“If you’re dissatisfied with the reality you see, create the reality you desire.” This is precisely the path embraced by Lady Charles, a versatile artist known for their roles as a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and a shape-shifting enchantress in the world of art-rock.
In the midst of the turbulence that marked the year 2020, Lady Charles envisioned a world far removed from the chaos—a world that was sweet, stylish, and marked by tolerance. In this vision, society harmoniously coexisted within a universe adorned with brown shag carpets and splashes of vibrant purple and pink. This vision gave birth to “Manic Pixie Dream World,” an immersive album and music lifestyle experience crafted by Charles Hoppner, known as Lady Charles. Comprising 11 tracks, this album serves not only as a boldly colored escape from reality but also as a gateway into Charles’s own transformation into Lady Charles.
“During that period, I took a step back and redefined my concept of beauty. I delved into makeup, photography, and honed my singing through voice lessons,” shares the artist, who calls Ottawa, Canada home. “This journey resulted in a new voice, a new image, and a new perspective.”
Lady Charles’s artistic vision spans a vast and kaleidoscopic spectrum, encompassing genres like folk, indie-rock, electronica, punk, glam, funk, pop, and hip-hop. Their songs delve into themes of gender, apocalypse, and lost friendships. Lady Charles has already released three singles, an EP, and their full-length debut album, “Manic Pixie Dream World,” featuring contributions from members of Tokyo Police Club, Raphael Saadiq’s band, Lavola, and Valois. Currently, the artist is hard at work on their upcoming release, which will be the music for the play “Oh Boy!”—a critically acclaimed project they were commissioned to write for, premiering at the Ottawa Fringe Festival.
Their new single, “Child of the Night,” embarks on a musical journey, transitioning from progressive rock influences to intense synthscapes and finally reaching a soaring, anthemic chorus with spirited disco grooves woven throughout. Lady Charles, performing most of the instruments themselves, with drums by Francy Karema, showcases a remarkable evolution in their love for intricate, grandiose soundscapes, as established on the “Manic Pixie Dream World” LP. Drawing inspiration from a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Chic, Late of the Pier, of Montreal, Kate Bush, MGMT, U2, and more, this track serves as a rock epic in miniature. In an era of shorter, hook-centric songs, Lady Charles stands in contrast, delivering self-contained sonic odysseys that challenge listener expectations and reward them with moments of grand pop euphoria. As Charles explains, “I adore pop songwriting, but I’m not fond of the tendency for pop music to rely on formulas, as it quickly becomes monotonous. I wrote this song with the aim of creating something incredibly catchy and powerful while offering a musical journey rather than a conventional pop song. The structure aligns more with progressive rock, the sound channels the indie and disco vibes of the 2000s and 1970s, and the verses are wordless; I broke many songwriting conventions. I believe the result possesses a kind of magic that captivates you on its own terms.”
Looking ahead, Lady Charles is finalizing their “Oh Boy!” EP and planning an intriguing covers album project. Reflecting on their achievements, their manic pixie journey, and what lies ahead, Lady Charles emphasizes, “When I embarked on this path, my vision was unwavering. I poured a piece of my soul into this journey, and seeing it resonate and positively impact people means the world to me.”