Charlie Burg’s sweet spot between indie rock, soul, and sensitivity makes him unlike most other singer-songwriters out there. The approachability and vulnerability in his music is great for fans of Ashe, Jeremy Zucker, Toro y Moi, and Vampire Weekend. His newest single “Channel Orange In Your Living Room” is about music’s liquid quality that makes you feel like certain moments are frozen in time. It has a nostalgic quality to it, making listeners think of the songs that make them feel nostalgic for different periods of their lives. We had the opportunity to chat with Burg about growing up in Michigan, his process in the studio, and the important lessons he’s learned so far as an artist.
BTS: Can you tell us how you got started with making music?
CHARLIE BURG: Piano lessons in the 3rd grade, playing my dad’s cheap guitar at age 13, and copying drum programming on Common songs in Ableton at 18.
BTS: How would you describe your music for someone who hasn’t heard it before?
CB: Whining about love and youth by a songwriter who grew up listening to Motown, but loves Weezer as much as he loves Kanye West and Ella Fitzgerald.
BTS: Who are some of your influences, musically and non-musically?
CB: The Temptations, Sade, The Strokes, Joni Mitchell, Coldplay, Sylvia Plath, Maggie Nelson, Virginia Woolf, Pharrell, Gloria Steinem, Obama, my grandmother Sylvia, and my parents.
BTS: You’re originally from Michigan but live in New York now – how do you think living in those places has influenced your music and how you create?
CB: Growing up near Detroit you cannot escape Motown and soul music. There’s also a big electronic dance music scene there so I grew up around lots of peers talking about / involving themselves in that culture. I wasn’t much involved in the music scene as a kid though, outside of going to concerts from time to time…my involvement is very different in New York. I consider myself to be a very active part of a thriving, growing young music scene out here. It’s a grimy beautiful cesspool of dirty venues and loud bands, mixed with some trendy try-hards (just gotta tune those folks out).
BTS: What’s your process like in the studio?
CB: Plug in my guitar and keyboard and bang on until I get annoyed with myself. Start the same song over again 6 times. Go through 11 drafts of the same lyric. Trash everything, get fed up, and walk home. I would try again the next day and finally see the light. I would also record lots of room sound with my mic the whole time.
BTS: How did writing and recording “Channel Orange In Your Living Room” differ from projects you’ve released in the past?
CB: I wanted it to sound like your neighbors having band practice in their basement (which is basically what it was).
BTS: What’s been the most important lesson you’ve learned as an artist so far?
CB: Perform with fearlessness, write with conviction and vulnerability. People will hate you as much as they love you, and life is too short to be afraid of telling your truth.
BTS: What’s one fun fact about yourself for our readers?
CB: I have a twin brother named Henry who is much smarter than me and has a beautiful singing voice.
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