New York band Charly Bliss have been taking the world by storm with their unique brand of indie rock.
Formed in 2011, it took a few false starts for the band to find their groove. In 2017 they released their debut album Guppy, which garnered outstanding reviews from critics and fans alike. Two years on, the band has returned with sophomore album Young Enough, a record that defiantly moves towards a more pop-oriented sound. Georgia had a chat to the four-piece just after their set at this year’s Splendour in the Grass.
FIRST, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE SET YOU JUST PLAYED. HOW WAS IT? WHAT DID YOU THINK?
Eva: It's super fun. You know, it's like, it's always really funny. We're on a new continent for the first time, you know? We had like the best time. This was really special. I mean, I think we all just keep looking around and being like, how the fuck are we here? We’re just blown away by this awesome experience.
THAT’S SO GOOD. I SAW YOU GUYS PERFORMED IN MELBOURNE THE OTHER DAY. HOW DID THAT COMPARE TO THIS?
Sam: Amazing! There was a crazy energy. It’s super different. I mean, to just see people really sing along with the words, dancing and rocking out. Both sets have been mind-blowing. The fact that people know about us here, it’s a really special feeling. It helps us to perform, to be honest.
YEAH, THE SET YOU GUYS JUST PLAYED, I LOVED IT. IT WAS VERY GOOD.
Spencer: Thank you so much!
EVA, I NOTICED YOUR DRESS WAS AMAZING. HOW DID THAT COME TOGETHER?
Eva: Thank you! It’s special ordered, it’s from a designer who is based in Melbourne. It’s by Rachel Burke, she makes crazy creations. I like to feel like a gigantic superhero on the stage. I don’t necessarily want to feel pretty or anything. I just want to feel larger than life; that makes me feel really, really good.
Usually I work with a designer named Kelsey Randall, who is based out of New York, and we make all of our stuff together. But since we’re in Australia, I thought I’d wear an Australian designer.
IT WAS AMAZING TO PHOTOGRAPH AS WELL. ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHERS WERE LIKE ‘THAT WAS GREAT!’.
Eva: It made it really easy [laughs].
I ALSO WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THE ALBUM YOU GUYS RELEASED THIS YEAR. I READ IN ROLLING STONE THAT YOUNG ENOUGH CAME TOGETHER AFTER A LCD SOUNDSYSTEM SHOW.
DID YOU GUYS HAVE ANY OTHER INFLUENCES ON THE ALBUM? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
Sam: Yeah, LCD was a massive influence on this record, lyrically and otherwise. Especially for the song ‘Young Enough’. But we did a lot of writing for the record. We did two tours with Wolf Parade, and there was kind of a weird two-month gap between the tours, and we did a lot of writing during that period.
I remember seeing Wolf Parade every night, and especially their song ‘I’ll Believe In Anything’, it has such a weight to it. It’s similar to songs like ‘All My Friends’ by LCD Soundsystem. I just remember watching and being like “I want to write a song like that.” I wanted to write a song that just feels like this crazy, nostalgic energy and has this big weight to it in the set. So Wolf Parade were a huge inspiration as well.
FOR SURE. DID YOU GUYS HAVE ANY PERSONAL GOALS FOR THE RECORD THAT YOU WANTED TO ACHIEVE?
Eva: I think for the most part we're just super competitive people and we really wanted to out write ourselves. We really wanted to write a record that we liked more than our first record, and that we were more excited about than our first record. And we achieved that. I mean, we're so proud of this record. We had a blast writing it, loved like every bit of it. When I think of our first record, honestly, I think of it as like a very raw ordeal.
But with our second record I just think that everything felt kind of magical. It was really gratifying. And then since the record’s come out it’s just felt really wonderful to play it for people because I feel like we’ve never written music that people connect with as much as this music. I think part of that is because the record is super honest.
SORT OF ON THAT, I WAS READING THAT YOU SAID YOU HAD A LOT OF IMPOSTER SYNDROME WHEN YOU WERE MAKING THE FIRST RECORD. HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT AT ALL?
Eva: I think everybody has imposter syndrome. And I don’t trust people who say that they don’t.
I think that it’s gotten easier for me. I think when we first put out our record, we were writing it for a really long time. It took a really long time for it to come out. We were rejected by every label in the U.S. So there was a part of me that just felt like, even as we’re putting out our first record, maybe this is the beginning of the end. Like “oh, no one really believes in me”. And then it was the opposite experience. Putting out that record, so many people connected with it and loved it, and we were so blown away by the response to it that it gave us all so much more confidence.
So when we started writing Young Enough, it was more from a situation of feeling confident. And I think that shows on the record, and it shows in even how we talk about the record. It’s just easier to talk about. We feel so connected to it. We’re so proud of it, you know, even though second records are always tough no matter what.
Obviously Twitter and the world on the Internet exists, so you’re always going to have someone be like “this record blah blah blah”, but we’re so proud of it that when that stuff happens it’s just like, okay, whatever. I think there’s a part of us that wants to go “uh, are we bad? Is this bad? I don’t know!”, but at this point we’re like “no, I love this record!”.
