Charlie Rolfe knows As Everything Unfolds can’t fit into one genre
As Everything Unfolds first burst onto the scene with their 2018 EP, Closure, in large part due to Charlie Rolfe’s piercingly clean vocals and incredible range. Packing intense shrieks and emotional hooks into the five-track EP, the star of the show was Rolfe’s voice and what she sings about. Though they pull inspiration from real-life experiences, the U.K. six-piece hope listeners can connect with their lyrics and create their own story from them.
After touring Europe with bands such as Dream State, Our Hollow, Our Home, ADEPT and more, As Everything Unfolds continued to thrive in the scene as they caught the attention of fans from all sorts of genres. But more eyes mean more unwarranted criticism—not of their music but of their frontwoman. In an industry as male-centric as music is, Rolfe has to deal with comments about her look and appearance in a way most men aren’t subjected to. And although she doesn’t let it get to her, she’s passionate about creating a space where those who identify as a woman can unabashedly create and enjoy all types of music.
Looking at your debut album, are there any differences between it and your other music?
To be honest, the music is more mature. The songwriting is much more mature. We were still quite young when we wrote our Closure EP. Every time we write an EP or an album, it has always been a learning process for all of us. Somebody will have gone through a breakup, and we’ve all had to pitch together and help each other. We are so close as people. We are friends first and then bandmates. That’s strengthened through this album. It’s made talking about issues—especially lyrics and opening up to different ideas—so much easier. As we’re growing older and we’re maturing, things are becoming less and less conflicted, and there are less hormones involved as you come out of your teenage years. It’s been a really, really good learning process. It’s a more mature version of what we were doing before, and I hope that just continues to happen.
People call you post-hardcore, but how would you describe the band’s sound?
I would probably say a melodic band with dashes of groove and heaviness. Cinematic, atmospheric would be the kind of words I would use. It’s so hard to genre-fy us. I think melodic post-hardcore is where we sit comfortably. But obviously, that’s such a wide spectrum. We sometimes just say we’re alternative rock. I quite like that we don’t really fit into a bracket.
Which artists would you say inspire you to make the type of music you make?
In terms of my lifetime inspiration, My Chemical Romance. Just straight up, My Chem. They are my favorite band of all time. They’ve been my favorite band since I was about 10 years old. In terms of now—and writing in the last couple of years—Becca [Macintyre] from Marmozets has been a big inspiration for me and Courtney LaPlante from Spiritbox. I feel like [LaPlante] has been making such big waves and just having such a strong character as well within the scene. She’s been so strong about her thoughts and feelings and being very outward in her opinions, which sometimes as a woman, you’re taught not to in society. But she’s been definitely such a big inspiration for me, musically and as a person.
Have you experienced any different treatment because you’re a woman in the music industry, and how do you overcome that?
I’ve always been quite lucky where I am because, being a frontwoman, you’re always a recognizable figure. So people will know that you’re the musician, but it’s people behind the scenes like journalists or sound engineers and techies; they don’t get as much credit—especially being a woman—or they’re not taken seriously. And that needs to change. To be honest, I’ve never experienced anything negative until the other day. I just laugh it off because I’m that kind of person, but we had an ad for Spotify, and they put us up as their first RADAR artist of the week. So Spotify put us up on their page [with] like 22 million likes. I had: “What are those eyebrows?” “What kind of girl is she?” “You need to stop looking in the mirror and look at the camera more.” There were really weird comments, and I feel like, “Would that be the same? Would I be as criticized if I was a man just because of the way I looked?” All I was doing was talking about my band, but it seems to be directed at how I looked rather than my band’s music, which was the first time I experienced that.
How do you hope the industry changes in regards to female musicians and intersectional feminism? What do you think still needs to happen to create equality for women, people of color, trans individuals and nonbinary individuals in the music industry?
As a white woman, I’m in a privileged position, where I have white privilege. I’m a woman, but I also have the privilege of being white. If you’re Black or you’re trans or you’re nonbinary, you’re in an even more niche category where you feel so out of place, and it’s not fair. These people should be as at home as anybody else. A lot of genres like punk were literally created to make everybody feel at home. It was literally a genre for outcasts. It was a genre for people that didn’t fit in anywhere else. Genres like hardcore, pop punk and all these subgenres that have come off all have their roots in that. And I feel like we need to address that part of it. I do feel as a community, we are all very accepting of people who are different and people who don’t fit into brackets, but there still needs to be more done for pushing artists like that.
You can read the full interview in Alternative Press’ debut Power Issue: Women Rising, available here.