Interview: Eva Hendricks from Charly Bliss on Reclaiming Her Narrative

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Brooklyn's Charly Bliss continue to evolve their sound and present something entirely new — their latest offering Young Enough is a stirring yet dynamic LP home to their most personal words to-date. On the day of their album launch show in London, I had the chance to ask Eva Hendricks from Charly Bliss about what they did to celebrate the release of the album, their approach to creating Young Enough and connecting with fans.

How did things go at The Great Escape on the weekend?

Great Escape was really awesome. Getting to see Brighton was such a wonderful experience. I had no idea it was going to be as beautiful as it was. Our tour manager kind of gave us a picture of what it would be like, but actually being there was so gorgeous. And the shows were really fun and it was great to get to meet a bunch of different bands, and play with different people and stuff. We had the best time. We ate fish and chips on the beach at like 11:00 at night and it was really nice.

So, you got to squeeze in a bit of fun too amongst the chaos?

Yes, totally. This whole tour has been really fun.

You've done some other similar events like SXSW a few times, does it help to have experience dealing with the quickness of showcases?

Absolutely. You have to be able to get used to the idea of just hopping on stage, and not really knowing how anything's going to sound. But if you don't have time for a soundcheck, you're kind of just running through it on the stage right before you go on, and hoping for the best (laughs). I think that it takes some getting used to for sure. But yeah, I think we really love it. I think there's also a  wonderful energy to festivals like that, where you're kind of just like, "Okay, here we go." And like constantly moving and going onto the next show. It can be really, really fun.

Huge congrats on your new album Young Enough! Did you do anything to celebrate its release?

Thank you so much. We just had the best time on Friday when it was actually out. I think in the days leading up to it, it was so surreal and bizarre that the album was coming out. It just felt crazy. I mean, on our first album, it took us like about five years to get it out. And so, to be in a totally different situation where we are recording it still like a year ago right now is crazy. We finished recording in July 2018. It just felt really totally crazy, and I think we were a little bit nervous leading up to the actual day of the release. But I think it was really wonderful on Friday once it was finally out. I think there's a wonderful feeling of just, okay, well I have no control anymore, here it is and we love it. So, we hope everybody loves it too.

And my favorite thing that we did that day, or two favorite things was, in the morning when we were walking to breakfast and we happened to pass the record store. And I was like, "We should go in and see if our album is in there." And we'd been standing outside for a little while and Dan went in and looked, and he was like, "Oh no, they don't have it." But then I was like, "No, let's go. I'm going to really look for it." And I looked and I found it almost right away, and I bought our record, which felt really crazy and cool. It's like yes, it made it from New York (laughs), it made it all the way to Manchester that morning.

And then that night we played a show in Leeds and it was such a wonderful way to celebrate because the crowd were so fun and dancing, and singing the words back with us. We couldn't have asked for a better crowd on release day. They were just really wonderful. That felt like a great celebration. Then tonight is our release show in London. So, I think that will be another party as well.

That sounds so awesome!! Is it easier having been through the process of creating an album before?

Yes and no. I think the feeling was so different when we put out Guppy. I mean, I think that overwhelmingly I just felt frustrated. I think we all just felt so desperate for the album to be out. It felt like it had taken so long, and I remember I couldn't sleep the night before it came out because I just felt like, uh, I bet our label is going to be like, "You know what, actually let's wait a little bit longer and release it in a couple months." (laughs) It was like, oh my god, is this album ever going to come out? Whereas on Young Enough it kind of just felt so totally different.

I think, there were people who were excited about the album coming out. Whereas when we put Guppy out, kind of no one knew who we were at that point. And then also we just feel super connected to these songs still. I think it still feels fresh, so that's wonderful. But it's also kind of nerve-wracking because they still feel like an open wound. You're still like, "Oh, I still feel the way that I felt when I wrote that song." So, opening up to having people listen to it feels kind of like, oh, that's recent, that's fresh. But I think ultimately it's a better way to release an album to still feel so connected to it. It been a really positive experience.

Both records (Guppy and Young Enough) sound quite different. How important is it for you and the band to switch it up and do something new? 

A lot of time has passed since Guppy came out, and I think in the span of that time, our tastes have changed. So, it felt like a very natural progression to reflect that in the music that we were putting out. Simultaneously, I think just as music listeners, I really don't love it when a band that I love puts out the same album over-and-over-and-over again. I think we felt strongly that we didn't just want to put out Guppy two and make the same album twice. So, we definitely wanted to push ourselves. But at the same time, I think of Guppy as a pop album. I think it's a pop album, and it's told through really loud, crunchy guitars than Young Enough is told.

It felt like a very obvious path forward for us, to go further and further into something that we had started on Guppy. We always try to think about the foundation of who we are as a band? And I think that what clicked for us when we made Guppy a second time was like, we are a pop band and our songs need to be fun. They can never be passive songs. I think it would have been more bizarre for us to make a sad shoegaze record or something (laughs).

