Performing under the stage name Charles, Charlotte Ercoli Coe became a musician through an unlikely career path. While many performers use music as an entry to scoring movies and videos, she began creating music videos as a high school student and became a multi-instrumentalist to retain creative control of her productions. “I wanted credit for every aspect of what I was putting out,” recalls Coe. “The only way to do that was to make my own music.”
Now Coe is about to release her second album as Charles, a lush and dreamy collection of songs from Babe City Records entitled “Let’s Start a Family Tonight.” The Los Angeles-based artist creates music that blurs the line between bedroom and psychedelic pop, and her latest work features strong melodies and catchy lyrics that shift from poignant romance to tongue-in-cheek humor. She wrote and recorded all the music, save for a few guest appearances, playing guitar, synthesizers, bass and drums. To Coe, the process of creating music is both emotionally agonizing and joyful.
“It is a delicious agony that fuels making a song,” she explains. “Making music and music videos are the only ways I can feel emotions. It's like Cameron Diaz in the ‘Being John Malkovich’ tunnel.”
Coe traces her music roots to her upbringing in Ojai, Cal., a small-town northwest of L.A., whose rustic setting and tranquil pace she remembers with mixed feelings. “It’s beautiful, and I grew up backpacking,” she says. “But I used to think that a trip to the supermarket was the most exciting thing you could do.” After graduating high school, Coe moved to L.A. to launch her career as a videographer and editor. Earlier this year, she founded Simulacra Pictures, a film and commercial company where she serves as a director and editor.
In recent years, Coe has worked on productions showcasing actors and musicians such as Chloe Sevigny, Weyes Blood and Dorian Electra, while she continues to make music videos of her songs as Charles. In “Let’s Start a Family Tonight,” which follows her 2015 release “That’s How My Baby Learns,” Coe draws on inspiration from the 1970’s Italian progressive electronic group Sensations Fix, and trippy psychedelic groups from the 1980s.
But “Let’s Start A Family Tonight” is all her own, experimenting with traditional pop structures and instrumentation, blending soul, funk and dreampop, and recording vocals in her apartment or car (a 2012 Honda Civic). “I like to park my car in a quiet neighborhood and record my vocals there for privacy,” Coe explains. “I don’t put a lot of thought into the process but I think that’s what makes the lyrics ring true—like a drunk guy giving a free-form TED Talk.”
“Let’s Start A Family Tonight” will be released by Babe City Records on May 21, 2021, available digitally and as a limited-edition vinyl record and cassette.
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