Feature Friday: Karly Driftwood
Written by Kayla Albee
Every artist has a story - whether you’re a writer, musician, or some other sort of creative, you hold your own unique story near and dear to your heart. In the case of singer-songwriter Karly Driftwood, her breezy blend of indie-country is laced with her unique story of making it in Music City.
Musically, her debut album, Too Mean To Die, is a delightfully bright, slow summer day listen. Lyrically, Driftwood serves up a heavy dose of unapologetically authentic lyricism. With tracks including mention of mental health, relationships, and going against the grain, Driftwood shares her life with the listener through a stream of consciousness style of writing. After your first full listen, you’ll have a sense of knowing Driftwood on a deeply personal level, based on what she shares on the record, with the title track being a crash course on Driftwood 101.
We chatted with Karly Driftwood about pursuing her music career, relocating to Nashville, favorite horror movies, and more!
Q: You have quite an interesting background! Prior to moving to Nashville to pursue music, you were a mortician. With those career paths going in two totally separate directions, how did you first became interested in mortuary science, and how did you shifted gears and entered the world of music?
A: I've been writing and playing music since I was a kid. It's always been my number one dream. But people always say you need a "backup plan." I can't see myself working any other job. I do love horror and forensic science, so I decided that mortuary work would at least be fun because it's working with dead bodies... as creepy as that sounds.
Q: Now that you live here in Music City, can you share a bit about your expectations vs. reality after relocating, and any favorite local spots to catch a show or connect with other artists?
A: Luckily I had been visiting Nashville before I officially moved here, so nothing was shocking. I was already a little familiar with the areas. It kind of felt like home already when I moved here. I will say though... I didn't expect time to go by so fast. It feels like yesterday I was the new girl here, and three years later, here I am. This is a working town. Everyone here is working really hard, so time just flies by.
Q: Your debut album, Too Mean To Die, was released this past spring. How did you connect with the musicians that are featured on the record, and how did it feel to see the result of your hard work come to life?
A: The two producers, Jake Clayton and Rob Daniels, are my roommates. I met them at a songwriter house party a couple years ago. I met my co-writer Davis Corley at a songwriter show in Nashville a few years ago. He's the first songwriter I ever saw in Nashville and since then, he's still one of my favorite songwriters. I met my other co-writer Deren Ney on Instagram. We wrote a lot of songs on FaceTime before ever meeting in person. My drummer, Travis King, I know from back home in Richmond. And my bass player, Thomas Banks, I also met on Instagram. It's the times of social media! It feels good to see it come to life. Sometimes, I can't believe I have an album, because the idea of it used to only be a daydream.
Q: “Tennessee Trees” in particular touches on the subject of mental health. Do you feel that mental health has been a taboo topic in music, and what do you hope listeners gain from your vulnerability on the record?
A: I'm glad you caught that it's about mental health. I think a lot of people think it's a party song…which it is, but it's exciting when the dark humor gets recognized too. I don't think mental health has been taboo in music. Most albums have songs about sadness. I do think it's a little taboo though to sing songs about wanting to kill yourself live. I've had venue owners tell me I can't play these songs. I hope listeners can know they aren't alone in anything they are feeling. We all got something going on in our lives, so I hope my music can be something to take comfort in.
Q: There are various horror-themed references sprinkled throughout the album. What are your favorite horror movies, and what’s your favorite movie soundtrack?
A: I'm also glad you got those references too! Well everyone knows I love Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. My "last name" comes from Otis Driftwood. I love the Hostel movies. I remember when they came out. I was a kid and my dad went to see them. He took me to Applebee's after and was telling me how nasty they were and I couldn't eat my steak. I saw them years later and I loved them. I love the movie Red, White, and Blue. It's more like "psychological horror." I watch a lot of random horror movies online. I sometimes google "disturbing movies" and try the most messed up one I can find.
Q: What advice do you have for any aspiring musicians who are wanting to relocate to follow their dreams?
A: I would tell them to be prepared for having no time for a social life. This is all I do. I barely hang out with anyone anymore. If I'm out, it's because I'm playing somewhere or writing with someone. You have to remember that there is always gonna be someone who is better looking, has more money, and more connections than you. You have to put in as much time as you can.