Can you talk to us more about your recent single “Let Me Go”? Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song and do you have any plans to release a video for it?
I tend to write about direct personal experience, but “Let Me Go” was actually inspired by a friend whose parents were not accepting of who he is and were resisting allowing him to grow into the person he wanted to be. It goes out to anyone who feels the need to break free of a habit, pattern, or person holding them back, anyone in need of a little self-love—flaws and all, and anyone who feels the pull to forge their own path despite adversity. You are allowed to believe what you believe (or not believe what you don’t), to love who you love, to pursue whatever dream it is you want to pursue, and to, most of all, not feel sorry about it. I don’t currently have plans for a video as I just released a video for my song Other People, but I do plan to allow my fans to vote on the next music video and so if they select “Let Me Go”, it may get one!
“Let Me Go” is off your new album Life In Rear View – what’s the story behind that title?
Well, funny enough, the song was originally called Children Grow Up and it was a super sassy, tongue-in-cheek country song. Like way more country than anything you’ve heard from me so far. I brought it into a session with Garrison Starr and Bill Lefler (my album’s producer) and Garrison suggested changing the song from speaking about someone else’s story to making it my own and using “I” instead of “them” and “you.” We ended up just writing a totally new song based upon the same concept. The choral “oh oh oh oh” part came pretty early in the writing process and so let me go naturally followed. Let your children go was essentially what I was saying in my initial song…that it’s okay to trust them and let them move forward with their lives; to loosen the grip because you’re only losing them faster by holding on so codependently. I’ve noticed that all of my friends who had super strict parents growing up were always the ones to lie and hide things, experience a bunch of what wasn’t “allowed” as fast as possible before their parents got home, etc. So that was the message of the song, just said in a much sassier tone. I think taking it to the “I” perspective and making it more personal really made for a much more powerful and empowering track in a total 180 kind of way. I think it really opened it up to meaning many different things for various situations as well.
How were the recording and writing processes?
I guess I sort of just answered a lot of that above, but what I will say is that we recorded this entire song on the same day we wrote it. I remember it was a very long day. I believe I was in the studio from 11 am to around 11 pm. Nearly everything was complete writing and production wise after that one session (including final vocals). The only thing I added, later on, was the echo after “every word you say” in the second verse and built up that final chorus, making it a tad more “epic” so to speak. Most songs on my album I wrote in advance and this was the only one that transpired like that.
What was it like to work with Bill Lefler and how did that relationship develop? How much did he get to influence the album?
It was fun working with Bill. Lots of inside jokes and laughter. Long days and some learning curves. Bill is so multi-talented. He can play nearly every instrument and works incredibly fast. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone work so focused and fast. It’s crazy because you spend so much time with someone while recording an album and then it’s weird to not see them every day thereafter. The relationship actually began on Instagram. I was always a fan of his work with Ingrid Michaelson and so I reached out for some advice. He graciously chatted with me on the phone and said he would probably be able to help a bit more if he heard my style of music. I sent him a few tracks and he said he loved my voice and songs, asked me to come into the studio where I played them in person and everything sort of just transpired from there. It’s a longer story than just that, of course, but what I will say is that social media can be very powerful if it’s used in the right ways.
Bill influenced the album tremendously. While I wrote 90% of the tracks beforehand and had an idea of the sonic direction and cut-outs/dynamics I wanted within the songs, Bill really created the vibe, played most of the instruments, and selected most of the sounds used.
What role does LA play in your music?
I would say that outside of writing these songs in various apartments in LA that the songs themselves truly could have been inspired or written anywhere. I think the themes are pretty universal and not dependent upon the city. That said, I feel like some of my newer songs that are not out yet are much more inspired by LA. I have a song that I hope is on the next project that references the Hollywood sign (which I live right under).
While recording and prepping for this record, your music keeps gaining more and more momentum – did that put any pressure on you or rather the opposite?
Such great questions! My honest answer is that this album was finished in its entirety before I released a single song and before that momentum began. That said, I will say that the pressure does seem to always be building and that’s why I think this question is so well thought out. I am so thrilled that I’m gaining more and more opportunities for my music, but with that comes more things to do and less time to do it, more contracts to read, more learning curves, bigger shows and things to pull off. More people paying attention and telling you when you’ve hit a bad note or have weird hair. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world, but I think when you’re an independent artist and trying to pull off larger opportunities, it kind of comes with the territory. I’m sure some of that pressure is entirely self-induced. I was thinking about that yesterday actually. I’m just someone who really cares about everything I’m doing and I’ve noticed that sometimes I actually do better when I just show up completely chill and unprepared, but that’s just not in my nature so I totally oppose it.
Like “Let Me Go”, does the whole album deal with the concept of coming of age and growing?
I would say, in many ways, yes. The album is about learning how to let go of what no longer serves you, ask for what you want, embrace vulnerability, acknowledge your own self worth and never settle for less than the love and respect you deserve. I think that all of those things come as you get older and gain more wisdom and experience, growing as a person as a result.
Where do you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I find inspiration everywhere…my own life, friend’s lives, the world at large…I would say that I was heavily inspired by both the ending of a relationship and beginning of new love while writing this album, but that there are still a few tracks that are outside of that that represent how I can write about more of a larger picture. “Highlight Reel” was inspired by the lives we curate on social media, “If It’s Jack” was inspired by a friend who stayed with this one guy she was dissatisfied with for months on end, “Abuser” was inspired by someone in the entertainment business and “Marry Me” was inspired by my cousin’s wedding.
Any plans to hit the road?
I would love to go on tour, but for now, I’ve got a couple of SoCal shows lined up such as the San Diego County Fair on 6/1 and The Peppermint Club on 7/12, which will be a themed album release party.
What else is happening next in Kara Connolly’s world?
Oh man! Well, I just got the news that I’m going to be on the news…Good Morning San Diego KUSI! It should be cool because I’m from San Diego and grew up watching the station. But apparently, I have to get up super early, which is rough for me. Other than that, I have another song in the works that is a bit different from what you’ve heard and I plan to keep promoting this album for a bit. Release some more visual content, connect with more supporters. I’m open to seeing where it all goes!