We Interview British Singer Songwriter Kara Marni On Touring With Rita Ora
And being in an industry where females uniting is at the forefront.
Currently causing a buzz on the UK music scene is 20 year old London-based singer songwriter Kara Marni, who’s retro soul sound and unfettered lyrical game has already seen her touring with the likes of music legends Rita Ora and RAY BLK. With her debut work “Golden” and her follow up EP “Love Just Ain't Enough” earning her a legion of fans, Kara’s latest single “Move” is a celebration of taking back control and embracing change- a mantra that holds clear significance in what has been a whirlwind year for the young artist. Fizzy Mag caught up with Kara at the 25 Hours Hotel in Hamburg during her latest tour of the city, to talk about her eclectic approach to songwriting, the soulful influences behind her work, what it feels like to be a woman in today’s music world….and of course her spot on sneaker game.
Thanks for meeting with Fizzy Mag Kara! You look great! How are you?
Kara Marni: I’m really excited to be in Hamburg. I’m playing Reeperbahn Festival! It’ll be my first time playing there but I’ve heard so many good things...so I’m very excited to be here!
How or when did you know that you wanted to be in music?
KM: I guess it’s always been in me, before I could even speak I was always singing and making weird noises and just kind of discovering my voice. But I was probably around 15 or 16 years old when I was really like “Ok, this is what I want to do as a career.” But up until then I had always done it, but had never thought I could pursue it as a career.
And other than singing, did you play any instruments at that age?
KM: I only started playing the guitar when I started writing songs as I thought it would help me with songwriting and figuring out melodies. I remember picking up a guitar at home and just playing along, trying to accompany myself, badly!
"My parents have also been super accommodating and really supportive. Living with a creative person can have a lot of ups and downs; but they have been really amazing and I’m so lucky to have that; that they have sort of been backing me from day one."
How did your first record deal come about?
KM: Someone from my management team actually discovered one of my YouTube videos. I had posted a video of Lovin’ You by Minnie Riperton, who, along with Aretha Franklin and some others, was one of the main women that had inspired me to sing. After he came across my video online he introduced me to my management team now, and it organically grew from there- that’s when I started to take it more seriously, working at it every day. My parents have also been super accommodating and really supportive. Living with a creative person can have a lot of ups and downs; but they have been really amazing and I’m so lucky to have that; that they have sort of been backing me from day one.
What influences your songwriting?
KM: I think everything influences music. There are obvious things such as relationships and friendships, but even feeling sadness from your pet passing can be an influence. My pet passed away recently, which made me really sad. I think anything that taps into your life is important, even just interesting conversations that I have with people are important. There is also no set way of making or writing a song, which makes it such an exciting process.
So which artists in particular would you say have influenced you most?
KM: When I was younger my family weren’t incredibly musical themselves, but we played lots of music around the house. As I mentioned earlier Minnie Riperton and Aretha Franklin were two big sources of inspiration. But other great solo artists such as Roberta Flack also really inspired me. Listening to Tracy Chapman and her guitar, that’s when I was like “Ahh I really want to play the guitar!” because when I heard her and saw her live sessions on YouTube, it was amazing. And Lauryn Hill as well, watching her playing the guitar live- you cant help but just think “Ugh, that’s so cool!”.
And talking of live music, what was it like being on tour with Rita Ora?
KM: Yeah! It was amazing! I learned so much from watching how she just steps into her role each night, delivering the best performance possible, and how much work she puts into it. It was inspiring for me to see just kind of at that level how much dedication and time it takes to deliver a pretty amazing show.
So what can you tell us about your latest singles? Any plans for an album?
KM: I don’t have an album out yet! That is still in the making, but my EP is called Love Just Ain’t Enough and it’s basically about my experience of love and life at my age and all the different stages of it. “Golden” takes you through the honeymoon period of a romance when it feels as if you are walking on water, and then there’s the other side of the spectrum where you realise “love just ain’t enough”- as much as you may love somebody, it’s not always enough to keep a relationship going. It’s my first EP so it will always have a special place in my heart. I’m so happy it’s out, because I’ve been working on it for a while. And my new song “Move” is my latest single.
Yes I’ve heard it and I really like it! Both songs work incredibly well together stylistically.
KM: Thank you! I’ve just shot the music video for it as well so I’m really excited to release that. I wrote Move as an extension of Love Just Ain’t Enough and to me it is such an empowering song which speaks to times when you’ve been faced with a bad situation in a relationship, and you just kind of find the strength to be like “Enough is enough! I’m moving” - so there is meant to be quite a sassy and empowering message behind it, which I like.
When and where are you most feel yourself to be most creative?
KM: I’m most creative at night, I always get my ideas in the evening so I would say around 12 am is when I work best. But where, I guess in some ways I am always working creatively, thinking about stuff. Even this morning, just as I was reading an article, an idea popped into my head, a single word, and I just had to write it down. But I guess in the studio is where I am probably most productive and creative, because that’s where I’m focussed and have the setup to write stuff. But around that I am still always thinking about ideas and songs and melodies. It's not a 9 to 5 job, so it doesn't really stop.
What has your experience of being a woman in today’s music industry been like?
KM: I have been surrounded by so many great women throughout my career so far. My management company is predominantly female, Ray BLK is another female who took me on my first tour, and as I mentioned earlier Rita Ora has also taken me on tour. Raye actually called me up just last week and asked me to go on tour with her. She’s been really supportive. I think it’s amazing to see how nowadays in the industry it feels as if we are all supporting each other as opposed to just being in competition. There is so much love and support out there, which makes me happy and really grateful to be in the industry at a time where females uniting is at the forefront.
And what’s next for you?
KM: Well I’m next playing here in Germany in Reeperbahn, my music video for Move is coming out and I will be going on tour with Raye soon. I am also going to be returning to the studio to write more stuff for an upcoming EP… so lots of exciting stuff in store!
"I think it’s amazing to see how nowadays in the industry it feels as if we are all supporting each other as opposed to just being in competition. There is so much love and support out there, which makes me happy and really grateful to be in the industry at a time where females uniting is at the forefront."
I saw you were looking busy at this year’s London Fashion Week, what did you get up to?
KM: I did quite a lot over Fashion Week. I sat front row at the Adidas show, which was really cool, wearing the same shoes that you’re wearing now, the Adidas Falcon model. I also sat front row at the Julien Macdonald show, which was amazing. His designs are really incredible. I also went to the Cartier party and a Louboutin event, which I got to wear some cute little heels for.
Would you consider yourself a sneaker girl?
K M: I probably would, because let’s be honest… they’re way more comfortable than heels. But at the moment I’m just trying to stay in these Louboutin’s since they look so great. When there is a good shoe going I’m happy to wear them, but ultimately sneakers are always more comfortable right?
And what’s your favourite pair of sneakers?
KM: Oh, that’s a tough one you’ve thrown at me there- there are a few. I have to say I love Adidas and Nike so it’s kind of a mixture between the Stan Smith Adidas or the Air Force 1s, the Nike ones. Or the 97s… I feel like I need the 97s, 93s, 94s, 95s…
How many sneakers do you reckon you have?
KM: A lot. I don’t count.
KM: Probably. I don’t know! The thing is I’ve given so many away. Whenever I come home with boxes my whole family and friends dive at them. So my sister steals my shoes, my dad steals my shoes, although they don’t fit him. My mum is kind of downsizing her feet, she tries to squeeze into my shoes…so basically everyone is trying to squeeze into my sneakers!
Photography: Brit The Kid