Charly Bliss Makes Growing Up Sound Cool

Charly Bliss Makes Growing Up Sound Cool

In 2019, Charly Bliss switched from the sarcastic garage-rock of the band’s debut album Guppy to the bright-eyed power-pop of its sophomore album Young Enough. From a pit stop in Toronto, as the band neared the end of a tour, lead singer-songwriter Eva Hendricks explained to Jezebel, “I wrote Guppy at a time where I was very emotionally unstable, and I am very proud of that record, but I’m more proud of Young Enough.”

Collectively, Young Enough soundtracks the rise and fall of crushes and relationships that feel doomed, shining a light on painful events (the euphoric “Chatroom” tackles Hendricks’s experience with sexual assault). The album is, in many ways, a testament to distance and perspective. “I’ve become a better writer the happier and more fulfilled I am,” Hendricks says.

The hyper-polished, synth-driven numbers on Young Enough are brimming with equal parts rage and joy. It’s a masterclass in songwriting, which is why their new EP Supermoon, composed of songs the band recorded at the same time as Young Enough, adds a wrinkle to the creative process. While Young Enough is about processing trauma and growing up, Supermoon shows the messiness behind doing so.

Hendricks talked about the methods and madness of Charly Bliss in a phone interview, condensed and edited here for clarity.

JEZEBEL: Young Enough was such a strong artistic statement that signalled a new direction for the band. Why release Supermoon so soon after?

EVA HENDRICKS: It was a tough decision for me, to be honest. Because of exactly what you said. On Young Enough, we wanted to feel like we were making the best record possible and chose the songs that told the story in the clearest and most concise way. Part of that was that we went into the studio and recorded more songs than we would need, and whittled it down to 11 tracks for the album—but we had these extra songs left over and weren’t sure what to do with them. [Releasing Supermoon] felt like a nice way to put a period at the end of the album cycle for Young Enough and show our fans where we thought we were going. But I’m a perfectionist, it’s pretty hard for me to release music that’s not my favorite of what we’ve written. [Laughs]

To me, it felt a bit like getting a peek into the songwriting process for Young Enough.

Yeah, that’s what I was hoping for. But it’s tough. [Laughs] I only want to release the best stuff!

You’ve cited Lorde’s Melodrama and Superorganism’s debut album as influences on Young Enough. Did you think of this album as a sort of manifesto or a way to reintroduce yourself to fans?

I think we just felt like we had grown a lot since Guppy. It took us a really long time for us to release that record; by the time we put it out, we’d been playing those songs on tour for so many years. It felt like we’d shifted in terms of what music was inspiring to us. So it was wonderful to put out a record that felt current to what was exciting to us, which included the Lorde record, Superorganism, Taylor Swift. I think Guppy and Young Enough are not too dissimilar; on Young Enough we just leaned further into using synthesizers. But there was this aspect of, “This is what we listen to now, this is who we are.” And that’s a wonderful feeling, to make music that’s accurate to you, to your greatest hopes to what your music could be.

You guys re-recorded your first album Guppy because you wanted it to sound even more pop. Was there a moment when you were working on Young Enough where you all were like, “We need to lean into this sound like even more”?

I think that happened slowly, song by song. We almost surprised ourselves with what was coming out naturally. I don’t know—learning to welcome change was something the four of us had to learn to do together, instead of worrying about, “Well, what does this mean about the band?” What I love about music is that, even if you’re trying to manifest [a specific sound] in your own music, you kind of can’t. Or I’m not really good at doing that.

Did you take a big break from writing between the records?

Yeah, I did. I think that, there’s this feeling that I always have when I finish an album of having emptied out every thought in my brain—I have excavated my emotions to the fullest extent. My room is like a little IKEA room: It’s very neat inside, I’ve cleared all the clutter, I put it all on the record. And then I have to let it build up again.

But when I started writing again, I was writing more than I’ve ever written in my life. It’s a wonderful feeling—I think being in a band in such a multi-faceted experience, there’s the writing world, performing world, and the interview and business world and the album artwork world. But the longer I do this, the more I come back to writing as my favorite part.

Do you hold onto songs until they’re exactly where you want them to be before you show them to your bandmates?

Oh my god, no. I have this fantasy of myself where I’m like, ‘I’m gonna be this like really private writer who’s going to keep all my things, finetune them perfectly before I show anyone,’ and it really does not help me at all. [Laughs] I think of writing like playing hot potato: When I have an idea, the best thing I can do is get it out as quickly as possible. If I sit too long with something, I’ll talk myself out of it.

You’ve talked in older interviews about struggling to fit into the Brooklyn music scene. Have you found that place or does fitting in feel less important now?

I think we’ve been pretty honest and vocal about how we’ve never felt like we fit in in Brooklyn music scene. It’s not that we don’t feel support or a growing fanbase from New York; it’s our hometown, and we feel such strong allegiance to new york and always will. It’s more like—I always had this fantasy of being like, in a scene, [starts laughing] where all the bands are best friends? I had this like, Mary-Kate and Ashley vision of what being in a band was like. But I never found that, and we never found that. And I think part of that is inherent to New York. It’s such a competitive place; it’s a very fast-paced environment; and you do have the sense of like, “I’m gonna fight for myself, and if I have a dream, I’m gonna make it happen.” So I don’t really think it’s an environment that fosters camaraderie. [Laughs] But the longer we’ve done this, the less and less we need that in order to relate to other bands—because we’re on tour so much, it’s less important where we meet [other bands] or where we’re from.

I grew up in musical theater and if you’re a woman in musical theater, there’s usually one or two lead roles for you—you’re [either] some ingenue that the guy falls in love with, or you’re the quirky side character. Being in a band, it’s the opposite—there’s no limit to how many people can succeed, or how many people can be doing this. Maybe as you get more and more competitive in pop music, that’s less true. But I’ve always loved that about music and I hope that New York could be more like that some day, but I don’t really know if that’s possible. Because there is this feeling in New York that it’s all right in front of you. You might feel like, “Maybe the best thing I can do is look like I know what I’m doing.” And that’s worth looking at. Do I have to be the best at everything? Probably not.

Frida Garza is a freelance writer and organizer living in Brooklyn.

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