After dropping her debut album in 2019, LA-based singer-songwriter Kara Connolly is back with “Something More” and something different.
A departure from the sweet and sunny, acoustic-driven pop she established on her first record Life in Rear View, the wholly independent, self-supported artist packs a punch and leans into 90s flared alt-pop with her latest single. Co-written and produced by Dan Sadin, “Something More” was written when Connolly was feeling stuck, exhausted, and, honestly, depressed– right before the quarantine hit.
The singer-songwriter told us all about the track in an exclusive interview!
Stage Right Secrets | Congrats on “Something More,” we loved the track! What was the initial idea behind the song?
Kara Connolly | You know, this song has a few layers of meaning to me that I think maybe brought out depending on circumstances, stage of life, state of mind, etc., but the initial idea really just came from the fact that I was feeling exhausted, depressed and burned out. I felt like there had to be something more than that way of life and our work until we’re burned out, constant comparison culture. You know, some sort of magic and connection that would make all of the challenging moments worth it. I can get pretty existential at times and I don’t see it as a dark or negative thing, but I ask a lot of internal questions and never really feel like I’ve got it all figured out (life that is). Sometimes I get a glimpse. There have been a few moments in my life where everything just seemed to make sense and click, as though there is some intricate web, beyond my current understanding, connecting our experiences and us all; that’s something I find hope and beauty in. The song was inspired by a lot of those feelings, but like I was saying, does take on a different meaning the more I listen to it.
How did working with Dan Sadin come about?
Working with Dan came about really organically which I’m grateful for. My last manager and good friend Kyle Emerson-Brown and talented musician/creator/friend of mine Jake Goble (artist projects: Enjune + Marathon) introduced us and thought we’d hit it off. We have similar musical taste and so when I was referencing certain artists I love and am inspired by, Dan would be like “I love that artist” or “I’m super into that album/sound.” We decided to write a song together, which can sometimes be a nerve-wracking process when you’ve never worked with someone before, but it just came together naturally. I brought him the beginning stages of “Something More,” which was really just a semblance of the verse melody at the time, as well as the chorus topline, and sang it for him while playing the acoustic guitar. I told him what I wanted to write about and I think we both understood that it would be a bit of a challenge because this kind of song can easily turn over-dramatic or lean into the cheese ball territory. Dan was the perfect person to write it with. We combed through pages of Google Doc mind dump together and didn’t give ourselves a time limit in finding the right lyric to match the feeling. Dan started to produce the track simultaneously, referencing certain sounds we discussed during our initial meeting, and adding some amazing texture and guitar parts that also really informed the direction of the song and the rest is history.
What was the first lyric you wrote for it?
Ok. I’m listening to my very first voice memo right now. The first complete lyric honestly was, “There’s gotta be something more.” That stuck pretty quick. I knew I wanted there to be a chanty, high-energy chorus. Like I was saying above, the verse melody and loose concept were there when I made that first voice memo, but nothing else was set in stone and I was kind of just spouting out phrases that I felt were in the tone but weren’t quite right.
How did the song progress into what it is today?
Well, it was a tough song to write from that point on because the concept felt bigger to me than just a story-style song or relationship song where there’s a bit more of a formula or specific set of circumstances to draw from. Everything I was writing felt like a bit of a paradox to me because that’s what that feeling honestly was and so it was hard to categorize. Dan and I went through the lyric dump Google Doc I was referencing above and made it make sense. He was really graceful and delicate with me and this concept, which I’m so grateful for. Some people would have tried to rush this song to finish it in a day and I think that would have destroyed this song. We recorded some demo vocals and a base for the track and then the pandemic shut the world down so a lot of those demo vocals ended up in the track. Thinking back on it now, that may have been for the best because it’s an intimate song in a way, and if I was trying too hard and practiced it too much that also could have ruined it. We wrote the lyric “Maybe time will stop if I can slowly break it” and then a week later time really did stop in a way with the stay-at-home order. We produced the track and wrote the post-chorus/bridge (“Some kind of sweet connection…”) over Zoom. We would meet on Zoom and AudioMovers for hours adding different sounds and adjusting things. Dan is an incredible guitar player (and multi-instrumentalist I should add). I knew I wanted there to be a guitar hook in the space in the chorus, as well as a lot of dreamy electric guitar tones in this song as a whole and I think he knew exactly what I was feeling with that. I created a mini home “studio” out of necessity and recorded backing vocals and the bridge vocals in my parent’s closet with scarves and sheets on the wall. Dan mixed it, which was great because we both really knew what we were aiming for in terms of reference and style from that first session on. Of course, things change as you go and explore, which certainly happened, but I’m really stoked on this song because as a whole it really is close to exactly how I was hoping for and hearing that first day on the acoustic (which, if you’re a singer-songwriter, you’ll know is next to impossible). It usually turns out different for me, but equally acceptable. Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound mastered it, which is rad because he’s mastered some of my all-time favorite songs, and then the visual universe was just sort of built piece by piece from there. Sorry, this was so long! This song was quite the process and I learned a lot!
What do you envision a music video would look like?
Welllllllll. My fans know that I love a good music video and that there’s usually one in the works! Seriously, I have more video ideas for my songs than I will ever get to actualize. I will say that if anyone’s been following along with the vibe of my photos, visualizers, and Instagram lately, I would envision the music video to fit into that world.