Fresh on the Leeds scene, Neo-soul singer-songwriter August Charles is a name that is soon to be on the lips of industry heads and fans alike. August sits down with rapper and friend Yusuf Yellow to discuss how music is an opportunity for self-expression, escapism and self-exploration.
During 2020, August Charles blessed us with two singles: ‘take me away’ and ‘something new’. These introspective tracks are a raw and powerful display of his storytelling ability and emotional vulnerability.
Although this artist has the presence and mindset of someone pursuing the craft their whole life, August had no intention of being an artist at all. He would only write for himself, using the medium to express and process his inner contemplations. Lucky for us, August came to a point where releasing music made sense.
Now, imagine walking into an art gallery: you quietly observe the different pieces, noticing one you like. You walk over to the painting, spend some time contemplating the artist’s intentions, decide on what your interpretation is and then move on. To an extent, this is how August wishes people would approach his music. He mentions, “Over time, one thing that’s lost is the idea of music as an art form.” August feels that audiences often expect an explanation and some context given whenever a song is released. Yet, the meaning of a song is very personal to him, and his wish is for the audience to form personal associations. From an artist’s perspective, this reaffirms how music and art plays a multitude of roles depending on when a listener approaches it and how it relates to the narrative of their life.
Yet, with August’s new single ‘blessed’, (released September 10th) he felt a need to give more context to the listener. The song is a heartfelt tale about his relationship with his mother he adores but has felt a lack of emotional connection with while growing up. He stated that the song “Is almost a cry out to express things that have happened in the past”.
“Growing up, I was forever in my head and never really had an outlet or anyone to talk to about these things”. August has found an outlet through his writing, which has led to such emotionally charged music. He stated that there will also be a music video coming for this single that will visually express the feelings he shared in the song.
This Summer, August found himself at Tramlines Festival - his first festival experience since Covid restrictions lifted. Amongst 60,000 people, August brought an unmatched energy to the stage with his band. The band immerse themselves in the music, completely uninhibited and treating the stage as a rehearsal room. On stage, August feels like he’s a different person, almost shutting off his normal personality and letting the music take him wherever it may. When he gets off stage, it’s almost as if he’s waking up from the trance of performing.
One of the other beauties of music, aside from the internal journey it takes you on, is the opportunity it gives you to share and merge ideas with other creatives. August mentions that his first two singles were made in lockdown over the internet, meaning there wasn’t much flexibility to merge ideas creatively.
August is now working on an exciting project with his band, allowing him to express a whole different side to his music. This first body of work also combines the emotions and ideas of multiple people.
August will be making a significant impact on the Leeds scene over the next few years. You’d be a fool not to check out his music and go and see him perform live. This has been Yusuf Yellow, peace and love to everyone reading, make sure you stay hydrated.
Words by Joseph Alhallak
Images by Rasha Kotaiche