Charlotte plank

When NME meets Charlotte Plank via Zoom, the British-Australian artist is in the childhood bedroom where she first started recording lo-fi demos on an old mic and laptop. Behind her, a photo wall of her biggest musical inspirations – ranging from Fleetwood Mac and Sam Fender to The Prodigy’s Keith Flint, Orbital and Bicep – paints a picture of an artist unbound by traditional sonic conventions.

Plank’s approach to her music offers a halfway point between traditional drum ‘n’ bass and the TikTok-grown, pop-leaning version of the genre that’s dominating Gen Z playlists right now. The 21-year-old’s three singles to date fuse fast-paced production and indie ambition, yet at the core of each track is a pure love of drum’n’bass. “Drum ‘n’ bass will always have a special place in my heart,” Plank says. “Ever since I discovered acts like Hybrid Minds and started going to festivals and raves, I have wanted to find a way to sprinkle that [energy] into my music.”

Unlike some dance tracks, which Plank feels “can be quite generic story-wise”, she weaves compelling narratives into her music for people to connect with. “I can’t fully relate to something if it hasn’t come from the heart,” she says, adding that her lyrical inspiration is drawn from her own experiences. Take the instantly-memorable ‘Lost Boys’, which touches on the conversation around men’s mental health. New single ‘L.S.D. (Love So Damaged)’, meanwhile, dissects the hardship of being stuck in a toxic relationship over jungle breaks and a high-tempo chorus.

Here, Plank talks to NME about her upbringing, the importance of community, and her mission to bring underground into the mainstream.

How did music help when you were growing up? 

“I was shy, so music was my place to say things I wouldn’t necessarily be able to talk about. It was my saving grace. I was always away with the fairies; my mates would say ‘Plank’s just in her own world’. But because people respected me for my music and the hustle, it made people see that there’s more going on under the surface.

“Then when my mates were going to university, near the end of college, I felt a bit lost. I forgot who I was, but having time alone during lockdown helped me find myself and my sound again – and I realised what I’m supposed to be doing. It sounds cringe, but it genuinely was a time of growth and self-realisation.

“[My career] has been a whirlwind. This time last year I was doing night shifts at M&S then going to the studio in the day. That’s the thing with music; when you’re starting out, you’re broke so you have to do something else. My 2022 New Year’s resolution was to make [music] work and leave my job…”

Were you nervous to take the leap and pursue music full-time? 

“It was the stressful feeling of like, ‘What am I going to do?’. Sometimes music can feel like an unrealistic pipe dream. I was still working up until I got signed and then thought, because I had the means and knew I’d be in the studio everyday, I obviously wouldn’t have time to do shifts. I was doing it until I had a plan; I couldn’t afford to take a leap until then.

“I came out at Rudimental’s sold-out Brixton gig then the next day I had a shift at M&S. That crossover period was weird; I was like, ‘I performed at Brixton Academy last night, now I’m off to stack some shelves’. It was a Hannah Montana-type situation. My manager threw me in the deep end; I’d been doing clubs, pubs and rave-y gigs but nothing on that level.”

Charlotte plank
Credit: Press

Your music fuses indie, dance, grunge and pop.  Where does that varied musical DNA come from? 

“My mum and dad met in Australia during the early ’90s rave scene. My uncle was a big DJ over there for 17 years, too, and he knew Carl Cox, so that kind of music was drilled into me. But also, when I was younger, I remember my mum bringing her old uni mixtapes when we’d go camping, so Nirvana’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ stuck with me, and The Cure and Edie Brickell.

“My music is rave-y but there’s also the indie influences, and I think that’s where [the genre-blending] started. All these sounds were accessible to me from a young age, and as I’ve got older I’ve found Grimes, Four Tet and PinkPantheress.

“When I was working on my first three tracks, I wanted to find a way to fuse all my different influences. I thought, ‘How can I do this but in my own unique way and cut through the noise a bit?’. I think magic happens when you’re doing something different which is also true to you.”

Why is it important for you to bring communities from different scenes together? 

“My music tries to build a bridge between the underground and the mainstream pop world. ‘Lost Boys’ is more indie, while ‘L.S.D’ is harder drum ‘n’ bass. My new stuff will show the sound is evolving. It’s party music for sad people; songs to see you through from the commute to the rave – [my music] goes off live but you can also listen to it on your own. Music for all times of day, all types of people and different moods.”

“My music tries to build a bridge between the underground and the mainstream pop world”

How has social media and connecting with other artists online helped your career?

“At the beginning I was so bad at TikTok and filming myself, but now I’m way more comfortable. It’s a great platform because you can tap into so many different communities that you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise. Seeing people use the sound for ‘Hate Me’ was crazy. Because I have imposter syndrome, I sometimes think ‘Is [my music] really that good? Am I good enough?’. So that gratification was great for my self-belief.”

Charlotte plank
Credit: Press

You’re a member of Loud LDN, alongside Piri and Venbee – what does the collective mean to you? 

“In music, it can get quite lonely. Obviously we’ve all got mates but if you’re not in music you don’t fully get it. As I’ve been in sessions basically every day for the last year, I’ve not seen my mates much. So it’s nice to have the girls there, to just talk music. We’re all new to [music], and sometimes you can be taken advantage of or not know if something is normal. It’s good to have a soundboard if anyone wants to vent.

“It’s exciting to see how many people have felt like they’ve needed [Loud LDN] too, and to build on our events and get people to come down and network. I want to work towards women being better represented in the music industry all round; I’ve only worked with a handful of female producers so far.”

In what way is female representation in the drum ‘n’ bass scene improving? 

“Having previously been such a male-dominated genre, it’s currently really exciting. It’s great to see some girls leading the way by making their own thing and not being overtaken by another producer. I’m excited for the summer as it’s going to continue.”

What are your main goals as an artist? 

“For people to connect with my music and love it as much as I do, and for it to take me around the world – that’s always been my dream. Also, I want to be respected as a pioneer in this new sound that I’m trying to make.”

Charlotte Plank’s new single ‘L.S.D. (Love So Damaged)’ is out now via Black Butter Records

The post Charlotte Plank: the underground star rewriting the rules of UK drum ‘n’ bass appeared first on NME.


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