Despite her tender age, Charmaine has in fact been writing songs for almost a decade, starting when she was just seven years old. At nine, she secured a role alongside Ariana Grande on Nickelodeon series Victorious. Don’t let this put you off, though; her mature yet addictive sound far exceeds the output of most kids’ TV alumni – so much so that cult Generation Z rapper cupcakKe hopped on 2018 single “Bitter Chocolate” for a signature tongue-in-cheek feature.
New track “happy birthday” sees Charmaine embace another side of her chameleonic sound, setting her crystal clear pop vocal against a dark, distorted backdrop. Think Sucker-era Charli XCX meets the hyper-pop of Slayyyter. Lyrically, it’s a revenge song, the story of which Charmaine elucidates for us in a single sentence:
“It’s about an angry girlfriend who goes through her boyfriend’s phone and finds some shit she doesn’t like, so she decides to completely crash and fuck up his birthday party and dump him.”
While its storyline might be simple, as Charmaine breaks down the creation of “happy birthday” it appears that the song took a lot more time to come together than its polished final form might indicate:
“I initially wrote ‘happy birthday’ in 2017,” she explains. “It was one of four songs I started with my producer PJ Bianco and co-writer Myah Marie Langston. It started off super indie and we had a great time writing it. We laid the vocals, but then I got super busy with performances and had to go MIA on the song for a while. When I came back to it, we had already released the other three songs we did – ‘Cherries’, ‘Not Really’, and ‘June’. By early 2018, I had started to feel the version we had was a little too pop for where I was wanting to go and needed a bit of remixing. At the time, I was just starting to work on “Ashes” with Rocky Lynch (from The Driver Era), which ended up having this great indie R&B feel. We discussed him taking a stab at making the song feel more indie and urban.
“It took a lot of trial and error to smoothly mix what PJ had already done with what Rocky was adding in, the after months of working on it, I went back in the studio, rewrote some things here and there and re-recorded the vocals. In the original mix of this song, I had a cool-ass bridge where I twisted Lesly Gore’s famous line ‘it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’ to ‘it’s your party and you’re crying cause I want you to’. I’m really happy with what the song ended up being though, and I’m excited for everyone to hear it finally!”
Charmaine – who has recently toured with reality star turned rapper Bhad Bhabie – has also enlisted Kim Petras collaborator lil aaron for a feature slot on forthcoming EP don’t leave me, the record from which “happy birthday” has been taken. Due out 3 May, the EP features “happy birthday” and the aforementioned “ashes” alongside five new tracks.