Published Apr 04, 2019There's a line that Charlotte Cornfield has been holding onto for years, waiting for the perfect space, and it comes on "Storm Clouds," the second track from her forthcoming new album, The Shape of Your Name. "Because I waited so long," the Toronto balladeer sings, "it's gonna be that much better." When asked in interview if that feels indicative of the record's process, she grins and looks into her tea.
"Totally, totally," she tells Exclaim!. "And by no means is it over. I'm sure that a bunch of shit is going to happen, but it's definitely a personal note I put in there."
It's the release day for "Silver Civic" — the third anticipatory single from the album, also her third — and Cornfield is taking a break from running social media tasks to chat about the process that brought her here. She's also just announced that come July of this year, she'll be pursuing music full-time and bidding adieu to her four-year position as the booking manager at Toronto's Burdock Music Hall. It's an exciting and busy time, filled to the brim with reflection.
"I take much longer to finish songs now," she says regarding the three years and five recording sessions that birthed The Shape of Your Name. "I like to let them sit and simmer for awhile. I've learned that it's okay to wait until like a light bulb goes off and I know where to take the sections. There is less franticness."
When she reflects on the highlights of recording, the songwriter is drawn to instances of spontaneity, often brought on by the suggestions of her collaborators. Album opener "June" wasn't set to be on the record, but when Cornfield's producer overheard her playing the unfinished track, he convinced her to try it.
"We recorded it in a couple of takes and then spent the next day working on it — so unexpected."
The album is speckled with moments like this, brought on in part by the pressure of recording during a residency at The Banff Centre.
"I didn't realize before I went to Banff that we were going to have so much time in the studio. I was getting up at 7 every morning to finish songs before going in to record them a few hours later." This led to moments of experimentation in the space. "When I tried to record 'Silver Civic,' I did an initial version and then I thought, 'I wanna get the full band,' and I tried it a couple more times, but in the end the demo version had the emotion that I wanted."
Embracing the unexpected, but taking the time to form those moments into reflectiveness, served not only as the foundation for the recording of The Shape of Your Name, but also speaks to the thematic intention behind it.
"Buried underneath are themes of space and reflectiveness, just exploring in the studio and working with time and space instead of being like, 'Get in there, make something, record it quickly and finish.' And looking back at experiences that have shaped who I am now."
Periods of isolation, movie obsessions, Neil Young and four years at the Burdock Music Hall — for which Cornfield is very grateful — have all played parts in shaping both the release and Cornfield herself. She pulls influences from all around her.
"I think there's a longing element to my life where a lot of things have happened super quickly, but I feel like I've landed in a much more calm, confident, and settled place," she explains.
"It takes a while to get there, and there are always going to be bumps and scratches along the way."
The Shape of Your Name is out April 5 via Next Door Records.