SXSW highlight: Scotland artist Be Charlotte re-‘Discovers’ Austin for South by Southwest


Alasdair MacLeod

Charlotte Brimner, singer of the Scottish band Be Charlotte, plays SXSW this year March 14 and March 17. 

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Behind the foggy purple-and-blue haze and the messy blonde bun, there is a 19-year-old musician and beat boxer waiting to be heard on larger scales. Charlotte Brimner, whose stage name is Be Charlotte, is getting that chance at South By Southwest where she will performed March 14 and will again March 17. Last year, she was only a panelist discussing her music production, but now she is ready to leave Britain and explore America with her year-old band.

Be Charlotte, who creates pop-electro music meshed with acoustic songwriting skills, released her single “Discover” March 3 on Spotify, joining her popular song “Machines That Breathe,” which was featured on NPR’s “Songs We Love” podcast March 8. The band’s website calls Brimner “one of the most innovative artists in Britain.” James Smith, who plays keys and bass guitar; and Dave Calder, who plays the drums; just finished touring the U.K. and plans to have a full-length debut album out next year.

The Chronicle talked to Brimner about her music success at an early age, SXSW and her icons.

THE CHRONICLE: What was the inspiration behind “Discover”?

CHARLOTTE BRIMNER:  I wrote Discover after the first time I properly went away from home and went to America for a month, the first time I went to South By Southwest. When I was away, I had some ideas of songs I wanted to create and sounds I wanted to capture just from that trip and especially [from] the vibe of Austin. When I got back, I started writing some stuff and initially I tried to capture what I liked about Austin—how it could go from so, so busy to quiet. When I went back to Dundee, Scotland, realized a lot of things I had not noticed before and took the time to appreciate what was actually around me. It made me find out about myself more.

How do you feel performing “Discover” at SXSW where it was created?

I’ve never thought about that until right now, but it will be really nice to do that and go back. I feel good about officially doing a show and going as a proper band. It feels like the right time to go and play some songs to new people.

How have you seen yourself grow over this last year of career music building?

Definitely growing, definitely musically, just because I have kind of constantly learned with writing. I’ve picked up quite a lot this year by working with different kinds of people and looking at how they use stuff and personally … it’s been nice to get some songs out and play them in live shows. It feels like it has been a long time with just a small group of people hearing them.

Are you planning to go to college or focus on your music?

I’m focusing on my music full-time. I left school when I was 17, and I moved to Glasgow, [Scotland] and took a college course in music business there, which was really good to learn about [music production]. It got a little bit difficult to balance the college and doing music full time now. I can’t really do anything else at the same time.

What bands do you look up to?

I love Milky Chance. I love Lorde’s new single. When it first came out and I listened to it I was like, “What the hell was that?” and I love that. It’s the best song that has been out in a while. There’s a new artist I started listening to that I found on Spotify called Kungs from France. I like things that tell good stories but also have  a bit of a different sound to them.