Blues most peculiar comrade, Karl S Williams, chats to Ultra Underground about collaborating with Lykke Li, performing at Bluesfest, his journey into music, a ‘paradox of love’, hopeful 2015 releases and his favourite childhood records!
UU: How does it feel to be on the Bluesfest line-up?
KARL: Crazy, SURREAL, surreal is a word that comes to mind.
UU: Are you looking forward to seeing anyone perform?
KARL: Mavis Staples is my big historical figure that I need to see, I really hope I get to see her. There’s so many, Charles Bradley, Jurassic 5, I caught a bit of Alabama Shakes and the Aussies like Steve Smyth, he’s an amazing local guy.
UU: Definitely! Now, you were raised in a non-musical family, what was it that got you into music and most especially the Blues?
KARL: Well, I was always drawn to it strangely, I figure that’s transcended the whole ‘non-musical family’ thing. Something cosmic said “you need to be playing music”, it was just a calling, I couldn’t put it down to one moment in particular. I just always had this notion that if I had a guitar I’d be able to play it and it took me a while before I got a guitar, but once I did it kind came naturally. The Blues was the same, it was the sound that came out and it probably has a lot to do with that being the music I was listening to but yeah, it seemed to all come naturally!
UU: Lovely! What song are you most proud of having written?
KARL: Well, that changes all the time… but off the album I have out at the moment, I’d say Is This Love? which is the single that we’re touring at the moment. I’m very proud of that song, it seems to mean a lot to a lot of people.
UU: And what inspired the track?
KARL: I guess it’s inspired by that feeling when you meet someone new and it’s like a paradox of love. In its early phase you don’t know if it’s love and a lot of questions, most importantly, the one of ‘is this love that lasts forever or is this love that will end?’ are unanswered and so you have to decide ‘should we enter into it with that understanding or the opposite being do we enter it with all of ourselves with the hope that it will continue forever?’.
UU: Wow… That was deep! *both laugh* do you have any new music coming out in the near future?
KARL: I hope so, I don’t have any releases planned but I’ve been writing January, February this year. I’ve had time off shows and I’ve been wiring a lot of new songs and getting them ready with the view of making a new album, so hopefully I’ll have a new single out by the end of this year, sort of leading into a new album at the start of next year.
UU: Awesome! And do you hope to collaborate with anyone?
KARL: Absolutely, that’s been spoken about. There’s some pretty exciting names being thrown around, I don’t know if I’m under liberty to talk about it *contemplates for a few moments*
UU: C’mon, you can’t just leave it at that! *laughs*
KARL: Well… Ok! There’s a hope of perhaps a duet with Lykke Li, it’s quite an arrangement but we’re both Warner artists.
UU: Well, that sounds pretty snazzy! What’re your top 5 favourite records?
KARL: Oooh, that’s a hard one. I would say as far as influential on me personally Dark Side of the Moon -Pink Floyd, that one and Led 4 – Led Zeppelin; those two albums were my childhood, listening to those two repeatedly. I’m just gonna say the last three are Songs of Leonard Cohen, Songs of Love and Hate and Songs from a Room, his first three albums. I got a lot out of those!
UU: Great taste! And so I have one last question, what makes you happy?
KARL: Music makes me happy *smiles* is that an obvious answer?
UU: It is a little obvious *laughs* but if it makes you happy it’s valid!
KARL: Well, I think to drive down into that a little bit, it makes me happy to express what I feel are universal truths and just see that expression elevated by a responsive audience.
UU: Wonderful! Oh, and I MUST ask who inspires your style? it’s truly spectacular.
KARL: I have a weird sense of style… the scene in Taxi Driver where the girl walks into the Diner and there’s all the pimps, that’s my inspiration.
Peace, love and keep singin’ the Blues,