Monday, January 21, 2013

Time For: Charlie Brown

We've been keeping an eye on Charlie Brown for a while now. Not only the vocalist on Wiley and Bless Beat's The Rain, he's also written with everyone from The Script to RedOne (Gaga).

We had a little catch up with the South London singer and songwriter to find out how never giving up has helped him to get to this point.

You’re signed to AATW (Dappy, Tulisa) but it’s taken you years to get to this point. How did you stay motivated? Others might have quit a long time ago.
The main thing is, I just don’t know what else I would do. I think if I hadn’t kept on getting close to it then maybe I might have quit. But coming so close; I was nearly signed in 2004, I did get signed in 2006 - one A&R loved the record I made, one A&R hated it - I’ve had people from Atlantic in the US fly over to meet me twice. So I knew there was something there and it would be a disservice to myself not to see what it is. It’s like blind faith really. Plus other people’s stories too are inspiring. RedOne had been through the same thing in the producer world; Jessie J came from her Gut deal to having 6 labels trying to sign her, then no one did, but she figured it out and stuck with it and now she’s Jessie J. Robin Thicke had 7 deals. Pixie Lott had up’s and down’s. Some people do a TV show and get successful, some people are signed and make it, other people have 5 deals before they make it. I had two! (laughs) The only time I stopped believing was around 2010. I thought ‘Ok, this isn’t going to happen’.

"I stopped believing was around 2010. I thought ‘Ok, this isn’t going to happen..."

This was just after you featured on Wiley’s Bless Beats produced, The Rain, right?
Yeah, that was in 2009. A friend of mine introduced me to Bless. I was at his house, and we recorded four or five hooks. He put Wiley on The Rain and released it. That was the first good thing that had happened in ages. Wiley was cool. He talked me up in label meetings for ages. He’s got a great nature. He’s always been a big supporter of mine. The song wasn’t a No.1 or anything, but it meant that 10,000 people on Youtube who didn’t know me before, knew me after.

You were signed as a songwriter at 19. Tell us about some of the people you’ve worked for, including the aforementioned RedOne etc.
I signed to Simon Fuller’s 19 and from there I was sent pretty much around the world to write for all sorts of people. That was my first experience of going into a studio, hearing a finished beat and then having to write a topline on top. The week after I’d signed, I was sent to Canada on a writing trip for Canadian Idol – I didn’t know there was a Canadian Idol at that point! I got there and it’s a bit conveyor belt; they have three weeks to get the whole record done. So you get a rota up in the kitchen and you do two sessions a day with complete strangers. I had this one session and really gelled with these three guys. We wrote a couple of songs that we all liked and that ended up being on the Canadian Idol record. They asked if I’d step outside for a second and write with them for some other acts they had. Two of them later formed the Script – Mark and Danny. My first ever songwriting cut ever, was with them.

Who are you working with on your debut?
So far there’s Quiz & Larossi (Conor Maynard, Cover Drive), MoJam (Emeli Sandé, Professor Green), Wayne Rodrigues (Natasha Bedingfield, Nelly Furtado, Kelly Clarkson) and newcomers Focus (Dappy, Misha B) and Mushtaq. Artist-wise there’s Mic Righteous and of course Yungen and Ms D.

 "There’s a million paths to you now and you where you want to be. Don’t stay too stuck on one particular route..."

What’s been the toughest lesson you’ve had to learn?
I think to stick with something. It’s a cliché, but if there’s one thing I’d say to people starting out, it might not go the way you think it’s going to, but there’s a million paths to you now and you where you want to be. Don’t stay too stuck on one particular route. I’ve calmed down a lot and stopped obsessing. It’s hard to do, but it’s about being in the moment and enjoying it. I’m calm for the first time in my career. You never know what’s going to happen so my only job is to be the best I can be and deliver honest music as best as people. People will like it or they won’t. I’m so glad I’m doing this now with the mindset I have than the one I had two years.

What are your future ambitions?
As a writer I’ll be 99 years old on my deathbed pitching songs (laughs). On the artist side, I’m glad I’m getting to try it. I know people who are frustrated artists and would love the shot. So I hope to release albums but right now it’s about this album being the best I can be. I aspire to be like the people I look up to and to have a career that spans years. But actually, to be real, I just stay focused on the now. That’s the best thing I can do. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but don’t be scared of that. I like not knowing what might be around the corner. It’s exciting.

On My Way is out 25 March.

Follow Charlie on Twitter.

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