Creator Chats: Emily Reo + Eva Hendricks of Charly Bliss
Welcome to Creator Chats - a conversation among two groups, bands or people in the music industry. Today we welcome Emily Reo and Eva Hendricks (Charly Bliss). Both are currently on a nationwide tour together. A complete list of tour dates are below.
EMILY REO: Young Enough is full of the most perfect hooks and insightful lyrics but no part of the record feels over labored or heavy. How do you find that sweet spot but also know when something’s done and to stop working on it?
EVA HENDRICKS: Thank you so much!!! I think we all have a pretty solid internal understanding of when something is done. Or at least, when you’ve taken a song as far as you can by yourself and need to get outside perspective on whether it’s done. We recorded the majority of the album in April of 2018, and a month before we went in, we had completely hit a wall with all of the songs. I think it’s totally possible to stare at something for so long that you can’t see it for what it is anymore. Luckily, our producer, Joe flew to New York and spent two days in our practice space with us and got us to experiment with a million different arrangement changes and encouraged us to keep working at songs like Capacity, which we had mostly given up on at that point. I think having someone who wasn’t one of the four of us come in with new ideas and fresh perspective allowed us to stop being so precious with the songs and really get out of our own way and have fun with it again. Joe is also just a really practical person and able to say with confidence when it’s time to dig deeper and when it’s time to move on, which was good for us.
Lyrically, I know when something is done if it kind of hurts to read out loud, or if it makes me laugh, or feel really powerful. I think it always should feel somewhat high-stakes. The only lyrics I’ve ever been embarrassed of are ones that don’t mean anything but complete a frustrating phrase, or times that I ducked and picked the lazy way of saying something. Several times throughout recording, Joe would suggest a small lyric change, and usually panic would ensue. This was the first time that I’ve ever had anyone weigh in on my lyrics as we were recording, which was kind of terrifying for me in the moment, but looking back he was always right, and I’m so relieved that he thought to make those edits. It’s a good lesson to learn. I cannot imagine making a more personal record, but especially because of that, we needed someone who could help us see the bigger picture.
Lorde evokes such poignant emotions I feel like a teenager when I listen to her, like I can feel everything I’ve ever experienced all at once — listening to Young Enough is the first time I’ve felt that since hearing Melodrama. Was it the intention to conjure up such momentous and pivotal feelings?
Wow, that is the highest compliment anyone could ever pay me. Thank you! You’re making me cry!
I felt exactly that way when I listened to Melodrama as well. It was so inspiring, and it reminded me of when I was in high school and I was so in love with this boy that I would just drive around in my car for hours and hours and cry, hoping to see his car and listening to music that I knew he liked. I would find any excuse to drive past his house, I would think about him endlessly and feel totally sick with massive emotions. What’s funny is that I never dated this person, or even made out with him. It was kind of this one-sided, private love explosion that really had more to do with me working through something (and hormones) than it did with him. I can relate that experience to nearly every romantic relationship I’ve had, and I think I was just inspired by how womxn experience love and the insane depth of feeling and imagination and fearlessness when it comes to vulnerability and confronting your own highs and lows.
I wanted to make a record that paid tribute to that, but also a record that was really honest. I felt that on Guppy, I would get close to saying something embarrassing or painful, and I would swerve and say something funny instead. I know you’ve been making music in New York for a long time as well, and it really wasn’t very long ago that I felt like I was holding our band back purely because I’m a girl and we were only ever playing shows with all-dude bands. It took me awhile to feel like I could be honest and that wouldn’t be uncool or a bad thing. When I heard Melodrama, and specifically lyrics as sweet as, “but I still remember everything, how we’d drift buying groceries, how you danced for me...” contrasted by something as furious as, “bet you wanna rip my heart out, bet you wanna skip my calls now, well guess what, I like that, cause I’m gonna mess your life up, gonna wanna tape my mouth shut...” IN THE SAME SONG, NO LESS!!!! I just felt like it was so detailed and true that I could plug into it, regardless of whether it was something I’d actually experienced. I wanted to do the same on our record, and specifically on songs like “Young Enough.”
