[Interview] CharlesTheFirst Gives Us a View of His Future Plans
CharlesTheFirst is one of the most refreshing voices coming out of the bass scene, as he blends organic, natural sounds into his melodies; and while he makes great use of bass tones in his productions, there is a sensitivity to his music that makes his tracks sound relaxing and expansive instead of just getting up in your face with heat. For his recent stop through Atlanta, he was joined at Aisle 5 by Digital D, Moglee, and Andy Bruh for a night of smooth bass vibes.
I missed Digital D’s set and arrived as Moglee was playing. I always enjoy his track selections, but his set felt a bit disjointed as he seemed to move back and forth between hype and chill moods, at times playing some tunes that felt a bit heavier than the mood of the crowd. Andy Bruh used his performance to debut his new “elemental” format, in which he was joined by a percussionist and drummer on either side of his setup. His track selection was different from his usual picks as well, leaving his bass-heavy sound for more tribal and ambient sounds, all still carried by dance-worthy percussion. During his set, we stepped outside to talk to Charles and learn more about his history and plans for the future.
You’ve worked with Clozee on at least one remix and an original. What was it like working with her?
I linked up with her just via the internet, before I ever met her in person. I think the first time I met her was at Emissions Festival in California, she was playing a sunrise set there. We didn’t work in person on the song we made together, it just bounced back and forth. She’s a super awesome girl, hustles really hard on music, it’s inspiring. We need more girls like that in the scene, for sure.
Talk about why hawks are special to you?
A few close friends of mine passed away over the past three years, that I knew through music and just life in general. I feel like they’ve always been connected to moments when I’m thinking about them; I always see hawks. It’s usually when I’m going to do something that would be good for myself, or doing something right. I usually never see a hawk if I’m doing the wrong thing or making a bad choice. I always think it’s a sign that that presence is there.
What are you the first at?
Well, I am the first Charles in my family, so I can at least be that. I went through this whole thing with that name where I wanted to change it for a while because I didn’t like the way it flowed, but one of the first people to ever fuck with my music was this girl from India names Priya who ran a blog called Getting Deeper. I told her I was going to change my name to Hawk, and she was like ‘Do not change your name! CharlesTheFirst is swag, just do it!’ so I think it’s turned into something a little bit different. I just decided I was CharlesTheFirst one day. I’m still figuring it out. I actually had to double check that there weren’t any other Charles’ in my family. I went back really far, and I’m good for at least 200 years.
As a journalist, storytelling is important to me, and in some ways a lost art form. Why do you tag a lot of your music in that way?
I feel like I gave up on classifying the music in terms of genre. “Storytelling” is the only thing that really fits every piece of music that I write, because it’s all trying to convey some sort of story. So, I’d rather use that as a label for my music than try to put it into some other box. I started as a lyricist, that was my introduction to music, I was trying to be a rapper. I’ve been writing poetry since I was a little kid. I got brought into a hip-hop group by some of my brother’s older friends; they took me under their wing, taught me how to rap, taught me how to make music. That’s actually the root of where the whole hawk thing came from is that dude, Joey. The dude who taught me how to make music passed away, and that’s how the hawk connection started.
What’s next for you?
We’re working on a bunch of exciting stuff. I have a new album that’s going to be coming out sometime in August or September. We’re going to create a whole new experience for it and have a really cool Fall tour to promote the new album. We’re focusing on the creative direction of it.
Talking to Charles and his new manager, Blake of Together At Last, we learned that CharlesTheFirst is preparing for more than just a continuation of what his sound has been up to now. Fans should get ready for him to evolve as an artist, as we were told that a lot of change was coming for his brand and for his music. Keep your eyes open for his upcoming album with some advance single releases coming this Summer, and prepare to see a lot more of CharlesTheFirst on festival flyers this year.
His set was a familiar mix of his chill bass style that gradually built the energy of the room to a crescendo. By the end of his set, he had a full row of headbangers at the rail, showing off some higher-energy sounds that I think we’ll be seeing more of soon. The impressive thing was how well the energy flowed from start to finish, with no noticeable transition from the chill vibes to the heavy bass music. The audience was simply led along until they found themselves going wild at the end of the night.
Photos by Megan Friddle for Bullet Music.