From Evanescence, Paramore and Flyleaf to Feist, Regina Spektor and current sensation Sara Bareilles, today’s female musicians are taking the music world by storm. Singer-songwriter Charlotte Sometimes, who soon could be joining them, weighed in on this growing trend last month at the Bamboozle Left festival in Irvine.
“I think that people have stopped looking at female music as a genre and started looking at it as music, as it should be,” she explained. “It’s so funny when people come and they ask me, ‘What do you think about the whole female musician boom?’ No one ever asks a dude, ‘What do you think about the male musician boom?’ It’s like, dude, he’s just a dude who’s playing music, just like a girl is just playing music.”
This new crop of female songwriters is partly a response to the empty bubblegum pop manufactured in the Britney Spears era. Now not only do most artists write the lyrics and music themselves, the songs are no longer constantly being outdone by physical appearance and dance moves. The focus is once again back on the music.
“I think now that the music industry is changing, you’re able to find music on your own,” Charlotte said. “If they like the music, they’re going to go after it. If they don’t, then they won’t. It will show itself.”
The 20-year-old’s debut album “Waves & the Both of Us,” which was released May 6, should have no trouble finding an audience. Its infectious pop melodies and hip-hop beats, propelled by Charlotte’s soulful voice, make it readily accessible, while the lyrics are easily relatable.
“It’s about the pressures that you put on yourself,” she explained. “It’s about the relationship you have within yourself and the relationship you have with other people, kind of like all these waves of thoughts.”
The first single “How I Could Just Kill a Man” reinterprets the Cypress Hill song of the same name, finding Charlotte being gangster with someone’s heart instead. Meanwhile, the rest of the record branches out into a variety of themes.
“I think people are going to be intrigued that the record’s not just about breaking up with someone or hating on a dude,” Charlotte said. “It’s a lot to do with the changes of being a young person – leaving the house for the first time, having a job for the first time, going to college – you know, just being independent.”
The search for identity is reflected in the moniker Charlotte Sometimes (her middle name is also Charlotte), which she borrowed from the 1969 children’s novel by Penelope Farmer.
“The book is about this girl who gets trapped in time and has to be someone else while trying to get back to herself,” Charlotte explained. “I think that as a young female, and just in general, I’m always struggling with the person I am, the person that I want to be and the way that people perceive me. So I kind of think that Charlotte Sometimes gives into all those personalities.”
As it turns out, music hasn’t always been Charlotte’s top priority. Growing up in New Jersey, she was involved in competitive dance and ballet until in her mid-teens she realized it wasn’t for her.
“It was just a little too much for me – too much pressure to be really skinny,” Charlotte said. “I just thought it was more fun to create my own art instead of having someone else teach me what I should be doing. So I kind of just stopped and went into music.”
Picking up a guitar, she began setting her poetry to music and recorded a few EPs during her high school years. By writing everything herself, the songwriting process also became a lot less complicated.
“Basically I just sit at home with my guitar and my piano and keep playing. If I had a bad day, then I’ll write about my bad day. If I had a good day, I write about a good day,” she said. “Sometimes it takes me five minutes. Sometimes it takes a few hours.”
Charlotte recently wrapped tours with Butch Walker and We the Kings and will next play Warped Tour over the summer, with stops in Pomona and Carson. But with influences ranging from the Everly Brothers to Lisa Loeb, she doesn’t exactly fit the pop-punk mold.
“It’s cool because for some reason the kids that are into those bands like us, but it’s definitely a little weird for me because I come from like folk and pop roots and jazz,” Charlotte said. “It’s weird to go hang out with a bunch of punk boys, you know, and play for a crowd that you’re not so sure is going to dig you.”
At the end of the day, Charlotte is just relieved that her first record is finally out. While she is anxious to see how it does, the outcome is now beyond her control.
“We’re just going to do what we can with the album,” she said. “If people like it, that’d be great. If they don’t – what are you gonna do?”
Originally appeared in The Orange County Register