Karlie Bruce’s Existential Love

Karlie Bruce’s debut album, Paperback Lover, dropped today, however, the Australian singer/songwriter is far from new to the scene.  Karlie moved to NYC in 2005 and has made a...

Karlie Bruce’s debut album, Paperback Lover, dropped today, however, the Australian singer/songwriter is far from new to the scene.  Karlie moved to NYC in 2005 and has made a name for herself doing things as diverse as taking on the role of a back-up singer in the 17-piece disco outfit Escort and playing alongside jazz legends Matt Wilson and Larry Goldings at Carnegie Hall.  However, Paperback Lover is a little different, displaying a side of Karlie that’s been in development since she first landed stateside, but will likely be a bit new for fans of her previous projects.  This Thursday, September 6th, she’ll be celebrating her latest work at La Sala for the Paperback Lover album release show, where Karlie will be backed by an all-star lineup of New York musicians: Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Chris Parrello (Things I Wonder), and Hagar Ben-Ari (Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings).  I recently caught up with Karlie to discuss the history of Paperback Lover and what she has planned for the future.

Izzy Cihak: How would you characterize the sounds you explore on Paperback Lover?  Your previous musical endeavors have been quite varied and diverse.

Karlie Bruce: Paperback Lover is a little bit folk, a little bit rock, and, I’m told, a little bit country. To me, it’s a very spacious and patient album that’s definitely the culmination of many years of writing and playing lots of different music, but I think that’s what gives the album its freedom.

IC: We certainly live in a time of limited attention spans, marked most prominently in music by digital downloads of single songs (I’m not saying this is good… I’m yet to succumb to digital music.)  Is there one song that you feel like best signifies your current aesthetic that you would encourage potential fans to check out first?  Even if just for free on YouTube.

KB:Despite its 6:12, attention-span-challenging-run-time, I’d say that the title track, “Paperback Lover,” might best capture the album’s overall aesthetic for the first-time listener. It’s strong in storyline and, I hope, captivating enough to leave you wanting to hear the rest of the album.

IC: What were the album’s most prominent influences, whether musical or otherwise?

KB: Paperback Lover is loosely influenced by a love affair that over time and, in-turn, the course of the record, became almost fictional, or more like a good romance novel, rather than any kind of reality. I was writing a lot of new music at the time, but most of the tracks that made the final cut came with pretty vivid stills or memories that basically created the concept for the album as a whole.  I have a pretty consistent love of raw, honest instruments and songwriting, so I think, in many ways, this first release is a culmination of that specific aesthetic and the experiences of the last few years, both musical and otherwise.

IC: You relocated from Australia to NYC.  I’m curious what prompted the move and how you feel the two different musical scenes/environments compare.

KB: Australia is an amazing country with so many incredible musicians. It has vibrant and creative music scenes and there’s definitely a sound to the music that’s created there. However, there’s also a lot of music you might not ever hear about, simply because it’s so far away. I guess that’s part of the reason that I moved in 2005. New York, in comparison, is incredibly fast and intense. There’s always a lot going on and people are consistently creating something new, which is an exciting and inspiring scene to be part of. I think my music probably takes on a little bit of both.

IC: For your upcoming album release party you’re going to be performing with a handful of quite prominent musicians.  How did all of you get hooked up?

KB: Mostly, I’m just incredibly lucky. Chris Parrello and I were introduced many years ago through a mutual friend who recommended that we play together. Hagar Ben-Ari and I met whilst working in Chris’ group, Things I Wonder, and Derek Nievergelt and I used to be neighbours back in 2007. Brian Chase went to school with Chris many years ago, and he so graciously stepped forward when we were seeking the right person to make this record. We’ve all been swimming around in the same scene of Brooklyn-based musicians for a while, so things eventually just fell into place. I am consistently humbled to be surrounded by such amazing friends and musicians and this album is as much theirs as it is mine.

IC: What are your plans for the rest of 2012 and 2013?  Any plans for touring?

KB: My next stop is actually home to Australia! After that I’ll be rounding out 2012 with some work on a couple of other projects, but we are definitely working towards a tour in early 2013!


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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.