Photo: press

Charlotte Sands

If you pay even the tiniest bit of attention to the pop-punk revival, the name Charlotte Sands is inescapable from your radar; however, for the alternative rock scene in Nashville, Sands is not just another rising star. From the never-ending stream of self-reflective bangers and collaborations with pop-punk legends that were handled with care, Sands is presenting an example of impossible-made-possible for the starving yet thriving Nashville scene.

“I am doing so well!” says Sands, regarding how it has been lately, “I couldn’t be happier. I’m very busy, just traveling a lot. But overall I am so great and very happy.”

Unlike last year, Sands has slowed down from the nonstop touring–for just a little while. She spent the month of March in LA, finally meeting and collaborating with artists who have been on her own radar.  “I toured so much last year. I mean, I think we did 150 shows last year alone. So I didn’t have a lot of time to write,” she reflects. “I told myself that my priority at the beginning of this year was to write songs and to just prioritize that part of my job. I have so many songs right now that I’m so excited about. And I’m very excited for them to be out in the world this year.”

“Obviously we have so many shows this year in the US and in the UK and in Europe, I’m super excited about that,” she adds.

When asked how has Los Angeles been different in comparison to the music scene in Nashville, Sands ponders: “I think it’s interesting. I always love getting out of my comfort zone, because I think it forces you to be creative in different ways and also use different words. I really like the idea of having to prove myself to people in different rooms that might not know me or might not know if I can write a song or not. It’s like you’re starting from a fresh, new space, and it’s exciting to start those relationships and also be vulnerable with new people who don’t know you and don’t have like previous judgment–they don’t know you personally, so they don’t make assumptions based off of that. It’s just basically starting with a clean slate with who you are in that room that day.”

“And I also love that in LA, they commit to the session until the song is done,” she points out a sharp contrast between the two cities, “So you could be there from 2 pm to 4 am in the morning, and I am the kind of person who just loves to stick it out and I will happily be in a studio. Whereas in Nashville, it’s very much at 11 am to 5 pm. So it’s probably more like a nine-to-five job and LA was whenever the song is done.”

Sands is standing at an interesting intersection. On one hand, half of Nashville still remembers a time when she frequented local coffee chains, worked as a bartender, and rallied for her friends’ first headlines; on the other hand, the accelerating attention on her inevitably puts a barrier between her and her old lifestyle. “I’ve been in Nashville for so long, that so many of my friends in my relationships are from different points of my life,” she explains, “Some of them I’ve known for seven years since I was bartending. Some of them I know from when I had just started my publishing deal but my artist project wasn’t successful. It’s all these people that know me from different chapters that are all a part of my life, but don’t fully understand it to the capacity of the people who are in the music industry–but then some of them do. It feels like motion sickness of life, to see what kind of attention and love you can give and how to make sure you’re giving the right amount to the right people, when I don’t even have time to be present in my own life. It feels very much like this cocktail of trying to figure out the right ingredients to make it work, and always feeling like the recipe was a little bit off.”

If anyone knows how to split a second in half and defies the nature of time, it’s Sands. Even time becomes a diluted thing in front of her endless laundry list of achievements. The excitement definitely seems to be the most prominent undertone for Sands at the moment–how can it not be? Since her breakout single, “Dress”– a song celebrating non-conformity and the pop rock prince himself, Harry Styles–the starlet’s career soared and created a chain reaction. In 2022 alone, She supported massive rockstars on international tours, then went on her first national headline run. Besides touring the world, she released her debut album, Love and Other Lies, as well as singles that redefined the nature of collaboration tracks with names like The Maine & Taking Back Sunday, Sleeping With Sirens, Aaron Gillespie (of Underoath), and more. 

