Charly Cole just released her new video for “February 29 (Marry Me)” which is a single off of her soon to be released debut album Gotcha. The song continues to spread Charly’s message to the current generation to break with convention and do what they want, how they want (within reason).
Charly was born and raised in a small town in Germany and followed her heart and her talent to LA when she was just 16 years old. Her music has a fresh country-pop vibe with upbeat lyrics and melodies that will appeal to young and old alike. Charly’s songs are uplifting and inspiring with their positive messages. It’s hard to sit still when Charly starts singing.
TNWU was fortunate enough to catch up with Charly to talk about her move to LA, her songs and her hopes for the future.
When did you realize that you could sing and write music? How did your talent find you?
When I grew up, my dad – he writes songs – he played to me when I was a baby. He told me that I was actually singing before I spoke, so I think I always kind of sang. (laughs). My dad used to write songs for me; when I was really young I was in a band in Germany, and he and the piano player wrote my songs. I would tell my dad a story and then he would write a song about it. Then when I was 13, he told me that I was playing guitar well enough to write my own songs. So that’s how that came about. I started writing my own songs when I was about 13 and took it from there.
So music has been your life.
Yes, I think since always, but I really started taking it seriously when I was like 11.
You moved to LA from Germany when you were 16. That’s a huge move! What inspired you to make such a change and did you know anyone in LA?
When I was 14 I was on a TV show in Germany that was comparable to Disney. It was called Best Voice of 2010 and I made it to the last five. On that show I actually experienced a lot of bullying and stuff like that because my friend had won the show the year before and they were making a girl group and I felt like she didn’t really want me to be a part of it. When I exited the show, when I was in the last five I realized that I didn’t want to sing in German.
I always sang in English and I was fascinated by America and the English language. So when I was really young I would listen to Beyoncé songs or Rhianna songs and I would go to translate them and I would learn English that way. Also in school, you know on my album one of my songs is “Everybody’s Pretty When They’re 18” it’s about being bullied in school. I experienced a lot of that because I grew up in a small town and a lot of people didn’t like the fact that I was doing music. They said it was not a serious job and that it was not real and they were very negative about it. So I always thought that if I went to LA that everybody would be different and that people would actually be positive towards me wanting to do music and towards me wanting to be me. I felt suppressed when I was living in Germany. I thought that if I came to LA that I would really love it.
And do you love it?
(laughs). Yes! Yes I really do. My aunt lives here actually. I went here for three weeks to study with a vocal coach and she and my aunt told me that I should move to LA and that she would look after me. She’d be there and help me find a school and everything. So when she said that, that’s when my parents said, ‘OK, your aunt is over there and you’ll have someone to take care of you, so you can go’. So that’s how it came about.
Once you got to LA, what kind of things did you get involved with in order to promote yourself as a songwriter/musician?
I came to LA when I was 16 and I think I turned 17 about three months later. I entered my junior year of high school and in my first year of (American) high school I was scared, like so scared. I really just played by myself in my room. Played the guitar, played the piano and wrote songs but I didn’t actually get out there to do music. I was so scared. I literally would do my homework – I did really well in school, I had a really high GPA – because I was just working on it all the time. I was really scared to get out there and I couldn’t drive at the time either and you know in LA you kind of need a car! (laughs). So, in my first year I was just really by myself and I think that was the hardest time for me.
The second year, my senior year in high school, my choir teacher asked me to move in with her family – I still live with them – and they gave me the courage to just start doing my thing. I started setting up studio sessions and getting in the studio with other people. That’s how I started meeting other people and writing more songs and getting better at that.
In your bio you list Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Shania Twain as your influences. Does any one of them stand out more than the others? Why?
I think that probably I listen most to Shania Twain and I think that what stands out about her for me is that she’s very classy. Her lyrics are very classy and I quite like that. I feel like a lot of today’s music is about harassment for women and I don’t like that. I think that…I feel that it’s negative so what I like about Shania Twain is that she’s kind of tongue in cheek. She’s very cute and classy, she’s an amazing singer and she’s a writer herself and that really impresses me about her and her songs.
“February 29 (Marry Me)” is your latest single and it will be available for download shortly. It being February in a leap year, with a leap day (also known as Sadie Hawkins Day), I was wondering if this was the inspiration for your song?
Actually, my inspiration for the song was that I actually proposed to my boyfriend after two weeks of dating! So that was how the song came about. I actually wrote it, co-wrote it with two people in the UK, from this real experience. I didn’t actually propose to him on February 29, but when I found out about the tradition I included it, I just kind of felt like writing a song about it.
