No Home (aka Charlotte Valentine) is the artist behind the rough, raw hello, this is exploitation. She was kind enough to chat with us.
You are often directly critical of capitalism, extreme wealth and other inequities in your music. How can art help rebalance the scales?
I think, when you ask how artists can rebalance the scales, the problem is they can't. I think the real solution is, how can non-artists rebalance the scales for everyone to have their share of the cake, if you know what I mean? Artists can comment on the times, be educators, catalysts in revolutions, solutions and political change — but honestly, the political class don't take artists seriously unless they want some cool points. See Brit Pop and Blair.
You mention Kate Bush as an influence for hello, this is exploitation. Is there still a place in the charts for outsiders like her?
Kate Bush was "classic" in the way that is a very typically British, middle-class aesthetic. Singing about Wuthering Heights in a song and being a solo producer with your own ideas. To me, she's so interesting, as the way people talk about Kate Bush and her music, and how ‘weird’ it was at the time it came out reminds me of the way they would talk about an independent record label artist today — but she was on EMI.
Maybe her contemporary descendent is Billie Eilish, and I'm just missing the wave — but yes, I think there is space for it. Probably more so in independent music, rather than major labels — I just think to do what she did is to unburden yourself as an artist with what is cool, and just burrow a space in your own timeline to continuously recreate yourself. Maybe it's Annie Clark / St. Vincent, or Florence Welch who is the closest comparison today?
Your releases are usually short, three-or-four track EPs. Is this a conscious decision?
My releases to date have been short EPs, because at first I was trying to figure it out sonically. I've been trying on different suits, if you know what I mean. Last year I finished my first album to the point of very little tweaks, and that took like over a year to do. I sort of burned out and then hello, this is exploitation was a suggestion from a friend to put something out to fill the gap, so really this EP is pretty new.
I never really came in with a plan, but I went to this job interview at one of these big British fashion houses and they wanted a trainee designer for £17k per annum, and I remember texting my best friend, ‘hello, this is exploitation!’ and the idea came from there. Also I wanted to put something out on tape.
In the days since streaming came in, how do you think people's listening habits have changed?
I think people are a bit more skeptical of streaming services now than, like, 5 years ago. People are free to use whatever they want, but I also think that people also need to be aware that musicians (unless like popstars on majors — probably even them too) are not making a lot of money.
How do you think the country has changed recently?
I don't think it has much, except for people being a bit more brazen in public with racism, but that's always been there. I think the British press are so much more in control of this xenophobia than they pretend, and you have to take a lot of things that they say with a pinch of salt. Like ‘why are they covering that event, when they should be against it? What does this add to this specific narrative?’ etc., etc..
Are there any artists in your scene or area you'd like to shout out?
Big Joanie, Secret Power, Shopping, Rachel Aggs in general. In the US, Priests and Downtown Boys who are continuously amazing.
What instruments / equipment do you record on?
My set up is so basic. Grimes did this post on tumblr back in the day and I really just bought a lot of the stuff on it. For pedals I have a Big Muff Pi, a Boss CE 2 and a Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander which I think is space sounding. I originally bought it to sound like an organ but it sorta doesn't and is still fun. And most of the time it's me and my Fender Squier Telecaster with a basic version of Ableton and pressing the keys on my laptop keyboard.
hello, this is exploitation is available for streaming and purchase here.
Interview by Andrew O’Keefe