Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In Conversation With...Charlotte Fresia

First published in The Oxford Journal on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, by Sara Mattinson.

“When I was really little, before I was going to school, before I could even write things down, when my writing was scribbles, I would sit at the piano and bang away, playing whatever sounded cool,” Charlotte Fresia says, describing her earliest memory of creating music. 
 “I didn’t even know any chords,” she admits. “I was making up my own thing at the piano. I had this little notebook, I don’t know where it is, it was full of scribbles. They looked like little mountain tops. It was all my songs. My parents thought it was so cute and when they had friends over, they’d get me to play one of my songs. I could flip to one of the pages and I would start playing it. I would always play it the same way. I don’t know how I understood it but I knew that was how I played it.”
Everyone is good at one thing; some people are so good at one thing that even when they describe how they do it, no other person could imagine it happening so naturally. That’s how it is with Charlotte Fresia: she is simply blessed with an incredible, instinctive musical talent. 
This is an exciting time for the 15-year-old Beckwith girl.
I’m sorry: Did I not mention that she’s only a teenager, going into Grade 10 at Oxford Regional Education Centre? At the age of 15, Charlotte is releasing her first solo album, along with her third album as part of the band, Fresia (a band comprised of Charlotte on keyboards and vocals, her father, Eric, on guitar and vocals, while brother Sam provides percussions.
This double album is called Night and Day, the second album named after one of the songs Charlotte has recorded. A poem inspired her to create a drawing called “Night and Day,” which she dedicated to her parents. Since her art and her music often connect, she then inspired wrote a song.
“It was a really good name for the album because our albums are so different,” she says says of Night and Day. “My dad’s songs are more happy, while mine are deeper, sometimes moody. Mine are night time, his are day time.”
Charlotte explains that her songs aren’t autobiographical. 
“My songs never have anything to do with me. They are just stories that I write,” she says. “My dad and I went through one of his songwriting books from when he was 17 and there were a couple of lines in there. There was one line, ‘It’s a long cold road I’m walking on, It’s a long, cold straight steel rail’. I love that. He told me if there’s anything in there that I wanted, I could take it.” 
She did take the line, added another line and it all became the chorus. In her own notebook, she found chord progressions she liked but hadn’t used in a song yet. Her dad loved what she’d done with his line and eventually she wrote the rest of the song, “Long Cold Road”. 
Like her father, Charlotte is a self-taught musician.
“Dad taught me the notes, showed me where everything is on the piano,” she says. “He taught me the basic blues and the basic chord progressions. After that, I kept playing with it and built up my own knowledge of music.”
When she was five, six and seven, the family lived in Halifax while Eric pursued his music career. 
“Dad had his own band and in the evenings when they’d have band practice, I remember falling asleep to the music,” she says of those years. “We hung out in the recording studio with him so we were singing really young. We were always surrounded by music.”
Knowing the music so well, it was inevitable that Charlotte and Sam would become their father’s band. 
“Dad needed some backup for a song he was working on so Sam played drums and I was playing with him and a friend who used to play with Dad pointed out that he had his band right there. He didn’t think about it much then but when we went to Mexico [2006], he got Sam some hand precussions and Mom found me a marimba. I really loved it.  Dad got a gig at a cafe in St. Cristobel for a month and we went with him.”
A few years later, the entire family of five (oldest brother Isaac is a graphic artist and sculptor while mom Catherine is a photographer) did a massive road trip across the US and Canada, with Fresia and the Offsprings (as they were called then) playing gigs and festivals along the way. 
A good student, Charlotte has no plans to quit school; she wants to graduate and she is thinking about attending university to become a music teacher (her back-up plan in case she doesn’t make it big with her own music.) But first, after graduation, she wants to go on tour through Europe.
Of course she does. Why not? 
With the kind of travel and music experiences Charlotte has experienced already, she’s keen to develop her own sense of the world and hopefully make her mark on it.  
“We’ve been taken out of school for long periods of time but we’ve learned more,” she believes. “Isaac, Sam and I, we learned at an early age how to interact with people. The news says it’s scary and dangerous in Mexico, that we should stay at resorts but we learned by avoiding the tourist places that it’s not a bad place. We met so many amazing people. We saw so much more. It brought out our creativity.”
She admits school can be a drag.
“Last year was tough for me. It was the same old boring dramas. School was representing sports and science, no art. Some of my songs are all about leaving because I want to get out of here.”  

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