If a job in television popped up, I wouldn’t even have to think twice about taking it. My love of that form of entertainment is larger than my emotional attachment to most people in my life. That’s why I was drawn to Charise “Lake Lady” Sowells. She started out in one and later found herself in the other. Along the way that “Lake Lady” part of her was bred out of a concept for a persona she took while on stage, but it quickly landed as a nickname. Now we’ll get right to it from this songstress, from her latest album Better Day, to her unique soul meets electronic sound.
Kendra: You had an extensive career in TV and film before you started in music, what made you want to take this new musical route with your life and career?
Charise “Lake Lady” Sowells: I actually grew up doing theater and music (choir, band and orchestra – sax and flute) and began writing songs after switching from Musical Theater to Creative Writing at Orange County School of the Arts. I performed my music acapella at first and then with my guitar. At 16, my mom agreed to buy me a tascam 4-track recorder, a mic and a set of headphones so I could begin recording my songs with lots of harmonies. One year later, I was recording R&B, spoken word and Drum & Bass with producers in LA.
When I applied to college, I was accepted into Berklee College of Music for voice but I was drawn to New York and NYU Tisch offered me a better scholarship so I went with the Dramatic Writing program there. To balance my interests throughout college, I worked towards a minor in voice, interned at record labels, and performed solo, in bands, and a hip hop group. I also assisted a couple of artist managers and continued writing and recording music on my own and with others. So, I may focus on one medium more than the other at different times but Film, TV, Theater and Music have all been a big part of my life.
Kendra: You have this soul meets modern electronic sound. What made you want to intertwine the two genres?
Charise: More than anything, I tune into what the song I’m writing calls for and find a way to make that happen.
Kendra: People can hear them on your EP, which dropped back on March 25. When you were creating Better Day, did you have an endgame in mind or did it all flow sort of naturally and come together in a more organic way?
Charise: This is a collection of songs that emerged over the course of a few years. I set them aside while focusing on other music projects because I wanted to do something different with them but I hadn’t quite put my finger on it yet. In beginning to explore beat production on a deeper level for the duo I had at the time, I realized that the electronic element was what I wanted for these songs. So I began producing demos for them and the response was really positive. It was a very organic process.
Kendra: I say natural and organic because I can’t stop thinking of your “Will He Ever Come” video. Did your background in film help with the making of?
Charise: It definitely did. That was an ambitious video for a self-funded indie artist like myself and it was such a thrill seeing my vision come to fruition largely due to the years of experience I have in production.
Kendra: You also have another stellar song, “All Over This Town.” It made me want to ask about touring. What’s one city you hope to play in the next year? More for the fact that you can wander and explore while there?
Charise: Venezia, Italia. I’ve been in love with that city for as long as I can remember and when I finally visited for the first time, I only had a day to spend there. So, my goal is to go back on a European tour.
Kendra: If you had to make a morale for someone to ensure they’d have a Better Day, what five songs would have to be on it?
Charise: Besides the 5 songs on my EP, Better Day? Haha, I’d have to say:
“Dog Days Are Over” – Florence and the Machine
“J’y Suis Jamais Alle” – Yann Tiersen
“Sun Is Shining” – Bob Marley
“My Way” – Frank Sinatra
“Dress” – PJ Harvey