In Essex, we have it all. We really are lucky to have the cream of the crop when it comes to so many things. Boutiques, nightclubs, bars. We have reality TV stars wall to wall and footballers everywhere you turn (well in certain parts anyway, I’ve not seen a footballer down Laindon town centre just yet but there’s still hope). So imagine how humbled we also feel to have some of the best singers in the country. I don’t just mean famous singers, like Olly Murs, but also performers who hit the thriving Essex live music scene. Amy Childs little Brother Will is quite well known on this circuit, in his own right, not as a relation of hers.
Charlie Sansom is your classis all-rounder. He could belt out some Michael Buble just as comfortably as singing the latest Jason Derulo number. I know Charlie, and we used to have a great laugh down The Bull Pub in Pitsea on a Wednesday night, which was karaoke night. Sadly, my renditions of ‘Like a Virgin’ didn’t get me noticed by a big record label, but fortunately for Charlie he has managed to go on to carve out a successful career from his passion.
Charlie has managed through dedication, hard work and damn right graft to go from someone who sings in his bedroom to someone who performs on stage. Performing at Weddings, corporate events and let’s face it, anywhere there is a crowd is Charlie’s career, and a very good one at that.
Not only is he off out and about round Essex, playing football three nights a week like a typical Essex lad and working on his vocals in any spare time he gets, he is also an accomplished recording artist who has just had some great feedback on his Nina Simone cover from none other than the Daughter of the lady herself.
This Essex girl caught up with him in a rare moment of spare time (for both of us) and I got to ask him a few questions.
KJ – Hi Charlie. So luckily enough, I’ve known you a while and I know your passion for music (the less said about my karaoke endeavours on a Wednesday night the better). When did it all start for you?
CS – A lot of people don’t know this about me but my passion for performing came at around 11-years-old, at least for music. When I was a kid I used to follow my Grandad around the pubs and do a little stand-up act which was basically a rip-off of the late Mike Read (the actor best known for Frank Butcher in EastEnders). I loved the attention I got and a kid with an extra couple quid to spend on sweets after some naughty jokes definitely spurred me on to find out what other talents I had.
KJ – When did music go from being a hobby to something you do full time? (Charlie’s ‘Swing Supreme’ show can be booked for weddings, corporate events etc)
CS – I think music started to become a career once I stopped trying to sing Michael Jackson records in my bedroom and threw myself to the wolves so-to-speak. It was in the summer of 2009 when I first plucked the courage to get on a stage and sing a god-awful version of Walking Away by Craig David. Even though I was nervous and didn’t give a good performance I took the experience and decided to carry on knowing that if I could perform on stage like I did in my bedroom then I’d finally ‘get it’. It took me a couple years before I worked out who I was as a performer and now I’m extremely comfortable on stage and love everything about being a singer.
KJ – Your cover of ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ got some great feedback from Nina Simone’s Daughter, how did you manage that?
CS – Honestly, I didn’t really believe I’d been contacted by Nina Simone’s daughter. I mean, I didn’t even know she had any kids so get a tweet from someone with the Twitter handle @simonekelly12, I assumed it was a fan account. I’m a bit of a researcher on Twitter; if you follow me then I’m gonna check you out. It was only by doing that that I realised who Lisa Simone really was. I really couldn’t believe it and that’s the power of the internet and social media on the whole. It’s always lovely to get praise for anything you do but the next best thing would’ve been a thumbs-up from Nina herself. I felt very humbled to have had such a positive conversation with Lisa and her daughter, ReAnna.
KJ – What made you chose to cover this song?
CS – I just felt it. The song is very light and summery and the lyrics are amazing because it speaks to people on every level. We all want someone to care for us. We all want to be the centre of someone’s world and because I’m a big softy I just wanted to do a version of the song.
KJ – You sing all sorts of different music, which is your favourite, old classics or more modern stuff?
CS – I’m a bit of an old head on young shoulders really. I’m in the moment, I know whose poppin’ off in dance, R&B, pop, etc, but my mind is always stuck in a bygone era. There’s something about jazz or jazzy records that appeals to me. It just screams class and I love that. There’s nothing better than singing a classic – especially if you can make it your own.
KJ – You sing in loads of different places, have you got a favourite venue?
CS – How can I possibly answer that question? They’re all my favourite but some are more favoured than others. 😉
KJ – Which artist would you cite as your biggest inspiration?
CS – Two words: Michael Jackson. I know a lot of people cite MJ as an influence and it’s a bit of a cliché but I love what he did with his career. There’s something incredibly unique about what Michael did with his life that it’s hard not to be inspired by him. I’m not talking about the obvious things like Thriller and the moonwalk, I’m talking about his vocal technique, his odd charm, the stage presence. I’d even go as far as saying that Michael Jackson taught me how to sing because I imitated him so much. However, with that being said, I’d say vocally I’m far more similar to George Michael who was another huge influence and still is. In fact, I’d say George is probably a far bigger influence musically than anybody else.
KJ – You are a busy busy bee, what is next in Charlie Sansom world?
CS – I’m putting together a promotional album. I’ve been talking about this album for so long that I’m sure people around me don’t even believe it’s coming – but it is! I’m a perfectionist, I don’t like anything I do unless it’s perfect. Unfortunately, perfection takes hundreds of vocals, tonnes of mixes and playing (and recording) the same song over and over again before I can let it go. It’s quite obsessive but I don’t want anyone’s first impression of me to be second-rate. That’s why I work so hard on tracks. Of course, I have a life outside of the studio which is spent chasing gigs, collaborating with other artists and being a father. I can safely say that this album will be the best thing I’ve ever done and will be online this year. You’ll just have to keep checking my website for news!
KJ – I noticed too you have a great blog on your website (copycat) what prompted you to start that?
CS – Haha! I’m a copycat! I love to write. I’ve always been a writer be it songs, stories, opinions, articles; I just love the idea of my point of view influencing or helping somebody. For example, I wrote an article on Medium.com about why I work so hard on my songs and how you can translate hard work into success. You can read that here:www.medium.com/@charliesansom. I’m aiming to relaunch MyLifeandTimes.net this year and when I do I’ll wish I was your copycat because I’d have tonnes of readers, tonnes of followers and access to loads of flash parties! 😉
KJ – Finally, you seem so busy and I know you are also a very family orientated man. What do you do to kick back?
CS – Kickback? What’s that? Haha! I don’t switch off normally. I’m always up til’ 2-3am planning the next song, the next show, the next marketing campaign – but if I’m honest with you I love to be lazy! Watching tonnes of binge TV like Game of Thrones or watching films. Of course, I’ll blast music through my headphones or just turn on my Rokits and listen to new albums, but I’m still a kid at heart so will play hours of FIFA on the PlayStation. I’m not completely lazy though, I play football 3-nights-a-week and probably look forward to that more than any gig. Only joking, where’s the microphone?
Wow! That sounds like one busy lifestyle, and it’s only set to get busier. Since I interviewed young Charlie he kindly informed me he is now going to be hosting his own club night at Mansion, Southend.