Kelsy Karter is ready for the next step.
After spending the last year writing and in the studio, the Australian-born singer is counting down as she eagerly awaits the release of her debut EP. “I became who I want to become this last year. I see the value in it now,” Karter shared adding that she was happy she held off putting out new music. “Now it’s ready.”
I met with Kelsy Karter at a small, sunlit cafe in the East Village. As we sip our drinks and joke about our dependence on caffeine as a prerequisite to functioning before mid-morning, we quickly find something we have in common – Harry Styles.
“For someone who is doing something that is inspired by retro music, someone that big, it really opens doors for me,” answered Karter. The success of Styles’ album suggests that there is an audience eager to listen to music inspired by the greats. Her warm and soulful singing voice was meant to sing over music from another era; however, her use of just the right amount of modern styling makes it as much 2018 as it is 1968. “I want to tour with him. I’m just gonna put it out there,” she says before leaning into my recording phone to leave a special message just for Harry. “I’m going on tour with Harry Styles. Listen Harry, how ya been mate?”
Karter first moved to the United States as a teenager, but not to become a singer. She wanted to be an actress. “I was an actress as a kid. I did theatre most of my life. I never thought of being a singer. Ever,” Karter confessed. “I sang because I was in musicals. It was always connected to acting. I never in a million years thought I’d be a singer.” After countless people responded in shock that someone with a voice like hers was not in Los Angeles to become a singer, Karter decided to give it a shot. It was her song “Out Of Drugs” that caught the attention of the music industry.
“I was really rebellious my whole life,” Karter revealed as we camped out in the window seat. “but I’ve found a way to channel that into my music and my art. I like to test the limits.” One of the ways she is challenging the status quo is by directing and editing all of her music videos. “I wanted to do something that other people weren’t doing,” she added. Her theatre background has lent itself well to this. Though most people would believe that musicians are, by nature, auditory people, Karter asserts that she is much more of a visual creator. “When I’m writing a song in the studio, it’s all visual,” shared Karter. Her music videos are unexpected and engaging with a clear nod to the cinematography of the 1960s.
Used to doing things on her own, the singer admits that signing with a label was quite an adjustment. “I’d been on my own for so long that it took me a little while to get used to people doing things for me, believing in me, it was weird,” she reflects. “It was hard for me. I’m such an independent person. I moved to America when I was 17. I’ve always done things myself.”
Now, a year and an impending EP later, Kelsy Karter is ready to get back out on stage. While her EP is still a few months away, we get our first introduction to it via ‘Too Many Hearts To Break,’ the first single. “I haven’t really been on stage in a year.” Karter shared. “I can’t even tell you how ready I am.”
Words by Sarah Midkiff