I have to ask…did he say yes?
Um…no he didn’t he said no. He thought I was freaky. That’s why the music video is the way that it is, the video shows his reaction. I can laugh about it now, so that’s why we made it like that. (laughs)
So a very true to life video! (laughs). You’ve got three videos out on YouTube and all three songs are upbeat and spotlight who we are, what we are as women, are our greatest strengths. Would you agree with that statement?
Yes, I think that is something that I want to put out there. I have so many friends who are dating guys who aren’t really good to them, and I have done that too, so for me it’s really trying to…I feel like there’s a certain bond that should exist between women, that really isn’t there as much anymore. I didn’t actually write this on purpose to empower women, but at the same time, obviously because there’s a lot of that going on in my life, it just comes through in my writing and music at some point.
So, “Everybody’s Pretty When You’re 18” was written about a friend that I met in high school here. She was 15 and doing an exchange year. She was from Germany and was living with all the international students in the dorm and they would bully her really badly. She was really unhappy with everything and she told me about it and I was her friend and I helped her through it. That’s the song that came from that experience.
What kind of plans do you have to perform live? Have you already been performing in the LA area?
I have done a lot performing in the UK, but for this album I’d like to perform at high schools and colleges. I did a high school tour in the UK and that went really well and was so much fun. Just connecting with all these kids was amazing. (laughs) I say kids and I’m still a kid myself! It was….since we’re the same age, it was really fun to do. When they would say to me, ‘oh, I’m getting bullied in school, but the song “18” helped me make different decisions and helped me decide what I wanted to do in my life’. That’s when I’m happy because I feel like I’ve done what I wanted to do.
I really hope you get to do your high school and college tour here. I really think that your music will appeal to people here in the US.
I really hope so. I would love a community where I could share that with people and where I could give them a song for whatever they feel. That’s what other artists have given to me and I would like to be able to give that to other people too.
What advice would you give to somebody at say, 13 or 14 years old, who was considering a career in music? What would you want to say to yourself at that age?
I would first ask them ‘what are the reasons why they want to do this’? It’s so important to do music for the right reasons. A lot of young people come to me and say ‘I want to be a model. I want to be an actress or a singer’ just because they think they’ll get famous and make a lot of money. So I think that’s the wrong reason. I think usually it is not the thing that happens and I think that to really be an artist is like a relationship that you have with music, not just because you want to make money, but because you love music.
So I would advise them to get with as many people that have the same passion and the same love for music that they do, wherever they are. That’s what I did and those are the relationships that last. I have a music family of people who all love music and who all live it and it doesn’t matter who we meet, we just always help each other out and we create stuff that makes us happy. This music community is like the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Is there anything that you would do differently at this point?
Honestly I would not rely so much on other people’s decisions (opinions). I used to think that this person would come in and do this for me, or that person would come and say this. I relied so much on other people’s opinion of what my music was like and I dropped that. For me now, it’s what do I love and I find the people who love what I do. I am, who I am and if you don’t like it then instead of trying to make you like me I’m going to just say ‘this is a person that doesn’t like me and this isn’t a person I should surround myself with’ so I want to surround myself with people who love my music just as it is. People that believe in me, because all I can do when I write songs is write my songs. So if someone doesn’t like the message or someone doesn’t like what I’m saying then I can’t convert their opinion. So really trying less to make other people happy will make me happy is what I’m saying. I think that’s what I’d tell myself if I was 11 again.
What would you like to say to people who have not yet heard your music? What would you say to them to convince them to give your music a try?
Oh wow…it’s funny because I think that because so much of my music is so positive I think that if people are sad or feel low that those are the people to whom I’d say, if you feel sad – give my music a try because I think that it’s actually quite uplifting. I didn’t write it because my life is so great like ‘oh hell yeah, let’s party’, it’s more like I was sad and that’s what I took from it. So if that was what I took from it then maybe people who are sad can find a place to hold onto. Use the music to make them feel better about their lives or give them like an exit.
Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us and we are all nerds and are proud of our nerd badges. So, I want to know, what is the nerdiest thing that you do?
You’ve got to give me a second to think about this. (laughs). I think the nerdiest thing I do is that when I go to parties or events with people and I feel overwhelmed by all the people, I pretend I’m on the phone. I’m not on the phone, I just pretend. I don’t know if that’s really the right definition of nerdy though, I just kind of freak out so I pretend that I’m busy because I don’t know what else to do.
Nerdy is one of those words that kind of sits out there and allows you to define it in the way or ways that you want it to be. It encompasses a lot of very diverse things.
You can find Charly on social media at: