Interview: Norwegian Singer-Producer Charlotte Dos Santos is Doing Things Her Way

When it comes to perspective, Charlotte Dos Santos is clearer than ever. Hailing from Norway and based in Brooklyn, NY, Charlotte is a singer, songwriter, composer, and producer, whose deep-seated honesty and timeless voice combine for an undeniable draw. Her feelings and thoughts reside at the front-lines of her music, with relatable stories about self-discovery, love (for better or worse), and how she experiences womanhood. It also doesn’t hurt that her soulful voice is rich and layered, evoking a feeling that tends to come from some of our favorite old school vocalists.

Charlotte’s most recent single “Red Clay” is making its rounds currently, as the rising artist sings with strength about a toxic relationship that isn’t mutually beneficial. Despite this narrative being a common one in everyday relationships, Charlotte puts her own spin on it with nuances and stirring words that speak volumes with the goal of empowerment. With her forthcoming album Cleo on the way, Charlotte Dos Santos is on our radar and she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

How did you get into music initially?

Charlotte: Both of my parents are music fanatics so there was always music around me growing up. I started singing at a very early age, around 3 or 4 so my parents caught on early that I was going to be involved in music somehow. They put me in ballet classes and in a choir at age six and I have loved expressing myself through music and dance ever since.

What was music like in your household growing up?

I was generally listening to what my parents were listening to. My mother was very infatuated with North African music, Arabic music, flamenco and samba and my father introduced me to everything from Miles Davis to Björk, Mari Boine and Lauryn Hill. Music had no limits in our house which is something I thought was a normal thing in house-holds. In retrospect, I am impressed on their diversity in music and super happy that that curiosity of sound and different cultures got passed on to me.

A lot of music scenes are starting to become integrated thanks to the internet of course. What’s the underground music scene like in Norway currently?

Oslo is so small that I sometimes underestimate the “underground” scene thinking if you make music in Oslo everyone pretty much know who it is, but I guess that’s because I am in that underground bubble. There is definitely a lot of good music coming up but to be honest I am not the right person to ask because I am so bad at keeping up. There is a pretty big scene in electronic music and more recently R&B and trap-rap.

I am going to be that girl and say I have cool friends who make cool stuff so people to check out are Ivan Ave and FredFades, the latter having productions on my upcoming EP.

“Red Clay” is such a powerful and rich single. How did this song come to life?

Well “Red Clay” is originally a jazz tune by my favorite trumpet player Freddie Hubbard. I have always loved that album and title track and wanted to do something with that famous bass line and drum. So I am sort of paying homage to Hubbard and made my own version and wrote melody and lyrics.

Charlotte Dos Santos
Photo by Mostafa Douban

A lot of women identified with the situations you described in “Red Clay”, including myself. Why do you think the message resonated so well with young women?

It makes me happy that my message comes across and that women can familiarize themselves with the lyrics but at the same time, I kind of wish they wouldn’t because who wants to feel taken advantage of? Hopefully people understand that it is also an empowering song, where I’m trying to convey that we know what to keep and what to get rid of, and that we’re not always in need of something. I think a lot of women can relate because women do generally invest a lot of time and emotions in people we want close or care about and unfortunately, there are a lot of insecure people out there who long for an identity — regardless of gender though!

Your music beautifully ties together womanhood, growth, self-exploration, and much more. What are some prominent themes that we can expect throughout Cleo?

Thank you. I named the EP Cleo because of the title track “Cleo”, that basically is about myself but I wanted Cleo to represent the woman we all have inside us – fearless, courageous, and ambitious.  The EP is very much love themed and constructed into sections, side A and a side B. side A is about falling in love and side B is pretty much about falling out of love. Each section starts out with an interlude, the first being very romantic and introducing love and the second one introducing a new chapter in my life or perhaps ending a chapter, new beginnings — which the second interlude is called. But it also has topics like following your dreams. Each song is to be interpreted as one likes.

Has your heritage influenced your music and content in any way?

Definitely. I think that might be much more evident in the second project that I have coming out later, which I already started recording last summer. The album is called ‘Neve Azul’ which means ‘Blue Snow’ in Portuguese and pays homage to the Pyrenees mountains and my Brazilian heritage. Very excited for that to come out too. But yes, all my nerding on vintage sounds and film music peaks it’s head out on Cleo, too!

Are there any other artists or producers you’re working with, who you recommend we check out?

I only have one other producer than myself on Cleo which is fellow Norwegian Fredfades. I recommend checking out other artists on my label Fresh Selects such as Braxton Crook and Kadhja Bonet. I love their music and musicianship and they inspire me a lot. Other artists are Melanie Charles, Pink Siifu, Cavalier and LIKE!

Tell us one thing we wouldn’t be able to guess about you.

Hmmm. I used to be obsessed with Guns N Roses unfortunately…


Connect with Charlotte Dos Santos: Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud

Evangeline Elder

Evangeline Elder is an Oakland-based writer who enjoys absolutely nothing. Just kidding (sort of).