Karl Williams’ path to New York and beyond

Karl S Williams has featured plenty in past Blank magazines, and for good reason. The Gold Coast bard has had a busy year and is about to up the ante for the remainder of 2014.

Recently signing to Warner / Foostomp, Williams is in the process of ‘reimagining’ his previously released Heartwood album as a deluxe version. If you’ve seen Karl live you won’t be surprised at this signing. He’s a talented musician and vocalist and has been building a steady stream of supporters at a range of venues across Southeast Queensland and other states.

Heartwood was only released last year and now with Warner / Footstomp’s help it’s being repackaged with some new songs and what Karl calls an overall ‘reimagining.’

“The goal, as far as the record label is concerned, is to take an album which they feel is of a really high standard for an independent release and just refine the whole unit. Something my label manager says: we’re taking it from a 7/10 to a 9.5/10,” Williams said.

This time around we worked with a producer – a guy called Mark Myers (from The Middle East) and he came down and we worked on the songs in a very targeted way, to say alright we want to make sure this falls under the magic four minute mark and therefore has a greater potential for being on the radio,” Williams said.

“I never had to do that before, that’s a real label oriented consideration.”

“In my mind a song is as long as it is. And when you’re writing it, the thought of taking out parts just wouldn’t occur to me. I never had expectations of radio play. It was just something that I really wanted to do. I never had anyone to answer to …I mean I don’t think a 10 minute song would have made it on there – I’m sure someone would have said I was being self-indulgent, but there are some long ones,” Karl laughed.

I’m thinking it’s a big thing for an artist like Karl to take his music, something that’s formed so organically and charge someone else with its care. But he says that he’d already done this to some extent with the original Heartwood album.

“Well, it’s funny, because even the first time we recorded the album, we had an engineer working in a producer capacity and even the other guys that recorded it with me would have input on tempos or little things. I kind of, at that point, made a commitment to just say I’ve done my part and now it’s other people’s turn to have an input. I guess I sort of made peace with having an outside influence,” Karl explained.

There’s also logic in Karl’s approach to working with a label and their input into his music. And some of that is as obvious as reaching new markets.

“I am protective of my art, it’s definitely something that I have a real attachment to,” Karl said.

“I basically was trying to reason through the thing of this being a complete work of art that I’ve put to rest,” he said, speaking about the first iteration of the album. “The reality is that this stands a chance of a lot more attention that it’s previously add and if we have the opportunity to add something or fix something or do more than we did the first time, then it’s really lucky.”

And it seems luck is Karl’s middle name, at least for the coming few months. He’s got the launch of his reimagined album, both a support slot or Busby Marou as well as a side headlining tour, he’s been included in the BigSound 2014 lineup, has an appearance and JMC in New York and then he’s on the lineup for Bridgetown Blues Festival in WA to round out the year.

Phew. Big few months is an understatement.

“I’m really excited for the launch,” Karl said. “I have a band, which is probably my avourite band I’ve put together ever. It’s the rhythm section from the ablum plus some other friends. There’s five o us and it really fleshes out the songs to a point I don’t think we’ve done before.

The launch takes place at Rabbit+Cocoon on Friday 1 August with only 250 tickets available. Karl is hoping to sell out the joint.

From the launch he hits the road with Busby Marou and then has a string of headline shows as well.

“Sydney and Melbourne will just be solo, really small theatre venues. And I think I’m going to do another band show, like this one here, in Brisbane,” Karl said.

That takes care of August. Then September his ‘other’ project Tsun has a month-long residency at Black Bear Lodge playing three Saturdays. Whick Karl says is good timing, given his appearance at BigSound.

“I did BigSound last year but this year I’ll be bringing a band, making it a big crazy thing,” he said.

And then, there’s New York. His partner Yanina is hoping to travel with him. “I think so, we’re saving,” she said. The festival starts 21 October and Karl is one of 1400 acts appearing at around 80 venues.

“Details are pretty scant at the moment,” Karl said. “We definitely have some shows booked in on the side. And I’m playing at a club called Pianos – basically this multi-level place where each level has a piano – so apparently that’s on the cards.”

“We’re going via LA and doing a stop there on the way home. Hopefully we’ll play a show or two on the way through.”

But in the meantime, his sights are set firmly on the album launch this week.

“We have a sales target of 5,000 for the new album,” he said. “I’m really excited because Busby Marou have just announced that their debut album has been certified gold. They had the same goal – 5000 sales of their first album.”

You can catch Karl S Williams up close and personal at Miami Marketta this Friday 1 August. Tickets are cheap as chips and this man is about to explode onto the international scene, so please get in quick.


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