Please tell us a bit about Chargr?
So Chargr is me. It is a music project (I suppose) that consists of myself. It's relatively new. I hadn't done music probably for 8 or 9 years prior to starting Chargr. I was in a Northampton band called The Retro Spankees who were mostly active around 2005 doing alternative quirky pop. We did quite a lot of stuff. We had a small record deal with a local label called Kooky. We were a backing band for an Alan Moore project for a little while and we were in a Misty's Big Adventure music video (alongside Noddy Holder) called 'Fashion Parade'. And yeah for one reason or another I pretty much turned my back on making music until I had an itch to scratch at the back end of 2020 and started playing stuff. I didn't think of putting anything out until I saw a Facebook group called 'One Month Album Challenge' and decided to try and write an album in January 2021, which I did (Vox Pop) and here I am nearly 2 years later doing my thing.
How would you describe your music?
I am going to go for wonky indie pop. I used to say wonky bedroom pop because I made the music in my bedroom, but then I started also making it in my kitchen, and when I looked at bedroom pop playlists I started thinking that maybe I'm not actually bedroom pop. Maybe I'm not even indie pop but I'm certainly wonky.
Why are you called Chargr?
Back in the Retro Spankee days we were hugely inspired and influenced by a band called Bearsuit, and I can't quite remember how, but we eventually managed to support them on tour. This would have been around 2004-2005 and they went from being our heroes to our friends. When I started making music again it was actually Lisa from Bearsuit who shared the One Month Album page and I just thought it would be a nice nod to my musical past to use a Bearsuit song title. So with their permission I chose Chargr, and it's also kind of cool because it misses a letter out which is something I've seen on the internet quite often.
Can you give us an insight into the creative process for your recordings?
I write a lot of one-liners in a little notebook that I have or just a random thought about something and always keep that handy on my desk.
Usually I will grab my guitar, strum it really badly and come up with some kind of sequence which I then will play into my laptop through a load of pedals. I currently only really use software instruments because of money and space etc. I'd love to get some hardware stuff but never mind, not just yet. I'm building a collection of drum samples, I'll build a kit that fits with the vibe of whatever guitar part I have.
Sometimes I will record a really bad guitar solo, chop it up and rearrange it. When I've got some sections I throw them together and drop in some software synths, my current favourites are anything by Klevgrand and Cherry Audio.
If I get stuck I might see if one of my friends wanted to add anything. I'll record myself humming along until I find a melody, then I'll look in my book for what words work.
I bounce down a lot, upload to SoundCloud or something, and listen loads until it gets to a point where I think of how else it could sound. Then I'll go and add a new part or rearrange the structure and keep going until I think it does everything I want it to do. If it feels too forced and not an organic process I give up and start something new.
I try to make the lyrics mean something to me or tell a story. Because of the way I capture my lyrics it becomes like a collection of a feelings or musings as I tend to look at just the last few pages. So it just kind of flows with whatever I was feeling or thinking at that time.
Then I send it off to Joel Harries who is an absolute wizard. He will mix it for me. But he'll also add extra backing vocals, little bits of extra instruments and percussion, whatever he thinks would sound good. He makes it come to life. One of my friends said it's not a Chargr track until he's looked at it, and I can't see myself ever working with anyone else.
Do you play live shows, if so, what are they like?
Yes, I've probably played less than 10 shows so far and I've been playing live for about a year. I currently turn up with my laptop, keyboard, guitar and pedals and play to a backing track. My glitterball head comes with me and I wear that for a little while. I do a bit of nervous dad dancing and that's as far as I've got really with live stuff.
Please tell us about your latest work?
I just released a track called Glitterball which is the first song I wrote as Chargr when I started making music again, before the one month album. It's there to remind me that if I feel bad I will overcome... a bit self gratifying but it's nice to be nice, especially to yourself right?
The reason I didn't release that straight after Vox Pop was because I had ambitions to make a really elaborate music video and it never really happened. So in the end I just went into the woods and my sister filmed me on her phone dancing with a glitterball on my head.
It's part of an EP that I'll be releasing soon which has a mixture of songs that were written and not recorded in my Spankee days or that I wanted to redo.
One track is new but I've been dipping in and out of it for the last year and it makes sense to put it on there because it's about something that ended badly and just fits in with all those songs being things to kind of get done and out of the way and free me up for something new.
What can we expect from you next?
I want to collaborate a lot more and I'm currently working on a track with a wonderful Edinburgh based jazz singer called Bridget Kelly Quinn. Her voice is just amazing and we're working on a track together which we'll be putting out at some point. I would really like to get a band together for live shows and maybe support someone on tour or something, but I don't know how far away any of that is. For now, the next thing you can expect is a wonky indie pop track with an awesome jazz vocalist singing on it.
Please tell us your 5 all-time favourite albums?
Oof this was tough.... I love so many equally.
MGMT - Congratulations
Metronomy – Nights Out
Envelopes – Here Comes the Wind
Devendra Banhart – Cripple Crow
Deerhoof – Milk Man
Which song would you like to nominate for the Green Banana jukebox and why?
I'm going to go for Cosmic Flower by Divino Niño because it's super chill, trippy and weird.
It's my most listened to song this summer and reminds me of my little solo trip to Oxford one weekend where I was walking around aimlessly wearing dark clothes in really hot weather with that track on my headphones.
Green Banana would like to thank Chargr for answering these questions.
You can find all links to Chargr here.
Interview by Skreen