Pearl Charles has been playing music since before most of us could even read a book. Those years of fine-tuning her style, experimenting with sound, and taking front row seats to a musical education in a city that spawned the Beach Boys and the Byrds ultimately paved a direct path for Pearl to this very moment. Her debut album as a songwriter. “I have been waiting so long,” she tells me of her forthcoming release Sleepless Dreamer, dropping February 2nd on Kanine Records. “It feels amazing to finally get this album out into the world.”
Sleepless Dreamer, a collection of songs that span, as she says, “almost all of my songwriting years,” is the perfect introduction to a musician brimming with potential and just enough tenacity to keep you on your toes. With the help of LA legend Kenny Woods as producer, engineer and co-writer, and the members of Father John Misty’s band, it’s a warm, uplifting pop country explosion, with hints of psych and garage seamlessly woven into each lick.
Pearl’s record release show is tonight at the Echo in LA, so cancel whatever else you’re doing, and go. Her striking resemblance to Linda Ronstadt and her ability to command a room will slay you. And boy do we love being slayed. –Maya Eslami
Read our interview with Pearl Charles below.
2/1 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
2/2 – Long Beach, CA @ Fingerprints
2/14 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
2/20 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
2/21 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
2/22 – Vancouver, BC @ Wise Hall
2/24 – Spokane, WA @ The Bartlett
2/25 – Boise, ID @ The Olympic
2/26 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
2/28 – Denver, CO @ Ophelia’s
WHAT YOUTH: Hi Pearl. What are you doing right now?
PEARL CHARLES: The record comes out this week, so I just have been running around like crazy doing promo and getting things ready for our release show!
Your new album is about to drop, and it’s your debut, and been a damn long time coming. How does it feel?
It feels amazing to finally get this album out into the world. I have been waiting so long and am so excited to share my progression since my EP!
When I first met you, you were playing drums in Blank Tapes. And now you’re fronting your own band, writing all the songs. Tell me about your trajectory as a musician?
I have been playing music and singing since I was young, but really started getting into songwriting as a teenager and playing in bands when I went to college. I spent a lot of time learning from the songwriters and bandleaders of my past projects while continuing to write my own songs on the side until I finally felt ready to strike out on my own and share them with the world.
Who did you listen to growing up?
I’ve always had a love for anything retro since I was a kid so the oldies station was my favorite. I would also listen to classic country songwriters in the car with my mom, but didn’t come to appreciate them until later in life.
And when did you start making music?
I started piano lessons when I was 5, voice lessons when I was 9 and guitar lessons when I was 12. I also did a lot of musical theater in elementary and middle school before I got into rock & roll.
You were born and raised in LA – what was that like for you? And do you think that played a roll in shaping your creativity?
I loved growing up in LA, although, to be fair, I’ve never known anything different, so it’s hard to know what to compare it to. I will say, having always been around artistic people in the entertainment industry, I was never discouraged from pursuing that life and career path and I think never having to get over that mental hurdle that I know plagues some people has always allowed my creativity to flourish naturally.
You also partially grew up in Joshua Tree. What’s your relationship to the desert? How does she breathe into your music?
The desert is a very special place to me, probably my favorite on earth. My family has a place out there so I have been going out since I was a teenager. It was there that I finally found myself drawn to the classic country music I had resisted as a child, and that now has become so influential in my own musical style, so I am incredibly grateful for those experiences.
Tell me about your debut Sleepless Dreamer. When did you start writing the album?
Sleepless Dreamer is a collection of songs that spans almost all of my songwriting years. Some I started as early as 2009 and some were written as we were going into the studio in 2016.
Who did you work with on it? And what was the recording process like?
I was lucky enough to have the help of Kenny Woods who produced, co-wrote, engineered and mixed the record. I also enlisted the help of Father John Misty’s band on the tracks as well as an assortment of my other favorite players from around LA and beyond.
Who’s in your band? Are they the permanent Pipes Canyon band?
I’ve been lucky to have a lot of amazing players join me throughout the years, but my current live band are definitely the permanent Pipes Canyon band for the foreseeable future! That includes Dustin Bookatz on the bass, Marcus Congleton from Ambulance LTD on guitar and Julian Harmon from The Morning Benders on drums and backup vocals!
And what’s next for Pearl Charles?
We’re kicking off a US tour Valentine’s Day in San Diego that will take us all the way to SXSW in Austin via Vancouver, and then will be heading East and possibly across the pond later in the year!