KARL S. WILLIAMS
Interviewer – Mandy Campbell
Bluesy balladeer Karl S. Williams is currently on the road promoting his new single “Blood To Give”, charming crowds and selling out venues. We catch up with the singer/songwriter/artist to see how it is all going.
On the back of the release of your new single “Blood To Give”, you’re about halfway through your tour of the east coast. How is it going so far, any highlights?
The tour has been amazing! Each show stands out for different reasons, if I were to pick a single highlight it would be officially selling out The Bearded Lady in Brisbane before doors. That’s a first for me and it is so mind-blowing and lovely to have that support at home. Beyond that, we played a most beautiful festival; Wintermoon Spring Festival near Mackay and I got to hang out by the fire and play old-time tunes with the crew each night. Getting back to Sydney after a couple of years was wonderful too and at The Northern in Byron Bay we had our friend Ian Peres (from Wolfmother among others) come and join us for a song!
Heralding from Byron Bay originally, how does your current home town of the Gold Coast stack up? Do they have a supportive music culture for your brand of blues?
I grew up in a small town a little south of Byron Bay and I think I’ll always feel a connection to that part of the world, it is verdant in so many ways. The Gold Coast is not too far removed so it seems people there can relate to my brand of blues. I am very lucky to have a really supportive community on the Gold Coast. It is a strange city but the musical family there is really tight-knit and producing some great work. I hope as time goes on there will be more venues for live original music to nurture the talent that is there.
You came from a non-musical family. How is it that you came to find your voice?
Music called to me for a long time before I started heeding that call. Eventually it became irresistible and when I was given a guitar for my 19th birthday I just threw myself at it headlong. I never even considered being a singer but I would sing along when I was learning old blues songs on guitar. My own family wasn’t musical but I was lucky to have some friends who had a very musical household. Their parents were always hanging out singing and playing guitar so I ended up spending a lot of time jamming with them and on one occasion they encouraged me to sing something for them. I really respected their opinions so when they said “oh yeah, you can sing!” that was enough to encourage me to keep singing, I’ll be forever in their debt.
You are known for your toe tapping blues and gospel inflections. However your artwork is also getting quite some attention. Which came first, the words or the imagery? And do you find that one seems to inspire the other?
Maybe it’s a bit like synaesthesia but I don’t see much distinction between the music and the visual art. I guess drawing came first because I didn’t have the tools to make music until later in life but the essential urge to express is at the root of both. A picture can express a feeling in the same way a piece of music or writing can, it’s just the way the information is taken in is different. For my own work I feel that the music and visual art are complementary to each other. A song might get part of the way toward expressing a feeling and then the remainder comes out as an image. Sometimes an idea is delivered as a melody or a lyric and other times it’s a vision in the minds eye.
The film clip for the “Blood To Give” is poignantly illustrated with a not so subtle hint to let love beat the demons. Does the state of the world and it’s seemingly dark descent affect your songwriting?
World events certainly influence the way I feel and that is reflected in my work. I am inclined towards the darkness and melancholy so life in this world provides boundless inspiration. I try to keep some hope in there (but I sometimes need to be reminded to do so). Ultimately I prefer to focus on smaller matters of the human experience rather than big world affairs. I believe so much of that is, at its core, a reflection of the state of individual souls so it is the soul that I hope to address.
If you could use your music or your art to give one message to those in power to affect change, which medium would you choose and what would you say?
I think my message is fairly constant, as in the clip for ‘Blood To Give’ it is expressing the power and importance of love. Love resides in the heart of individuals, therefore we all have the power to affect change. I think addressing the illusory power-brokers of the world is ineffective, real change is enacted by ordinary people so I hope if we all love more, the shape of the world will follow. I think I’d choose the medium of song because it seems more people are moved by a beautiful song than a beautiful artwork but both have the power to communicate this message and I will continue to broadcast it on all fronts.
What’s next for us to look forward to from you?
Once I finish this tour I’ll take stock and hopefully be in a place where I can make some progress on a new album which I’ll be aiming to release in 2018. It has been hard to pin down but I have written a lot of material and new songs are coming through all the time. The positive response for ‘Blood To Give’ has been incredibly encouraging for the sonic direction that future recordings might take, so I plan to explore that more in the studio. Concurrently with that I’m hoping to explore some opportunities in the US and Canada as well as looking into putting on my first art exhibitions! Seneca said that life is short but long enough. I shall keep moving.
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AMNPLIFY – DB
My nickname is “The Amnplifier”. Why? Because around here my focus is on being a conduit for providing greater outcomes that people come here for. My day to day “work” is living in the moment, and I love helping others concentrate on finding their connection to themselves through their experiences.
Why start a music environment? The truth is I love music, I love writing, and I love life. I work with musicians every day, and I feel certain that I will be until they put me in the ground. I have been managing people in businesses of some sort for over thirty five years so along the way I have developed some “wisdom” from my regular and constant “observations”.
Amnplify your experience. That is what we want you to do here, and if you want to let me know why you do, or don’t, shoot me a message on Facebook.
I also have a nickname “Gurudave” and have a new Q&A I am distributing called “Conversations With Dave – In Deep With The Guru”. Let me know if you are interested in taking it and you can take my “Fuck” Quiz at the same time.
Hope you enjoy yourself here and find something that hits you somewhere.