one of the most surprising reinventions of 2007 so far was that of Charlotte
Hatherleys excellent The Deep Blue album. Thankfully
she doesnt LOOK too different shes still a foxy rock
chick but musically shes gained a much sharper edge than
U2 are ever likely to have.
I had a ball talking to the erstwhile best looking member of Ash for
half an hour or so. Edgar Wright, youre a lucky bastard
CH: (sounding rather over-excited) Hellooooo!!
CH: Oh, sorry, Im a little over-excited at the moment
AD: No shit
CH: Ha-ha, I just had an email from David
Bowies people telling me that hes heard my new album
and really likes it! Im on a bit of a high at the moment.
AD: I can understand exactly why he likes it too. Its rather
a drastic departure from the style of Grey Will Fade
CH: Well, thats probably because, although I was 24 when Grey
Will Fade was being made, Id written all the songs on it
when I was 18 or 19. As you know I left Ash last year and it was like
I woke up after pretty much being drunk for 5 years. I wrote all the
songs for The Deep Blue shortly after I left the band, so
I had a whole year to hone them and work on them. Basically I was a
little bit older and a little bit wiser.
This time around I wanted there to be a marriage of the pop sound of
my first album with stuff like the Beach Boys, and Eric (Drew Feldman)
was getting into Captain Beefheart, so I probably drew some influence
from there. XTC were a major reference point too
AD: and you worked with Andy Partridge on Dawn Treader,
CH: Oh that was an amazing experience. I just couldnt believe
I was in his front room with the acoustic guitar going through all this
stuff. He was full of advice for me a really lovely guy
its a pity XTC were treated so badly
by the music industry because hes one of the nicest guys you could
wish to meet, and so funny too! A proper British eccentric. Id
love to get him to do something live with me, but I doubt if Ill
be able to persuade him.
AD: Were you apprehensive about setting up your own label to release
CH: I did feel quite nervous about it at first, but I didnt
think I was going to be doing it completely independently; I just presumed
Id get a label, and it was so disheartening when I realised it
wasnt going to be as easy as that, but then when I met with Vital,
everything became really exciting. They were like OK, we get it
and I didnt feel like I had to convince anyone. That lifted the
pressure off the situation,
AD: What made you decide to write the album in Italy?
CH: Rob Ellis had been in loads of Italian bands in the past, and
he knew of this studio which Steve Albini had previously been the only
non-Italian to use, so we thought that would be really cool. I did the
demos while I was still there with Ash, and there were some beautiful
restaurants there by the sea as well, so the whole thing just seemed
so laid back. There was no sense of urgency and the only pressure I
was getting was from myself. It was all very casual and I work better
in that kind of situation.
AD: A lot of the songs on the album seem to deal with the breakdown
CH: Yeah, that IS a recurring theme, now you come to mention it.
I think its more difficult to write love songs without sounding
overly sentimental. Its much easier to write about devolving.
Thats happened to me a lot over the years and most of those songs
are from experience. And I was apart from my boyfriend (cult UK film
director Edgar Wright) for most of last year so you can kind of draw
on that feeling of loneliness sometimes
AD: So then, if the songs are based on previous boyfriends, heres
your ideal opportunity to dish the dirt on them
CH: (laughs) Im not doing that
AD: Ah come on, Very Young seems rather bitter and twisted
CH: Well ok then, youre right that was based on the
experience I had when I lost my virginity to a guy much older than me
was in his forties when I was sixteen!
It didnt seem strange to me at the time, but when I got older
and looked back, it seemed really quite creepy.
AD: Ah, but was he a nice bloke?
CH: (laughs) No, he was a complete arsehole!
AD: Someone who evidently is NOT an arsehole is Eric Drew Feldman,
who you worked with once again on the new album. What do you think he
brings to your recordings?
CH: Oh hes just brilliant at arrangement. Ill maybe
do a rough demo at home and I always need someone like Eric to come
in and say You dont need that bit there, or You
could do with an extra whatever there. He also writes amazing
string and piano parts Rob does as well between the two
of them theyre so talented that my guitar took a backseat really.
Kate Bush is our benchmark shes my ultimate musical idol
and the pair of them are always open to the pop aspect of her
work as well as the more creative side. I think that comes across in
The Deep Blue.
AD: Tell me then
what DO you have to do to behave?
CH: Ha ha. I think I need to take a cold shower
(NB This is
not an unpleasant image that Charlotte has put in my mind, to be fair
AD: I always think those lyrics make you sound like a real bad
girl, so whats the maddest, baddest thing youve ever
CH: Oh I couldnt possibly divulge that! Ive done lots
of really bad things that I shouldnt divulge.
AD: Worse than shagging a 45 year old bloke when you were sixteen?
CH: (laughs) Um
yeah, probably. Ill let you use your
AD: I ALREADY AM!!!
(Charlotte laughs a very dirty sounding laugh and I apologise
here, readers, if my mind has wandered off somewhat
CH: That song, Behave, was inspired by the film Secretary.
I really loved that because it was such an unlikely story about wanting
to reach out and touch somebody you could never really have. And James
Spader was so sexy in it, and at the same time so vulnerable.
AD: So is that your favourite track on the album then?
CH: Its one of them, but I love Again and Siberia.
That one was a complete pain in the arse to record, because it was the
last one we did and we only had three days left. Then the engineers
back was in agony with sciatica, Rob hurt his leg, we had loads of hold
ups and we just didnt think we were going to get it finished in
time. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but, in a perverse
way, because it was so difficult, it became one of my favourites.
AD: Ok, I am your genie. I will grant you three wishes. What are
CH: Oh ok, firstly I wish that the risk I took will pay off this
year. Second, I wish for Bowie to take me out on tour with him, and
finally I wish that next year Ill do something thats produced
by Nigel Godrich.
AD: Blimey that was quick! A girl who knows exactly what she wants!
Now then, last time I interviewed you, I asked how you fend off over
amorous male groupies, and you replied that you didnt have any.
Has this changed now youve gone solo?
CH: Ooh it might do, mightnt it? I think when I went on tour
last time, a lot of my audience were intimidated by me a girl
up on stage with a guitar. I think theres a common misconception
that Im an ice cold rock chick, and Im really not like that
AD: Im not scared of ya
CH: Good! Anyway, hopefully my audience will be a bit older this
time. Not TOO old though. Im not going down THAT route again!
Damn. Not only is she smart, sexy, multi-talented and funny, she
also appears to be able to read my mind. Oh well, all thats left
to say is that if you dont pick up Charlottes recent album,
there is a gaping hole in your CD collection that needs to be filled
sooner than later. Otherwise youll be feeling deeply blue. Oh
Inquisitor: Tone E
What's more, check out Charlotte from 2004 - click