Photo by Miranda Lehman
By Ashley Goodman
In January, Charlie Hilton took a break from Blouse to release her first solo album, Palana. The album is a far cry from her space pop songs. Palana is more melancholic, introspective and blunt. Hilton worked with a slew of great talent including Mac DeMarco, Anand Wilder from Yeasayer and Jacob Portrait from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who produced her album. “He’s from Oregon and I met him a few years ago when I started Blouse,” Hilton says of Portrait. “I’ve always made music with him, that’s kind of how our friendship started. It’s a very familiar territory for us.” Surprisingly enough, even though they’ve been making music for all these years together, Hilton didn’t think that Portrait would help record her solo album as they were both off doing different things at the time but things finally fell into place. “It seemed like a good idea to work with a different producer for this record and I tried, but I wasn’t having as much fun. I ran into Jake one day and I just told him let’s do it.”
The songs off Palana were written over a vast period of time. Some are even a few years old. Hilton prefers sitting in a room alone with a guitar when she writes. “I would just call it a very thoughtful lonely process.” In terms of the writing on her new album, Hilton says this is the hardest she’s ever worked. Beginning this month, she will be on a short tour with Wild Nothing. Mac DeMarco will accompany Hilton for her final show in May. “I’m really excited. I’ve always thought it would be cool to tour with another Captured Tracks artist.”
When talking about where she grew up, I found out she was born and raised in Los Angeles. Hilton like most people, didn’t appreciate her hometown until she moved away. “Now, when I go back I see how lucky I was. It was this really surreal place but it felt normal to me,” said Hilton. Her childhood, as she describes, was pretty similar to everyone else’s. “You kind of just end up sitting in your friend’s backyard smoking. At least that’s what we did,” she says with a laugh.
She told me she first picked up a guitar when she was 11. She said she can’t remember much before that except that songwriting has always been inherent to her. “It’s a healing thing to do, I feel really lucky to have that kind of outlet,” said Hilton. As far as the future goes, Hilton plans on going to Europe later this year but nothing is set in stone. But one thing is for sure, she’s already working on a second album that she plans on releasing early next year.