that feels natural, fond, familiar and classic, yet is utterly new and fresh, blending more traditional instruments (even some classical) with modern synths and beats.
I think musically, I write with surprise - I don’t like to be too predictable. I will never write a song that has 3 repeated chords from beginning to end. I think (rather annoyingly) Dua Lipa got there first with the term Future Nostalgia - Although I would say her sound is more Simply Nostalgia, with modern production techniques. Melody and originality are key in my songs, and I would say these two things are exactly what is lacking in a lot of modern music. And also the courage to be bold, brave and courageous in doing something a bit different.
But there is nothing weird or freaky about my sound - very accessible to almost anyone! As to genres though - I dot around everywhere, for I have absorbed so much music of all styles through the years of my life.
Who are your biggest influences musically?
Too many to mention - how predictable. As I have said, The Beatles started it all off - how predictable. I used to be very much into the 60s/70s bands, and the 90s bands (like watered down 60s bands, but not my dad’s era), and Coldplay, Beck, Bjork, to name but a few. But in the last ten years I have been much more into the electronic side of things within the realm of pop.
My favourite electronic pop people of late would probably be Disclosure and Madeon - where art goes electronic. I have a huge soft spot for Brian Eno’s ambient work. But the list truly goes on and on. Miles Davis, Queens of the Stone Age, Mark Ronson, Sinatra, Tame Impala, Karl Jenkins, Debussy...
You have only recently decided to release your music publicly, was there any reason for this at all?
I have been making music for many years and it has pretty much all never set foot outside my four walls. Even to friends. Around six years ago I made an album that I thought I could try to put to the world, but I never really knew how. I was spotted by a couple of music people from L.A. and it seemed like things were moving forward. I had everything set for a proper album launch (a different album) and at the last minute everything fell through. I was so disheartened by this that I completely disappeared from the public eye entirely. Until relatively recently I still had all my web-pages saying “debut album coming soon” with all the old photos and a couple of teaser tracks. I was devastated in a silent way. But I never stopped making music throughout the years, and it kept getting better and better. I finally decided this year to take a huge breath of air and go for it, properly. I decided to start with a few new songs I had written this year, and the reception seems to be great! The good thing is, I have a lot of fully recorded songs that maybe just need a tweak in the mix, and I can eventually release most of them! But I have ideas for new songs on a daily basis - I feel I have barely scratched the surface of what I am capable of making.
I find it really interesting how you blend genres in your songs, was this a conscious decision or does this come naturally to you?
It has never been that conscious. I am just aware that songs in general can get dull, despite them only a few minutes long. I never start the process by thinking “I’m going to mix rock with house with hip-hop and throw in a bit of soul”! I think it is just part of songwriting and production in my mind. I hear it all fully produced before I start recording - then I copy what’s in my head. I am not really conscious of any 'process' at all. It just happens. I suppose I just think “would I like to listen to this?”, and if the answer is yes, then I continue.
You describe your song Never Said Goodbye as 'crooked and unique' which is not something I've heard before but I feel really fits the song. Where did you find the inspiration for this song?
I wrote and recorded the music for this in about an hour or two, one afternoon in February, the day my girlfriend was going back to her hometown of Warsaw in Poland - me being in London. We have an unusual relationship where we see each other about half the year round but basically live in different countries. The song is not about myself and her though - our love is solid and very stable. I suppose I felt weird and disjointed when I wrote it - this comes through in the whole sound of it, I think. It feels dodgy and devious; conniving, almost. I wanted to write something that was both modern and my more mature style, all built into one. I put on a funny scrawny voice for the lead vocal - almost like a black Fagin. For the chorus I decided it had to be a girl singing, so I sang it in a weird way, messed around with it a bit, and made myself sound realistically like a girl. It is sort of a battle of not understanding, between a man and a woman in a toxic relationship.
Another thing I find really interesting and unique about your music is how you use the voice like an instrument and create different layers in your songs using this. I think that it's something clever and fresh to hear, how did this idea come about?
Did I? I wasn’t even aware of that. Thank you! I do however think the voice is the greatest instrument in the world - like a limitless organic synthesiser. I love and enjoy sound. I seem to have an unusually versatile voice and so can quite easily change my voice to suit/fit the song. My older songs used to be so chock full of beefy harmonies, but these days I tend to use the voice in a different way - I have pared down a bit this year and have gone more for tone rather than wall of sound. But having said that, I do like a fat sound to overtake the ears. Melody is king for me, which is why the voice should shine and be the star of the show. But I do like the music to have a major part too in the whole piece. Again though, I never really consciously think about any of this - I just copy what is in my head at the time. It feels like cheating! I like to have original fun with my music, which thankfully comes rather naturally to me.
And lastly, what can we expect to hear from you next?
Not sure for definite, but I think a ballad is coming next. If so, it is called To See My Lover Again. Expect coldness followed by warmth and lushness - starkness before the strings sweep you off your feet.
Thank you so much to Charles Connolly for taking the time to answer these questions for After Midnight, it is very much appreciated. Please give the music a listen, it’s definitely something exciting that I think is really well worth a listen.
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