Spotlight On Nottingham – Interview: Charity Stow

Gemma Cockrell

Charity Stow moved to Nottingham at the start of the pandemic, but the restrictions have not prevented her from engaging with the city’s ever-growing music scene. She caught up with Gemma Cockrell on the cusp of the release of her upcoming EP ‘Perfect Thought’.

“My dad is a musician, so it’s always been in the family. He’s always been introducing me to loads of weird music that I’ve never heard of before!” she laughs. “So, he gave me a couple of guitar lessons on his rusty old guitar, then I got my own guitar when I was 15. One of our family friends did an open mic, and my mum told me to go. I didn’t want to go, but I went and it was really embarrassing, but they were all really nice. It all blossomed from open mics, then I started to go to the studio a little bit and recorded some covers. I decided when I left school that I wanted to take it more seriously.”

“That’s when I moved to Nottingham, but I moved here and then coronavirus happened, so I couldn’t do gigs, but I started to do a load of livestreams instead. This last year and a half has been full speed ahead, trying to get into the studio as much as possible and be really active on social media. I’ve got to a point now where I can do it as my job, which is really cool and something that I didn’t think would happen!”

That’s what I like about the Nottingham scene, all of the work you do is recognised, it seems like a really good music community

Even though the pandemic has impacted much of her time in Nottingham thus far, Stow is still able to recognise the charm of the city’s music scene. “It was strange, because during the first summer of the pandemic I went home, but I actually connected with lots of Nottingham venues and artists in that time. It really helped me to get in contact with as many people as possible, and then people started to recognise my name and invite me to other stuff,” she explains. “That’s what I like about the Nottingham scene, all of the work you do is recognised, it seems like a really good music community. It’s nice to turn up to gigs and I know at least one person who is also playing!”

Speaking of gigs, she has been able to experience playing at some of Nottingham’s best venues as live music has returned. “I’ve been to Lillie Langtry’s, Playwright, Metronome, Rescue Rooms – it’s been so nice! It’s actually super emotional. I went to my first gig that I wasn’t playing the other night, and I was just sobbing, I was so happy that people were in a room singing together! Hence why I’ve lost my voice, I sang way too loudly…” she admits, slightly croakily. 

Outside of the Nottingham scene, Stow credits Billie Marten as her biggest influence. “I accredit a lot to her because I remember being 14 and watching her session and being like ‘I want to do that’. And my friend said, ‘Well, do it then!’ and I was like ‘Maybe I could’. She’s one of those artists where everything she does, I think it’s really cool. She has a really good image, she knows what she’s doing and what she wants – at least, that’s how it comes across! Her music is really unique and I think there’s a lot of songs that we have referenced in the studio where I’m like ‘I want something that sounds like that’. She uses really weird stuff, and that boosts me to use unconventional stuff as well, because that’s where the interest is.”

Marten’s most recent album ‘Flora Fauna’ was very nature-inspired, an influence that I also noticed in Stow’s work. “They’re the kind of visuals I just really like. This EP has helped me to find the image of what I want to do, the songs have all tied in together much more naturally than they usually do, which is really nice.”

This is the first interview I’ve done for the EP

The first taste of the EP is the title track, Perfect Thought, which has been released today. “This is the first interview I’ve done for the EP!” she admits. “I wrote Perfect Thought in the first summer lockdown. It was one of those songs that was just so easy to write. It flowed out really naturally and it’s developed into this much dreamier song which is something I hadn’t thought about when I was writing it, but it fits it so much better. That’s when I realised what it was actually about – imagining what you want your future to be like, and the kind of things you want. I feel like this year, I’ve done a lot of that, thinking about what I want and where I want to be in 50 years. I think Perfect Thought is where I want to be. But I talked about children, I hope I don’t have children at 70!” she laughs, “just the simplicity of things, I’ve found a lot of comfort in that. I’ve been doing a lot of painting, and sitting and listening to music to relax, which is something I didn’t do a lot of before lockdown. I think a lot of people have found that a simpler life is what they’re aiming towards.”

Perfect Thought progressed from the title of the song to a phrase that Stow felt encompassed the whole project. “The song came about first, and I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted to call the EP, one of them was ‘Parachute Memories’, but none of them fitted, and ‘Perfect Thought’ did. Even though it’s the title of the song, it fits the vibe of the EP as well, because they’re all a bit dreamy and imaginary, and simplistic. I think that fits well with the whole EP.”

The title track remains her favourite song on the EP: “I think once we finished that, I was like ‘This is the best song we’ve ever done’, I can just feel myself growing into my music and it’s one of those songs where every element added to it. I was really worried that we were overproducing it and it was getting too busy but now we’ve properly done it, it fits really nicely. I’m proud of it, I feel like it’s the best song I’ve ever written, I’m really happy with how it turned out. I think it’s my favourite out of all the songs I’ve ever done!”

It’s that evolution of learning what you want in your music that has helped me be a lot prouder of my music, because I feel a lot more connected to it, and a lot more involved

Stow has already had the opportunity to play tracks from the EP to a live audience. “I’ve been playing Perfect Thought for like a year! One of the first times I played it was at Dubrek Studios in Derby, and that night the headliner was a metal band, but I got all of these people who weren’t really people who would usually listen to my music singing along and tapping their foot. That’s all I want – the validation I need!” she laughs. “But when we play with a full band, the track Timothy is super fun to play live, because it’s more upbeat than the stuff I normally do. I’m a lot more confident about what I want in my music now, I say no to a lot more things when we’re in the studio. It’s that evolution of learning what you want in your music that has helped me be a lot prouder of my music, because I feel a lot more connected to it, and a lot more involved.”

Prior to the release of the EP, Stow will be performing at Nottingham Green Festival this Sunday. “The first day my parents dropped me off in Nottingham, we went to this festival!” she reminisces, “And I was like ‘I should get a slot here’. Finally, two years on, I have. It’s a really nice full circle. That was one of my goals when I first moved to Nottingham, and now I’ve done it.”

Stow’s new EP ‘Perfect Thought’ is out on 24th September. The title track, Perfect Thought, is out now.

Check out Charity Stow on Spotify:

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Jay Naylor. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images 1 & 2 courtesy of @charitystowmusic via instagram.com. No changes were made to these images.

In-article playlist courtesy of Charity Stow via spotify.com. No changes were made to this image.

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