Lonely C is not so lonely lately. While Charles Levine aka Lonely C’s work on his debut solo album Charles & Tribulations meant spending time apart from his Soul Clap partner Eli Goldstein, it was a chance for him to connect not only with new musicians, but to reconnect with himself.

Charles & Tribulations was written and recorded over five years of challenges and complications, questions of identity, love and relationships, and the highs and lows of touring, all while trying to find balance throughout the process. The completion of the album has offered Lonely C a chance to reflect on his personal story in the way he knows best: through music.

His touch is on every aspect of the album; as a vocalist, programmer, arranger and instrumentalist, Lonely C has taken complete creative control of this passion-filled project. Creative control means knowing when to open the door too, and guest artists Morgan Wiley, Kendra Foster, Greg Paulus, Sa’D “The Hourchild” Ali and Caito Sanchez each brought something special to complete the album through a shared love for its message and sound.

With a half-decade of experiences captured in the words, emotions, and rhythms of Charles & Tribulations, Lonely C is feeling free and flowing, and ready to bring on what’s next. It was a pleasure to catch up with him to learn more, as he continues to follow the music into the future.

What are you feeling now that you have completed Charles & Tribulations and it’s ready to release to the world?

I’m feeling GREAT! This has been such an awesome (albeit sometimes nervous) process. I’ve had a ton of support from friends and loved ones and a super-force team of musicians around me to make it possible. A lot of these songs have been sitting on various drives dating way back to the early Soul Clap touring days. They were either passed on for Soul Clap or I held back because the sound was too different or the content too personal. In that way, having so much material that I really dig that was incomplete has felt a bit creatively constipated… But now that this stuff is done and sounding amazing, I’m free and flowing again.

Do you feel that the album creation process is also reflected in your experiences throughout other areas of your life?

Absolutely, that is why I called this album Charles & Tribulations. This body of music follows me as I’ve lived and grown. There have been sweeping ups and downs in and outside of my music career. Relationships have grown and wilted, dear friends have passed, life has thrown its share of curve balls and that is the experience I’ve had and the real/true content that has made its way into the sounds on this album.

Music has shown me the world and from seeing the world with my own eyes I can tell you that people are inherently the same everywhere you go. We all need love, we all need food and water. We are human and we are each other’s brothers and sisters.

Are there ways that you have changed personally, and musically, since you began the album?

Because this album actually began in 2010/11, I’ve changed immensely as a person and as an artist, DJ, musician, songwriter, producer, arranger, the works. I’ve grown in all those areas. It’s funny because the “Lonely C” persona really emerged during some dark times in the past and now, I can look back with perspective because I’m in such a good, loving and supportive place in my personal life. It’s as though I’m no longer Lonely C in a traditionally lonely way. But we also joke about Lonely C because this is without my partner Eli in Soul Clap who I’ve worked with for over 20 years. It’s all love though, we’ve got some great Soul Clap projects in the pipeline at the moment!

What were the greatest challenges you faced, personally and musically, during the creation of this album? Can you share some of the ways that these challenges have helped you in the long run?

Creating the music was a wonderful challenge, finishing the music with the help of Morgan Wiley, Kendra Foster, Sa’D “The Hourchild” Ali (RIP), Caito Sanchez, Jonathan Kreinik the mix engineer and Joe Lambert the mastering engineer and more, that was also the fun part. The challenge really came working with my manager to figure out where would this album get released and then trying to find the right publicist (which we eventually did in the form of Sharon Andrews who is incredible) and then following all the steps to get the thing out. It’s funny, having some great music is only the very beginning! Then of course there was the process of turning the whole album into a live show, luckily there I once again had help from some real pros who (Morgan and Caito) who knew exactly how to do what I was trying to do.

While the album is obviously very close to your personal emotions and experiences, you have some wonderful collaborations with other artists as well. Can you share some thoughts on the process of working with others to tell your personal story?

In terms of the music and melodies, musicians like Morgan and Caito and Sa’D and Greg Paulus did their own thing but to the tune of the theme of the music and my story within the songs. Then when we brought in Kendra Foster it was still my music, but it became HER songs, and her story. I am SO confident in Kendra as a musical force and a songwriter and a singer, I just sat back and let her shine, it was a thrill.



