Based out of Nashville, but raised in New Jersey, Charlie Hill came to music aged eleven when he picked up a guitar, and pretty much never put it down. Although only recently releasing music under his own name, Charlie has been sharing his songs since 2018 under the moniker of Chazzy Lake. After seeking honesty and authenticity in his music, Charlie notes it was time to produce under his own name, “I make music to slough off shame, to embrace the self, to make listeners know it’s okay to feel. Using my real name just feels right”. The first step in this new Charlie Hill chapter will arrive this Friday when he shares his new record, Chuck Pond.
Charlie is very quick to note how vital making music is to him, a source of identity and expression, a way to understand himself and the world around him. Take the recent single, LA Fever, a song that contrasts greed and instinct, “are we animals for needing the best to survive? Or are we just human, for trying to find a bigger bite?” Musically, the track has a touch of Karl Blau or Andy Shauf as it walks the line between stripped-back acoustics and choruses that take a dive into luxurious, widescreen, West Coast harmonies. Elsewhere Dive In pairs a driving rhythm track with a twitching lead guitar and Charlie’s soaring Jacob Golden-like vocals as he muses on jumping in feet first, while a beautiful cover of Kurt Vile’s Baby Arms strips everything back to the bare bones and allows Charlie’s vocals to truly shine. The joy with Charlie Hill’s music right now is how honest it feels, a songwriter no longer shielding himself from the world, but throwing back the curtains and letting us all take a look inside, don’t be surprised if a lot of people like what they see.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Charlie Hill?
Charlie Hill is myself, an artist formerly known as Chazzy Lake. I was born in Atlanta but raised in New Jersey. I lived there till I was eighteen, then moved to Burlington Vermont for seven years where I went to college to study environmental studies. There, I played a lot of music, ran a recording studio and worked a lot of live sound. I used to be in a disco punk trio named Bison, and an indie-rock outfit called J Bengoy. I wrote, played guitar and sang for both groups before starting to put out music as Chazzy Lake in 2018. I self-produced a 12-track album under that name as well as two EP’s and a Dolly Parton cover, I’m real proud of all those projects even though I’ve moved on from them. After Vermont I moved to Brooklyn for three years, lived most of the pandemic out there while working at a cafe then a guitar store. I moved to Nashville this past summer where I currently reside. I’m writing a lot of songs about my journey with self discovery and identity, so it felt right to start using my name.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
My first ever performance was at a summer camp talent show. I was about twelve and had been learning Redemption Song by Bob Marley and was ready to perform it. I was incredibly nervous, so much so I forgot the second half of the song and had to stop to remember it but I eventually did and finished the tune. Everyone was super supportive of course cause it was a young talent show. But it felt amazing to sing and flex that vulnerability in-front of people. As I got off stage I just couldn’t help but think about how I wanted to keep doing that.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I make music because I have always wanted to and I don’t think I could stop. I started naturally singing as a kid and it was just something that led me to where I am today. Music has been incredibly empowering and healing for me, so I hope to share that power with others. I like to write songs about the nuances of the human mind and emotional experience, and sometimes just plain old good tunes for people to have fun, laugh and cry to. If they do that for me, I want to share them to others.
FTR: What can people expect from the Charlie Hill live show?
A lot of croons, maybe some hip twists and shakes, a couple winks and glares at you, and some choked back tears over a smile.
FTR: What’s next for Charlie Hill?
I’m taking my writing deeper into country to discover more meaning and new sounds with it. I think country is a beautiful genre and has a lot of power and potential to redefine itself from what most people know it as. More shows, more records. Most of all though, just climbing my own little life’s mountain till I get to its top.
They Listen To…
Greg Freeman – I’ll See You in My Mind
Lily Seabird – Bug
Will Orchard – Savior
Jess Kerber – Never Again
Hayes Peebles – $57.00
Olivia Lurrie – Anita Star
Francesca Blanchard – Did it to Myself
Chuck Pond is out today. For more information on Charlie Hill visit https://charliehill.net/.