Welcome to AP&R, where we highlight rising artists who will soon become your new favorite.

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Charlotte Sands is truly having a moment right now. Between the breakout success of her single “Dress,” playing shows with YUNGBLUD and My Chemical Romance and providing guest vocals on several high-profile collaborations in the rock, alternative and pop world, Sands is an unstoppable force. While her rise to stardom has kicked into overdrive within the past two years, the young artist has been grinding it out as a songwriter for nearly a decade, and her success is a testament to her hard work and relatable ethos.

On “Dress,” Sands offers a stunning directive for her listeners to be themselves, defy societal expectations and embrace everyone’s unique characteristics. This has not only positioned her as a role model to a growing fanbase but has also created an entire community of supporters who are unified through a safe space rooted in the power of music. Now, Sands plans to make next year the most exciting and eventful it has been for her career while also giving back to her community in the process. 

Read more: Why YUNGBLUD, Softcult and Scene Queen are turning to Discord to connect with fans

This leads us to the announcement of Sands’ first-ever headline run, the Love And Other Lies tour, which kicks off this fall with support from rising alternative artists John Harvie and No Love for the Middle Child.

You've had a meteoric rise as an artist. One can only imagine what's coming next for you, and it seems to be a very exciting time. What was the journey like to get here? 

I pinch myself every day with how much we have been able to accomplish in the last two years, let alone the last 10 plus that I have been doing this. Overall, I have really tried to expand a network of people I love working with that inspire me and make me feel more creative. Once you build that community of people who love and respect your art, it helps create this web of like-minded people, which makes it more enjoyable. 

Nashville has a history of having a strong community of songwriters and producers. What prompted you to move there, and what does the city bring out in your art? 

Nashville is still where I believe the highest quality of songwriters exists. There is this quality and love for the story of the song and lyricism. The songwriters who live here, including me, experience this respect toward lyrics, and ever since, I’ve been obsessed with that relationship with words. I moved here because my favorite songwriters Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and Michelle Branch were here making albums, and when I was growing up, I had this feeling that this was where I was supposed to be. 

With “Dress” being your breakout single, I find it so interesting that you leaked the song initially. Did you immediately know that you captured something special that needed to be shared right away? 

To be honest, none of it was a strategy. I was in this position where I was home, I couldn’t tour and I didn’t feel like I had an output for my creativity besides releasing a song every six weeks. I hadn’t really gone down the TikTok hole at that point, but it got to a point where we had nothing else to try, so we just did it. I leaked it a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and I turned off my phone not thinking anything of it, but my manager called me and told me that something was happening with it. I was thinking it was probably a prank and automatically thought that there was no way this was real. I’m really grateful for the reaction to the song. There is such an important message in it of self-expression, questioning gender norms and being your authentic self.

There's such a strong message behind “Dress.” With that being said, do you recognize that you are now becoming a role model for so many of your fans? 

I honestly have such impostor syndrome when it comes to that stuff. [Laughs.] I haven’t done anything — I just wrote my feelings in a song. I see activists and people who are donating their life to these causes, and I feel like I’ve done the bare minimum, but I do have so many people who have had an incredible reaction to it. I think the most wonderful thing for me is if I have given anybody more confidence because knowing that there is a community that supports you as you are and everyone is safe is something that I take a lot of pride in. Being able to curate a community is something I couldn’t be more proud of in my life. It’s so much more than a song.

You've also been involved in so many exciting collaborations with a wide range of artists, from Underoath and Sleeping With Sirens to pop artists like Mokita and the Maine. What was the process like getting together with these artists, and what makes collaboration so important to you? 

I think every single collaboration has come out of a friendship. With Underoath, I wrote with [drummer, vocalist] Aaron [Gillespie] for my project, and he’s just the most beautiful human, and that’s how I got the Underoath feature. It was the same with Mokita. He lives in Nashville too, and it finally just worked out. The funniest thing about the Sleeping With Sirens collaboration was that I was on a podcast, and I was like, “I would love to do a collaboration with Kellin Quinn,” and of course, he saw that clip, and he told me he had a song he wanted me on. I think it’s important for me to push the box of the genre that people see me in. I grew up on such a wide range of music, and it’s important for me to not be pigeonholed as one type of artist.

Having the opportunity to share the stage with so many acts such as My Chemical Romance and YUNGBLUD must have been really special. Did you learn anything from these artists in the process?

It’s endless. With YUNGBLUD, that was my first tour ever, and he just breathes stardom. I think he is going to be the David Bowie for millennials and Gen Z. Watching him every night was so inspiring. Watching him have that power to captivate people so easily made me want to make people feel the same way when they’re watching me. It taught me so much. For the My Chemical Romance show, it was the biggest show of my life, and it was 32,000 people in a stadium. I blacked out a lot of it, and I remember walking onstage not being nervous and just kept telling myself, “This is what you are meant to do being do, so prove why you worked so hard and trust the work.”

That leads us to now with your first headline tour. What can we expect, and does it feel exciting or daunting?

I feel like the timing couldn’t be better. I’m itching to play more shows and play longer sets. For the first time ever, I get to curate an experience that is my own that I think the audience will enjoy. The preparation for it is daunting but it’s just one of those things where there’s so much to do that you just need to let go of control and know that it’s going to work out for the best. It’s going to be a magical experience, and it’s going to be the biggest thing I’ve done in my career. I’m so overwhelmed in a great way. I’m so excited!

With the music industry changing so much, a full-length isn't always needed anymore, but are there plans to put out a larger musical project down the road? 

I have always said that you have to earn an album. You have to earn the amount of time it takes for someone to listen to your project front to back. I want to earn it, and I think I am at a point now where I want to do bigger projects. Being able to make multiple songs that feel like they are a part of each other and the same story is always really fun for me. Hopefully, next year is when I can put an entire project out.

FOR FANS OF: The Maine, Hot Milk, Olivia Rodrigo

SONG RECOMMENDATION: "Tantrum"