In 2009, I remember being in the audience of the French music show Taratata and seeing Charlie Winston for the first time. I had never heard from him until then. He sang Like a Hobo that became a big hit later on. The response from the audience was immediately good. He even managed to make us sing on his song. It’s hard not to notice him with his funny hat and his waistcoat!
Born in 1978 in Cornwall, Charlie Winston grew up in Suffolk, where his parents ran a hotel. He made his full-length debut with the self-produced album Make Way in 2007 in association with Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. In 2009 he released the album Hobo which became a major commercial success in France, where it was released on the label Atmosphériques. He sold over 500.000 albums in our country! The album’s lead single, Like a Hobo, topped the French singles chart for many weeks. He then toured France and played many festivals that lead him to win even more fans. Funnily enough, Charlie’s success is mainly in France, Beligum and Switzerland. He does not have the same success in England, where he comes from. It’s hard to explain why it appeals so much to French people. Since his success was mainly in France, Charlie lived in Paris for a while and learnt how to speak French (with a charming English accent of course !)
After releasing a 2nd album with Atmosphériques in 2011, he’s back this year with a 3rd album called Curio City. He lives in London again and hopes to find more success in his native country. It is there as well that he recorded his new album. He plays all the instruments on the record himself except for the drums. His new album is a mix of folk music and electronic music, very different from Hobo (even though he still whistles!). Listening to the album is like a road trip to an imaginary and futuristic city. He was very much inspired by the film Drive and its electro soundtrack but also the film Blade Runner. Among his influences we can hear Thom Yorke, Lorde or Daft Punk.
If Hobo was more an ode to the music of our parents’ generation, the new album is extremely modern, yet slightly nostalgic of the 80s with its electro beats and synth as we can hear in his new single Lately . A style that suits him very well. His ambition with his new album is to touch a brand new audience.
If you want to catch him live – and you should, Charlie Winston will be touring France in March ! He’ll play two dates in Paris at La Cigale on March 31st and April 1st. You can check out the rest of his dates on his label page. Note that he will also play the Festival Chorus in Les Hauts de Seine. (10 days of music with some boeufs* and 120 artists such as Shaka Ponk or La Roux).
*Un boeuf is a jam session