Was there anything on Young Enough that you really want to experiment with that you didn't do on Guppy?

We definitely really wanted to experiment with new instrumentation, and we did that. We played with the keys a lot. Something that was totally different was that we had a producer who was really hands on. We got to do things like pre-production, which we had never done before. We had the album written, and we kind of felt like we had gotten all of the writing on the album to a place where it was as far as we could take it. You get to a certain point where you have been going over the songs with a fine-tooth comb and trying to get them to a place that's the best they can be. But then also when you're working on everything over-and-over again, just the four of us, you hit a wall. Where you're like, "I don't know what the way forward is. I don't know what to do."

Sometimes you need to totally blow up a song, and dismantle it and build it back up. And it was really helpful having Joe come to New York for about a month or so before we went into the studio in LA. He sat in our practice space with us for two days straight and went over the songs again-and-again-and-again. He would ask us to do things and we would be like, "He doesn't know what he's talking about..." (laughs), "Oh, like no, this definitely won't work. This definitely won't work." And then we try it and then we're like, "Oh shit, this was such a good idea."

So that was a really positive different experience, bringing someone else in and having a fifth member of the band on this album who could bust us out of our own feedback loops, and get us to try things that felt nerve-wracking at the time, but ultimately it really paid off. I think a song like 'Capacity' would not have existed without him doing that and pushing us. Then there's so many moments for me, like I'm obsessed with lyrics, It's like my favorite part of writing in the band. And I knew going into it, I was like, "Oh, I'm ready to have someone critique and offer notes on things, on every aspect of being in the band." But I was like, "I don't know how I'm going to be able to do with the lyrics."

Having someone make suggestions about lyrics at first was always really difficult. But every moment that we changed on the album, and there are very few, I'm so happy that we did it. I'm so happy that we had someone who could always see the bigger picture for us.

And you mentioned the lyrics and the words on the album, they're very personal. But they're also words that many fans can connect with. What's that connection like for you?

It's really powerful to have that connection. For me, that's partly how I write. I don't really know how to write any other way than by reflecting on my own experiences. There are people who can sometimes write songs in a more like fiction state, where they're coming up with scenarios that haven't directly happened to them. But I don't gravitate towards writing in that way. I think that the lyrics on Guppy were also very personal. However, I also think I was sometimes writing as like a caricature version of myself. If I was getting too close to saying something really sad or personal,  or hard to say, I would swerve and make it a joke instead, or be sarcastic about it.

I think that it worked on that album, but I really wanted on this album to be as honest as possible. So, that felt really powerful for me. Certain things that I discussed on the album are things that when I was writing them, I hadn't even really talked much to my own family about or my friends. It felt very hard for me to articulate my feelings. So it felt very cathartic for me to finally articulate those thoughts. Now that we have performed them live, and I talk about them in interviews almost every day, that also feels really powerful for me. I mean, it takes a situation that felt very difficult and dark for me, and makes me feel like it's something that I'm in control of. I'm in control of the narrative and I'm in control of my own feelings about it.

I think that's been both a difficult experience, but also something that has really helped me. And the connection that it's brought about with our fans has been very overwhelming and wonderful. I think that the wonderful thing about being vulnerable with people— we're really lucky we have really supportive fans — is when they're vulnerable back with you. That's made for a connection on-stage when we perform these songs, that feels like magic. There's a lot of trust there, having people know what I'm singing about. If I'm singing a song, and it's about something like abuse and assault, and a really dark moment in my life, and looking out into the audience and knowing that they know what I'm singing about, and they're singing it back to me, it kind of feels like we're giving each other strength. That is a really magical experience. It really is kind of overwhelming.

You're coming to Australia in a few months for Splendour in the Grass, are you feeling excited?

I am so excited. I really cannot even begin to tell you (laughs). Australia has always been the number one place that we have wanted to go on tour. I mean, the day that we found out it was going to happen, we were just like doing backflips. We were so excited. I kind of can't believe it's happening still. We keep talking about it all the time as like, "Can you believe in like a month or two we're going to be in Australia?" So, I mean, yes we are very thrilled that we are going to Australia. We kind of can't believe that it happened so fast, we're so excited!

Well, we can't wait to have you here! You're going to love it here.

Thank you. I kind of spend my birthday there. I think we're playing in Sydney the day before my birthday, and then we fly back on my actual birthday. Which, I cannot accept that my entire birthday will be spent on a plane (laughs). So, I am going to pretend that my actual birthday will be the day of the show.

It will be worth it (laughs).

It'll be totally worth it. You're right (laughs).

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

You can listen to Young Enough by Charly Bliss below:

Live dates:
July 19th - The Curtin, Melbourne
July 23rd - The Lansdowne, Sydney 
(Also appearing at Splendour in the Grass 2019)
More information is available here

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