Albums that can transport me to a different time or place emotionally usually end up being my favorites or the ones I revisit the most over time. What are some albums that feel like that to you, like almost indescribably important and personal?
Oh my god, great question. To be honest, most Rilo Kiley albums, just because they were so monumental for me. When I need to remind myself of who I am, I either listen to Takeoffs and Landings, The Execution of All Things, or More Adventurous and it always sorts me out.
Champ - Tokyo Police Club always reminds me of the first time I drove around in cars with boys and felt really cool and grown up.
Dog Problems - The Format . The Format is a band I don’t talk about enough!!! This was an album that my best friends and I listened to over and over again and knew every word. It’s hard to listen to without crying because it just reminds me of (lol) an extremely pure time in my life and how much I love my friends.
Hot Fuss, Sam’s Town, and Sawdust - The Killers, and Welcome Interstate Managers - Fountains of Wayne - these albums all remind me of the first time I fell in love, which makes them somewhat brutal to listen to but also especially cathartic.
EVA HENDRICKS: What was the first song you wrote that helped you unlock the direction for the album and bring everything further into focus?
EMILY REO: I think Fleur was the first one I finished in full with lyrics and everything, so by now I'm totally sick of it and relate to it the least, haha. But I did spend significantly longer writing it than I had spent on any of my older songs and it sort of pushed me in the direction of putting a lot of care and meaning into the lyrics on this record from the very beginning. There's a lot of wordplay - I also cursed myself from the start by writing songs with no repeating choruses which I realized later was a lot more to learn when it came time to play them live!
Do you have any release day traditions? Are you someone who prefers privacy or distractions on days when you have new music coming out?
I think I've been on tour during every release since my first album Minha Gatinha in 2009, so I guess that's become an accidental tradition. I'm sure it's for the better because I think I'd be super anxious if I was able to see how something that personal was being received in real time. Also being around people is probably good so I don't get too in my head about it, if I was home I'd either neurotically over analyze everything or just celebrate by staying in bed all day eating ice cream and nachos and playing video games or watching basketball til my entire mind and body turned into a blob.
Is there a song off Only You Can See It that feels most gratifying to perform?
Sundowning is a nice one to start with because it's really vibe-y and not too difficult to play, and a good way to gauge the sound and energy in a room. I'd probably say Charlie and Ghosting are the most gratifying though, those ones are so personal and also relatively challenging vocally so when I do well on those I feel really proud of myself. I've cried a bit while playing Charlie a few times, especially when it was newer, and even if that's not the ideal situation for it being able to cry to something you made feels really magical. Or if people are really connecting with a song and singing along to lines that mean a lot to me that can be extremely rewarding as well, regardless of how much I like playing a song. Just whenever I get hit in the face with emotion like that while playing it feels the most gratifying, like that's what making this and doing this is all about.
Charly Bliss + Emily Reo Tour Dates
06 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ The Foundry *
07 – Washington, D.C. @ U Street Music Hall *
08 – Hamden, Conn. @ Space Ballroom *
09 – Cambridge, Mass. @ The Sinclair *
11 – Cleveland, Ohio @ Beachland Ballroom *
12 – Detroit, Mich. @ Loving Touch *
14 – Cincinnati, Ohio @ Top Cats *
15 – Chicago, Ill. @ Lincoln Hall *
16 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ 7th Street Entry *
18 – Denver, Colo. @ Marquis Theater *
19 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ Urban Lounge *
21 – Portland, Ore. @ Holocene *
22 – Seattle, Wash. @ The Crocodile *
24 – Oakland, Calif. @ The New Parish *
27 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Lodge Room *
28 – Anaheim, Calif. @ Chain Reaction *
29 – San Diego, Calif. @ The Casbah *
30 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ The Rebel Lounge *
02 – Dallas, Texas @ Cambridge Room (House of Blues) *
03 – Austin, Texas @ Stubb’s BBQ Indoors *
05 – Houston, Texas @ Bronze Peacock (House of Blues) *
06 – New Orleans, La. @ Gasa Gasa *
07 – Atlanta, Ga. @ The Masquerade Purgatory *
09 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Mercy Lounge *
12 – New York, N.Y. @ Bowery Ballroom * SOLD OUT
(* w/ Emily Reo)