Home – Charlotte Kemp Muhl: Model, Muse, Musician

– Charlotte Kemp Muhl: Model, Muse, Musician

GOASTT - General 1

With her Audrey Hepburn doe eyes, bee stung lips and her flawless, pearl-hued skin, brunette beauty Charlotte Kemp Muhl has all the makings to be the kind of model only Coachella girls could only dream about. And even though by day she’s the face of Maybelline and struts in couture for a living, by night she’s the not-so-secret muse to a musician, as well as an artist in her own right. The 26-year-old is half of The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (GOASTT) with longtime boyfriend Sean Lennon, the son of the late John Lennon. And while some may roll their eyes at the sheer thought of a couple collaborating artistically, the smitten duo have been intertwining their musical passions as one “fabulous creature” since releasing their LP, Acoustic Sessions, in 2010. This time around, the Georgia-born siren wants to enchant curious listeners with haunting lullabies alongside her lover in the form of their latest effort, Midnight Sun. Just in time for its debut, Boxx contributor Stephanie Nolasco chatted with Muhl about balancing her many roles, heading to New York City solo at age 15, as well as what she really thinks about how the media views her.

Stephanie Nolasco: How is Midnight Sun different from anything you and Sean Lennon have done together artistically?

Charlotte Kemp Muhl: It’s a lot more ambitious. It took a lot of sweat, blood and tears to conceive! I learned so much about arrangement, counterpoint and rhythm making this beast. [It’s] very different from writing acoustic folk songs.

SN: How has being in a band together impacted the two of you as a couple? I could imagine that, at times, collaborating can be exhaustive.

CKM: Collaborating with your lover can be the most intense life or death feeling. It seems that you are destroying each other half the time, and giving birth to each other the rest of the time. But it’s so much more fulfilling than your average couple who barely have anything to say to each other and have separate jobs/lives.

SN: I read in Women’s Wear Daily that one of the reasons you joined this band was because you were ‘inhaling the classics of rock ‘n’ roll.’ Talk a little bit more about that.

CKM: Well, I grew up really out of touch with pop culture, listening mostly to classical and Smithsonian folk. Meeting Sean at 17 really opened my mind to rock, funk and other forms of musicality. I think something clicked in my brain when I simultaneously discovered pot and Pink Floyd, haha…From that moment on I became obsessed with a particular aesthetic, and Sean and I started cultivating our own version of it.

SN: How do you balance a career in both fashion and music?

CKM: I’m growing so weary of fashion! But it is an interesting art form and is a huge part of the music world. I look at it like my day job, to support my passion of music.

SN: What are some misconceptions you feel the media has about you?

CKM: I don’t know what conceptions the media has about me. I suppose most people think models are dumb, but I’d have to agree with them, ha… Maybe they assume I’m not a serious musician or songwriter, but anyone who’s ever been in the studio knows I’m an obsessed, fascist workaholic who is involved with every aspect of the composition and recording process.

SN: What were some surprising things you discovered about yourself, as well as your relationship with Sean, when creating Midnight Sun

CKM: That Sean and I both have a lot of leftover trauma/bad habits from our childhood, as well as explosive creative chemistry. I also learned that I am a control freak, and that we are totally self-sufficient as a team; we don’t need any other musicians, producers or engineers there for us to create music. Between the two of us, we cover all the ground.

SN: What’s the secret behind your lasting relationship with Sean, both musically and romantically?

CKM: Challenging each other intellectually. And French maid costumes… Just kidding.

SN: Your music has a very classic, psychedelic sound, but it’s also reminiscent of being a fairy tale or even a Greek myth of sorts. Was this a conscious choice? What’s the story you wish to tell the world?

CKM: Yes, we both love mythology, surrealism and psychedelia and wanted to make a record that encapsulated those things. We told the story of Orpheus, Paul Getty, ourselves and other fictional characters on this album.

SN: I also read in an interview with The Lab Magazine that you lived alone in New York City at age 15. When did you realize it was time for you to venture off on your own, and how did this experience shape you to become a better storyteller?

CKM: My parents were very brave and generous to release me into the world, considering how conservative their background was. Living alone, working as a model, traveling the world and meeting many strange characters certainly shaped me as an artist. It made me pretty feral and scrappy, too.

SN: What’s next for you?

CKM: One day I want to compose for an orchestra. It’s my dream to work with strings, brass and timpani on a large scale.

Catch The Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger on tour:

5/9/14 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada, Dallas, TX

5/10/14 Oklahoma City, OK @ ACM, UCA Lab

5/12/14 Austin, TX @ Red 7

5/14/14 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress

5/15/14 Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom

5/16/14 San Diego, CA @ Casbah

5/17/14 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey

5/20/14 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall

5/22/14 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile

5/23/14 Vancouver, BC @ The Imperial

5/24/14 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios

5/27/14 Denver, CO @ Bluebird

5/28/14 Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room

5/29/14 Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s

5/30/14 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry

5/31/14 Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon

6/1/14 Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall

6/3/14 Toronto, ON @ The Hoxton

6/4/14 Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa

6/5/14 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom

6/6/14 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s

6/7/14 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall

6/8/14 Hunter, NY @ Mountain Jam Festival