It is a late dusk evening, and a group of teenagers is rushing along a path in Stanley Park. They happen to be musicians, and some friends, all of whom are excited they are going to a party at which Charlie Storwick will be singing. It is the Thunderbird Films annual soirée, and she is the singer of choice, since she is working on a studio album, but is also the star of Thunderbird’s gigantic YTV number one hit show, Some Assembly Required, which was also acquired by Netflix as an original series around the world.
It has been a heady journey for the young lady, since joining the cast of a then-unknown television series, including singing the national anthem at a Vancouver Canucks home game. She was born and raised in Calgary, but moved, at the tender age of 13, to Vancouver for the show. Despite really only being at the start of her career, Storwick (given name Melissa) does not appear to require much guidance. “I’ve known I wanted to be a singer since I can remember anything at all,” she says, enthusiasm bursting out of her. “I used to stand on the coffee table at home and sing songs, and I remember just loving that feeling, that I could communicate with people that way.” In a sense, not much has changed for her. Her first-ever favourite song? “For sure it is ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney Houston,” she says. “My dad bought me a junky karaoke machine with one CD in it, and that song hit me. Played it over and over. I remember being surprised when I discovered there were other songs on that disc!” She laughs, an infectious, hearty laugh, letting the memory take hold for a while.
The opportunity to star in a television series came along mostly by surprise, though she did have to audition, and it was on her mind that acting “could be a good way to get that exposure, to take my singing career forward.” She had appeared in, and actually won, the singing competition show The Next Star in season four. During some of the video shoots for that series, she and her producer Zubin Thakkar agreed to do an interview on YTV. One thing led to another, and her role as Piper Gray on Some Assembly Required was announced. It certainly could not have hurt her cause that she was the first The Next Star singer to attain one million views on YouTube.
Things have evolved for Storwick at a rapid pace. “I auditioned for The Next Star, thought of it as a great excuse for missing a day at school,” she recalls. “But I went through, all the way to the final in Toronto, from 4,000 people down to six, and then I actually won. I was amazed.” It happened quickly, and the YTV offer ensued right on the heels of that musical success. “I liked the idea of acting, although I had never really done it,” the 17-year-old Canadian Screen Award nominee says. “There’s always more to learn, so it was fantastic. YTV has been the crazy last three years of my life. There goes my childhood.” She clearly has embraced the swift speed, seems to feed off of it, in a way. “Actually, I like all this learning, having so much to do,” says Storwick. “It energizes more than a good night’s sleep does.”
Still, music at this point is her self-imposed prime directive. “I remember, when I was really young, we had very few dinner parties, because there were four kids, so it would usually be a disaster, breaking nice glasses and things like that,” she says. “Once, though, I wore a leopard jumpsuit and a feather boa and performed. Sang some songs, and it seemed to connect with people. That was what got me going, that understanding that a song, a singer, and an audience can have a deep connection.” It is not about performing so much, but about sharing something with others.
“I need a connection between artist and song.”
Music in the studio is firmly underway. Philanthropist and businessman Frank Giustra has taken a keen and direct interest in Storwick, and has made the first recorded efforts possible. In fact, Storwick was the first artist signed to Giustra’s label, Westsonic Music. “When my Westsonic partners and I first sat down with Charlie, we immediately knew we were on to something very rare and very special—Charlie has a unique combination of writing and performing talent with a level of maturity one doesn’t normally see in someone her age,” Giustra says. “She has a very bright future in store. We are proud to be part of her team.” Giustra, who founded Lionsgate and sits on the board at Thunderbird, met Storwick through Some Assembly Required. And though television was the spark for her current music deal, her focus is still clear. “The music is really what I’m after,” Storwick declares. “Acting is related, but music is where I want to be.” She is recording new songs these days. “I always have a vision of each song; my team is still adjusting to that,” she says. “I know what it needs to sound like before we go into the studio. Whether I have written it fully, or even if it is more of a skeleton of a song, I still know what the song has to be. I so respect The Beatles for that, the craft of writing and recording a song. I don’t want generic songs; I need a connection between artist and song.”
She exudes energy, excitement at what her life may have in store. “Performing in the presence of other people, performing your craft, acting or singing, is the best thing,” says Storwick. “I want to tour, share, meet other people, see how they live, what they do. See the world. What a privilege. I love the gypsy life, really, I have an apartment here, but I really don’t stay in one spot very much.” The studio work will result in an EP, then a tour, and, oh yes, graduating from high school. “That’s very important to me,” she says. “It is a challenge to concentrate on school, but it is about different kinds of focus. School is about facts, a bit of a grind for me, but I focus, get my mind straight on that work, get it done, kind of get it out of the way. But if I’m going to do it, I have to try my best. Then I can move on to the more creative work.”
Studio work is different than performing the same material for a live audience, but Storwick is excited about that, as well. “I like the idea of a classic band, guitars, keys, drums—a cute drummer for sure,” she laughs. “The songs we have already done in the studio are pretty produced, a bit electronic, so I like the idea of bringing that music into a live venue, and playing the songs with a whole band.” Pop music? Not really. “Combat boot pop music,” she explains. “This is my sound now. I love pop music, but it is not edgy enough, and I don’t want to be a scream-out act, either.” The first song from her upcoming EP is titled Ghosts, and gives a pretty precise sense of what she is doing. It has all the traits of popular music these days, blending elements of hip-hop into a pseudo-disco, funky groove, all with a power pop chorus that she really delivers. It is a seemingly effortless performance, moving easily between sub-genres, and making it all come together.
Storwick is on the cusp of something, and it seems to be rolling in like a storm. By any standard, she has already achieved a fair amount in the entertainment industry. But a seeking, open mind, boundless energy, and a certain clear-eyed understanding of both the industry and of herself add up to not only great potential, but some kind of understandable expectation that aspirations will turn into results.
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