On The Record: Charity Children

For those who haven’t heard of Charity Children, who are you and what is your music about?

We are a band who started out playing music as a couple on the streets of Berlin on a drunken whim 10 years ago, in a city we had just moved to where we knew no one and no one knew us. People started to stop and listen and ask us what our band name was, we didn’t have one- we didn’t think we were a band or we were worthy of a name as we’d both never played music for people before then. We were filmmakers and actors back home in New Zealand who moved to Berlin pretty impulsively.Over the following five years, we collected bandmates and collaborators, played street music on many Berlin corners and parks and toured around Europe playing festivals and shows. We directed, produced and acted in all our music videos, as we still do. We made two previous albums and then dramatically, on the release of our second album ‘Fabel’, we broke up, and so did the band. We took a year to find peace with ourselves and each other again and then started to slowly write what would become this album, ‘Almost Young’. We would call our music ‘eclectic-pop’ – it’s colourful and represents a wide range of different moods and pop-styles. It’s unashamedly exaggerated on one track, then delicate and precise the next. Often flamboyant, sometimes shy. Ironic, then mindless, then despairingly earnest. We like to make albums that reflect the spectrum of our experiences and we’re certainly not people defined by one mood. No one is. Some may say it’s all over the place- but our music tries to embrace the bi-polarity of one’s existence.

The name ‘Charity Children’ comes from an Oscar Wilde children’s story called ‘The Happy Prince’. It comes right at the beginning of the story when the ‘Charity Children’ are looking at the beautiful gilded statue of the happy prince-“He looks just like an angel,” said the Charity Children as they came out of the cathedral in their bright scarlet cloaks and their clean white pinafores.”How do you know?” said the Mathematical Master, “you have never seen one.””Ah! but we have, in our dreams,” answered the children; and the Mathematical Master frowned and looked very severe, for he did not approve of children dreaming.


We read that passage when we were trying to come up with a name for the band when playing on the streets all those years ago. The characters in the story seemed pretty familiar to us as we were dreamers back then – probably still are- so we decided to name ourselves after them.

We recently featured your performance video of ‘My Alchemy’, is this really one of your last times playing music together?

Indeed. For this album we decided against touring. In these pandemic times touring is so unpredictable and we’ve seen so many of our friend’s tours being repeatedly postponed or cancelled – which is pretty soul crushing. The live aspect of this album also wasn’t the priority. We were always fundamentally a live band who would also record albums and for this one we wanted to instead create something entirely in the studio. Although, in the end, we couldn’t help ourselves and decided to choose 6 songs off the album to film live videos for. We hadn’t played live together in 5 years so it was a real trip to do it again- these videos will act as the last record of us playing live together and will be called the ‘Almost Young Sessions’. We’ll be releasing all of them over the next few months.


Why did you decide to release a final album?

We were left with a pretty sour taste in our mouths the way the band ended five years ago. Because, as hard as it had become for us, due to our relationship ending and personal issues as well as the pressure from external companies in the music industry, it had, once upon a time, been something so truly simple, pure, fun and honest. Two young kids screaming their pain and pleasure away on the streets. 


In the years following our break-up we began to heal. First as individuals, then together. The years passed by- we grew up, we grew down, but somehow we never grew apart. We eventually realised that we couldn’t let the project end the way it had – there was another ending left to tell.
There were other catalysts which lead us to decide to make this album too, some pretty heavy ones actually – such as Elliott’s mum being killed in a boat accident and the following year the two of us being in a car accident together. We were faced with the fragility of mortality pretty head on and really supported each other through these hard years. The album is a celebration of life, of reconciliation, written for the ones we’ve lost and written to the friends and lovers we’ve met along the way. 


What do you hope that listeners take away from the Almost Young LP?

This album is a very personal one to us, probably our most personal. It’s basically the musical of our lives from the past five years. It ticks a lot of the big life boxes- grief, heartbreak, forgiveness, despair, hopefulness. It was an album we felt compelled to make- it was a necessity for our survival, expression and a way of dealing with the harder things we were going through at the time. And although we wrote it for our own sake, because we opened ourselves up completely and inspected our own unvarnished truths it’s very likely that the stories will resonate with most listeners somehow.


‘She Still Wants You’ is one of the last pieces to fall into place, how would you describe this track?

Elliott: One of the overarching themes of the album is giving the sort of unsolicited advice to friends that you should be following yourself. ‘She Still Wants You’ is an example of this. Although clearly written to someone else in a moralising way about how that friend should be letting go of a fading love for the sake of another- I was at the time perpetrating the same sort of behaviour. It’s always easier to give advice than to take it and projecting outwards often clarifies my inward dilemmas, helping me take the advice I can so easily dish out. 


The production of the song is pretty 80’s sounding- one of the lighter, bouncier tracks on the album. We’re also about to release a music video for the song which will be our last too. It’s super ridiculous and fabulous, we can’t wait to share it.


Now that you’re going your separate ways, what projects or plans do you have for yourselves?

Elliott is going back to filmmaking and has begun planning his first feature film and Chloë is currently self-producing her solo-record for her project B O K E H, which will be out in 2022. 


For anyone reading this Q&A, do you have a final piece of unsolicited advice?


Give less of a shit about what other people think about you and your art. Try not to dance on the plains of other people’s minds.

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