Canadian singer-songwriter Charlotte Day-Wilson hopes her new album, ‘Cyan Blue’, helps people feel seen


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Canadian singer-songwriter Charlotte Day-Wilson hopes her new album, ‘Cyan Blue’, helps people feel seen

Canadian singer-songwriter Charlotte Day-Wilson first appeared on COLORS in 2018 with a soulful performance of her track ‘Let You Down’. Six years later, she’s just dropped ‘Cyan Blue’, her sophomore album taking inspiration from her synaesthetic relationship with the titular color. In line with the release, we reconnected with Day-Wilson to discuss everything from her memories of performing on COLORS—namely getting locked in a bathroom!—to how she blocks out external pressures while creating, and why you don’t need to have a big budget to make a great music video.

You were on COLORS back in 2018. What can you remember about the experience?

I got locked in the bathroom actually for a long time before I recorded the show. The handle came off the door while I was inside, and for an hour they were trying to get me out. That’s mainly what I remember to be honest.

The track you performed was ‘Let You Down’. Why did you choose this song?

I like music that is cathartic to listen to—that feels warm but also has some pretty heavy messages in it. I think that’s what that song was for me. It’s an enjoyable track, but if you listen to the lyrics, it’s kind of ominous and sad.

How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist since your A COLORS SHOW? 

I’ve learned how to block out all the noise while I’m working on music—to just think about myself and whoever I’m collaborating with. That’s been the most freeing experience for me. Making my new album has been all about ensuring that I’m having fun and not allowing any sort of pressure to enter the studio.

The album is titled ‘Cyan Blue’. Can you tell me about the ideas and inspirations behind the project? 

I have a couple of friends who have really extreme synaesthesia, to the point where they’ll equate colors with musical notes. They’ll say, “yellow is C,” “orange is C#”, or “red is D”, for example. I don’t have that, but I’ve always envisioned a yellow, orange, ombre color when I make music. I thought that was just my internal “Charlotte” palette, but then, when I was working on this album, I realized that everything looked different than it did before. It suited a bluey, greeny, almost colder color palette—though I don’t see blues and greens as cold, because I associate them with nature. I used those colors to craft the sound of the album.

Thematically, I always write about whatever’s going on in my life. I then try to tie those themes to another layer of self reflection. For example, if there’s something I’m experiencing in a relationship with someone, I want to write about that, but also to flip the script back on myself and know the role that I played in any sort of dynamic. Sometimes I’ll go even further, and try to understand how I, at different stages in my life, would experience this feeling.

“I like to squint at reality and find more color in stories that didn’t have much to begin with.”

Do you find it challenging to write about personal experiences considering you’ve previously described yourself as “a little stoic and cold”? What journey did you have to go on to become comfortable with being vulnerable with your listeners?

With ‘Cyan Blue’, I want people to feel like I’m literally and figuratively letting my hair down, that I’m not shying away from the feelings that came up for me while I was working on it. Sometimes, I was writing through feelings of anger, which was new to me. At first I didn’t really want to do it because I was scared it would come across in a certain way. I had to remind myself that I was trying to not let external opinions or voices into the room. So, if anger was what I was experiencing, I had to write about it. 

It’s a very exposing thing to write about your own life and have people hear it. However I’m also a storyteller. While everything I write is rooted in real life experiences, I also like to squint at reality and find more color in stories that didn’t have much to begin with. When I’m writing lyrics, words may come up that don’t factually reflect what’s happened in my life, but they feel really good so I use them and follow where the story is going. I hope people can recognise that they’re not going to actually understand who as I am as a person, or what’s going on in my life, by listening to one album.

As well as your original songs, ‘Cyan Blue’ also features a cover of ‘Over the Rainbow’ from ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Why did you want to cover such a well known song? How did you make it your own?

I was lying in bed singing it to myself one night when I was working on the album. I realized that there were a lot of ideas in the lyrics that connected to what I was working on. I told Jack Roshon, my co-producer, that I wanted to try to do a cover of it. He came up with the beautiful chords and piano that you can hear in our rendition. It sounded so rich and colorful. We had a really fun time “music-nerding” out about how we could re-harmonize, restructure, and add different colors to the song. We added color to the rainbow, you know?

Can you tell me more about your collaborative relationship with Roshon?

He’s an insanely talented musician and producer and one of my closest friends. He connects to something bigger than himself when he plays instruments. I love watching him. I can tell he feels it deeply.

In the past, I’ve been the person doing hands on production, playing, and engineering for my projects. I wanted to get away from that for ‘Cyan Blue’. Having someone else taking care of that liberated me from getting fixated on details. It allowed me to really focus on vocals.

“If people feel that I’ve articulated something in a way that no one else has been able to for them, that would be amazing.”

A still from the music video for 'Canopy', a track from Charlotte's new album 'Cyan Blue'

One of the first singles you released from the album was ‘Canopy’. In the music video, we see you ice skating, wielding a hockey stick, and standing in a shower of snow. Where does this imagery come from?

I’ve worked with the director, Sylvain Chaussee, a lot before. He rollerblades and he knows that I skate. He said to me, “I want to make a video of you skating one of these days.” I thought it was such a great idea—if anyone was going to make a cinematic rendition of me skating, it would be him. In the spirit of being more free, loose, and letting my hair down with this album, it felt like a nice, comfortable way to be able to express my self physically on camera. I’m never going to dance, that’s just not me, but this felt like a really natural and beautiful way to accompany that track.

You’re well known for the films that accompany your music. Your video for “Work”, for example, won the 2018 Prism Prize. What have you learnt about making music videos over the years?

You don’t need a huge budget to make a great music video, you just have to have a great idea. I came up with the idea for the ‘Work’ video in London. I was riding on all of these really long escalators and I was like, “wow, you get these little snapshots into people’s micro expressions, and you can create so many worlds and ideas of what people’s days are looking like.” So that was just a simple idea executed really well, just like the ‘Canopy’ video.

I always prefer to shoot my music videos in film—16mm is my favorite. I think it’s the most texturally pretty and flattering. I tend to veer towards things that feel timeless too. Film has that quality.

What are your ambitions for the future now that you’ve released ‘Cyan Blue’?

I don’t have any ambitions to be honest. My job is done. Now, ‘Cyan Blue’ is everyone else’s thing to enjoy. I’m excited to tour for sure. I want to see where this music can take me, meet as many people as possible, and experience new places in the world. Aside from that, I’m ready to be back in a creative zone.

What do you hope listeners get from the album?

I hope that it can help people feel seen. If there are songs that people connect to, or if people feel that I’ve articulated something in a way that noone else has been able to for them, that would be amazing. Music can be very comforting in that way. It can make people feel less alone.

Charlotte Day-Wilson is a Canadian singer-songwriter who first performed on COLORS in 2018. Revisit her show here. Also make sure to check out her newly released album, ‘Cyan Blue’, which she will tour across US and Canada from May 15.

Text: Emily May
Photography: Jessica Foley


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