Lucas Palmans

17 Jul 2021

Charli Adams: “The World Needs to Give Less of a Fuck”

There’s a new indie-pop icon in town and her name is Charli Adams. The American singer is expanding her fanbase, containing Taylor Swift, Bon Iver, and Phoebe Bridgers, but also just released her debut album ‘Bullseye’. We’ve had a chat with Charli about everything that is going on in her life, her clairvoyance, Disney movies, and, of course, about her first big project.

Your debut album ‘Bullseye’ is finally out. How do you feel about that?

I’m very optimistic. The world is starting to go back to normal. I am ready. It feels like this has been the longest time waiting. It was taking forever, but now I feel ready. When it’s finally out, I can start focusing on the next project.

You’re already thinking about the next project?

Yeah! (laughs) I have been for the last six months. I’ve started writing it recently now because I tumbled into a block since I finished the album.

Was that also the reason why it took you so long to finish Bullseye? Because you already announced it last year.

There were a lot of factors that went into that. It’s not normal to release a debut album at my level or on the stage that I’m at. Usually, it’s a lot of singles, some EPs, and eventually an album. Originally I thought I was making an EP and then I felt like it had to be an album. We had songs that I felt could not be missing from the context of the entire thing. We had to figure it out as we were going along because we didn’t plan it to be an album.

There’s a lot that went into it, so thank you all for being so patient. It was important for me to be an album, it just had to take more time.


How was making an album different than making an EP?

There was a huge difference. I’m someone who loves albums, who loves listening to a record top to bottom, the way it was intended. The artist gets to choose the flow, the way you feel it, what you hear first … I think that has always been important to me. I love to hear artists create an entire moment. That was exciting for me to do rather than just releasing singles.

To be able to take the time and figure out what I think, make sense of how to open it and how it ends, the visuals around it … It feels like more of a moment in time, like a chapter. It was also an intro to who I am and covering so much of my childhood. It was important to be an album because it felt like I was unpacking my childhood and my youth. Now I can move on.

I read somewhere that you said Bullseye was some kind of passport to you. Can you explain that?

It’s pretty much my life story until now. It was written during the most transformative years of my life, so it’s written about everything that happened till this point. Mostly how it affected who I was and in that transformative time, who I’ve become, what kind of relationships I’ve been in … it’s from the perspective of wanting to change all of that and having a wake-up call.

Wasn’t it hard to write about all those personal stories? Doesn’t that make the release a little more stressful?

It does a little bit, but honestly … the hardest part was getting through it and accepting and working through those things in my personal life. Writing it was exciting. I knew that writing it meant that I had worked through it to a point that I hadn’t before.

That I was able to talk about it, to sing about it: that’s kind of a sign for me. If I have something that happens that I know I’m gonna write about … it does take a while to write about it. Writing about it and getting it out to the world was more exciting than stressful because I knew that I worked through it.

So the music was some kind of closure for you?

I can’t help it! (laughs) I write from such a real place that it naturally turns into closure. I can leave it behind me.

That seems a bit funny because on your Instagram it looks like you’re a person who doesn’t really give a fuck, but your music is so deep and emotionally loaded.

That’s because I know I need to give less fucks! (laughs) I grew up giving way too much of a fuck, and it exhausted me. I got so tired and that was what “Cheer Captain” was about: the realization that I cared so much and I’m tired I can’t. You can’t keep going like that, you have to stop giving a fuck. Before I shot the music video of that song, I had a panic attack, and I was thinking about what my family and people back home were gonna think about it. I cared so much and then I had to remember what the song was about.

Bullseye is helpful to me even because I am still learning that lesson. It’s hard when you are a people pleaser, so I have to remind myself sometimes of what the album is about.

Is that also a message you want to send out to the world or maybe especially to the younger audience?

I will say that I am learning that lesson myself right now, and I keep telling my friends this advice. My main message is to not take life as seriously as we’re taking it. Life is just not that serious. Just have fun. The world has to give way less of a fuck. Even though it’s a pretty heavy album, there’s a sense of freedom in it.

That’s also something you have in common with Phoebe Bridgers then because she’s also the kind of person that laughs about the world and doesn’t really care about life.

And probably also because we have the same influences. (laughs) But yeah, I don’t want to look back and think about all the fun I could have had if I wasn’t so stressed all the time. It’s not worth it. I grew up with anxiety, and I had no idea. I thought that everyone felt like that all the time. I was 23 years old when I found out, and that was a realization for me that I took life way too seriously. My mission at the moment is to let go.

When did you realize you had to make a strength out of your weakness?

In 2020, being stuck at home by myself. I was facing myself without distractions and realizing how much living like that had stood in the way of my life and how it got in the way of my expression. I was tired and realized something had to change. I worked through some things.

Did a whole new world open for you last year? Because you always wrote songs for other artists and then you started writing for yourself.

