Kelsy Karter ran away from Australia aged 17 to make her name in the United States. It was a bold and brash move, but nothing unusual for the young Aussie, who describes herself as impulsive. Four years down the track, and having collaborated with the likes of Infected Mushroom among others, Kelsy is about to release her debut album next month. She spoke to us a few days ago:
How would you describe your music to new listeners?
I call it “blue-eyed soul”. Music is so bloody subjective these days. One song can be considered 5 different genres. I grew up listening to a lot of Motown, soul, and rock’n’roll, so it’s really my own little mix of those 3.
Who are your musical influences? Who inspires you the most?
My Dad was a huge musical influence of mine. He really instilled a knowledge of music in me, and showed me the greats. Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, James Brown, The Rolling Stones… you know the ones. Later on, I got into David Bowie, not for his music, but really for his eccentricity, and I gained an obsession with the circus. In today’s music, Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars and John Newman are the ones I dig most.
At 17 you ran away from Australia to LA to pursue your music, did you find what you expected there? Was it easier or harder than you imagined?
I’m a pretty impulsive person, so like most of my stupid decisions, I didn’t really think much about it. I was a child, fresh out of high school. I was partying and doing stupid shit, and I came over to LA to do some training. I saw kids doing things I always wanted to do. So, I went back to Australia, packed my bags, and three weeks later I was living with my Grandma in West LA. About 6 months later I was like WTF did I just do? It all really set it. But missing my Mom, Dad and brother really got me inspired to accomplish what I came to do, so we can all be together whenever we want, ya know? My family is a beautiful circus of their own. And the reason I work so hard. It has been up and down, up and down… a wild ride. But totally worth it. Totally effing worth it.
You say you we’re a mischievous kid, what kind of things did you get up to?
Haha. Well, I’m not gonna delve into the specifics, but I have always just loved a little trouble, or maybe trouble likes me? I was (is) a stubborn kid, and bold. Maybe too bold. I’m just one of those people that wants to die knowing I tried everything once, ya know, made every mistake, once. But now it’s something I’m trying to make an attribute of mine, not something to be a ashamed of. I learn from the chaos I find myself in, then get ready for what I might find myself in next.
You have often been referred to as “The Rebel Doll”, can you tell us why?
I’ve been here a few years now, and you take the opportunities handed to you, so for a while, I was definitely just going with that, doing what I was told, taking the bullshit advice everyone in this town hands you. But one day I woke up and was like, this isn’t me. I don’t like to fit in, and I sure as heck don’t play by the rules. I completely let go of everything I was doing and pressed the restart button. Instead of running away from who I was, I decided to make it my ‘thing’. I embraced the things that made me odd. The music, my childhood, my interests. As I told you above, I had a keen interest in joining the circus. I grew up in the theatre and just loved that whole world. And the music I love and make is different, it’s from another time. So. I started “Rebel Love” — which is a movement about embracing what you love and who you are no matter who gives a ****. So, voila! The rebel doll?
As a self confessed lover of musicals, is there any musical role you’d like to take on and why?
Ahhh! You’ve gotten me excited! I want to go to NYC and do Broadway, like..now. Rizzo from Grease or Sally Bowles from Cabaret would be a dream come true!
Your upcoming album “Kiss The Boys” is due to be released in February, can you tell us a little bit about that?
It’s strange, it’s wonderful. A mix of soul, motown and rock’n’roll. It’s about all things love, boys, trouble, growing up, running away, insanity. My producers PWER (@MichaelxMaughan and @CollinPwer) are just like me. They don’t care about how it’s “supposed” to be. We sat down and made this album with the intention of people either loving or hating it.
You plan to release a music video for every single on the album, what is the thinking behind that?
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe that video killed the radio star. Music still exists, and there are so many phenomenal musicians and artists out there. But there’s also a bunch of crap. Before deciding to do a video for all the songs, I needed the music to stand on its own. And it does! But the stories in my music are so different and colourful that it’s an opportunity to make them come to life. Acting is my first love; I did that before I ever sung. And I love to create, so I will be directing some of them. Some of the videos will be narratives and some will be more simple. In today’s industry, you can do whatever the heck you want. So, if I want to make 6 mini movies to go along with my album, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do 😉
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Music and madness.
“Kiss the Boys” comes out in February and we’ll update you on further details. In the meantime, check out Kelsy’s very funny and quirky, “Johnny Depp”: