After standing in the naughty corner for a while after a breach of contract, Junk Food Charlie has lost a special friend and we find out all about this terrible loss and the 2nd coming of The Story of the Gelatin Girl.
Llewelyn: Junk Food Charlie. We appreciate your time with us today and welcome to A&R Factory. 1st question. How did you get the name and what is your fave meal in the whole wide world?
Junk Food Charlie: Thank you for having me. Since I’m acting as Mr. Applesauce’s publicist for this new release, I’ll answer this question as if I were him. Mr. Applesauce’s name comes from his style of writing which is often made to seem nonsensical (though whether it truly is or not depends on the specific song in question) and was inspired by a Dictionary.com “Word of the Day” email in which the word of the day was “applesauce.” His favorite meal was roast beef Manhattans.
Llewelyn: Ok, next question. Are you back in the good books of your label after this release or is more work still to be done?
Junk Food Charlie: I’d say there’s more work still to be done, but doing press for this new Mr. Applesauce release is a step in the right direction. I would have done this regardless because he was a good friend of mine but if it eases some of the tension between the label and I, that’s an added bonus. As of right now, the label (Stew Hat Records) is also using all of my platforms to promote its other artists, with a focus on Mr. Applesauce right now given his recent passing. Even though my name is attached to the other artist’s projects, I don’t take credit for their work. It’s really more of a marketing thing considering the publicity I got for getting my show canceled. I feel like it’s only fair that they use my name for promotional purposes to try and make some kind of money after that project tanked. While the way we’ve gone about rebuilding our relationship has been unorthodox, I’m hoping it will work out.
Llewelyn: We’re very sad to hear about the cancellation of The Junk Food Charlie Variety Hour. Many condolences on the loss of your co-host Mr. Applesauce. What would you say are your fondest memories of his life?
Junk Food Charlie: Thank you. Fond memories are many when it comes to Mr. Applesauce but in light of this new release (or I suppose I should say reissue), I’ve been thinking about actually being in his studio as he was writing and recording the original version of The Story of the Gelatin Girl several years ago. We didn’t know each other as well back then but I learned a lot about him by watching him work. He really immersed himself in the experience and always worked off of intuition. I asked him at a couple points where certain lyrics came from and he’d always say, “not sure, might just be applesauce, but it feels right.” I think the album really reflects that carefree nature he had in more ways than one. Sure, some of the songs are purely driven by feeling and aren’t necessarily making some big statement, but there are plenty of moments on the album that are inspired by his life that are quite vulnerable and others that seem nonsensical at first but actually have their own logic that they’re built on. In every case, he approached creating with an enthusiasm that was particularly contagious. One final thing I’ll say is that I really admired his conscience. I remember when he finished the album, he was worried about how some songs might be interpreted. I simply told him, “I can tell just by watching you work that this was more about you having fun than it was about calling anyone out or starting any kind of drama. Sure, you happened to process some pretty intense emotions along the way, but I don’t think anyone should fault you for that because I can tell it genuinely helped you.”
Llewelyn: You had so much underground popularity before. What do you think is the main reason for that and are you proud of this project?
Junk Food Charlie: To be fair, Mr. Applesauce had more underground popularity than me back in the day. I did some stuff here and there but his work ethic was always on another level. I think the main reason for his popularity though was his authenticity. He considered his music to be pop but it was never pop music that was trying to please the masses. He created on his own terms and I think people saw that and were drawn to it. I know he took a lot of pride in The Story of the Gelatin Girl. He often described it as his most “in the moment” project and I think that’s extremely accurate. It’s like a time capsule.
Llewelyn: What do you feel is the future of Stew Hat Records?
Junk Food Charlie: I feel the future of Stew Hat Records is bright. They’ve got so many talented artists on their roster, many of which are working on their debut albums. I’m not at liberty to get into too many specifics right now about all that, but I know I’m personally very excited about their recently signing Glown About Sten to the label. He’s got chops.
Llewelyn: Last question. What does the future hold and do you have any exciting plans for the rest of 2023 and beyond?
Junk Food Charlie: I actually just launched a store on Threadless for some visual art I’ve been working on (I’m on there as Junk Food Charlie.) The label is also working on possibly putting a show together later in the year so I’d encourage anyone interested in that to keep an eye out on Instagram (@junkfoodcharlie.) There’s definitely more music in the works as well, but when it will be released is still uncertain as of right now. There are multiple projects in production though, so stay tuned!
Turn this up on loud via Spotify.
Interview by Llewelyn Screen