Blending alt-country with folk and pop, Charlotte Morris is tugging at the threads of relationship drama to see what unravels. With her latest album Songs for My Next Ex, she lets listeners into personal experiences for a journey of growth, joy, heartache and sorrow. While creating the album was a transformative process for Morris, what came from it is relatable and easy on the ears. We sat down with Charlotte Morris to talk about this interesting and personal album, relationships, musical genres and much more!
OSR: What first drew you to making music?
Morris: Growing up, my family was always very musical and invested in the arts. Both of my parents sang and/or played instruments. They encouraged my sister and I to do the same and took us to tons of theatrical productions and concerts. However, it wasn’t until I was 12 or so and found songwriting, that music grew from being something I loved to something I needed.
That sounds wildly dramatic, I know, but before then, I had never felt able to fully express myself. I had all of these feelings bottled up inside but never felt like spoken words encapsulated everything I was feeling. When I found that I could write and sing my feelings, sing through whatever pain, drama, joy, etc. that I was going through, that’s when I realized that music was what I had to do with my life. Furthermore, if I could express feelings that someone else was unable to put into their own words, but they could hear my music and find comfort in the songs, I needed to do that.
OSR: As a nomadic singer-songwriter, do you find your current location impacts the music you make there?
Morris: Absolutely! When I first graduated from college, NYC became my home base but I was never there for very long. I would be gone for months at a time, either touring my music or performing at various theatres around the country. The songs I wrote while ‘here for 2 months’, or ‘there for 3 months’, were always influenced by my surroundings.
However, 2020 opened my eyes to a lot of things, and one of them was that having NYC as my home base is pretty damn expensive, especially if I’m never there. I ended my 2020 by officially moving out of NYC and started 2021 by moving into a van! I’m currently living on the road, driving from national park to national park, hiking, writing new music and exploring the US. I’ve already noticed that the songs I’ve written in the van are extremely different place to place, depending on what state I’m in, who else is nearby at my campsite, what I saw on my drive to get there, etc. I’m excited to continue to see how my surroundings influence my songs!
OSR: Your latest album Songs for My Next Ex is an interesting musical journey. What prompted you to create an 8-part story album?
Morris: I always write songs about my relationships, the ups and downs and in-betweens. This last relationship was especially tumultuous and a lot of songs came out of it. When the relationship ended, I realized that I had a story with all of these songs. Since I had written them over the course of the relationship, they reflected the journey that I went through and I felt like it was an important learning and growing experience for me to share.
OSR: The album maps the ups and downs of a tumultuous but transformative relationship. Did you find it easy to bare a piece of your soul through your music?
Morris: Oh boy, absolutely not! All of the songs that I’ve released before this album tell little stories about my life and are reflective of my feelings and experiences at the time. However, this album is definitely my most vulnerable project to date, as it pretty vividly depicts everything I went through in my relationship; and to be quite honest, it depicts a relationship that could very easily be judged by others.
While that’s not something I put too much stock into, that feeling of uneasiness and anxiety can still eat away at you as you share little pieces of your heart as I do. As this album is so personal, before its release I was worried that any critiques would affect me more than with other releases because it would feel like a critique on my life as opposed to on the music. So, to put it shortly: I was absolutely terrified to bare my soul with this album!
OSR: The 8 tracks on the album not only take you through different moments of a relationship but draw on different genres. Did you know which genres you wanted for each track or did this organically form during the creative process?
Morris: Nope! It just happened organically. In my writing overall, I will occasionally sit down and know that I want to write a more upbeat song or have a specific genre in mind. For the most part, and with all of the songs on this album, I just wrote how I felt and then the genre formed from that.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album?
Morris: In terms of the writing process, it was spread out over a year, over the course of the relationship. I was just writing how I felt at the time, as I do with almost all of my songs. The creation of the album itself was definitely unique.
Firstly, the recording process was super emotional for me, as we dove into the project a mere month after my relationship ended. I was still pretty raw, so singing some of these songs over and over again was definitely difficult at times, brought a lot of tears, but also forced me to really work through everything I was going through. It was kind of like my own personal form of therapy. The recording process taught me a lot and allowed me to process my loss, my growth, and ultimately, my strength.
On the other hand, we recorded and produced the entire album during quarantine. So, while I would normally be in the studio with my band, we were all recording our separate parts from our separate homes, across many different states. It was weird to not be in the same space with them, but again, I ultimately think that it worked out for the better, as we were able to take our time with it, rerecord anything and everything if we wanted, and really find the emotional arc of the album.
OSR: Which of the genres highlighted on the album do you feel most comfortable with?
Morris: Ooh that is hard to say because I feel like every genre finds its perfect place in my spectrum of emotions (laughs) but I guess I would say folk and specifically folk ballads.
OSR: What would you like listeners to take away from this story album?
Morris: Don’t text your ex! (laughs) Actually, every relationship is different. The way that people love is always going to be different. While someone might look at my relationship and think it was ridiculous for me to stay with it, it’s what I needed in my life at the time to learn and grow as a person. Don’t let anyone tell you who or who not to love, and as cheesy as it sounds, every experience in your life, as shitty as it might be in the moment, can be an opportunity for growth to build a stronger and more resilient you.
OSR: You are also an actor and personal trainer in addition to being a nomadic musician. How do you find the time to do everything?
Morris: I definitely can have a hard time balancing everything, as I have an inclination to, for example, throw all of my time into music for one month, and then all of my time into personal training for another. Basically, I love my iCal! I have everything colour-coded; I schedule it out ahead of time and then I stick to my schedule. I’m a big type-A, list maker and planner, which really comes in handy as I try to pursue all of my passions simultaneously.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the coming year?
Morris: While I have nothing set in stone yet, I’m hoping to get out a few new singles as well as a new music video! The dream would be to go back to live performances as well, fingers crossed!