To make a record that you’re proud of, and to tour it around the world, like…I never even dreamed I’d come to Australia.
OH, AT ALL?
Eva: Maybe on a vacation! You know, to come here because we worked really hard on our band makes it feel like we have achieved something. You have to live in those moments and be like, we worked really hard and here we are.
YEAH, DEFINITELY. I WAS ALSO READING THAT YOU SHIFTED A LITTLE BIT MORE TOWARDS POP ON YOUNG ENOUGH. DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SHIFT MORE GENERALLY TOWARDS POP IN THE INDUSTRY?
Sam: I feel like there used to be such a stigma around pop music, and I’ll be honest, I kind of fell into that camp as well. I’d be like, “oh, Panic At The Disco, whatever”. I’d make fun of it, but secretly I’d be like “that song’s actually really catchy”. Now I just unapologetically love Panic At The Disco. It’s really cool – there shouldn’t be a stigma around pop music or any genre of music.
I feel like there’s an assumption that it’s easy to write pop music and to churn out these Top 40 hits, but that’s totally not the case. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. I think it’s a really cool movement that’s happening right now. You know, pop music was a huge influence on us growing up, and writing this record, and we were proud to…dive further deeper into that. Because I feel like our first album at its core is a pop album. I think, you know, there’s obviously loud distorted guitars and stuff like that, which people observe in a different light, but at the end of the day, the songs are pop songs. They’re catchy and fun and concise.
Spencer: I think it was less of a switch to something else, and more of an evolution. Just like a push further into a more evolved version of what Charly Bliss always was.
YEAH. I’VE ALSO SEEN THE DISMISSAL OF POP TO HAVE A BIT OF A GENDERED ASPECT. LIKE, “OH POP MUSIC? THAT’S FOR GIRLS.” IT’S TAKEN LESS SERIOUSLY.
HAVE YOU GUYS FOUND, HAVING A FEMALE FRONT WOMAN, THAT GENDERED ISSUES IN THE INDUSTRY ARE QUITE PREVALENT? IS IT GETTING BETTER?
Eva: I think it’s something that’s getting a lot better. When we first started as a band, I really felt very self-conscious about being the front person of this band. I felt like I was holding us back because I was a woman. We started close to 10 years ago at this point, so in New York there weren’t many bands fronted by women. I do feel like both my actual physical voice is very feminine, but also my writing voice is very feminine. I felt that it was so different than everyone else we were put on bills with, and I felt like maybe I was a part of something that was keeping us from being successful.
Eva: But I no longer feel that way remotely, anymore. I feel like, as a music listener, I am so indebted to so many all dude bands, you know, because that’s what I listened to growing up. But at the same time, at this point in my life, I don’t really relate to that narrative anymore. I’m really excited by all of the music that exists that’s made by queer people, and women, and people of colour. It’s just exciting to have new voices in music, and that’s really what I respond to at this point in my life.
But yeah, there were times where being in a band as a woman were totally difficult. Really for me it was when I discovered Bikini Kill and Kathleen Hanna, and later in life discovering Kate Bush, just realising women with crazy voices rule. It was really exciting to me to discover this whole world that I knew nothing about. And that it’d been going on and building for years and years before I was aware of it - it’s really inspiring. I am inspired by other female artists in music right now, like our friend Michelle Zauner in Japanese Breakfast, and SASAMI, and so many bands right now. Also, all of our favourite artists are like, Kim Petras, Lizzo, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga [laughs].
I think women have music right now. At least as far as I’m concerned.
YEAH, DEFINITELY. ON A BIT OF A LIGHTER NOTE, JUST TO FINISH UP, WHO RUNS THE TWITTER ACCOUNT? I LOOKED AT IT BEFORE AND I SAW THERE WAS A TWEET ABOUT MIRANDA COSGROVE.
Dan: Oh no! [laughs]
BASED ON THAT, I WANTED TO WRAP UP BY ASKING WHICH CHILD IDOLS YOU THINK HAVE DONE THE BEST IN THEIR CAREERS NOW?
Sam: I would say, me and Eva are really big fans of Demi Levato, since forever.
Dan: Big fans.
Eva: I stan Demi forever.
Sam: Her first record is actually amazing.
Dan: It’s incredible.
Eva: Yeah, Don’t Forget is an amazing record.
Sam: We listen to it all the time. And she has built a huge career out of that.
Spencer: We love the Cosgrove, too. Rihanna, as well.
Eva: I’ve got to be honest, I was not very popular in high school. I spent the majority of my high school career watching Hannah Montana with my friends in my parent’s basement.
Eva: I will stan Miley Cyrus until the day I die. She’s amazing.
Sam: We’re obsessed with her Black Mirror song.
Eva: That song is amazing, that’s what we come onto stage to most nights of this tour. I also respect her career moves. I respect her descent into craziness, and I respect her ascent into respectability. I love all of it.
Sam: I also will say, Ariana Grande was also a child star, and she is one of the biggest artists in the world right now. And so outrageously talented. We’re huge Ariana Grande fans.
Spencer: I might put her as my number one. Ariana is my favourite.
Eva: Ariana…she’s got everything.