By Yeow Kai Chai
For Eva Hendricks, the effervescent singer of the fast rising Brooklyn power-pop quartet Charly Bliss, being in a band is a dream come true – for her parents, who are music devotees.
Growing up in Westport, Connecticut, Eva and older brother Sam grew up jamming together – he on drums, their eldest brother on guitar, and she would sing along – a sibling-bonding ritual which paid off. Fast forward to 2019, and Charly Bliss is more than just a family band – it’s an exciting rock outfit which is the missing link between 1990s Weezer and 2010s Lorde, an intergenerational sweep which showcases an agnostic approach towards pop and rock and everything in between.
The band (rounded out by old pals, guitarist Spencer Fox and bassist Dan Shure, who grew up in Connecticut too) have now released two critically acclaimed records: Guppy (2017) which introduced the audiences to their so-called bubblegum grunge-pop (or bubblegrunge, as a smart-aleck coined); and its darker and more pop-oriented follow-up, Young Enough, released in May this year.
They are making their Singaporean debut at The Alex Blake Charlie Sessions on 7 Dec. Speaking from Revelstoke, British Columbia, in western Canada – “it’s in the middle of the mountains, it’s very, very cold, we’re driving, and we saw some snow, but it’s really nice, lots of trees and stuff” – Eva does not take anything for granted. Told Singapore would be very hot and humid, she yelps, “Yes! I’m ready and it’d be a really nice change,” adding: “I heard Singapore is beautiful and the airport is incredible. It would be unlike anywhere I have been before. We never travelled anywhere in Asia, and so it’d be really exciting.” She is also looking forward to meeting the London indie-pop trio Kero Kero Bonito at the festival. “We love them!” she gushed.
As a radio deejay at KEXP, a Seattle public radio station, rhapsodises, Charly Bliss always brings “100 per cent” and “positivity” to their live shows, and Eva is clearly the nucleus of the band.
Her chirpiness belies some of the most personal content she’s laying bare for all to hear. ‘Chatroom’ addresses the sexual assault she’s suffered at the hands of a former partner, and ‘Capacity’ deals with the peril of constantly putting the needs of other people before yours, and losing your dignity along the way.
Eva, can you talk about your songs, from exploring death and anxiety in Guppy to toxic relationships in Young Enough? How has it been confronting your demons?
It’s definitely very therapeutic. It’s how I process my experiences. It’s interesting to have these albums as I’ve been looking back now, and I have such a clear record of my 20s, of everything that has happened to me, ever since we started this band eight years ago. So yeah, I’m someone who deals with anxiety and depression, and it’s been super-helpful for me to have this as an outlet and a way to connect with people over things which feel difficult for me.
Do you have a particular audience you are writing for?
I’d always imagine who I would like to hear, and connect with, our music. I’m always trying to write for myself when I was younger, so probably teenagers who feel very emotional too (laughs).
Do you get your feedback from the rest of the band? Do you change your lyrics or calibrate accordingly?
Luckily my bandmates have never said anything I had written is too intense or too heavy. I write in a band full of people who are my closest friends. They know me. And for the most part, they go through these experiences with me, so they probably make sense. It’s definitely nerve-wrecking for me to release these songs, and to talk about them, but the guys have been very supportive.
Does being in a band with your brother make it easier or more difficult for you to recharge?
It makes it so much easier that we are all so close and we have a foundation. There’s never a version of the future where we are not friends. We really do as much as we can to be patient and respect each other, and really take care of our relationship. At the end of the day, what’s most important is that we still like each other. Certainly, with my brother, we are very good at understanding what is like “band time”, and what is just “family time”. I’d try my very best never to ask Sam a “band question” when we’re back home for my mum’s birthday!
Can you talk a bit about being the only female in a band? Would it be different if you were in an all-girl band? Would you behave differently?
That’s a really interesting question. Of course, if I were in a band with three other people, regardless of whether they were women or not, the music would be different. Luckily, I feel so close to my bandmates, there’s not a part of my personality I can’t express in front of them, so I don’t feel boxed in. They’re so empathetic and really wonderful. They are not just my bandmates. They are people I go to when I’m struggling in general, and so I haven’t faced any situation where they won’t be able to understand.
What do you feel about women representation and festivals like The Alex Blake Charlie Sessions, and your band’s role in representing vulnerability and strength in vulnerability?
I hope I’m embodying those things, and all I can do – and what everyone can do really – is to make music that feels honest to who they are. A lot of our music deals with sexual assault, anxiety, depression, gender inequality, and I hope to be honest with my experiences, and that the songs would be inspiring to other women. I am inspired by the women that I see in bands. I believe that representation is the way the world changes, when you see the people who look like you, or who you relate to, and who are making music, which you never thought was possible. That’s how you decide it would be possible to do music as well.
Who are some of your musical heroes you look up to?
I love Lorde. She is an incredible artist. I admire her. Her songwriting is brilliant. She makes incredible pop music that has tremendous depth, and I’m so inspired by the way she creates these very beautiful, sonic worlds. I love Taylor Swift who pushes herself to grow tremendously with every record. I look up to Lady Gaga and Solange. I’m super inspired by countless ladies.
Charly Bliss performs at The Alex Blake Charlie Sessions on Saturday, 7 Dec, at the Pasir Panjang Power Station. Get tickets here: http://bit.ly/ABCapactix