Kelsy Karter no stranger to being a Rebel Without A Cause, but a huge heart lies under that tough girl exterior as she has created one of this years sexist, gutsy, bluesy rock n roll EP's titled, “Kiss The Boys.” Heart and soul from the land down under, but making her way as she climbs to the top- Kelsy's way and there isn't anything that is going to stop her.
Song River: Kelsey it's so good to see you and get caught up! Wow, you have so much going on. Totally excited for you. How have you been?
Kelsey Karter: Doing great! You?
SR: If I was any better they'd tell me I was twins and we don't want that, trust me!
Kelsey it looks like during your growing up years back home when you all finally settled in Australia, that you had a pretty great upbringing. I understand you were pretty independent as a kid growing up.
KK: I grew up performing. I was always doing something in the art kind of world. My parents were musicians. My parents put me in dance classes when I was two, I didn’t like it all, I was so shy, I hated it and wanted to leave. So, I took a bit time off, then I missed it and went back. From there I went into musical classes and loved it. My dad as a musician was a very structured kind of guy and he was adamant about me being in something. I took piano. In my spare time, I grew up playing an instrument or I was going to dance classes. Then I don't know maybe around 12 I really got into hanging out with the boys and we would play sports and stuff like that during our lunch recess. I even got into surfing, and then of course eventually got into trouble and that sort of thing [laughed]. It was funny I was going to musical dance things at night and by day, I was 'duding' it out. I suppose you could say I was a bit of a contradiction, but it is who I am.
SR: Being a bit of a contradiction is a good thing, though, as it lets others around you feel comfortable. They don't sense they are being judged.
KK: True. I mean I was friends with everybody. It didn’t matter. I was never bullied and I never bullied. I got on with everyone, they were all my mates. I guess you could say I was brave and fearless, having a colorful childhood was the best. As I entered my high school years I had a tendency to be the leader and seemed to have a need for chaos. I loved pushing the limits and doing things maybe you shouldn't.
SR: You mentioned your mom and dad were musicians.
KK: Mom was into dance and musical theater/singing. My dad was a classically trained musician. His whole family are that way, very gifted musicians. My uncle who passed away was actually a prodigy. He lived in L.A., he was incredible. I'd say my dad's main instruments was the saxophone. You know once you learn like he had he could pick up any instrument. I remember I got an electric guitar once for Christmas and my dad just picked it up and began shredding. He was a jazz lover. It helps, as they really believe in what I am doing, they get it.
SR: What is your relationship like with your brother?
KK: My brother is my best friend in the entire world. I love him more than anything. I'm sorry I get emotional (paused). I had a sister and she died and then my brother was born with brain damage. And I think I may have been a completely different person if it wasn't for him because he has made me softer and gracious and kind, accepting. He is an incredible person, in many ways if you were to compare him to someone in demeanor I would say he's like Forrest Gump. With all his challenges and abilities he never makes excuses for himself, he gets up and goes to his job every day and never complains. His example has made me a very strong and loving person. My parents treated us both the same, he wasn't treated differently. My mom dedicated her life, changing her life to helping my brother have the best possible kind of life. Through diet and everything. Her work has made it so he isn't taking medication. It really is a beautiful thing to watch, the way I was brought up and I am very grateful for it.
SR: It sounds like much of your character of working hard, being compassionate and not making excuses came from your parents.
KK: Very much so. My dad worked 14 hour days when we growing up. He didn’t make excuses.
SR: Do you get to go back home often?
KK: Yes. I go at least once a year.
SR: Now if I recall, there is a connection you have with the TV show “Twelve Monkeys?”
KK: It came about that I had tweeted that I really liked this new series called “Twelve Monkeys” and it just so happened that the show runner must have seen it and hit me up asking where he could hear my music. I emailed him some songs that hadn’t been released yet, so he contacted me to ask my manager if they could be used for the TV program. That was in the first season, then they asked me to come back as a composer. I am not doing the score, but the songs within the show. The show is set between the 40's and 70's and it just fits everything that I am doing.
Also recently I was actually asked to do an Otis Redding cover, “Come To Me.” Otis Redding's 'camp' had to approve it and of course, I was nervous as hell... those male and female singers from that time, along with musicians like Stevie Wonder... I grew up on them.
SR: Lead us into what went into your EP, Kiss The Boys?
KK: I met these dudes on Twitter (laughed), Michael Maughan and Colin Masiel. I was at a point in my career where I was resetting myself. I had tweeted I was looking to work with some new people. We met up and I loved them, yet we weren't quite coming together. So, I went off and worked on my own, working with my co-writer, Dave Farr, who actually is a screenwriter too, and when we had something I felt was what I wanted I took it back to Michael and Colin. The experience was totally real and organic. We mashed. Those two, Michael Maughan and Colin Masiel are the producers of my first EP and Michael actually produced with me on the songs for “Twelve Monkeys.”
The songs from my first EP, well I think the first goal was to really get inside all the shades of who I am. One of the songs on my EP, “Children Of My Hometown” was just me and my guitar. It was to be kept simple as it was a song I had written a long time ago. It is actually the first song used on the show, “Twelve Monkeys.” The song, “Kiss The Boys” (laughed) I love boys, I have been friends with boys all my life. I have only had two boyfriends actually my whole life. “Crystal Blues” is about a boy with blue eyes. It was kind of my way of making a conversational song, it's about something bad that you shouldn’t do, but you do it anyway. It is very metaphorical. The “Outsiders” is really about just being completely different than others in many ways and not caring- going forward with your head held high. “Clocks” was a song I wrote, a song about death originally for me. So my boyfriend and I reworked it, and we kind of made it into a song that you can take your own message from. “Valentine” is of course about not wanting someone to fall in love you.
SR: With your love of dance, singing-songwriting, and performing along with working with your co-writer Dave when are you producing the next Grease?
KK: Actually, that is too funny we are working on writing a musical right now. It is like a musical on film. It is set in the 1950's in New York... who wants to be a Broadway star. That is her dream over being an actress. She gets into trouble along the way, but I won't go into anymore right now.
SR: Well then, we will have to talk again when this comes out! I am curious if you were to identify yourself with one of the characters from Grease who would it be Kelsy?
KK: I say I am more of Rizzo than a Sandy, but if you really look at it, I would have to say, Danny. You know the rebel without a cause. I have been that leader of the pack always, but deep down I am a softie. Just like Danny. I am a James Dean, not a Marilyn.
SR: Where can we find your music right now Kelsy?
KK: iTunes to purchase, Spotify, Sound Cloud all those streaming, and video since I love to tell a story to go to my YouTube.
SR: If you were to sum up who you really are as a person Kelsy, what would you say?
KK: I am a success already, I am so happy with what I have done so far. I am a problem solver. You put a problem in front of me I will figure it out. A solution finder.
SR: You're inviting four other people to join you in a cafe, living or dead, to sit down have a cup of coffee and chat, who would that be?
KK: Number one- Johnny Depp. I saw Edward Scissorhands and that was it. Amy Winehouse (paused) this is hard. Vincent Piazza and I know it's going to really weird... Albert Einstein. I have to invite one more- my sister. I never met her, she had died before I was born. I feel her at times and I'd just love to sit down and chat with my sister.