by Margaret Chrystall
INVERNESS has played an important part in the rise and rise of Be Charlotte’s Charlotte Brimner.
It might even be as important as the moment the Dundee teenager decided to dye her hair purple, freed of school and free to be herself.
But it’s still strange to hear that Charlotte hooking up with her manager Louie – formerly of hip hop innovators Hector Bizerk – happened after a gig at Hootananny.
Charlotte explains: "I supported Hector Bizerk a couple of years ago – two years on Wednesday – in Inverness.
"I was doing kind of a solo thing then and I kept in touch, then later Louie got involved helping me develop some ideas I had.
"It was good for me to have someone to bounce ideas off.
"That gig is how it started that we’re working together."
This year has already seen a great start for Charlotte whose Be Charlotte now includes James Smith on bass and keyboard and David Calder on drums.
"We’ve just finished our first European tour and played the Eurosonic festival in the Netherlands," said Charlotte.
"And it gave a good start to the year because I guess in January it can be a little quiet.
"This year we could just go straight into it."
Charlotte means it – they played the Edinburgh Hogmanay party before the bells even rung 2017 in.
Charlotte has lived in Glasgow for about a year, but Dundee is where Charlotte cut her teeth at open mic nights as a young singer songwriter.
That was before her musical style and songwriting began to evolve into the unique mix you see now of spoken word, rap, beatboxing, mixing digital programming with real instruments like guitar, drum and keyboard.
"When I moved to Dundee I was about nine or 10. It was the first city I had lived in and there was so much going on there.
"When I started writing my own music, there were a lot of open mics at the time. I think I did my first one when I was about 14 or 15ish.
"It was in the Doghouse – it’s changed names since – I went along with my mum.
"And because it’s such a big space it was very daunting.
"But I just got up and think I played one or two songs and that was that.
"I just remember how my whole body was shaking before it. It took quite a while for me to stop my legs shaking!
"Open mic is really good because sometimes it would be dead with no-one there, other times, it could be really busy or there would be loads of drunk people.
"At 15 or 16 to experience that, I feel it really helped growing up because I saw stuff I didn’t want to see. It helped me mature quite quickly by getting myself out there."
Single One Drop was released on January 20, next month Charlotte returns to South By South West where she did a digital presentation with Cambridge film Novalia in 2015, helping demonstrate the possibilities interactive instruments and technology.
And since the turn of the year, there’s one topic that keeps coming up, Charlotte says.
She laughed: "I’ve been asked about an album so many times – no-one really asked before, but since 2017 everyone’s been asking!
Inverness – or to be more precise, Inverness exile Marcus Mackay of The Diving Bell Lounge studio in Glasgow – has already helped Charlotte feel relaxed in the recording environment.
Charlotte said: "I had obviously heard Kathryn Joseph’s album – produced by Marcus – and I had seen Kathryn and Marcus perform quite a few times.
"Then last January I went to the studio, we met up and I played them some songs.
"Marcus really understood the music and the direction I wanted to take it in pretty instantly.
"We’ve worked on quite a lot of songs together now.
"I’d been in quite a lot of studios before and didn’t enjoy it, but when I went there, the whole vibe of his studio is just really lovely it has such a calm feeling to it.
"It’s the most relaxed environment I’ve been in, but it’s productive at the same time."
So clues on a debut album?
"I’m saying ‘Soon-ish’, I guess," said Charlotte.
"I’ve loads of songs, enough for an album – or two, really.
"But it has all got to feel right. I love listening to albums from start to finish and I just want to create an album that’s obviously going to be around for a while.
"So it’s got to be at the right time."
Though Wednesday at Mad Hatters will be the fourth time Charlotte’s played there, it’s the first time with the band line-up.
"I played goNorth – now XpoNorth – doing my solo stuff, that was the first time in Inverness.
"And it’s played a big part, I guess, in the people now in my team, so it is cool."
Be Charlotte plays Mad Hatters on Wednesday, February 15. Read more: www.whatson-north.co.uk
Here's a session Charlotte recorded with Tenement TV: