Charlotte Martin

Charlotte Martin

Musical Discoveries: Please will you elaborate on your musical training.

Charlotte Martin: I took voice lessons for sixteen years and piano lessons for fifteen years. I also have a Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance/Opera from Eastern Illinois University. My course of study involved everything from choral work to operas and included private study, competition and theory--all the things that come with the major.

I've had lots of experience in theatre and could list my opera work but that would take a long time to get it all here.

Would you tell us more about your musical influences?

I am influenced by Tori Amos, Kate Bush as well as many other people. And I guess that is one of the ways one can categorize what I do. All three of us are able to give birth and play 88 keys. I also love The Cure, Peter Gabriel and Kevin Shields along with anything from 4ad. Laura Nyro (who also plays piano) was a big inspiration when I moved to Los Angeles. I obsessed on her and Nick Drake. My daddy influences me a lot. He plays oboe. I grew up with classical music mostly.

Everything I listened to, performed and studied influenced me in one way or another.

Please tell us about your musical work prior to the "Test-Drive Songs" album and the making of the album.

Test-drive songs is a series of experimental demos I did after One Girl Army--my second LP--was shelved. I got a hold of some recording gear, samplers and borrowed keyboards from people. It started out being a Protools lesson and then i picked up the basics engineering pretty fast and had a bunch of electronic tracks and really thought I wanted to go in that direction for my RCA work. Test-Drive Songs is an independent release. As far as the response, it did well considering I had it available on two websites.

What would you say are some of the biggest transformations for the "In Parentheses" release?

Charlotte Martin


I got bored with electronics and wanted to make live recordings again. I wanted to work with Joey Waronker again. I had recorded with him a couple of years earlier. Also, I started working with Ken Andrews which changed things a bit as well. He liked the live approach to recording as well.

And how has the transformation continued into On Your Shore?

On Your Shore has gotten the best response so far. We recorded almost the entire album live--bass, drums, piano and vocals. "Steel" was even recorded live and Ken built the loops around my performance. It took him days!

Where do you draw inspiration for your music and lyrics?

From my life, circumstances, getting my heart completely squashed. From pain actually.

Can you tell us about a couple of songs that are extremely special to you?

"Something Like A Hero" was the most fun to record because of the background vocals. There are so many layers to them and different parts at the end of the song as well as Joey's percussion performance. We cleaned out every drum in LA I think! And he just kept layering and layering! Joey also layered his bass! There aren't many instruments but we wanted it to sound like there are.

"Every Time It Rains" has been schlepping around my catalog for years in so many different forms. I'm so relieved that I was able to nail down the version that made sense to me and that seemed complete.

Can you tell us about how your material comes together--what works best for you?

  Charlotte Martin

I write all the songs on keyboards or with drums now. I begin to record as I feel inspired or when I'm home. But I usually write background vocals as the very very last thing unless they were finished in my head when I wrote the song.

What can you tell us about your live performances?

One of my favorite elements of this whole process is the live show. There are no two shows alike on my tour. I don't think I have ever played the same set list twice in two years.

How do the audience react to your on-stage persona?

It depends on the show. What I do on stage is very much the same as what I do in my living room though.

What are some of the most memorable venues you've played in?

The Hotel Cafe, LA; Joe's Pub, NY and World Cafe Live, Philly are my favorite venues where I've played shows. I enjoyed all of the Liz Phair tour and playing with Matt Nathanson and Howie Day. As for stories about the shows, hmmm, I get the best presents in the whole world from my fans! The most creative goodies; poetry, paintings, journals and DVDs, books as well.

Do you have a DVD in the works?

Talks of one have taken place although we haven't officially started recording. We won't have time to tackle a DVD until the end of the On Your Shore tour.

In the time when so many artists are going independent, how has it been working with a major?

Charlotte Martin


It's a good thing for some artists and a bad thing for others. There are a lot of changes in major label world right now. They are merging, downsizing, and a bit unstable about their futures as companies.

The benefit for me is that RCA is one of the most successful labels in the world right now, they have a small roster and they have stuck by my side for four years. I have friends there.

Is there anything you'd like to change?

I don't know how I would change things--I think things are shifting more and more into the digital world. iTunes is a miracle.

Do you think the internet has contributed to your career thusfar and what do you think the future of the web holds for you?

Oh yes! The internet was the beginning of the process for me. People were able to sample mp3s I had made available on my website. It's one of the key tools in keeping my fans connected to each other.

When you dream of the future of your music and where you might go as an artist, what do you see?

I am unsure. There are some scoring opportunities that I would like to move into. It's a whole different world but one I think I could make some damage in. There are more records in me. The second one is written for the most part. It has been for awhile. No titles yet.

I'm not real sure where the road will lead me--not sure where the songs will leave me. But there's no place I would rather be than in the midst of harmonics. Go pick up anything by Arvo Part!

Is there anything else you'd like to tell Musical Discoveries readership?

Yes. Thank you so very much for the interesting questions! xoxo


More Charlotte Martin
Interview (Veins) (Nov 2005)
Interview (Darkest Hour) (July 2005)
Test-Drive Songs (2002)
In Parentheses (2003)
On Your Shore (2004)
Veins (2005)

interview © Russell W Elliot 2004
reviews © Russell W Elliot and Jamie Field 2004
images © Yariv Milchan 2004
used with permission
Originally published 27 December 2004
Last updated 13 November 2005

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