Charlotte Sands has one mission behind her music: connection. During our interview, Charlotte Sands gushed about her insatiable need to build relationships and, most importantly, feel less alone. Her new EP feels like a puzzle pieced together of everything she is. It’s raw and vulnerable but layered with the optimism that radiates throughout her personality and in her genre-blending melodies.
After her song “Dress” went viral in 2020 she didn’t fall into the trap of thinking she made it, she went into action making sure she built a career that was sustainable and not a one-hit-wonder, and she did it by building off that brand of authenticity. She keeps people guessing and doesn’t feel confined to what’s expected of her. With opening slots for The Band CAMINO and 5 Seconds of Summer booked and an upcoming Lollapalooza performance, it’s clear Charlotte Sands has a clear path made for herself and nothing is slowing her down.
Tell me about this EP. What’s the story behind it?
This EP is kind of just a group of songs that I wrote over the last few years, honestly, which is so funny. Some of them I wrote three years ago, but it just feels like they all have this common thread of this weird experience of disassociation that I’ve been struggling with recently, especially in the last 12 months. I wrote these songs all about connection in different forms, but also feeling connected to myself and my own emotions and feeling out of place or like I’m outside of my own life. It was a feeling that took up a lot of time and energy for a long period of time. I’m really grateful that I now have something to show for it, and I’m proud looking back at this phase of life I was in that I’m still continuing to work through.
What’s your best advice for people going through something similar?
I try to remind myself to stand where my feet are and try and be really present. I try really hard to just be intentional about where I put my time and my energy and who I pour it into and make sure that I’m taking time for myself and I’m prioritizing the way I feel, and I’m being kind to myself, and allowing myself to go through these different waves of emotions and not be too critical. I think that a lot of times, we see things as black or white and good or bad or happy or sad, and I just realize that most of us live somewhere in the gray and that it’s okay to be in the middle and not really know exactly where you are and not really know how you feel.
Do you feel like the reason you got into music was craving connection?
I grew up on Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt, and Michelle Branch, women who wrote these stories that I loved so much, and I think it was the first time that I really recognized that there were other people going through similar things and felt isolation and felt loneliness and felt left out. I felt so much like, for the first time, I had somebody who I could relate to, and I felt like I wasn’t alone. And so I think ever since then, and that’s always been my goal, to bring people together so that they can feel connected and feel respected and celebrated and realize that we’re not at all very different and we’re very similar and we all kind of experience the same things in different ways.
Tell me about your songwriting process. How do you know when something is ready to put out?
When I’m writing, it almost feels like the song already exists, and I’m just reaching into the air and trying to pull it back down. It feels like this cloud over me that I’m trying to translate into reality, and it’s almost like I don’t even feel responsible for it. The words of the melody, it’s just like a muse or an existing thing that I am the portal for. The challenge of it is so exciting, and being able to make music that I don’t feel like exists, or if it does, I want to make it feel more one thing or the other, and being able to create your perfect world, it’s the dream.
Is there a particular song off the EP that you’re excited for your fans to hear?
I am so excited for them to hear the title track, “Good Now.” I think it’s such a different song sonically for me, and it’s not like anything I have released, and it’s so honest, and it’s so true to where I am. It’s kind of in between different genres. I think this is a really fun EP for me to make because I just completely let go of trying to fit into certain genre boxes and instead just wanted to make music that I wanted to listen to in the car and that I wanted to show people and that I was proud of. I mean, the EP goes from stripped acoustic to also heavier rock, pop-rock stuff. So I think being able to show different parts of who I am as an artist and as a person in the singer-songwriter side of me and then the more pop side of me and then the rock influences and being able to do all of that in one place is really exciting.
Do you feel a lot of pressure to stick to a certain aesthetic or genre?
I think I was self-conscious of that for a long time, and within the last year, I just realized that it wasn’t helpful to me to be trying to be something to please people’s hypothetical opinions of me. It’s so many degrees away from what people actually want and mean. You’ll never fully understand what people actually want to hear or what they actually want you to say, you’re never going to make it happen. I realized that the best thing I could do was just be unapologetically myself. Instead of trying to create a separate identity or create songs that I think people will like, I’m creating stuff that, even if they don’t like it, I sleep at night being proud and excited and happy. I think that for the last year, I’ve been really confident in who I am as a person and what I want and what I want to make and what I want people to feel when they’re at my show, and what I want them to feel when they listen to my music.
How do you kind of build a sustainable career instead of being known for a viral song? I feel like you’ve done that really well.
I think we just decided to invest in people and the real human experiences of face-to-face interactions and shows and physical experiences. When that moment happened, the first thing that we did was start trying to tour and get in front of the people that I had connected with online. And I would have these relationships, and I would build them with people on social media. I’d follow it up with making sure that I was able to meet them face to face and see them and create merch and physical things that we were able to connect through on a deeper level than just being on a social media platform and just a phone. I think touring and being able to play shows and being able to kind of have those relationships in real-time and in real life has been the biggest blessing and has been the most rewarding part of my entire career. And instead of focusing on the moment and focusing on, “Oh. How do we make this happen again?” We focus on keeping the momentum of, “All right. Now, how do we maintain those relationships? How do we keep people here?” How do we make them feel the gratitude that I feel that they are listening and that they are a part of this? I want them to feel included, and I want it to feel like it’s a community that they’re equal parts of.
I feel like so many artists think, “Oh. Now I’ve made it,” but you have to be careful.
Absolutely. I think when that happened to me, I kind of felt the opposite. I was like, “Oh, no. Now this is where I start working. Now, I have to make sure that I completely take advantage of every opportunity, and every room, every show, and every interaction.” And I just want to hold on to these things as long as possible. I’m so grateful for everything that has happened and for the people that have been here and supported me through these incredible moments and are still here. It’s the most rewarding thing in the whole entire world.
What would you say has kind of been the biggest challenge for you in your career?
I think the biggest challenge is trying to balance my life and my career, and also the touring side and the creative side. I think trying to find a mix of being completely transparent in my music and trying to be as reflective as I possibly can of my true self, personality, and character, but also not feel like I’m just living in a glass house. I think having a personal life is really important, and having a professional life and finding the middle ground between those two things, but also trying to be like a friend to people who listen to my music and a friend to people in my real life, as well. I think that there’s just this strange mix of trying to do it all. I think that I’m a people-pleaser, and I want people to feel loved and respected, and celebrated. I think the biggest challenge is trying to find ways to be easier on myself and not just expect myself to be able to do that with everybody all the time. I’m figuring it out. And I think every day, I get better at it. And every day, I feel more secure in where I am and more confident in who I am, in what I’m creating, in my relationships, and all of it. So it’s all good. It’s all good. I love a challenge. It’s all good things.
interview // Emily Treadgold
photos // Mallory Turner
MUA // Kristen Gill
location // Projkt LA Studios