Often times musicians – even those new to the business – like to play things very close to the chest. They cultivate a sense of ersatz mystery in the hopes that it will add intrigue and enigma to their image. And while this attitude does sometimes have its positives, it also creates a strange disconnect between audience and performer; laying down the foundations of a fractured, icy relationship.
Surprisingly for someone with an EP called Dirty Little Secret, Charlie Hole is not one of these musicians. In conversation he is open, and unguarded, ironically ready to spill his secrets. It’s this honesty that seems set to propel the young musician into the stratosphere, particularly when coupled with the large scale support he has received from such acts as Rod Stewart himself.
We spoke to Hole about Dirty Little Secret, his influences, and the mechanics of his song-writing.
Brendon Veevers: Hi Charlie! How are you mate and where in the world do these questions find you today?
Charlie Hole: I’m great thanks! I’m spending some time with my friends and family down in Bournemouth, doing some gigs and catching up with everyone.
BV: You recently released your very first EP which is called Dirty Little Secret. Firstly, can you tell us a little about the EP and the general vibe of the collection for those yet to hear it?
CH: It’s a collection of 5 songs I’ve been working on over the past year or so, covering things that have happened in my life and things that have interested me. There’s songs on there about whistleblowing and NSA/GCHQ surveillance, as well as the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, through to more personal things like unrequited love, hopes, fears, dreams…Those kind of things.
BV: Where would you say you drew the most inspiration from when putting these tracks together?
CH: I’m always open to inspiration and it comes in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it’s just a feeling or an emotion that comes out but other times, like with the more topical and political songs, they are a bit more calculated and thought out.
BV: In terms of your songwriting, are you an observational songwriter or do you draw from from personal experiences?
CH: A bit of both really. I think a good songwriter can make a personal experience relevant to an observation or the other way around. You can talk about personal experience but you have to do it in a way that other people can relate to, so it seems to them as if it’s an observation on their own lives.
BV: The title is very intriguing. Why did you opt for the name Dirty Little Secret for the EP?
CH: Jim Cregan, the producer and co-writer on Dirty Little Secret came up with the idea and the title had this enigma about it that really drew me in. The ambiguity means it could really have meant anything, and it got me thinking about secrets and our relationship with secrets. I was interested in what secrets do to us, from guilt about our own secrets to the responsibility and trust involved in knowing someone else’s. In Edward Snowden’s case, he discovered a secret, and it’s what he chose to do, or felt compelled to do that really lead me to writing the song.
BV: What artists would you say have most heavily influenced your career?
CH: I’d say the main ones would be Damien Rice, for his emotional depth and his ability to make the silences speak louder than the noise, and Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics has such a way of storytelling in his songs. The early stuff in particular like the Word Gets Around album was when he did it best.
BV: Given you are still a fairly young artist, if you think of your career, say 20-30 years down the road, what would you say that you would most like to have achieved by this time?
CH: It’s not something I ever think about really, I’m kind of just taking every day as it comes and thinking about the next gig, the next song, the next album etc…
BV: You’ve got the backing from a few legends in music – Rod Stewart and Ivor Novello award winning songwriter Andy Hill. It must be a pretty elated feeling for a young artist to be praised by such icons in the industry. Can you tell us a little about the story behind their praise?
CH: Yeah, someone sent Rod Stewart one of my songs and he loved it apparently. So much so that he mentioned it on the radio one time when he was doing an interview! I didn’t know at the time but someone sent me a clip of it and it blew me away… to hear someone so familiar say your name and give you praise was an amazing feeling.
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BV: What plans are in place for fans to get to hear these songs in a live setting? Are there any tour dates or showcases on the calendar?
CH: I’ve just come off tour with Karima Francis and I’ve been gigging relentlessly all year doing festivals and support slots and all sorts, they’ll be some stuff going on in the new year for sure but it’s not announced yet. I’d say check the website for more info [charliehole.com]
BV: What type of performance could fans generally expect from a Charlie Hole tour?
CH: I like to tell stories on stage to give the songs a bit more meaning…So often you see an act and they just play the songs through, I’m always after something more. When you explain the song even just a little bit it makes people pay attention to the lyrics which is important.
BV: Christmas is fast approaching. Are you a festive person? What do you hope Santa leaves in your stocking this year?
CH: I love Christmas it’s my favourite time of year! I’m after some new socks for sure, always needing new socks!
BV: Can you tell us something that you have never told anyone before? Perhaps a dirty little secret?
CH: At my cousin’s stag do, at 4am I fell onto the curtain and accidentally pulled the curtain rail down, but in the morning no one could remember how it had happened so I stayed quiet and subtly suggested it was someone else.
Charlie’s brand new EP Dirty Little Secret is out now.