After a brief pause, rising artist Kara Connolly is back with the first release since her 2019 debut album Life In Rear View; as today, she showcases her latest offering with the release of her brand new single Something More. Perfectly pairing a soft and atmospheric instrumental with her stunning vocals, Something More is the first taste of her new sound and artistry as she takes a turn away from her previous artistic style to dive into a new sonic realm as she explores a more 90s flared alt-pop sound – bringing us into this new chapter of her artistic journey. Following the release, we sat down with the talented artist to chat all about the new single, life over the past year and her musical journey so far. An incredible rising artist and certainly one to watch, make sure to keep up with her and her journey for more fantastic music; and keep on reading for the full interview down below.
BM: Hey! How are you, how have you been over the last few months? Hope all is well in your world!
KC: Hey there! I’ve been good. Thanks for asking. It’s been a wild past year as we all know, but things are beginning to open up in Los Angeles, which feels like a literal breath of fresh air. Hope all is well in your world, too!
BM: For those who are not yet familiar with you and your music, what’s the first thing you would like them to know?
KC: I’d love them to know that I write from personal experience and that my songs are often reminders or messages to myself that I hope can help others along the way. I blend a variety of genres into whatever I’m feeling at the moment and am very open to connecting with new listeners so say hello!
BM: Can you tell us a bit about your musical journey and how you’ve gotten to where you are now?
KC: Oh gosh, well, I grew up pretending I was in bands at the local park as a kid. My friend Kelsey and I would call ourselves the “Sugar Girls” and stand on park benches singing Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” as well as a bunch of other 90s hits. I started to write little songs around that time. Kelsey tells me she remembers songs that I have totally forgotten. She’ll sometimes message me lyrics and be like, “Do you remember this song?” and I’m like “Totally…I can sing it in my head right now…who sang it again?” and she’s like “You wrote it.” It’s in my memory as like some random jingle I heard on TV or a one-hit wonder or something. I have no memory of writing some of this stuff. That said, I started writing actual songs about my life in math class in high school to pass the time, eventually went to USC for college so I was out in LA as an actor in the entertainment industry. I started playing friends songs that I wrote on my bed at 3 in the morning after a big heartbreak that they were into so then I kept writing more and more until I eventually put out my first record of original music called “Life in Rear View.” That record allowed me to make some music videos, play some sold out shows at The Hotel Cafe, Peppermint Club, Rockwood Music Hall, etc., attend some epic award shows, and meet some incredible music fans who are like family to me now. That is the hyper condensed version. There were many heartbreaks, peaks and valleys along the way that led me to where I am now. I don’t even know where to begin.
BM: How has the past year changed or influenced your approach to how you make music and your creative and artistic process?
KC: This is a great question. The past year entirely changed my approach to making music. When the pandemic hit I was just starting to work on my follow up independent record. I didn’t want to have to prolong or delay new music so I ended up putting together a mini home “studio” and creating my songs over Zoom and Audio Movers (allows you to hear music virtually, in real-time) with various producers. I was recording vocals in my closet with scarves and sheets. Lots of headaches when I would accidentally delete files or ProTools would crash on me in the middle of an important take.
That said, I really dived deeper into production this past year and despite all of the circumstances that were perhaps not so ideal it really gave me the time to explore the sonics of my music and the space to decide how I wanted it to sound. Some of my collaborators and I would meet over zoom for various days and weeks on end. This really was a completely different process in every aspect to making a record from my last go around and I’m actually glad that I learned what I did about recording vocals and sending files because I know this will help me in the long run as a creator and a songwriter.
I’m currently collaborating with a producer I’ve never met out in NY because of the skills I learned this year. I just led a guitar session and bounced him the stems. I’ll do my vocals on my own. I’m getting more and more directly involved with how I want to sound as an artist, experimenting with different sounds for different songs. It’s really been a lot of frankensteining, which is time consuming in a way and kind of stressful in comparison to getting it all done in person over a concentrated period of time and with the same team, but it’s been a huge growth year and experimentational year for me. I’ve also been writing songs for other artists over Zoom this year, which allowed me to remain creative even with stages and studios shut down. I think you’ll hear how this past year influenced the new music once it’s out.
BM: Back with your first release since 2019; how does/has taking a step back, or a slight pause, re-energized or influenced you creatively?
KC: Another thoughtful question! You know, it’s funny because even though it seems like there was a pause I was actually writing a lot of songs for other artists and for some Film/TV/Ad opportunities between 2019 and now so I’ve felt like I’ve been going and could use some time to re-energize to be honest. That said, I did take a step back from my own releases. I’ve been thinking about my second project for a while and knew I wanted to do some exploring and do it a bit differently than the last go-around.
I wanted to try working in a bunch of different ways and with a bunch of different people (both in writing for other artist’s music and for my own) in order to discover what worked best for me and felt the most “me”. Writing a record and producing out, mixing, and mastering a record are two totally different things. A lot of songs were written before my first record “Life in Rear View” came out or during that process, but I knew I wanted to come back with something different sonically from a production standpoint. My favourite artists of all time switch it up. Getting in there with someone and producing a song with some instruments or a beat can be really quick, but producing out a song that feels authentic, new, and that I’m proud of is not. I really didn’t want to phone anything in or rush that process. I’ve always been a quick writer, but that time allowed me to discover who I am now and how to express that through sound and really put my stamp on the sonics in a way that I can stand behind. It’s inevitable that the sound was also slightly influenced by what was available to me at the time during the pandemic. Hopefully that all made any sense.
