Spotlight // Pearl Charles
Among her close friends, sixties psychedelic rock goddess Janis Joplin was known as “Pearl.” It seems quite apropos that this also happens to be the moniker for musician/actress/model Pearl Charles. The So Cal-bred multi-hyphenate, who previously played drums in Los Angeles’ lo-fi indie pop outfit The Blank Tapes, has recently been fronting her own band, Pearl and the Pipes Canyon Band. A quintessential bohemian babe, Pearl has also acted as a muse for Urban Outfitter’s #UOOY campaign, which chooses individuals to act as both stylist and model by choosing pieces from the retailer in combination with favorites from their own closet. And even more recently, she’s been following up a recent spot on hit show Parks and Recreation by auditioning for more acting gigs. Somehow, Pearl managed to make some time to talk to us about transitioning to a front woman, her style icons, and why life as a California girl rules.
Musically speaking, how is Pearl and the Pipes Canyon Band different from The Blank Tapes? It’s like a fun girl band. So far there’s just me and a good girlfriend and we swap out guys playing lead guitar. They’re my songs and it still has my flavor but we’re getting their licks on it. Nothing has been recorded yet but there’s a lot of straight up country — that’s how I got started — and more sixties stuff. It’s a little bit darker than The Blank Tapes.
Has it been a tough transition going from behind the drum kit to having all the attention on you? Or have you always loved performing for people? When I first started doing music, it was my band. But in college I met my band mate and took a backseat. I started playing guitar and then when I met [The Blank Tapes’ singer] Matt he pushed me to learn drums. Physically, I’m more exposed now, which in itself is more pressure. I’ve always been good at promoting these other guys so it’s weird to now be doing it for myself.
What’s your songwriting process like? My friend Malcolm of The Dough Rollers and I have been writing together. We throw out ideas and see what sticks — after a night of maybe lesser ideas! Creative minds can run a mile a minute so sometimes I’ll put a tape in the recorder and leave it running. Otherwise you might lose those ideas. Other times I might just wake up from a dream with something in my head.
You’ve toured all over the state. What are some of your favorite spots to hit on the left coast? It doesn’t get any better than Big Sur. When I can, I love to hit the hot springs there. Then there’s a great flea market in Pioneertown with an amazing boot store. Just checking out all of the junk, art, and weird stuff.
You’ve got great personal style. Who’s wardrobe from all of history would you want to raid? Oh man! Probably Twiggy or Francoise Hardy. All those sixties Mod babes. Or Grace Slick and Janis Joplin. I’m also really inspired by George Harrison and Jimi Hendrix, but a girl version. Paisley, furs, all the wild stuff. I have an exaggerated style but trust me, I’m still in the modern world! I’m happy to live in a world where you get to chose what you want and what I want is to wear a lot of clothes from the sixties and seventies.
*Catch Pearl and The Pipes Canyon Band playing Farmer Dave’s Birthday Bash on May 23rd at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, California.