Kara hr 35 1
Kara hr 35 1
Source: Kara Marni

First Look Friday: Kara Marni Is A Student Of The Game With Music In Her DNA

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Source: Kara Marni

This week’s First Look Friday, Kara Marni, has been infatuated with music since forever. Find out why she’s up next in this interview.

With talent just as potent and infectious as her ambition, Kara Marni goal of becoming a celebrated artist is close to be fully realized. The youthful UK singer and songwriter has studied the greats like Amy Winehouse, Minnie Ripperton, and Lauryn Hill to create her own lane that fuses pop sensibilities with richly deep lyrics and unfettered soul.

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In fact, it was Minnie Ripperton who Kara spent numerous hours with her listening to her iconic whistle register, Kara mastered it and then would go on to learn riffs and runs by Roberta Flack and Anita Baker. Fast forward to 2018, and Marni has become a growing name on everyone’s lips. Her “soul [music] with a sprinkling of pop” has endeared her to us here at Okayplayer, so much so that she became a worthy entry in our First Look Friday series.

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In the wake of her debut single “Golden,” Kara Marni unveils her debut project, Love Just Ain’t Enough, which came out yesterday (May 10). Armed with a voice that can soar as high as the stratosphere and a distinct sound that sets her apart from her contemporaries, Love Just Ain’t Enough ensures that Kara Marni is in her own lane. To celebrate her impending success, we spoke with the 19-year-old vocalist about her influences, any obstacles that she overcame, and how she prepares for live performances.

Lastly, to get a taste of her sound, we have the stream of Love Just Ain’t Enough, a seven-track effort, for you to listen to below.

Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?

Kara Marni: Hopefully it’s my love and passion for soul music that I translate through my songs [that resonates with others].

OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?

KM: As a vocalist I think it is good to always try to be working on something vocally and a couple of years ago Minnie Ripperton inspired me to learn how to whistle [laughs] at my families expense I practiced until I had it down!

Amy Winehouse is definitely up there, it goes without saying her voice was world class but her writing really was too. The way she was so candid with her words and feelings is something I really admired and connected with and it’s the same with Lauryn Hill.

OKP: Can you talk about how your life was while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?

KM: I think being genuine, strong, open, and keeping [myself] earthed has been important and being nocturnal with the creativity [has helped]. I was honestly overwhelmed seeing my name and backstory in print but I felt proud and humbled and felt thankful to those who wrote about me and happy that they connected to my music and voice.

OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racist occurring almost on a daily basis around the globe — how can your music help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?

KM: My songs may not have a direct message about any particular incident but I would like to think that at the very least it offers an escape, a level of understanding, a relatability about love and relationships and maybe even hope.

OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career thus far?

KM: The most difficult aspect of my career so far has been the writing process, hand on heart this is due to the reliving of past emotions that as a vulnerable human being, I would often prefer to forget or bury my head. When you’re writing there is no wiggle room or hiding place, so I’ve had to dig deep and be as open as I can be. The period that sometimes follows laying myself bare has been cathartic so I’m grateful that I’ve learned to be honest with my writing and music.

OKP: Can you also talk about the importance of the music industry scene as how you’ve experienced it? How do you see it evolving in the next five years?

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Source: Kara Marni

KM: For me the importance is that there are so many talented up-and-coming artists who are supporting of one another. Now more than ever there seems to be this incredible movement and I can see how much girls are supporting girls. I feel blessed to be in the music scene right now. I hope within the next five years that this feeling of giving to each other only grows and all the young upcoming artists feel a sense of an arm around them by the artists that are more established. From personal experience the support I’ve had has been overwhelming and humbling and I know that if I get the opportunity to help anyone my arms will be reaching out to the next generation artists, encouraging and inspiring .

OKP: What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself that comes out in your music?

KM: I have learned that I have multiple facets to my personality and that I enjoy channeling that through my songs. I’ve also found that even when I’m feeling low I can vocalize it through my music and it helps.

OKP: What were some moments from your recent travels that will forever stick with you? Why?

KM: [At the time of writing this] I literally just came off the Ray Blk tour and without sounding cheesy every moment was memorable but performing at the renowned Shepherd’s Bush Empire in my hometown where I was able to meet some of the supporters and hear their feedback on my songs meant the world to me because to me it means my music is connecting and it feels like we’re all on a journey together.

OKP: What was the first song that you ever wrote entitled? Can you talk about what it has come to symbolize since you’ve entered into the professional life?

KM: My first proper song I wrote was actually my first single and it’s called golden and it’s come to symbolise so much. Although it was about the first bloom of romantic love it will always conjure up a feeling of good times and happy things for me.

OKP: How can your music speak truth to power in an age where people are so quickly digesting sounds and disposing of artists in a nanosecond?

KM: This question is very thought provoking and I do think about if I’m able to give an important message in a time, I think that will come as a grow as an artist and writer but I’m candid with my songs so hopefully they will stand the test of time.

OKP: Collaboration is uniquely a key to the success of certain creative individuals who wish to change the game. Who would you want to work with this year going into the next and why?

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Photo Credit: Chloe Newman

KM: There are so many people, I’d love to work with, Salaam Remi is someone who has inspired me massively. I’d love to work with Nile Rodgers, Khalid, Kendrick Lamar, Ray Blk, Daniel Caesar... too many to name.

OKP: What is the overall message that Kara Marni is trying to present in her music?

KM: Honesty... especially about matters of the heart.

OKP: Can you break down the inspiration behind a song that you created but never put out?

KM: There is a song which I haven’t released yet but never say never! It’s a song about me transitioning from a girl to a woman and the growing pains that I experienced.

OKP: How do you get over any anxiety before hitting the stage to perform live? What are some lessons or tips that you’ve learned from others about doing a stage show?

KM: I don’t get too much anxiety but I try to combat any nervousness I do feel with positive thoughts and relaxation techniques like deep breaths and stretching. This is all underpinned by the fact that I was forcing anyone that dared walk into the house to be my own personal audience from the age of five where I would ask them to give me any song they wanted to hear and then give them my own rendition of it!

OKP: If the reader’s learned one thing from this First Look Friday chat with Kara Marni — what would it be?

KM: That I’m as real as I can be and music is part of my DNA.


Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for more from Kara Marni (and us!) by following her on Twitter @KaraMarni.