Meet pop’s up and coming songstress, Kara Connolly! This Los Angeles based singer-songwriter has just released her single “Other People” off her upcoming album Life In Rear View. Stage Right Secrets sat down with Kara to chat about all things music!
Q: Congrats on the new single, what went into creating it?
A: Thank you so much! You know, this song came about different than the rest on my upcoming project. Prior to beginning recording, I had written the verse and pre-chorus melody, part of the chorus and some sort of an outro and that was it. I’m not sure why I even threw it into the mix to be considered…it was the only completely unfinished song that I did…but for whatever reason I felt there was a little seedling of something special there and so I included my half-written voice memo in my list of songs to send to my producer. I was surprised when he picked it as one of his favorites being its current status at the time. But then when I played the “song” for a couple of friends they all said that they already loved it and that they definitely thought it needed to be at least finished to be considered as a contender for the record. I thought this reaction was so strange (but I guess, awesome?) being that there was maybe five lyric lines written and the rest was just a melody. Thankfully, the main chorus lyric was there, which I guess is what they were going off of. “Please finish it,” they encouraged.
The song came to me in parts over the course of months. It’s weird when songwriting happens like this. I wasn’t trying to write this song (clearly, considering how long it went unfinished). But parts just kept coming to me slowly as I would remember various aspects of a relationship I was in and as I was moving on with my life. I think that’s what gives the song its change in perspective throughout and is part of why I’m discussing the passage of time in the track.
I knew that this song was just writing itself differently than the others. I could feel it. The song was on the brink of being there, just out of reach. I told myself that I would be recording the song on Monday so that I would have to finish it. Then, on the Sunday night before, I had the strangest dream. It was unlike any dream I’d ever had before. The best way I can describe it is that I was very consciously aware that I was dreaming and could affect the outcomes of this dream – unlike every other dream I have ever experienced, which is more like you’re watching a movie. There was a large moth and some mystical woman. It was weird. I shook myself awake several times just to assure myself it was, in fact, a dream because it was quite scary how real the whole thing felt. In the dream, the entire bridge for the song came to me…(Sometimes I think I see your face, in a crowded bar or an empty place, and then, you’re gone again – And I wonder what you’ve been up to, ’cause it’s been a while since I’ve heard from you, and I, hope you’re doing fine…dancing with other people), and I somehow remembered it when I woke up the next morning (the day I would record the song). I swear, it was the strangest thing! Then with the recording, it was a lot of Bill (my producer) taking the guitar part I had written and replicating it on the keys (which is what you currently hear) and adding some super rad sounds, then me being adamant about adding strings to the track. Good times.
Q: How did the single artwork come about?
A: That’s a great question. My longtime friend and talented photographer, Betsy Newman, and I took a trip to Palm Springs and stayed at The Saguaro, which is an extremely quirky and colorful hotel in the area. The plan was to shoot all of the artwork for the entire record out there over a very long day with several outfit and hair/make-up changes. We had a solid plan for most of the looks, but Betsy had always wanted to shoot with a disco ball so she brought one that she kept in her apartment. I ended up loving the photo used in this single artwork. It was one of my very favorites from the entire shoot. I wasn’t sure which song I wanted to use it for, but I knew I wanted to use it for something. Once the music video came together for Other People, I got a sense of what universe this song lived in visually. I loved how that photo is retro and youthful in that I’m wearing a rainbow striped t-shirt and heart glasses, but that the image itself is introspective and reflective with me literally looking at a reflection of myself. To me, the photo is a nice blend of fun (the disco ball and the colors) with the thoughtful reflection that the song simultaneously holds. The song is bittersweet and I think the photo is too. Jack Litchfield designed the cover and I love how he turned that digital picture into what looks like film and with the title written in sharpie. It fits the nostalgia and the innocence that, I think, represent the track. That was a long answer to a short question, but I’m telling you…this is how much thought I put into this stuff!
Q: How far along are you in your album process?
I actually just started recording one of the follow up songs for my next project yesterday. This album is mixed, mastered, and ready to go. It’s been done for some time, I’m just putting the finishing touches on the visuals, distribution, and marketing aspects. I’m looking forward to a spring release of the entire record and then releasing some of the music I’m working on currently.
