After six years of being a band, one EP of bubblegum perfection and one scrapped full-length, in 2017 Charly Bliss finally released debut album ‘Guppy'. A pop record littered with nods to the alternative, it saw the band hold high their love of catchy melodies, big choruses and that quiet but persistent voice in the back of their own minds filling them full of self-doubt. There was darkness in the glittery shine. Uncertainty as the confetti rained down. And a full-bodied connection with the world that embraced it.
"We had high hopes for what the album would accomplish," starts Eva Hendricks. "But actually achieving any of those goals… It continues to blow my mind when I think about it."
Not wasting any time, the band started writing for album two before the release of ‘Guppy'. They knew they wanted to dive further into the world of pop, "adding different textures and reaching different emotional moments," she explains. "‘Guppy' is high octane. It just goes, and it was right for that album, but with this one, we wanted songs that felt like they had more space to them. We wanted a more diverse range of emotions, and wanted to challenge ourselves beyond just going 110%, 100% of the time."
Tuning out the noise of success, the band focused on themselves.
"I feel lucky that we are all able to just write and write for ourselves and write to make ourselves proud. I think of us as a very ambitious group of people, but I don't think we're competitive with other bands. We're very competitive with ourselves, and we hold ourselves to a super high standard. Going into this album, it wasn't about making anyone else happy."
"I think of this album as about growing up, liking yourself more and more and trusting yourself more and more," Eva explains. "That was the also the narrative for me writing this album as well. I'm always extremely hard on myself. I often default to being full of self-doubt and assuming I can't do anything. For my whole career, I always felt like I was stumbling into doing this. ‘Oh, how did I end up in a band?' ‘How did I write this song? I doubt I'll be able to do it again'.
"When ‘Guppy' came out, it forced me to snap out of it and realise, I'm good at this. And that at some level, I'm built to be doing this, because its how I process everything that happens to me so I might as well just be confident in what I'm already doing instead of constantly finding ways to put myself down."
That belief in self wrestles its way through the album. ‘Young Enough' is a record that sparkles. From the end of summer loving explosion of ‘Blown To Bits', through the twitching, twirling carousel of ‘Capacity' and the jubilant snarl of ‘Chatroom' until the slow-burning march of the title track, all deliberate vision and total control, Charly Bliss become the heroes they need to be. The record is surrounded by destruction, but there's always something that follows. At times, it might feel like the end of the world, but it's never the end. "I think of ‘Young Enough' as an album about growth. And about strength. And perspective."
"The lyrics and the story of an album always feel like a total mystery to me until I finish it," Eva continues. "Then I look back on it, and it hits me like a ton of bricks. ‘Chatroom' is a song that is about sexual assault and being in a very manipulative and abusive relationship. When I was writing it, I really didn't give much thought to the fact that that's what I was writing about, it just felt good to say those things. There was this powerful moment where I made the decision to get angry at the right person, instead of blaming myself.
"I feel like I wrote about this stuff, not thinking about it. I didn't realise what I was doing but looking back clearly I needed to do it. I wrote these songs before I was able to talk about with anyone. It felt like writing these songs taught me how I felt. I was working through something that I hadn't even found the words or the courage to talk about with even my closest friends and family, and this was an exercise for me to purge all of this stuff that had been clogging my thoughts."
Eva wrestled with herself in the month leading up to the release of ‘Chatroom' about how much she should say about the song.
"I felt confused and lost, and I had no idea if I was making the right decision. I went back and forth a million times, and it just felt like any level of stability I had built for myself just didn't exist anymore. It was brutal.
"I love that anyone can plug into a song. They can plug into a narrative and decide that it has to be about them and the thing that they're going through. I do that with music. When I listen to Taylor Swift, I think she secretly knows me and is writing about my life, and I hope that people feel that way about our songs. I hope that they can mean anything to anybody. I don't want to ever cloud that by shoving my own narrative down other people's throat.
"But something that is so important to me about the song ‘Chatroom' is that, although in some ways it is about this dark and traumatic moment in my life, what it's really about is what came after that moment. It's about deciding that this person can't have power over me anymore. And that I am furious, but in a way that is very freeing. It's a celebration of resilience. You didn't ruin what I love about myself. I think of that as a very universal concept; I think anyone can relate to those types of feelings. That song is more about the emotion than the actual event.
"It's been really powerful having people respond and say they've been through something similar, and that this song means something to them and has been helpful to them. And it's powerful for me too. When we play the song live, I look out into the audience, and I know people know what I'm singing about. There's a really special, magical energy exchange that comes from coming right out and saying ‘this is what I'm singing about'."
The title-track, 'Young Enough', is "a celebration of growing up and growing out of self-destructive habits while songs like ‘Capactity' are aspirational, even for me." The track is an ode to wanting to kill your inner people pleaser and a warning not to get caught up in other peoples bullshit.
"The emotions I was feeling when I was writing that song were really powerful, but I don't always feel that way. I don't always feel like I've mastered my tendency to be a people pleaser or live for other people. I still find myself in those exact same situations, doing the same thing I always do. I feel like these songs are a gift for myself. When I'm singing them, I remember that there's a part of me that already encountered this exact same problem and was able to beat it, find a different way that felt better. If I did it once, I can do it again.
"It feels like a magic power to turn something that is completely fucking you up into something that feels like an explosion, and a celebration and a massive release. Hearing other women talk about what they've been through and realising that so many women have been here and experienced this, has helped me so much. Shame comes from thinking you're the only person that's experienced something, or that it's something you need to hide or that if people knew this about you, they'd think differently.
"I'm just so blown away by other women who have come forward about this and been so brave. I know that it's helped me and I feel really lucky that I'm growing up in a time where those sort of conversations are happening because it's beautiful to see women coming together over something that used to be very isolating. If anyone hears our songs, and feels less alone or ashamed or embarrassed or it gives them the courage to talk to someone else about it instead of keeping it inside, then that is the best thing I could ever imagine our music accomplishing."
Taken from the June issue of Dork. Charly Bliss's album 'Young Enough' is out now.
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