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Interview: Charlie Dane on debut album, being unique, and staying grounded

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Charlie Dane may only be 16 years old, but is already making strides in the local music scene. The Long Island singer/songwriter has been playing shows and festivals, such as Great South Bay Music Festival, Gathering of the Vibes, and South By Southwest, for years. She has also shared the stage with the likes of George Porter Jr., Soulive, Aaron Carter and more.

Starting at the age of 10, Dane has been writing songs based on her personal experiences for six years. Now 16, Dane has been developing more depth as an artist and singer. Blending pop with elements of jazz and soul, her sound is diverse, yet completely her own. If you listen to ‘Dreamland,’ Dane’s debut album, it is easy to hear the growth in her voice as well as her songwriting. From the upbeat swing of “Tuesday’s Just As Bad,” to the gloomy contemplation of “Dreamland,” Dane shows sonic range not shown by many musicians her age. Her most recent song, “This One,” from her upcoming album, is a radio-ready hit and her most professional and mature song to date. The level of control Dane has over her vocals is something even well established artists have trouble with.

Dane released her debut album, ‘Dreamland,’ in 2012, which she spend the majority of 2013 touring behind. She is currently working on her second album, set to be released later this year. You can currently hear four songs from the upcoming album, as well as the entirety of ‘Dreamland,’ on her website. All of her music can be purchased on iTunes.

I had the opportunity to correspond with Charlie Dane via email to discuss how she got into music, songwriting, ‘Dreamland,’ her upcoming second album, being musically unique, and staying grounded as a young singer in the music business.

How/when did you know that you wanted to start a career in music?

At age 10 I started performing live and quickly found out that it was something I absolutely loved doing. At this time I also started to write original songs.

Who/what are some of your influences?

I listen to all types of music and feel I am influenced from everything I hear. If I’m not singing myself, I’m listening to everything from Rock, to Pop and Rap. I can’t think of any one performer or genre that I can say directly influences me any more than another.

What is your songwriting process like?

It is different for each song. Sometimes I have the song idea & sometimes I just get the melody and build on that. I’m always recording ideas onto my phone when they pop into my head and use them later.

You released your debut album in 2012, which I heard you started writing when you were 10. Could tell me more about it?

I knew I wanted to write my own material. I sat down with a family friend who is a songwriter. He helped me to create a process and template by working on my first song with me. After that, I was able to use this template to help write all of my other songs. I take some time and I’ve written many things that I’ve thrown out along the way.

Your sound isn’t the typical pop that you hear on the radio right now. What do you think it is about your music that makes it so unique?

I’ve never been the type of person to just go along with trends. I like what I like and have always done what is best for me. I would never want to put out a song that wasn’t me, just to have it on some pop station.

I read in your bio that you are working on your second album. How is that going? Is there anything you can tell me about it yet?

It’s going great. I have 4 songs already written and produced which are on www.charliedane.net and iTunes.

How do you think your sound/songwriting has evolved from your first album to this one?

Well, I started writing when I was really young, so obviously many more things happened in my life since then. It’s easier now to write from some of my own experiences.

There are so many young artists that end up growing up too fast. How do you balance your music career with being 16?

Carefully! I am very aware of what this business can do to someone and am reminded all the time when you hear the bad stories. I am very close with my family and I think we all help each other to stay who we are.

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