Originating from New York, NY, Lady Charles stands as a versatile artist and songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and a shape-shifting art-rock enchanter/ress (they/them) with an unyielding passion for music. Amid the upheaval of 2020, Lady Charles envisioned an idyllic society adorned with brown shag and pops of purple and pink, where sweetness, style, and tolerance seamlessly coexisted.
Enter the immersive realm of “Manic Pixie Dream World,” an album and music lifestyle experience orchestrated by Charles Hoppner, known as Lady Charles. This 11-song album is an escape into vivid colors, a portal into Charles’s transformation into Lady Charles.
Reflecting on this period, the artist based in Ottawa, Canada, noted, “During that time, I had a chance to step back and clarify my concept of beauty. I delved into makeup, photography, and honed my singing through voice lessons. I emerged with a fresh voice, a new image, and a different perspective.”
Lady Charles’s artistic vision spans folk, indie-rock, electronica, punk, glam, funk, pop, and hip-hop. Their songs explore themes such as gender, the apocalypse, and lost friendships. To date, Lady Charles has released three singles, an EP, and the full-length debut album, “Manic Pixie Dream World,” featuring contributions from members of Tokyo Police Club, Raphael Saadiq’s band, Lavola, and Valois. Currently, Lady Charles is crafting music for the play “Oh Boy!”, a critically acclaimed project they were commissioned to write for, which premiered at the Ottawa Fringe Festival.
Growing up just outside Ottawa in the 1990s, Lady Charles faced strict gender roles and a lack of diversity, enduring relentless bullying as a queer artistic child. Music became a refuge, albums like David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” offering sanctuary with their distinct aesthetic and immersive glamour.
Their path to indie recognition began as the frontperson of the glam-rock band Valois, unfortunately halted by the pandemic. Lady Charles, initially a side project, became a creative outlet for songs that didn’t fit Valois’s style, and an exploration of their non-binary identity.
A pivotal moment in Lady Charles’s journey came with the demo of “Manic Pixie Boy” shared in an online group for of Montreal, earning enthusiastic praise from the band’s Kevin Barnes. This encouragement led Lady Charles to prioritize the project, building a following through music releases, videos, and a thoughtful, aesthetically-focused online presence. In a brief span, Lady Charles received fan art, gig offers, and featured spots in radio and blogs.
Lady Charles’s debut album, “Manic Pixie Dream World,” houses 14 songs exploring their connection to the manic pixie dream girl movie archetype. “I relate to the emotionality, obsessiveness, and alternative style of these characters,” Lady Charles explains. “But I do think there’s more to these people than is often portrayed, especially if you examine these characters through possible ADHD diagnoses.”
The album delves into this theme within a layered 1970s art rock aesthetic, keeping the music danceable even while addressing topics like God and politics. Tracks like “Manic Pixie Dream Boy” blend hip-hop punchlines with sublime synth-pop, while “Godx” presents a queer religious perspective. “Prelude to Noella” carries an opulent Old Hollywood orchestral vibe, and the dreamy electro-pop of “Noella (I Can’t Get Enough of You)” narrates a love story created for a web series. “Trigger Fingers” delivers a sweet critique of embattled Canadian faux-progressives, and “Let’s Get Conservative” playfully delves into political themes.
Lady Charles’s new single, “Child of the Night,” inspired by 1970s disco and early 2000s funk-punk, brings listeners to the dance floor. Although commissioned for a play, the song draws on coming-of-age experiences in its creation.
Looking forward, Lady Charles is finalizing their “Oh Boy!” EP and planning a unique covers album. Reflecting on their journey, Lady Charles expresses, “When I decided to do this, I wanted to be uncompromising in my vision. I put a lot of myself into this, and seeing it connect and have a positive impact on people means so much to me.”
© 2023, Aiden Faire. All rights reserved.