Charlie Martin, one half of the Austin indie-folk outfit Hovvdy, launches his debut solo record Imaginary People today (April 30). The music video for the album’s second track, “September,” is premiering exclusively at Paste.
Imaginary People, a character-heavy work of light, fresh indie, came together from the surplus of music Martin has written both inside and outside of his partnership with Hovvdy’s other half, Will Taylor. With another Hovvdy record on the way, the time afforded to Martin by the life-halting effect of the pandemic allowed him to simultaneously create this solo work with the help of his friend and audio engineer, Evan Kaspar.
While Martin wrote a plethora of new songs specifically for Imaginary People, “September” is one ripped from a songbook from years ago. The song draws on Martin’s tendency to view his Sept. 1 birthday as a time to assess his life and progress toward his goals. While being driven and optimistic, the track deals with the pressures of trying to make it as a musician.
Martin elaborated on the lyrics to “September” in a conversation with Paste:
I feel like people in creative careers, especially something as dicey as being a musician, you put a lot of pressure on yourself to keep progressing and keep proving yourself to your family and friends, and people who are observing you and maybe having doubts [...] Really all you can do is say, “I promise, I got this! I’m gonna do it! I can do it!”
The light, warm piano heard on “September” and throughout the album comes courtesy of Charlie Martin’s mother-in-law. Martin fell in love with her 1870s Steinway grand piano years ago, and incorporating it into the album not only perfectly suited the record’s sound, but also afforded Martin and his wife their first visit with family since the pandemic began.
Martin spoke of recording the piano in his mother-in-law’s living room:
I knew that the space would lend itself well to a home studio type of setup, which is like what I’m most comfortable with anyway. I knew it would just be a dream come true to put that piano on record.
It’s just the most breathtaking instrument, and I have been playing it every chance I get since I was like 15/16. It’s a long story, but that’s when I met my wife—we have not been together that long, but that’s when we met!
The video for “September” was recorded on a farm outside of Austin, Texas, and directed by Martin’s old friend Erik Gatling. Check it out below, along with Hovvdy’s 2018 Paste Studio session, and stream Imaginary People right here.