“It’s so wonderful to work with such incredible and kind people,” Sands comments on her collaborations with legacy acts, “The biggest thing for me is I haven’t done a single collaboration with somebody that I haven’t personally gotten along with. That’s the important thing for me, not only are these people incredible artists and legendary bands, singers and lyricists, but they’re also just really, really kind people. They teach me a lot about how to have a sustainable career, how to be kind to every single person that works in every single venue and maintain this wonderful energy with people around you.”

“I’m doing so well. I just, I really am. So I’m enjoying all of it so much. I enjoy every process of my entire career,” Sands reflects on how far she has come, “I love the hustle. I’m so competitive, and I love the underdog story. And I get to do, I mean, the most fun job to ever exist. It’s really obvious that things are always hard, but they’re hard in every life and every job, so I just try to be grateful for what I have.”

Of course, the underdog road was not easy, and Sands has started to recount some of those personal hardships with her latest singles, “Six Feet Under” and “Alright.” “Right now in my life, my biggest struggle or biggest topic of self-reflection has been disassociation,” Sands ponders, “I have this huge separation between my life without music and my life as an artist. Finding the mix between those two identities so that they can coexist is really hard because I’ve always just always been the artist and always prioritize that. But it’s really hard to maintain relationships and friendships when your only priority is music, your music and your drive and your success and these less sweet things. When the core of your personality is coming from those more aggressive tendencies, it’s really hard to just be happy and present and peaceful. That’s something that I’ve been writing about a lot, just wondering [about how] I have multiple people living in my body and how to make all of them happy.”

“‘Alright’ is the one side of my personality that’s hopeful and optimistic,” she goes on to dissect the latest singles, “It’s like, everything’s gonna be fine. Everything always works out in the end. Then ‘Six Feet Under’ came out right after that and it’s the opposite. It’s the pessimist and it’s the ‘Nothing’s going to be better.’ I’m just going to stay here in this hole, I don’t even want to go towards the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m probably never gonna be able to get out of here. That’s kind of these two alternate realities that I’m constantly going back and forth, if not even just existing in both of them at the same time.”

Lately, she’s been relating those sentiments with other artists sharing the same writing room, trying to find balance among the chaos and somehow finding time to position her own well-being as a priority again. When asked what would she do if suddenly there’s a one-week break, Sands says in relief with little hesitation: “Oh, goodness, what a question. I haven’t even thought about that. Honestly, I think my automatic reaction is always to go see my sister. She’s kind of like my–I’ve always talked about this and it probably sounds so weird to other people–I feel like a lot of people have religion and they have something that they lean on, it’s kind of like their ground level, their safety net and home base. That to me is my sister, she is just the beacon of light in my life. She’s like my lighthouse at all times.”

Beyond touring and new music and all things musician-related, Sands wants to recognize her own value as a person. “Realizing my worth and my value, without creating something, and realizing that I have value as a human being, that even if I don’t make something, I just exist,” says Sands, when asked if she has any goals beyond the music-scape in the year of 2023, “That’s a really hard thing to wrap your head around when you are literally a creative and you’re it. The word has ‘create’ in it, and you’re supposed to create and put out energy all the time, and you forget that there’s actually input that’s necessary as well.

“For me, a big priority of mine this year is to be really intentional with my relationships,” she continues, “And figuring out the relationships that really benefit me and then the relationships that kind of don’t benefit me, putting more energy into places that deserve more energy and then creating boundaries in places that deserve less energy or less time.”

Funny enough, Sands hesitates the most with the more silly question, “What color would this year be for you?” “I feel like the second I answered this, that’s gonna dictate all of my brand,” she answers jokingly, “The automatic thing that came to my brain, for some reason, was yellow. Even though I don’t feel like I’ve ever been a huge yellow person. But I think yellow feels like hope and optimism, and living where you are and just enjoying where you are, [with] happiness and positivity around you and enjoying the right aspect of your life and the highs and lows. So in my mind, that is what my goal would be. It’s getting all the things I want and succeeding in all the things I want to succeed at, but also being able to enjoy them and be grateful and excited.”