Charlotte Eriksson is a young, Swedish singer-songwriter with plenty to say for herself and bags of talent to back it up.
We caught up with her to talk about moving to another country, 90’s pop bands and how she found herself at #3 in the Swedish iTunes chart.
Hi Charlotte, why don’t we start with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I am 20 years old and from Sweden. A year ago I packed my bags and moved all on my own to London to pursue my music and live my life the way I want to live it. Since then I have started my own record label Broken Glass Records, released my debut-EP and I’m now producing and recording my second EP.
So you moved over here to London from Sweden at just 19 years old. How scary was that?
Oh, to the point where I started to think there were ghosts in my closet at night. No, it’s been both the best and worst year of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself, who I am and what I want. I really needed to get out of Sweden to become who I want to be. I’ve been spending every minute of every day with music and London is an amazing city to play music in.
Did it ever get lonely being away from your friends and family at such a young age?
Yeah absolutely. I think mostly because I really tried to leave everything behind when I moved, to start over in a way. I told my friends to not call me for the first couple of months, so that I could really build a life here. It’s been hard, but I’ve learned so much and it’s been worth it.
What are the best and the worst things about living in London?
My friend once said “London, the city where dreams take suicide.” I think that describes London quite well, when it comes to music anyway. It can really eat you up if you’re not completely sure about why you’re here and what you want to get out of it. There are so many people here that will mislead you or distract you from doing what you want to do, and every one is after their own success. The best thing about London is that you will never get bored. There are always several bands playing every night and there is always somewhere to go.
When did you first begin writing songs?
I got into music very late, I think I was around 15 or 16 when I first got hooked by music. I didn’t even listen to that much music before that. I’d been writing a lot, but never songs. When I realised how much better I could express myself through music, I started to spend more and more time doing it, and now it’s the only thing I do.
Can you remember what your first song was about?
Yes, quite funny actually but it was called ‘The Glass Child’. When I was younger I always kept to myself and never wanted to get close with friends, etc. I think I was scared of being misunderstood or that they wouldn’t like who I am. People always told me that it was as if I was living behind glass – they could see me but never really reach me. That was what I wrote my first song about – it was called The Glass Child and the name has stuck with me ever since.
Which artists do you admire the most and how do you think you compare to them?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Brand New and I love everything about their music. I love how they write their lyrics, set their melodies and the arrangements they use, it’s just an amazing band and I love every album they’ve done. I truly admire Counting Crows, and especially Adam Duritz’s lyrics and vocals. That band is just real, you know, and they’ve been doing their own thing for ages. That’s what I love the most about bands, when they stay real and keep to why they write music. Ani Difranco is also a huge inspiration, especially as a singer. The way she uses her voice and how she structures her songs. She’s one of very few female songwriters and singers that I look up too. And also the way she’s been doing everything on her own on her own label since she was a teenager.
You seem to be just as comfortable with writing big, punk-pop songs as you are with fragile stripped back songs. Why do you think your range is so wide?
I think it’s mainly because I listen to so many different genres and bands. I’m just as inspired by Set Your Goals as I am by Counting Crows, which is completely different music. But also because I don’t think about genre or sound when I write. It happens quite naturally when I write, depending on which mood I’m in, what I’m feeling or what I need to express. Picking up a distorted guitar makes me get other feelings out than if I sit with just a stripped piano.
Do you prefer making the louder songs or the more delicate stuff?
Oh, I don’t know. I love both, because what matters to me is the story I’m telling and the story behind the song. But I really love playing with my full-band live. There is nothing like the energy I get from those bigger songs, and when the band is just as into it as I am. It’s amazing.
You have an EP out (The Glass Child EP) and you’re working on the follow up at the moment, right? Tell us a little about The Glass Child EP.
Yes! My first EP was released in May on my own label Broken Glass Records. I was so scared to release it, since I’ve done everything myself, from producing and recording to setting up my label. I’ve received so much more and better feedback than I ever thought though, and I am really proud over it. I can truly say to myself that those five songs represent exactly who I’ve been up until I released it.
How have things changed for you since that EP came out?
I think I am more sure about myself and my existence now. Before I released it, I was still determined to spend my life writing and playing music, but every one doubted me and told me to go home and grow up and get a job. Before the release I didn’t have any “evidence” of what I could do and people kind of just laughed at me and thought I was a big dreamer. With the release I could actually stand up and say “this is what I do, and this is who I am”. It felt really good to prove to those people that I’m not that useless, haha!
How does the new EP differ from this one and when can we expect to hear it?
Obviously I’ve learned a lot this year, living alone and building a life here, so this new EP is about this whole year in London. I’ve been through quite a lot of weird phases this year, and it’s about a lot of things I’ve been trying to deal with within myself. But also about leaving people behind and trying to let new people into your life. I honestly feel that those five songs are the best songs I’ve ever written and I am so excited to let people hear it. It’ll be released at the end of November or the beginning of December.
Now, tell us all about your new track ‘I Will Lead You Home’ because this is an important song, isn’t it?
Yes, and actually that song has just reached #3 on the Swedish iTunes charts! I never thought I would have a song in the charts, ever.
This is a charity single I’ve released for the Swedish cancer organization Ung Cancer (Young Cancer). They are working as a support for young victims of the disease to let them know that they’re not alone. My song is the soundtrack to their short-film and I’ve also released it on iTunes where all the money goes directly to the organisation. It’s so amazing that people want to support this so much that they got me all the way up to #3!
And this all came about because one of your close friends fought cancer at a young age and wanted help others in similar situations, right?
Yes, one of the girls who started this, Julia, is like my unrelated sister. She got cancer when she was 21, and she went through some horrible years. She’s 26 now and completely fine, but she knows how important it is to know that you’re not alone when you go through something like that. She’s one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to believing in life and in yourself, and I know she inspires a lot of other people too.
Now then, tell us about your plans for the rest of this year – any shows coming up?
Yes, I’m playing at AAA in Highstreet Kensington, London, the 30th September, and it’s one of a very few shows this year, so if you’re around you should really come! After that I will produce one of the tracks for the EP with Jason Wilcock (You Me At Six) and I’m so excited about that. I’m also trying to get on tour after the release, and I’m fighting my ass off to get to go on a support-tour in the States next year, since most of my fans are over there.
And finally then, this is the part where we let you say anything you like, about anything you like – go for it!
I drink way too much coffee, I kick ass at inlines and I love pop-bands from the 90s, like Spice Girls, Hanson and Aaron Carter. That’s all you need to know. Oh and I give away my EP for free at www.charlotteeriksson.com – Ready, set, go!