Toronto singer-songwriter Charlotte Cornfield bares her soul in her new music; the music, including what’s to come on her soon-to-be-released third album, is honest, contemplative and hauntingly beautiful. I got the chance to talk with her about how she first got started in music, how she would describe her sound without using genre names, her new single, “Andrew,” and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say.
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
There was no clear start. I think it just happened by osmosis. My Dad is a musician and my Mom is a deep music lover and I was surrounded by music right from the beginning. I started taking piano lessons at the age of 5 and eventually started learning other instruments – french horn, steel pan, guitar, drums. I wanted to play everything. I started writing songs when I was about 11, first putting my own lyrics to songs that I knew and then writing my own music as well.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
No, it was just always there, kind of this unspoken thing.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
My music is lyrical, emotional, part of some kind of a through-line I think. It’s largely inspired by the human landscape. There are meditative aspects, there is melody.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
This is such a hard question, because there are so many. But here is a what’s popping into my head right now: Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell, Ought, Big Star, Sharon Van Etten, Thelonious Monk, Neil Young, Karen Dalton, Arthur Russell, The Replacements.
Let’s talk about your single, “Andrew.” What’s the story behind that song?
The other day I was trying to remember writing that song, and I couldn’t. It must have happened quickly. I was feeling frustrated, with myself and with people. That thing of, “What the fuck is going on? Is this going anywhere?” And I hit a wall and this song happened.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into that, and specifically what it was like for this song. Are you someone who always has to write by yourself or do you like collaborating with others?
I’m a pretty solitary songwriter. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I keep a notebook of freeform thoughts and generally let things come together naturally. It’s mostly accidental, and then a lot of editing, but not in a clinical way. Mostly I draw on raw emotion. Is this making any sense? [laughs]
Speaking of songwriting, who are some of your musical influences when it comes songwriting?
Many of the aforementioned.
What was the recording process like for this song? Were there any major changes made once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
We recorded 3 different versions of this song before landing on one that worked. Mostly, it became apparent that guitars were going to be a big part of the sound so we wanted to get that right. The only change other than that was tempo. I really wanted it to sit in the right tempo. The first couple of recordings felt a bit rushed.
Your third full length album, The Shape of Your Name, is set to be released this spring. Is it finalized enough yet where you know how many songs are on it and what people can expect from it?
April 5th. 9 songs. It’s a tearjerker but there’s some levity. I’m excited for people to hear it.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. What is something that you nerd out about?
I love Boggle. I have the app on my phone and I play all the time. If anyone wants to play Boggle, hit me up. Oh, and songs. I definitely nerd out about songs.
Photo Credit: Jenna Ledger