Kara Marni is here to breathe new life into the R&B game. Hailing from North London, the singer-songwriter has had quite an eventful year, which includes over 20 million streams across all streaming platforms, opening for Lewis Capaldi at his sold-out show at the Brighton Dome, and even headlining the Pussy Parlure stage at Glastonbury (a UK festival that’s larger than Coachella).
They always say: as long as you’re selling tickets to your shows, you’re doing something right. As much as Kara likes making music that sounds good, she loves performing it — as evidenced by her incredible live band.
The 20-year-old describes her sound as “soul and R&B, with sprinklings of pop.” But as a creative, she refuses to be boxed into any one genre. Her biggest influences come from the soul greats, including Aretha, Minnie, Nina, and Diana Ross, all of whom impact the way she writes, sings, and records.
Having had much success with her debut EP Love Just Ain’t Enough released in May of last year, Kara spends the majority of her waking hours locked in the lab perfecting her craft. Flaunt Mag caught up with the “All Night” singer ahead of her forthcoming project in October to discuss her UK roots, recent singles, studio essentials, and best encounter with a fan.
Being from the UK, how does that play into your life and career?
Being from London, there’s a lot of opportunity there. It’s very multicultural and there’s a lot of inspiration and creative people. Just a great city to be in to be creative, there’s lots going on. It’s just an inspiring city to be in, amazing live music and shows. I love where I’m from, I love London so much.
And you still live there?
I still live there. I don’t plan on moving anytime soon, but maybe one day. I mean, I do love LA. It’s just so far from my family that I don’t think I can do the big move quite yet.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
For me, it’s important because R&B is thriving here. In the UK, it’s good to see more artists being shown a lot more love in the R&B world. Mahalia is doing really well, Jorja Smith. It’s so good to see R&B is having a moment in the UK, but there’s definitely more of a ceiling in the UK for R&B compared to America. Look at Ella Mai for example, she wouldn’t be where she is if it wasn’t for America. So for the type of music I’m doing, it’s super important to be out here and writing with the producers. To be fair, I love LA. It’s a super inspiring place to be and the weather is decent. [chuckles]
What’s your favorite part about the West coast?
The weather. It makes such a difference to a day I realized. In London, it’s raining pretty much every day. The summers are not very great. You get a couple nice days which I’m probably in the studio for. I miss those. LA just means you’re in a good mood all the time. For me, I just leave my apartment like how can I be angry or sad in this weather?
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
When I got signed. I’ve always loved music and always done music, it’s always been my main passion. But when I got signed, I’m like “oh, we’re doing this. It’s going to be my job.” That was the moment. I signed to my management at First Access Entertainment, they have Bebe Rexha, Rita Ora, Young Thug, etc.
What was the inspiration behind your name?
Why did you ask that? Does it not sound like my real name? ‘Cause a lot of people ask me. It’s my real name but it’s my surname split into two words. So Karamani is one word and I went [snip]. Karamarni didn’t feel like an artist name. Kara Marni is kind of like my alter ego, it’s me when I’m on stage.
Talk about linking with Champion on “All Night Pt. 1”
That came about quite organically with DJ Sticky, a legendary UK garage producer. He almost pioneered that scene in the UK. I was working with him and he said “there’s this guy CHAMPION, we should do something.” We got in the studio and there “All Night” was born. We just hit it off. It was the first session we ever did, and we wrote the song.
You got a man?
At the minute, it’s hard to focus on that when so much is going on with my career and my personal life. But you know, there are things going on. I’m not sure what it is yet but…
It inspires the music right?
Yes exactly. Pt. 2 is out, it just dropped. R&B, slow jam fashion.
Who inspired “Opposite”? Was it a close friend?
“Opposite” was about my best friend. We can all relate to having best friends who don’t listen to your advice. She was with this guy who was treating her like utter trash. She kept going back to him and it’d be the same story every single time. To be honest, I wrote that song out of frustration because she would never listen to me.
