Artist Interviews

Q&A: Charlotte Hatherley

By | Published on Tuesday 27 October 2009

Charlotte Hatherley

Former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley began her musical career with London punks Nightnurse at the age of 16, before joining Ash in 1997. She received high praise with the release of her debut solo album, ‘Grey Will Fade’, in 2004 and decided to leave Ash in 2006 to further pursue her solo career, releasing her second album, ‘The Deep Blue’, in 2007. This year she joined Bat For Lashes’ touring band as guitarist and backing vocalist and her third album, ‘New World’, was released on the 19 Oct through her own label, Little Sister Records. With the album’s second single, ‘Alexander’, out this week, we spoke to Charlotte to find out more.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I picked up the guitar when I was fourteen – giving up drum lessons so that I could be Mick Ronson. Shortly after, I started obsessing over David Bowie. I answered an ad in the NME to join a London band called Nightnurse, and that’s where I started to write and play music. I’m glad I started so young as I was completely open to the melting pot that was the Britpop scene at that time. I’m afraid I often skipped school so that I could go to see bands play.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
I wanted to make a record that was spontaneous, direct and honest. I didn’t demo the songs. If the songs didn’t work live with just guitar and drums then they didn’t make the cut. Previously, I’d often recorded without limiting myself time wise, and this time I deliberately set myself a week to record it mostly live. Lyrically, I was inspired by Alex Ross’s book ‘The Rest Is Noise’ and painters like Kandinsky and Malevich and their ideas about colour.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
On my previous records I would carry a tape recorder around with me and tape little ideas I had on tour, and then at home would demo quite extensively. But this time I developed the songs in a rehearsal room. This record was designed to be played live as I’ve always struggled to capture the ambition in the music before. ‘New Worlds’ came together very quickly. I wanted it to be spontaneous and not as layered as my previous records, and I think it sounds more exciting for it.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Generally I don’t listen to other musical artists when I am writing and recording. During that process I am mostly inspired by books, films and paintings. So, musically, I’m mostly influenced by other musicians who were similarly inspired in that way, such as Kate Bush, Bowie, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, XTC, The Beatles, Todd Rundgren and Captain Beefheart.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?

See if you can spot the happy accidents

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
I’m continuing to tour with Bat For Lashes in October, and then my solo touring will take over until well into 2010. This is the first record I will have released in the States, so I’m planning to spend some time there next year. I would also love to collaborate more directly with other artists such as painters and filmmakers in the future.