It’s a different brain you have to tap into. When I’m writing by myself, it’s a completely different approach. But I really like writing to other people. I like being their lyric person and bring their ideas to songs. Lyrics have always come easy to me, that’s my ability. Being able to write a song about something that I’ve never experienced, feel that emotion, and giving it to someone is really cool. I enjoy it.

That’s a gift because it means that you’re a good listener and really understand people.

More than I like to sometimes, but that’s part of being an empathetic person, but we’re learning.


Although you would like to care less about life, your own music does feel a little dark. That’s some kind of contradiction between sad and happy: what is your favorite?

I think that’s kind of who I am as a person. It makes sense that my debut album would be sad and happy—light and dark at the same time. I think I’m afraid that I would be misunderstood because of my bubbly personality. I’m a pretty optimistic person, and I use my darkest feelings and emotions to write about. I’m influenced by the darkest songwriters. I’ve always admired being able to write the most melodramatic heavy emotions into a song because that’s not something that you would have a conversation about with someone.

You can only be that dramatic in a song. One of my favorite things in music is someone who can turn a pile of darkness into a big pop song. It’s cool to have people dancing to lyrics that, if they would read them later, they would feel different. I like the mixture of the two. That’s what life is about.

Who was your biggest influence to write your own music that way?

I think that all of the songwriters that came before me intentionally made albums. People who really want to tell a story. That’s how I always saw it going, and it feels right that my first big release would be a full album because I rather just not do it at all if I do not go fully into it myself. It’s exciting to make such an album.

How do you think the world will react?

I’ve been very surprised to see how many people can relate to my specific experiences. The fact the people are relating to singles is all I can ask for. I’m very excited for the world to hear the opening and the closing song. Those two are my favorites. I also don’t think that people can see the title track coming, which is exciting.

What are your plans after the release?

I can’t wait to get back on the road. I think I am going to start collaborating and finding new producers, figuring out what sound I want to make on the next album. I’m just writing now that I left that first project behind me.

Did you already close the first chapter in your head?

I had to close that a little bit because otherwise, I would just obsess. It was taking so long, and if I spent the whole year obsessing about how people are going to take it and put all this importance on it, I would have gone crazy. I had to tell myself that there will be more after. I couldn’t take the pressure! (laughs)

If you’re happy, the world would be happy. And if not, they just don’t have to listen to your music.

And it doesn’t have to matter because if we don’t care, it isn’t important.

Is it true that your first memory of music is The Lion King?

Yes! (laughs) I was obsessed with The Lion King! I would sit in my Simba chair and watch it three times a day and sing along with every song. I don’t know how it influenced my writing, but it just feels like medicine. A good Dinsey movie just makes me feel better. They’re the best movies!

It’s funny that you’re so enthusiastic about animation movies, knowing that you can say Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers are some of your biggest fans. It means that you’re still down-to-earth.

If you say it like that. (laughs)

How did you react when Taylor gave you a shout out by the way?

I’m a very intuitive person, and I knew it was going to happen the day before it happened. (laughs) As crazy as it sounds. I was on the phone with my mom, and I said: “OMG, for some reason, I feel like something huge is going to happen tomorrow. Like somebody is going to shout me out.” She asked, “Who do you think it is?’ and I answered, “I think it’s going to be so huge I can’t even believe it.”

Then the next morning I woke up and my phone was blowing up. I cried! (laughs) I don’t cry from excitement very much, but I was freaking out. She shaped who I was. I’ve been listening to her since I was 11. I would have paid so much money to just watch Taylor Swift listen to my song.


Maybe if Bullseye comes out, she will post it again. But if everybody will listen to the album, what’s the best place to listen to it then?

I would have to say in the car because I love to listen to music that way. A good backroad drive through the countryside. Or in your bedroom with headphones and a star projector, so it makes you feel like you’re in space. It has to be dark, so you maybe can place a star projector in a tent, or even better: build your own fort. Somewhere cozy and dark.


It’s almost sad that you’re releasing it in summer.

There are also some summer songs! There’s one megapop tune, and I don’t think that people will see that coming. It’s my women empowerment pop anthem. Right in time for summertime. Bullseye will be full of surprises.

Is that also why you called the album Bullseye? Because bulls are so unpredictable?

Well, funny story. When we were making the EP, I decided to name it Bullseye, because that was my nickname. A nickname I got from playing darts with Justin Vernon from Bon Iver actually! (laughs) I wasn’t even going to talk to him, I just saw him at the bar. I thought to myself: “Oh wow, that’s Justin Vernon. He’s real, I’m not gonna bother him.” And then he came to me, introduced himself, and asked if I wanted to play darts with him. My first two were bullseyes, so he nicknamed me Bullseye.

Bullseye is out now on all platforms.
Pictures by Luke Rogers.

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