Q: What made you entitle it “Life in Rear View?”
I chose the title, Life in Rear View, because the very first song on the record is about having a hard time letting go and feeling stuck in the rearview mirror as life passes you by, but eventually jumping in the driver’s seat and moving forward. All of the songs on this record were written by me and are about my life over the past few years so the title felt fitting. The songs are, overall, pretty upbeat and percussive, perfect for a road-trip with friends, and so the car theme additionally seemed appropriate. This album is essentially a journey from breakdown to breakthrough, made possible by taking strides in discovering my self-worth along the way and slowly letting go of what no longer serves me. I would love to encourage others to jump in the driver’s seat of their own lives, to determine what it is they truly want, and to leave the past behind them, in the rearview mirror, to occasionally glance back on. Something about this description feels like The Lion King to me…
Q: Do you have a favorite lyric off of it?
Wow…what a good question. I definitely have a favorite lyric in each individual song. That said, favorite lyric off the entire record is harder. I think it has to be from my latest single, Other People:
Now we’re dancing with other people
Orbiting around the same sun
Now we’re dancing with other people
Strange to think you’re out there with someone
Q: For new listeners, what song should they listen to first?
Another good question. I think they should listen to Nice Guy. That’s what first popped in my head so I’m running with it. The reason being that I think Nice Guy is a good representation of what most of the record sounds like sonically. I also think it introduces you to who I am as a person and an artist, blending a fun, upbeat sing-along sound, but with a topic that, I believe, is important. My goal with that song is to hopefully encourage men to be their true selves in a society that often rewards hyper-masculinity, and for everyone (but particularly young women), when faced with the choice, to pick a partner who shows us the love and respect we deserve.
Q: Your music is a kind of dreamy-pop, what would you classify yourself as? Should genres matter?
A: Ooh dreamy-pop…I love it considering the dream I just detailed in that answer to your first question! I guess that makes Other People literally dreamy-pop.
I’ve been talking about genre a lot lately actually. I realize that each song I’ve released so far has been quite different from one another and that I write in a variety of genres. I think that comes from growing up in various parts of the country as a kid and listening to a wide variety of music that was popular in each area. I consider this record a blend of pop, folk, and country – storytelling with percussive instrumentation and pop hooks. That said, I don’t think that genre should matter perhaps as much as it does. Genres are merging more and more so today with the digital era. I, personally, fall in love with an artist and with stick with them through the various genres they explore because I like their use of words, their vibe, and ultimately their way of sharing their story through music regardless the form. As a new artist myself, however, I’m noticing that genre does make it easier to find a fan base and to categorize oneself. It makes it easier to know which publications to partner with, and which playlists or radio stations to approach. For that reason, I may commit to more of a solid genre this next go around, but I don’t ever foresee myself sticking to entirely one sound. I think that I will always explore various sounds and genres, even if it’s within one overarching genre that connects the songs on an album together and makes it a bit more cohesive.
Q: What made you choose pop music?
To me, pop music is really just any music that a listener can connect with or latch onto quickly. I don’t know that I picked pop music…I think if anything pop music picked me because the melodies that naturally come to me always seem to be more pop driven. That said, I’ve stuck with some form of pop music because I like songs that you can sing and dance along to in a group and because I think that I can unexpectedly place the messages that I want to share within it and hopefully reach a larger audience while also saying something important to me that way. My hope is that maybe at first you’re just singing a song of mine in your car with friends, but that after a few listens perhaps you realize you’re singing something empowering or thought-provoking and that it may change an unlikely listener’s perspective.
Q: How did you fall in love with music?
A: I fell in love with music as a little kid, singing along to disco tracks with my dad in the car, jumping on the bed to Madonna, and making up songs for the games we would play. I remember parading around the house with my dad and little brother with juice boxes in hand and making up a song called “a juicy juice parade” that we marched around and all sang in unison. I still remember the melody. Music and the songs I would write connected me with others that were experiencing life with me and that’s what it still does. That’s why I still love it.