The High Life: Originally published inside #5Mag168 with Detroit Swindle, Faze Action, Lonely C (Soul Clap), gear, vintage synths, new music and more. Help support 5 Mag by becoming a member for just $1 per issue.



When collaborating with others, what are the biggest differences to you between your own productions and your work with Soul Clap?

I think when doing Soul Clap there is a certain balance that needs to be met to be able to move forward, like we both need to sign off on something. With this project it moved much quicker. Morgan Wiley who co-produced with me is so used to working with many musicians, often balancing many projects at the same time, he knows how to maintain very positive and supportive and effective, seeing the possibility in ideas that haven’t entirely formed yet. Like he can’t hear the very beginning of an idea and see how it could develop down the line. So I could have the ultimate yay or nay because it is my album, but at the same time working with someone like Kendra Foster, I know how to back off and just let her shine. I really enjoyed this process and collaborating with these folks. There was so much laughter and fun, it was like a awesome party that yielded a great record.

What are you most proud of as a musician? What about in your career?

Every once in a while I’ll go back to older projects and listen. Sometimes in the moment you work so hard on a piece that it seems to lose its charm, but then you listen way down the line and it makes you smile. I’m really proud of Soul Clap, achieving what seemed impossible at the time which was to make it in this industry coming from Boston. I’m also very proud of all the Crew Love artists and everyone that has passed through the Marcy Hotel over the years. It’s been incredible to connect with Chuck Fishman and Sa’D Ali and folks on the Parliament-Funkadelic side of things. This career has had many twists and turns so to date and feels far from over!

Were there any times when you felt you needed to take a step back from the music, or the music industry? If so, what helped bring you back?

Absolutely, there have been moments where it’s just felt like too much! I wanted to go live in the mountains and live like a monk, just to get some peace and quiet. I think those were moments where when my personal life didn’t have any balance. Now that I’ve got more of a routine at home, more rest (sleep is so darn key) and an incredible girlfriend who is an artist in her own right, there is a lot of support and creative flow. This is exactly the combination that I need when my head starts spinning to say ok, take a deep breath and get back to it! Oh, not to be forgotten, we’ve got the best dog too, a few sloppy licks from him and I’m ready to rock-n-roll!

The hands-on work with in the studio is obviously something that is important to you. What do you think is the most valuable part of working with music physically instead of just digitally?

I have my way of doing things, but everyone does their thing a little bit different. Some folks are in the box entirely but what’s most important is the outcome. Is it rockin? Is it different? Is it funky? Does it have a vibe? If so that is the greatest value.

What helps you the most when you’re feeling stuck creatively?

Sometimes you gotta just walk out the door and move your body around. Other times you gotta power through and keep on pluggin. Back to the dog, you know the song “Break 4 Love” by Raze? I’ve got my flip, I start singing “Break 4 dogs”… and our dog comes into the studio and wags his tale and gives me the look. We mess around a bit and then I’m like ok, I’m covered in dog hair, time to get back to it!

What is the most important role that music has played, and/or continues to play, in your life?

Music has shown me the world and from seeing the world with my own eyes I can tell you that people are inherently the same everywhere you go. We all need love, we all need food and water. We are human and we are each other’s brothers and sisters.

Can you give us a hint of what’s coming up next for you?

Well from here I’ll be doing some DJ touring and also touring with my Lonely C band in which I’m singing, playing guitar and synths/keyboards, Morgan Wiley (who co-produced the Lonely C album with me) on synths/keyboards and vocoder, Caito Sanchez on back up vocals, guitar and percussion and Lollise on vocals. Also I’ve created a sample pack for Splice that features samples and sounds directly from or inspired by the album. Then on the Soul Clap tip, we’ve finished a remix for Louie Vega of a song he did with Anane and the legendary Patrick Adams called Rebel Nation. Also Eli and I have been in the studio working on new Soul Clap material including some incredible stuff with Lori Lava of Sha-Lor fame, no release date yet on this stuff but it is hot hot hot!

Charles & Tribulations is out now on Soul Clap Records.

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