Audrey Karrasch was born and bred in Reno, Nevada, and raised among a big family who encouraged her love of singing and playing. In high school, Karrasch got to sing in her first rock band, Passed Judgement who were into alternative bands like Flyleaf and Paramour but also fond of hard-core breakdowns in the middle of songs.
“It was great because I got to scream and jump around onstage,” she says. “I learned a lot about stage presence.”
When Passed Judgement earned an opening spot at a Reno concert featuring Paper Tongues and Neon Trees, Audrey met Paper Tongues’ singer, Aswan North, which led to his signing on as Karrasch’s manager. Tongues’ own manager at the time was American Idol judge Randy Jackson, whom North persuaded to okay Audrey for an audition for the show.
While American Idol turned her down, Audrey, not easily discouraged, side-tracked into a move to New York to pursue a career as a model, which was fine for a while but hardly satisfied her need to write and sing original songs. A subsequent move to Charlotte, North Carolina, allowed her to work with a producer and musicians to further develop her singing and composing skills.
Karrasch’s detour into a six-month stint on the US version of The Voice was an experience that taught her a lot about the music and TV business but which only made her more determined to fulfil her dream of defining her real self as a singer-songwriter. She’d also had a long-time interest in learning recording studio engineering, and got a chance to do both with a relocation to Kansas City to study studio technique at JTL Group, whose founder encouraged her to work with Aswan North on the songs for a debut solo EP.
Audrey took some time out to talk to us.
EP: Tell us the Audrey Karrasch story!
AK: I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. I have 5 brothers and 1 sister. I am 23 years old and I moved out at a pretty early age. I moved to NY when I was 18 and I have lived in Charlotte, North Carolina; Los Angeles; and I currently reside in Kansas City. I have always been musical from a very young age. Singing in school bands, Jazz bands, a rock band, and now singing and writing as a solo artist. Although my family wasn’t very musical, my older brother CJ played drums in Jazz band in High school and it inspired me to buy a pair of drumsticks. I followed in his footsteps and inherited his stick bag. Percussion was my introduction to the music world and shortly after I started taking piano lessons and soloing as a vocalist in High School. When I was 15 I was in a local rock band called “Hear me Arizona”. At the time I was interning at the local alternative radio station and I entered us in a contest to open for Neon Trees, Paper Tongues, and Civil Twilight. We raised enough money for a local charity and earned ourselves the opening spot. It was that night I met my manager, Aswan North, front man for Paper Tongues. Aswan took me under his wing and mentored me through the ups and downs of being a young girl in NY trying to make it in the Industry. He inspired me to write more music and he’s guided me as I’ve discovered my sound as an artist. Fall of 2014 I started an apprenticeship at Jared Logan’s Studio “JTL” in Kansas City. It was a great introduction into production and engineering and it’s something I’ve grown a passion for. I spend most days at the studio writing, learning, shadowing, and being apart of an awesome community of musicians and artists like myself.
EP: You were on The Voice! Talk us through that! What was it like working with Usher?
AK: I auditioned for the voice not expecting to get a call back. I definitely didn’t expect to stay on the show as long as I did. It was a fun experience, however it didn’t contribute to who I am as an artist, and truthfully I found it to be a difficult platform to be creative and showcase who I was. It was a learning experience if any. I’m happy with the friends I made on that show, however it’s not something I was cut out for. I didn’t spend as much time with Usher as I would have like to. I look back at that experience and view it as a bit of a blur.
EP: Talk us through the songwriting process.
AK: This process for me always alternates. As an artist I write from inspiration. It can be difficult to always feel inspired so I spend some time before a session meditating and focusing on my inner feelings. It can be a challenge to always be vulnerable but the freedom that comes from expressing that is very powerful. I enjoy writing poetry and I journal just about every day. My thoughts, my fears, what I love. My favourite way to write is usually to simple chords on a piano or with someone playing guitar right next to me. I find that if my melodies and concepts can carry just over a bass line or guitar that building around it after only adds to the message.
EP: What have been your musical influences?
AK: The earliest days I can remember as a child I was singing Shania Twain and stealing my brothers Beastie Boys CDs. I am inspired by a wide variety. I love Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, Stevie Nicks, Imogen Heap, and Sia. I also love alternative sounds like Jai Paul, The Sounds, The Knife. Frank Ocean, and the list goes on. I have always been a sucker for very emotional voices.
EP: Who has been the most important inspiration to you musically? Personally?
AK: I’d say my earliest influences like Shania Twain and Beastie Boys are important. They’re both such different genres. Those were the only CDs I had my hands on for a while, so when I had access to more music I was really open to anything. In my personal life my Manager has been a huge influence to me. I went from being a girl that could only write music alone on a piano to now being open and fearless to vulnerability with many people. Personally he’s an influence to me because I met him as just a fan. I loved his song writing from the beginning and I am grateful he’s taken me under his wing to teach me how to access that outlet in myself.
EP: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently, and why?
AK: I don’t know if I would have auditioned for the voice. While I don’t regret doing it, I’ve noticed it’s taken on a bigger role than I would have like it to. I am an artist, not a contestant.
EP: Do you feel you could ever do anything different or is music a part of you? In your blood?
AK: Music is the only thing I’m good at.
EP: Talk us through ‘Forever Audrey’. What’s your favourite track and why?
AK: This EP is really my introduction to the world as a ‘solo’ artist. These songs represent who I am, and only me. As any young girl we have our ups and downs and I really wanted to convey that in these songs. I want to reach all young women that go through their trials as a way to remind them they are not alone. I’d say ‘Butterfly’ is my favourite track. That was a pivotal moment in my life and that song will always be very emotional for me.
EP: Do you have any advice for those who are starting out in the music industry?
AK: Be you and only you.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
AK: I look forward to answering any questions at all, because I don’t think I’m that interesting to begin with so it’s a self esteem booster. I usually expect people to ask me about my experience on The Voice, because prior to my participation on that show that’s a question I would ask too. I guess now having been on the show it’s a question I have be prepared to answer always. However I wish I would be asked why I auditioned for the show instead of the experience. Those reality shows are tempting for any artist. I was at a point where I felt desperate for any stage. It’s getting harder and harder to make it in this industry and I hoped that being on Television could give me a platform that was real and authentic. The biggest lesson was that there aren’t any short cuts. Even the artists that win those shows and do experience success after have to pay their dues. It’s hard work being on that stage, however that’s not the work I have passion for. My passion is in my team and the community and I’m blessed to be apart of. Not one I auditioned for.