BM: Congratulations on the release of your new single “Something More”! Tell us about the story behind the track.
KC: Thank you! “Something More” was written when I was quite frankly feeling burned out, exhausted, existential, and depressed. I picked up the guitar and was singing nonsensical words just to remember my melody idea for the verses and then was singing this “There’s gotta be something more!” thing in what I thought would be the chorus. I was meant to meet up with (my producer and co-writer) Dan Sadin to write together for the first time and I thought, “Why not bring him this little idea?” I love to come in with something I’m already connecting to whenever possible to get the session flowing. Even though it initially had this sort of interesting lullaby feel, I knew I wanted the chorus to be a punch of energy. Dan immediately understood what I meant by that and started producing out the track as we wrote the song together. Because it’s this broader concept of searching for meaning and magic and connection in this world that can feel really mundane and heavy at times, it was a fine line on how to express that without coming across cheese ball or missing the mark and so Dan and I really took our time with the lyrics to find ones that meant something to us and captured what we were trying to say. We wanted to make sure it felt freeing, but was grounded and real, in that we still don’t have it all figured out (in life that is) and are not trying to preach that we do. Dan and I combed through a zillion verse and bridge ideas carefully trying to find words that we felt did the feeling justice. The track was created almost entirely in quarantine over Zoom and Audio Movers. Dan and I would meet up for hours and share screens. He recorded a zillion instruments. The demo vocals ended up being the real vocals since that’s what we had. I recorded the post-chorus/bridge vocals in my parent’s closet. It was really a process and I’m super proud of it. I don’t know that you asked for all that, but there you have it! Ha
BM: Co-written and produced by Dan Sadin just before quarantine hit; what was that experience and process like to write and create “Something More”? And how has the significance and meaning of the track changed for you in light of the pandemic and lockdown?
KC: OK so I totally answered the first question here in your last question…oops! I will add that I feel really excited to have gotten the space and time, as well as to be able to work with someone like Dan to explore this concept and the sonics with. This song means a lot to me and Dan is amazing!
Dan and I wrote the lyric, “Maybe time will stop if I can slowly break it,” and then time really did stop in a way when the world “shut down” a week later. The meaning of the track changed for me in that I think collectively we were starting to feel like, “Wow. We’re home for weeks on end, maybe taking up hobbies we would have never had the time for, reconnecting with old friends we haven’t spoken to in years.” As we exit this pandemic and slowly return to whatever new normal exists for us, I hope we don’t forget the lessons we learned in isolation. There’s got to be something more than the work until we’re burned out, constant comparison, and power struggle that’s been passed down generation to generation. It also took on a triple meaning months later when I was tired of these four walls of my apartment and was dying for something more. I think this song is one of those that maybe will always mean something new to me.
BM: How does “Something More” fit into the sonic direction you’re wanting to head in?
KC: I wanted to make pop music that felt individual and not like everything else I was hearing. I think and hope we achieved that and I think and hope that the rest of the music I’m making achieves that. I listen to a lot of different artists and am inspired by a lot of different “genres” so I’m not anticipating each track to sound the same, but I think that the throughline is modern elements meets retro influence (I was drawing from the 90s a lot) and electric guitar.
BM: In three words, how would you describe “Something More”?
KC: Oof. Tough one. I’ve never been brief. Existential. Freeing. Spiritual.
BM: How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music and what do you want people to take away from it?
KC: I want people to feel seen and heard; like a strange feeling they’ve felt before was finally put into words. That’s the best…when someone can capture an unusual feeling that you’re not sure anyone else has ever had. I also hope it reminds them to take care of themselves and that doubt, insecurity and uncertainty can still be beautiful.
BM: What do you hope to achieve in this next phase of your musical journey and now that the world is beginning to open up again?
KC: You know, I really just hope that I can be even more myself and share that with my fans and with the world. I want to tap into some of that freeing feeling I think “Something More” captures and not place limits on myself or my music. I would love to bring more people into the Karakeets (my incredibly lovely and supportive fans) so that we can create epic memories and do some fun, cool things together. It’d be awesome to put together some unique, creative experiences and live shows!
BM: What can we expect from you next – are there any themes or sonic styles you’re hoping to explore in future releases that you haven’t yet done so?
KC: These are really thoughtful questions so thank you! Themes – you can expect more self-discovery based themes surrounding regaining power over your own thoughts, rejecting certain rules, regulations and negative belief structures that have maybe been passed down for generations or by society, and reclaiming your own. More cathartic and freeing chorus. I can be quite introspective, but I think that the songs always turn out pretty fun and empowering in a way so it’s that dichotomy that I think represents a lot of what I do.
As far as sonic styles I’m hoping to explore moving forward that I haven’t yet, I would love to make a more stripped down storytelling based record at some point where it’s all about the song. I’m always drawn to projects like that. I’ve got a playlist called “Stripped Down” songs I’ve written that didn’t fit this project, but that are in the back of my mind to record. Thanks for being on this crazy journey with me!
Truly a pleasure to chat to Kara; to keep up with her and all her latest news and releases, find her on all her socials:
Website – https://www.karaconnolly.com
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/karaconnolly
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mskaraconnolly
Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/mskaraconnolly
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/karaconnolly
Photo Credit – Betsy Newman