Charlotte Day Wilson

Words by Shannon Nocos / Photography by Sean Brown

Producer, musician and singer, Charlotte Day Wilson, is a plethora of young diverse talent. Never over-stated, her work is honest andspeaks for itself. By staying true to what she likes Charlotte has developed a sound that is hauntingly beautiful, with layers of romance and soul…

In her new apartment, just east of Toronto’s downtown core, Charlotte Day Wilson has set up her studio in a nook between her kitchen and bed. This new space is a beautiful open-concept, lofty apartment complete with huge bay windows that emit light almost all hours of the day. It is clear that this space was chosen so that Charlotte could keep her work close to home. An array of electric, acoustic and bass guitars, are propped up behind her. She sits among an equal number of keyboards in a black suit jacket and trousers with a ponytail slicked back like that of a volleyball striker. This image makes it clear that she is indeed, a boss. From every aspect of what she does, she is in complete control. This what makes Charlotte so special.

With a father who is also a multi-talented musician, an aunt who was a music teacher, and a grandmother who was a contralto singer in the church, there is no question as to how Charlotte’s picked up on her musicalbeginnings.“She(mygrandmother), had a beautiful voice and there’s only one recording of her singing,” she explains. “It’s kind of spooky because I can definitely hear myself in her voice.” As a classically trained musician with a competitive edge, Charlotte successfully wrote and self-produced her 6-track 2016 EP entitled, CDW. “My whole life I’ve always been competitive because I used to play hockey. I was playing sports and instruments at the same time with people who ended up playing for the Olympic team, or taking on scholarships,” she reveals, and continues to explain that taking drive and determination into making music requires a lot of self-discipline. “I just taught myself everything,” she says of her production process, “YouTube is a really great resource as long as you know the right language to ask the questions.”

2 years later, and Charlotte is still receiving positive acclaim for her debut project. The second song of the EP, “Work” can be found on the soundtrack of television shows, and was even considered to be an unofficial song of the 2017 Women’s March. The single was written when the musician was starting her career and putting her potential into perspective. “I really wanna make this happen, and I know this will only happen with a good work ethic,” she further reminisces. “The song was written really quickly, and it was more of me singing a mantra to myself to work harder. It was only once the concept of the video was completed, that we realized that it can have more meaning with a visual component.”

Because of the success and reception of Work, it can be assumed that Charlotte is writing with an agenda, but that is not the case. “I’m just working through my emotions but, I think that a lot of the music I make is some how inherently political. I’m singing about women and I’m singing about my struggles with my identity as a queer person. Not necessarily that I’m outwardly politically speaking, but that my music is informed by my experiences.”

Deep-rooted in a city with such diversity, it comes with no question that the different scenes within it mirror Charlotte’s sound as an artist. Once referred to as sounding like “relationship anxiety”, the ominous and soulful tones of CDW are reminiscent of Feist, whom Charlotte accredits with inaugurating her interest with music. “I was heavily influenced by Feist. She’s one of the reasons why I started making music,” she explains. “We haven’t worked together, but we are friends now.”

“Stone Woman came about really natural… I have yet to know what ‘stone woman’ means, but it’s me working through my identity and how I see myself.”

During her first dabbles into music, Charlotte worked for Arts & Crafts, a label that was once at the forefront of the Toronto’s music scene. Representing Feist, Broken Social Scene, and Chilly Gonzales, among others, the label offered eccentric, experimental music, which is highly contrasted compared to the rap and R&B music that arguably put the city on the map. Charlotte worked at the label in a position that allowed her to experience the progress of the music scene first hand. “I think that it’s such a natural progression,” she says. “Arts & Crafts was the first to have a collective identity within them to make international waves. But, it was just a matter of time before the other communities had their time.”

If we fast-forward and consider the dominant names of today’s indie scene, we look towards a new collective of young, Toronto-based artists who are also making international waves, and leaning on each other to do so. “I think the people around me that I respect and look up to really motivate me.” She goes on to explain the relationships she has with her peers that include other local geniuses River Tiber, Daniel Caesar, and BadBadNotGood. “I’m healthy competitive. I like having the people around me constantly raising the bar with each other and knowing that everything is in an upward motion.”

Her sophomore project powerfully entitled, Stone Woman, is another example of Charlotte’s ability to craft a project under her own direction and discretion. “Stone Woman came about really natural,” she says of the new project title and track. “A lot of the time, I’m just singing off the dome, and one of the things that came out of my mouth was ‘stone woman’. When I came up with the refrain I started building a story out of the image or the idea of a stone woman. I have yet to know what ‘stone woman’ means, but it’s me working through my identity and how I see myself.”

A true example of “trusting the process”, Charlotte has established a sophisticated sound by combining her knowledge of music with her aptitude for learning. Examining the acclaim for her work and efforts, it would be rare to discover anything negative. “Whether its small scale or large scale,” she explains, “I think what keeps anyone going, is knowing that there’s somebody out there being like ‘yes, this is what you should be doing. For yourself and for us.’”