Charlie was named Best Dressed Man of the Year by GQ France last year, and served as one of Jean-Paul Gaultier’s muse who built his men’s collection around his unique style. Not to mention, Charlie is currently signed by Peter Gabriel – yes that Peter Gabriel – and is well known in France.

By: Sean Keough & Ben Brûlé

Charlie Winston has been a musician from a young age.  His early years were spent in an environment that strongly encouraged expression of the heart and soul through both voice and instrumentation.  With this background he has since found a way to contribute to many aspects of musical production.  From his pursuit of jazz pianist perfection to street corner blues poetry, his path to becoming a known recording artist and performer has taken many story worthy turns. What was instilled in him in his formative years has guided well his path within the world of music, and the message shines through in his songwriting.  Be honest, have fun and learn to do what you do, well.

His ability to tap into differing genres while staying true to his unique voice is something he has been able to take full advantage of.  Coming from an improvisational background involving technical prowess of the piano, Mr. Winston has moved since to crafting songs structured in the framework of pop music.  His evolution continues, and lately it has taken him places outside of music.  Recently being recognized for developing his own unique, iconic style somewhere between modern and classic, rich and poor, he has been catching as many eyes as ears.  And as in his previous endeavours he follows his heart with what feels good.  Soon to be involved in both film and fashion Charlie Winston is an inspiring, multifaceted artist DTK Men felt honoured to sit down with to see what brings about his lust for life and how he translates it all into the beautiful things he creates.  Starting, of course, with ties.

DTK: You were recently named GQ France’s Best Dressed Man Of The Year and served as one of Jean-Paul Gaultier’s muse who built his men’s collection around your unique style. What basics should every man have in his tie collection, and is there a story behind the way you manipulate your shirt and tie?

CW: I keep a tie of each colour but I don’t use them all. I have favourites. After that it’s different patterns of whatever works. As for the tie through the shirt/jumper I just wanted to see it differently. And I wanted to wear a sweatshirt with a tie and have it seen. That’s the only way that worked for me.

DTK: It’s been a long journey since you’ve first began your music career, and you are now producing your own tracks as well as tracks for other artists under your record label. Can you recall a pop song that distinctly won you over into the genre?

CW: So many. Where can I began? Just the other day I was talking to friend and we were agreeing on the fact that pop is not a genre but a crystallization. It’s as though it take the most effective ideas of those who experiment and make them something the general populace can understand. For me, neither practice has a greater value. Snobbishness exists I pop just as it does in the most avant-garde art.

DTK: Composing music can be at times a time consuming task. What are your favourite aspects of composing music for other people? And how do you feel your approach to songwriting was influenced as a result of years aimed at becoming a jazz pianist?

CW: The reason I started to play guitar (at age 22) was because I had become too technical on the piano to write a simple song. Playing guitar gave me less options on that instrument so I put more focus on the vocal melody. I’ve always loved writing for other people. It’s a chance to imagine myself in another’s shoes, which requires listening, observing and empathy. I love practicing those three qualities.

DTK: Your newest album “Curio City” will be released in Canada this year on January 26th, tell us a little about the story behind the title?

CW: Curio City is a more introspective take on the world than previous albums I’ve made. You could say it’s my response to returning to where I lived in London (UK), having lived out of the country for four years and experiencing a rise to fame. London became a mirror for me before and after. I’ve developed and changed which is what this album illustrates.

DTK: I found your video for your newest single, “Lately” to be stunning and absolutely full of energy. How involved are you in the process of choreographing the videos for your music?

CW: I like to work with choreographers. They bring a greater vocabulary to the project than I could. For the Lately video Mimi Karsh was the choreographer who essentially worked at bringing out the incredible personality and moves of Drew Hinckley, the blonde actor in the film. I’ve never seen one man work so hard. He danced for 13 hours that day (it was all shot in a day) on bare feet.

DTK: Combining fashion, imagery and music seems to be something you have a knack for. A complete entertainer. Do you feel your music is presented best in this package of imagery, style and motion?

CW: That’s not the driving reason behind it. I just like all mediums of expression and I have the opportunity and platform to explore an idea through those mediums then I’ll use them. I guess that’s also what I appreciate about pop culture; the boundaries between each art form are less.

DTK: You are an inspiration to quite a few emerging artists looking to find their niche in this world of mixed sound. Who was your inspiration in the beginning of your career and who is your inspiration now?

CW: When I started doing my solo thing I was deeply into Tom Waits. It was a kind of obsession with everything since The Black Rider (that was the album which got me into him). However, I was also listening to a lot of Nina Simone, Jaques Brel, Shostakovich, Mahler… mostly old archived music. Now, I’m only listening to contemporary music. I realized its too easy to be snub what’s going on now so I chose to crack that shell and see what’s inside. The majority of y playlist is EDM and this wave of new self produced singers like Sohn, Caribou, Lapsley etc.

DTK: With these multiple creative outlets, have you found a practice that helps you balance and manage them in a way that keeps you inspired?

CW: Balance is key to everything but it’s a discipline which needs constant attention. I feel like I’m always working on it. Sometimes it’s overwhelming how much I want to do, and try to, but cannot in one day. For me, the most important practice is to take it step by step and try not be too hard on myself if I don’t achieve it all. Organization helps too but go through phases.


photo: Stephanie Dray


Check out our Facebook page to see how you could win a pair of free ticket’s to Charlie’s upcoming performance at Corona Theatres in Montréal on Thursday February 5th 2015.

Banner picture: Andrew Gura


About The Author

Lucy Weng
Collaborator / Web Editor

A writer and fashion design student currently based in Montreal, Lucy is the overseer behind the ultimate secret address book for all things to eat, see, do, and experience within this artistic city. When she's not working, the Toronto native splits her off time traveling between various cities in search of new discoveries.

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