A Short Chat With Charles Walker

I’ve been a fan of Charles Walker for a while now, and his latest string of singles has managed to capture an incredible sense of quality and consistency. His newest song, “Since I Sank the Ship,” just dropped a few days ago and I had a chance to talk with him about the track, his creative process, and so much more. Listen below and read on for more details!

Thanks for taking some time to talk with me. Honestly, I know this might sound weird from my side, but I am genuinely honored when people reach out to me like this. It goes without saying I’ve been a big fan since the “comeback.” Let’s talk talk about that a bit, I guess. Your new sound has a lot more Americana and country elements than your first album. I’m curious what happened since then to shape this new direction.

Yo, thank you so much for talking with me. You have supported my music a ton over the last year and I really appreciate it.

The music has definitely changed after my hiatus – A lot of that early stuff was really influenced by Julien Baker more than anything else, and the DIY scene in Boone around the time that I went to college at Appalachian. much more wannabe-emo and whatever version of punk I was trying to incorporate. I’ve always loved country and pop music and I think I knew that I would go in this direction eventually… but moving to Nashville was a big part of it. When I got to town, my main goal was to write country and pop songs for other artists to cut, and a lot of the lessons I’ve learned in those writing rooms have bled into my own sound.

I think my songs have always contained themes of longing or pining, but before the hiatus I wrote a ton about insecurity and not liking myself and worrying what other people were thinking, and I just don’t relate to that anymore.

(You just put out your new single, “Since I Sank the Ship.” Give me some background on how it came together. Was there anything new, either production or techniques or otherwise, that you explored this time around?

This was recorded in the same batch with “Still In Carolina” and another one coming out later called “Hunter,” and one big difference with this song is the long fiddle passages played by Gideon Klein. He also played the fiddle parts on “Firestarter” and I’ve really come to love that sound. it’s not something I had on earlier stuff and I want to use it more and more as I go on.

Let’s talk about shows. I know you had a few last year, and you seem to play in North Carolina a bit. I think I remember a video of people singing along to “Caught in the Current” which is very rare for an original song, let alone one so new. So, what has the live experience been like with the new songs?

Yeah, I’m really thankful to have so much support in North Carolina. I chose “Caught in the Current” as the comeback single because I knew that it the poppiest hook I have, and I think it reflects at the shows. Back in college the songs everyone would sing along to were “Sober I Love You” and “Freedom to Crawl,” and I wanted to replicate something like that. something that people could sing back to me by the second hook.

Do you prefer working in the studio or playing shows? Maybe this is a trick question, I know you write with/for other people as well.

I love both but my favorite thing in the world is playing shows.

On that note, who have been some of your favorite people to work with. That seems to be a huge part of the new songs, from guest musicians to videography. And I guess, is there anyone you would love to work with who you haven’t had the chance yet?

Yeah, there have been a bunch of great people involved. The collaborative element in Nashville is the best part about living here. My friend Thomas Heney films pretty much everything at this point and he is one of my favorite people to work with, we were friends first so it comes really naturally.

I have also loved the work Gideon Klein has done on all my new songs – he’s played fiddle, bass, steel, dobro and more on pretty much everything. I also got an opportunity to work with David Dorn on these new songs and that was pretty amazing to hang out at his studio and watch him do his thing. And I’ve really enjoyed writing for some other acts this year – the main one has been Gracie Carol and we have a lot of records coming. she’s really talented and she works hard.

What other plans do you have for 2024? I think you’ve teased touring?

Yeah! I’m still not at a point where I can do a headline tour, but it’s a snowball that I’m trying to build. I’m doing a co-headline show in Raleigh in August, and I’m going to return and do another big thing in Charlotte. And i’m trying to do a similar big show in Asheville before the year is over. I want to grow my audience in North Carolina as much as I can and then expand from there. And I am regularly playing free bar/brewery shows on the road to try and meet new fans.

You’ve been in Nashville for a few years. I know a lot of people talk it up, but I’ve also seen folks move there and come away disillusioned. What’s that experience been like for you? What was something you least expected?

Oh, it’s been amazing, like I said, the collaborative nature of the city is unlike anywhere else. I have heard people walk away with the feeling that it’s too competitive, or that people are protecting their opportunities, but I have overwhelmingly had the opposite experience. Almost everybody is down to grab coffee and share their story with you. Plus I’ve been making a living playing shows, primarily cover gigs at bars and hotels, for the last three years and I really don’t think I could do that in any other city without a ridiculous amount of travel days. So that alone keeps me here and focused. I love it here.

Outside of songwriting, what other creative pursuits do you have? Is there any hobby you’d like to learn but haven’t had the chance to try yet?

I would love to get into rock climbing, but it’s a lot of rocks and climbing – not really my thing.

Cats or Dogs?

dogs. Specifically, my dog Willow. She is the greatest dog that has ever lived.

Who would your dream tour be with?

Probably Lake Street Dive. Their live show is like a Masterclass and I’ve loved them for so long.

But even more than touring with some major act that I love, I think a lot about touring with my peers a few years down the line once we all have the audiences to warrant that. I would love to tour with Holler Choir, I’ve known one of their members since college. and watching them grow since they started a few years ago has been insane, they put on an amazing show. It would just be so cool to achieve your dreams with people that knew you when you first started and vice versa. I think about that a lot.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Nope. Thank you so much Casey for always supporting me. My dawg.

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