Actually funny story, she dumped him after hearing this song. I’m like “I’m just gonna have to keep writing songs to get through to you clearly, because I’ve been saying the same thing for ages.” When she heard the song, she realized “shoot yeah, I’m just being…” It hit her differently, so that’s a positive thing that came from it. I’m not great friends with him, I don’t think he likes me too much for it. But who cares, I don’t like him anyway.
Best memory from the visual?
For lunch, we got a ton of pizzas. That’s probably the best memory. What’s crazy about the “Opposite” video is I barely moved. They sped everything up. They’re like “move your head from left to right.” [barely moves head] Yeah, I literally didn’t move. So weird.
What can we expect from the project dropping in October?
You can expect more R&B goodness, soulful vocals and more stories. Hopefully music you’re gonna mess with. I think of music that people are going to listen to.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Just to feel something, whatever that may be. If it helps you through, feeling like you got an arm around you, just something you can relate to that makes you feel less lonely. With music, it’s very personal, like how you feel when you listen to something. It’s important you feel something, you know?
What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
My long-term goal is for as many people to be hearing my music and relating to it as possible. To be touring the world playing arenas, that’s my dream. ‘Cause I love performing live, that’s my favorite thing to do. I love being in the studio. I come alive on stage. I actually did my first ever shows in LA last week. I played The Study and headlined the Unplugged, which was really fun. Played the Hotel Cafe, they were my first two little LA shows. Introductions, they were really nice firsts.
Favorite song to perform in a set?
Probably “All Night” because it’s fresh. It’s my new single. I guess the new stuff is more exciting because I haven’t done it yet. I haven’t rinsed it yet. “Lose My Love” is a good one. Then there’s another one called “Sweet Talk” I haven’t been released yet, which is another one I love playing. With the band, it really brings the song to life. It brings a different dimension from the studio version. That’s what’s amazing about having the live band, they can really bring whole different flavors to your songs.
How important is social media for your career?
Social media nowadays is super important. Just in terms of reaching the people who are supporting you, it’s super important. Sometimes, it can get a bit too much. There’s so much being fed to us and so much we have to now feed, that it’s definitely intense. But with my music, it’s amazing because I can have that direct contact with my supporters and the people listening to me. That’s so important to me.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on IG?
Probably NASA, like the space. They have such interesting posts about the world.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
There is no normal day, that’s the truth. Literally I wake up, they’re like “you got this today.” It’s different every day. You’ve got shows, you’re doing interviews, or you’re going to go write with this person. There’s no set day. Today, you have a photoshoot. Different every day, it keeps it exciting.
3 things you need in the studio?
My straw and bottle, which is my warm up thing. I use it to warm up my voice. A scarf because of the air conditioning. I take a scarf everywhere with me. And tons of snacks.
What snacks do you like?
Everything. I’m Greek so I just eat everything. I love pizza. I love Cheetos, the Flaming Hot ones though. Being in America, it’s very fitting. And Oreos.
The normal Oreos. Do you do different flavors?
So many flavors! You have to go to Ralph’s out here.
Nope, normal. I didn’t even know you did flavors. They might have them in London, but they definitely aren’t popular.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’d be dancing… or acting. I want to get into acting, I love acting. Definitely at some point, I want to do that. Something creative definitely.
Best encounter you had with a fan?
After one of my shows in Amsterdam when I was supporting Rita Ora on tour, a fan came up to me and she burst into tears. That wasn’t even the best part, but she said my music helped her come to terms with her sexuality. She no longer felt like she had to hide or be ashamed, and that was really touching. The fact that I could impact somebody’s life so positively and through my music, that was really touching.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
At the minute, Daniel Caesar and Snoh Allegra. Those two are the most played.
Producer-wise, Mark Ronson. With an artist, I’d love to do something with Bruno Mars. Khalid, Daniel Caesar, BJ The Chicago Kid.
Anything else you want to let us know?
My project is coming on October 11th. My EP, I’m still deciding the name. It takes me awhile because I overthink the name of it. Right before, I go on my UK/European tour.