Credit: Jack Alexander
By age 21, Charlotte Church had dazzled legions of fans, including everyone from the pope to the president, with her angelic, operatic voice. But forever being known as a classical artist wasn’t what she wanted for herself.
“It’s a beautiful art form, but I just sort of found it limiting,” says the Welsh singer-songwriter, now 27, who just debuted "One & Two," two EPs that are her first U.S. releases in more than a decade. “I just wanted to express in a different way, and after awhile singing somebody’s else’s music, I found it dull after awhile.”
“One & Two” isn’t Church’s first crossover attempt, but it’s the first one she truly believes in. She calls an earlier pop album of hers “a really s— album, a throwaway, commercial album,” and says that it took so long for her to make a return to the States because “I just never felt like it was right and I never felt like I had anything really good that I really wanted to push.” During her time out of the U.S. spotlight, she had two kids, hosted a sketch television show in the U.K. and was a victim of Britain's phone hacking scandal. She calls the renewed attention on her music, as opposed to her personal life, “incredibly liberating.”
Church admits that reframing people’s opinions of her and the type of music she performs “has been pretty challenging."
“I think it’s sort of a good thing because I think that a lot of people have a lot of affection for me and my music when I was little, and I think, I don’t know, especially over here because I’ve been famous for such a long time, people sort of pick a part of you — you [become] some distant family member, or like a character in a long-running show, “ she says. “So it’s really sweet, and I do often [hear] ‘Oh, you should go back to classical music, but I don’t know, I feel like I’ve sort of done that.”
Church wrote and self-released “One & Two” on her own label, Alligator Wine. The music’s haunting, gothic beats evoke the sounds of Radiohead, Bjork and LCD Soundsystem. But Church says the heaviness of her new sound shouldn’t be taken at face value.
“Even if you are in a happy relationship — and I’ve got two beautiful children — there are still certain times when life sucks,” she says. “We have a masterfully complex range of emotions, and I think even though a lot of the stuff on both EPs is kind of dark, the one thing that I sort of always aim for is … some sound of hopefulness.”
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