Photography: Laura McCluskey
After ten years spent recording music with bands such as Slow Club and Wave Pictures, Charles Watson makes his solo debut with a precious album detached from any current indie trend. Now That I’m a River is a soft, ethereal listening experience where both music and lyrics come together on the same level to define an album which can’t be caged by definitions or labels.
Lorenzo Ottone talks to Charles Watson about songwriting, the positive effects of Spotify and finding inspiration late at night in cities away from home.
'Abandoned Buick' by Charles Watson, taken from his debut solo album 'Now That I'm A River' via Moshi Moshi Records
LO: The album sounds more complex than your work with Slow Club. Is this a consequence of maturing?
CW: I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time – but maybe, growing older, you know what you want and how to do things a little bit more. My idea was an album where songs would move in a flow, without a stand-alone track. I wanted to make a record people wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, this belongs here’ about. It’s a kinda laid-back listen, because we wanted to make a moody record, rather than an album which could be associated with a single. I think we did a good job!
LO: Does the title track from your debut album, Now That I’m a River, have an inner meaning?
CW: It’s an actual meaning. It’s about what happens after death. It means that you keep flowing and that it isn’t necessarily the end.
LO: When did you come up with the name?
CW: I was at a friend’s house in Manchester and we were sitting down listening to records, randomly. The inspiration for the title came up that night and I wanted to do something with it for a long time. It was a good night, because we all shared music. These days, it’s quite rare to find the time to sit down and listen to records. Everyone listens to music with headphones!
LO: Actually, since I’ve been using Spotify I noticed that I’ve been more tempted to buy the music I listen to on physical supports. Is it just me?
CW: I do like Spotify, especially if it helps people discover new music and go to gigs. People should realise that buying from the merch stall is the best way to support an artist, because I think Spotify still isn’t that fair.
LO: Did studying at Central Saint Martens affect your writing process?
CW: Yeah! I got a bit bored of the usual writing forms with rhymes, so I started experimenting with short story exercises, using words to expand my ability. I used this approach for the record, actually.
LO: Do you create music around your words or vice-versa?
CW: It’s hard to stick one in front of the other. They are two separate things that come together in the end. I keep writing things down all the time, but I rarely sit down and make songs all in one go. I really like starting things late at night so that you feel them the morning after and finish them. I’m not the kind of person who rushes, although this record came together really quickly. I stayed in Edinburgh at a friend’s just to change air for a while. I spent three-quarters of each day there without having much inspiration and then, all of a sudden, I wrote and quickly recorded You’ve Got Your Way of Leaving just before leaving for the airport.
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