Q&A: Defiant In Nature, Kelsy Karter Can't Help But Be Bad

With a powerful rock ‘n roll gospel voice and a bold reckless attitude, Kelsy Karter shines in her latest single “God Knows I’ve Tried." The track details Karter’s rebellious nature in an attempt to fit in with societal standards. It’s a heartbreaking apology letter to all of those who Karter hurt in the past. Though she has her faults, Karter eventually accepts her wild spirit.  

Kelsy Karter has had a colorful past that she is not afraid to detail in her music. The songwriter was born in New Zealand, grew up in Australia, and ultimately landed herself in Los Angeles – collaborating with the likes of Cage the Elephant, Alex Da Kid among others.  

Reminiscent of Amy Winehouse with an influence of The Rolling Stones, Karter is garnering much deserved attention. I had the opportunity to interview Karter on her writing process, influences and new single.  

OTW: You say "God knows I've Tried" is an apology letter in the form of a rock and roll ballad – what's the story behind its creation?

We didn’t really have an initial direction for this song. It was a "pick up the guitar and vibe” kind of moment for us. I listen to a lot of Queen and David Bowie and am definitely inspired by certain elements of their music. Classic rock drum patterns with gospel harmonies and of course electric guitars, which the majority of my music is lead by. That’s what it sounds like. But we wanted it to FEEL like a modern day “Hallelujah.” It was a really fucked up time for me, and I wanted to talk about it.

OTW: "God Knows I've Tried" is an ode to your inner rebel – what does being “rebellious” and being “bad” mean to you?

People call me a rebel, but I’ve always just been a very curious kid. Love getting into trouble, testing boundaries and doing what others are too scared to do. I wasn’t really aware of it as much when I was little though; I just did what I wanted. Then one day it’s like I teleported to a different dimension and could see myself for who I really was. And I suddenly had all these questions about myself and the world. I realized I had to do something with my rebellious spirit because I became more and more curious everyday. Luckily I have my music to channel that into.

OTW: So I know some of your influences are classic rock icons such as the Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  What attracted you to this style of music?

My Dad was really the catalyst for me becoming a musician. He brought me up on jazz, soul and blues, and I played the flute for much of my life. James Brown and Sam Cooke were early influences of mine, and how I learned how to sing, but I found rock 'n roll on my own, and that’s what turned me from a singer to an artist.

OTW: You've worked with some big names in music such as Cage the Elephant and Alex Da Kid, how has that helped you improve and grow as an artist?

Collaboration is where the magic is. I want to be the best. So I have to learn from the best. I’m a baby artist but I want to do this until the day I die. All icons have icons, and luckily for me I get to work with some of them. Like I said earlier, I’m a very curious person, and that lends me to be great at learning. Working with these guys has been a dream and an honor for me!!

OTW: Finally, what would your perfect show entail?  Who would you share the stage with and what would be your dream venue?  

PICTURE THIS: It’s New York City in May. I’m backstage at Madison Square Garden, dressed in velvet and lace and my Mum brings me a nice hot cup of tea cause that’s what Mum’s do. We hear my band tuning their instruments in the next room, and from the sound of it they’re enjoying that bottle of whiskey I left for them. There’s a knock at the dressing room door. As it cracks open, we hear the muffled excitement of fans swarming into the arena. And in walks HARRY STYLES, head to toe in one of his custom made Gucci suits (preferably the one from his final show at the Forum). He walks over to me, smiling, “You ready, Kels?” he says. I faint. Moments later I come to, realizing I’m at MSG about to perform in front of the world with Harry motherfuckin Styles, so I quickly pull my shit together. “Yes, Harry. I am ready.” He looks at me puzzled. That question was 20 minutes ago. He hits me another smile, takes my hand and we head for the stage. From then it was all a blur. Who opened for who, nobody really knows. But we went out there….and we made history.

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