By Calli Ferguson | August 31, 2022
Charlotte Rose Benjamin’s show at the Sultan Room came at this special moment between the spring release of her debut album, Dreamtina, and the band’s upcoming cross-country tour with Langhorne Slim. The record puts Charlotte’s bright, playful, indie rock flavors on display, while telling stories of young womanhood in an impeccably smart and almost painfully relatable way.
Charlotte came onto the Sultan Room stage wearing a Schiaparelli-esque bra-top made of long silky gloves and a pair of poofy chiffon gloves climbing her arms to match. The singer seemed at peace as she shared her songs delicately with the Sultan Room audience, complimented perfectly by her highly energetic band of extremely talented musicians. Witty lyrics sharpened by a bit of a knowing, sarcastic edge float on Benjamin’s voice. Suffice it to say: between the storytelling, rocking out, and colorful melodies… It’s fun to be in a room where Charlotte Rose Benjamin and her band are playing.
We got to catch up with Charlotte after her Sultan Room set where she talked about her musical journey, inspirations, what’s to come and answered a few questions for the groovement:
Can you take us back to how you first fell in love with music?
I feel like I’ve been singing since I was born. I don’t ever remember not loving to sing. My dad is a professional musician. He has a wedding band on Martha’s Vineyard. He’s a really good singer-songwriter. When I was like 11 or 12, I would always sit in on his bar gigs and learn like an Avril Levine cover or something and play it. So I got a lot of chances to perform really early on…when I dropped out of college and moved to New York, I started taking it more seriously. I met the band in 2019. We’ve been together since then.
It seems a lot of people have a person in their life who showed them a lot of music that influences them. Is your dad one of those people for you?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. My dad definitely showed me how to play guitar, but I learned my parents have this weird blind spot where they don’t know any music from the 90s. I guess when I moved to New York, I just met people, and I started listening to cooler stuff.
And when did you start writing songs?
I guess I was always making little songs, but when I was in high school, I did my senior project, and made an album. We had the option to do a senior project senior year of high school, so you didn’t have to go to school every day. You did an independent thing. I thought that was cool. So I wrote and recorded an album, and that was the first time I showed people my songs.
Your music is pretty personal… So when you write your own songs, and they’re as vulnerable as yours are, what’s it like performing live and sharing them?
It makes me feel really nervous and excited in a good way. It just feels like it’s like coming full circle. That’s the best part about it. It just feels like the last thing that brings it all together.
In terms of songwriting, do you have any lyrical inspirations?
I love Liz Phair, Joni Mitchell, Fiona Apple. Those are definitely top three for me. I always really gravitate towards other female musicians especially.
Do you remember the first concert you did in New York?
In 2016, I just started booking my own shows at a candy store. They had me do residency, playing like the third Sunday of every month, and nobody came because it was Sunday afternoon at 3pm.
But then once I started doing that, I started playing at other venues in Brooklyn and just started meeting people. And now I just feel like I’m part of this really fun, great big community of people who all play music! It’s my entire social life.
Is there a venue that you’ve played that you particularly loved?
I love Baby’s All Right. That’s my favorite. I’ve seen so many of my favorite shows there, and I just love it there. And I had my release show for Dreamtina there!
If you could speak to old Charlotte in her candy store residency…What do you think she would say to you?
Oh! It’s crazy because when I think about my career now… I’m never satisfied. But if you told me that I would be going on tour and have a band and be selling vinyl and have people know about my music… I would just be so thrilled. I would have thought that that was all I needed. So it’s good to remember that.
Is there anything that you would hope people walk away from your shows feeling?
Awww.. I just hope people feel understood by my music! I really love listening to stuff, or watching stuff, and just consuming any art that validates a feeling that I’ve had that I don’t have the words to express. So that’s what I want– I hope that other people feel that in my music. That’s just like… all I’ve ever wanted.
📸: shot by Jules Miranda