Interview: ‘Sleepless Dreamer’ Pearl Charles Releases Debut Album
Pearl Charles

Pearl Charles lets the desert be her guide. The California native often returns to Joshua Tree, where she finds inspiration, connection to nature, canyon adventures, sunrises and sunsets.

The singer’s full-length debut album, Sleepless Dreamer, out this Friday, February 2, documents late night revelries, love affairs, and California escapades in LA and wherever the road takes her. Through these experiences and her songwriting, Charles seeks to find meaning and understanding about life and herself, while learning to embrace her identity and artistic vision.

Influenced by the soundtrack of the oldies, Sleepless Dreamer showcases Charles’ soft, soulful vocals paired with classic Americana and rock & roll arrangements, as she captures this time capsule of navigating her early 20s and reaching her quarter-life milestone.

Charles stopped by the COLLiDE office to talk about her connection to Joshua Tree, recording the new album and what’s missing in the dating world today. Sleepless Dreamer is out now. 

Culture Collide: You have a close connection to Joshua Tree, how was it playing out there for Desert Daze this past fall? 
Pearl Charles: It’s a very special place to me. My mom has a house there, so I’ve been going out there for a very long time. Desert Daze was a really cool performance because we were in a tent and it was really intimate. People were sitting on the ground and it was totally packed. People were so attentive and responsive to the songs, it felt more like a listening room environment which you wouldn’t expect at a festival.

Do you get out to Joshua Tree often?
PC: I’m literally planning a trip as we speak. I try to go as often as possible. At the end of our tour this year, we’ll be playing at Pappy and Harriet’s which will be the homecoming show on March 23rd.

Love Pappy and Harriet’s, and it’s not that far away.
PC: That’s why I love California so much, especially L.A. There’s so many things within a few hours, so many different environments. Even within the city, there’s so many hikes and things.

Do you have a favorite area in Joshua Tree you like to go when you’re there?
PC: I love everything out there: the Integratron, everything is so magical. I like going down to Palm Springs. I really like daytripping and thrifting. The thrifting in Palm Springs is really good.

Any specific spots you like to go?
PC: There’s some really good vintage stores. There’s a store called The End and a store called Hoof & The Horn, and then there’s some more deep cut thrifts that you have to go find.

You’ve spanned the 60s-80s with your music, are the 90s next?
PC: It’s funny because I was born in 1991, and I heard that music on the radio growing up but I always gravitated towards the oldies station. Now the songs they play on the oldies stations are more recent which is a shame. But there is a new AM radio station in L.A. that plays real oldies which is really cool. It’s called KSUR (1260AM). It’s so worth tuning into. A good 50s, 60s radio station.

What have been some of your biggest influences?
PC: People like Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle who are both about being present. That’s been a huge influence on me outside of music, but I’ve found so much inspiration in that to take into music, that they are deeply connected. That’s definitely the biggest one spirituality wise and just for life philosophy.

Who are you into right now?
PC: I’ve been listening to a lot of Todd Rundgren and discovering things about him that I didn’t know. I know his songs and his hits, but digging deeper into his albums and finding out that he played everything on Something/Anything? and then finding out that he produced Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell, and all this background on him – personal life aside which is also really crazy and interesting. That’s something I’ve been really inspired by recently.

If you could record with anyone living or dead who would it be?
PC: That’s so tough, there’s so many people living or dead. I feel this could change at any given time, but the first thing that came to mind was in the 80s when Jeff Lynne was producing all of the Traveling Wilburys (Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty) albums. It would be really cool to do an 80s Jeff Lynne song.

Describe the recording process for the debut album in one word:
PC: There’s more than one word that comes to mind. The first word that came to mind is long. The second is rewarding. The third is fruitful. When I say ‘long’ it doesn’t sound grateful and I’m actually incredible grateful that I was able to have that experience, it was so worth it. I wish I could do it all the time. It was a magical process.

What does your new record Sleepless Dreamer, symbolize to you?
PC: I don’t have any tattoos but I imagine a tattoo like a moment in time. Whatever it meant to you then, that meaning might change but it will always be that moment. And I think that way about an album, it’s kind of like a tattoo in that sense, coming from someone who doesn’t have any tattoos (laughs), but it will always represent that time. One this record, some of the first songs I ever thought about form years ago, some are now being represented here. At the same time, songs that I wrote a month or two before, or just a couple weeks before, all made it on there. So to me it represents everything up until this point in my life. I’m 26 so it’s the quarter life representation. Whatever the next record will be, will be something completely new because it will be after this experience of releasing these songs and this record.

Your single “All The Boys” laments about ‘guys all being the same.’ What’s the most frustrating thing about love and dating today?
PC: I think that communication is an issue. People seem to prefer to not say how they’re really feeling, which I think would ease a lot of stress for all parties. Obviously this is not the biggest issue in dating today, there are others that are far more pressing, but in terms of what the song is about. In general, communication can help on all fronts, that’s my two cents on that.

What’s next?
PC: Sleepless Dreamer comes out this Friday, and then we’re going on tour starting on Valentines Day. Then going to SXSW, and then playing our homecoming show at Pappy and Harriets on March 23rd. Then just keep hitting the road.

FEB 01 – The Echo, Los Angeles, CA
FEB 14 – Soda Bar, San Diego, CA
FEB 15 – The Crepe Place, Santa Cruz, CA
FEB 20 – Bunk Bar, Portland, OR
FEB 21 – Chop Suey, Seattle, WA
FEB 24 – The Bartlett, Spokane, WA
FEB 25 – The Olympic Venue, Boise, ID
FEB 26 – Kilby Court, Salt Lake City, UT
FEB 28 – Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, Denver, CO
MAR 14-18 – SXSW, Austin, TX
MAR 21 – Club Congress, Tucson, AZ
MAR 23 – Pappy & Harriet’s, Pioneertown, CA

photo by: Gigie Hall