With a steady diet of Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Gram Parsons growing up, Charlie Collins learned early in her life that it was best to write and sing what she was feeling. That lesson by osmosis is apparent all over her full-length debut “Snowpine” (out today on Mirror Music Group), an album that pulls no punches when it comes to personal reflection and lays it all out on the table – ups, downs and all points in between.
“I don’t hold anything back,” the Australian-born singer-songwriter admits in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.
We recently sat down with Collins to discuss finding peace within herself, battling inner demons through song, and how her dad helped her to find the truth in music.
TrunkSpace: “Snowpine,” is due out today. What kind of emotions do you juggle with as you gear up to release new material to the masses, particularly in the case of your full-length debut, because for many listeners this will be their first introduction to who you are as an artist?
Collins: The emotions range from ecstatic to nervous. This record is the most honest I have ever been with my music. It talks about from when I started music from the age of 10 up until now and all the heartbreaks, struggles, highs and lows I’ve ventured upon. I do hope it gives the audience more of an understanding of who I am and knowing that I’m raw, broken, real but how I’ve overcome all the challenges that came my way.
TrunkSpace: In sitting down to listen to your music for the first time, what would someone learn about you through the music itself?
Collins: I don’t hold anything back. Like I literally can’t make up a story. Everything you hear is what’s happened/happening in my life. Growing up on country music such as artists like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Gram Parsons taught me how to write what you feel, sing what you’re feeling, because that’s the only way people can truly connect with you.
TrunkSpace: We read that “Snowpine” happened very organically. You found your way back to the guitar after some time away from it and the songs started to work their way out. What do you think was the key to this being the right place/right time for you creatively?
Collins: I think as a person I was ready to tell my story and open up all the suppressed emotions I’ve buried for a long time. I was at a place of peace with myself and who I wanted to be. I had a shit load of stories to tell and a fractured heart to verbalize them through song.
TrunkSpace: There’s a lot of personal reminiscing on the album. Was the creative process a bit of a walk down memory lane for you, and if so, did you end up revisiting things you would have never imagined you’d be discussing publicly?
Collins: For sure. I never thought I would ever be at a place where I could talk about my depression I struggled with for years. I’ve always been quite closed off so to expose that side of me is quite daunting but also liberating. The first track on the record sums up a lot about the inner demons I battled with.
TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Collins: Seriously, everything. I’m proud of the songs, the way it sounds, the way it happened so naturally and the way it captures how I’ve wanted to sound and everything I’ve wanted to say for so long.
TrunkSpace: We enjoyed the storytelling aspect of “Snowpine” and your ability to establish a compelling narrative in the lyrics and their delivery. What do you think the key is to taking the listener on a journey that goes beyond the music itself?
Collins: I really think being honest is key for me. I remember my dad telling me when I was a kid, “The song you’re singing, what does it mean? Tell me what you’re singing about? Do you feel it?” And since then I’ve never shaken that and carry it with me wherever I’m at.
TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Collins: I guess never feeling good enough. “Please Let Me Go” is about that. I have a tendency to compare myself to others and feel inadequate among the sea of musical people. BUT I’m getting better at dealing with that. Hence why I didn’t throw my guitar in a fire pit.
TrunkSpace: Is it possible to overthink a song? Can a songwriter tinker so much that the breath of the song – the thing that makes it special – be exhaled?
Collins: That’s one thing I don’t do when it’s me and my guitar in sync with one another. It all comes out at once. I never go back on lyrics because whatever comes out is what I needed to say. As far as recording goes, that’s why I wanted to record live so we were all feeling at the same time without too much thought. There was no right or wrong, just playing what you think the song itself needs to accompany it.
TrunkSpace: Is there a particular feeling you get – a vibe – when a song is officially done?
Collins: FUCK YEAH.
TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Collins: Honestly I don’t ever think about the future but if I did I hope I’m just still making honest music and staying true to who I am no matter where I am or what stage I’m on.
“Snowpine” is available today from Mirror Music Group.