A 25-year-old singer from Hamilton Square is poised to become a sensation.
Karly Coleman, known for her work as Karly C., writes her own songs and performs locally, a fresh and original new voice on the local rock music scene. The 2011 Steinert High School graduate released her debut album of 10 songs in February and is signed to a production music publishing deal with a label in Australia who pushed it out to BMG Music and Warner Chapel, two of the largest music publishers in the world. She’s got four or five other producers that she’s either working with now or cued up with for singles and/or an EP in the near future.
“Karly’s a musician to the core,” said Mike Matisa, her manager and boyfriend. “She loves to sit and create and record all day. She can stay in my studio for hours and hours.”
Coleman says she doesn’t want to be famous.
“I’m not shy,” she said. “But I don’t ever want to be followed. I fish. I have a bow and arrow. I go out in my pajamas. I don’t want to be photographed. I don’t want to be huge to where I need a circle of bodyguards around me. I want to make enough money so I can survive doing this. If it happens it happens but I wanted to do this before I even knew I could get paid.”
Coleman’s rise has come, in part, due to her partnership with Matisa. Coleman’s talent combined with Matisa’s contacts in the business and breadth of experience has boosted Coleman’s profile with national and international musicians and producers.
One day not long after beginning to work together, one of Matisa’s friends told him their neighbor, Edgard Jaude, was a music producer. At that time there were plenty of people claiming to be producers, so Matisa never called him. A year later, he finally decided to message Jaude, who then sent Karly some songs to see what she’d do with them. Once something piqued his fancy, they’d get together and flesh it out.
At first, Jaude just wanted Coleman to do tracks for TV and film if he needed a vocalist. Jaude is a prolific TV and film musician. They’ve been in contact ever since.
“We butt heads,” Coleman says. “He’s a fun guy, but we’re both so passionate about what we’re doing, there’s bound to be conflict. The part (of a song) he may not like, I love. So then we’ve got to go back and forth until we get to something in the middle. His studio is amazing. A lot of his connections are in TV and film.”
“Karly is an amazing and talented singer/songwriter,” said Jaude, who’s been composing music since 1996. “Collaborating with her was always easy. However every now and then we did hit few barricades with our artistic directions, but we always come up with a great resolution. All in all, collaborating with Karly and producing what we do together has always been an easy and an amazing ride. In my opinion, her talent is exceptional. She has a powerhouse voice with a well-balanced tone that is a great collage of the old and the new. People have to hear her to know what I am talking about.”
Aside from her work with Jaude, which includes the TV show Dance Moms, other producers and her local performances, Coleman works part time at Fisher Chiropractic Center and at Justice junior’s boutique at Quaker Bridge Mall. She says her parents don’t really “get it,” as far as her music is concerned. Her dad has retired and moved to South Carolina. Her mom, who works for the state, is also retiring soon and is looking for another place to live, possibly in the South. The warm atmosphere literally and musically in the South really enthuses Coleman.
“I really love Nashville,” she said. “We went there on vacation, and I didn’t want to come back. My mom knows now that she’s retiring in a few years and she’s been looking at houses. If she gets a place down there, we’ll be going back and forth. There’s music there every night.”
Her enthusiasm is even more surprising considering that Coleman has only been performing for a few years. She got her start when her mom urged her to meet their neighbor’s music producer son, Matisa. She was never picked for the choir. She was never cast in a school play. Outside of taking some vocal lessons at local studios as a child, she just sang in her room to the wall.
“I used to take vocal lessons at Rising Stars voice studio in Bordentown,” Coleman said. “So once a year the teacher would rent out the Bordentown High School, and we’d each do a solo and all the parents would come. But it wasn’t in front of strangers, just the students and their parents. Originally, I went to Music Box and sang along with the tracks, not serious vocal lessons. I think I was around eight because I was obsessed with Annie.”
Eight years ago, Coleman tried out for American Idol, and made it through multiple rounds. She sang a song by Adele, one of her favorite singers. But the judge she performed for didn’t like Adele, and said her voice was too raspy, and that they needed “clean” voices, which can mean different things to different ears.
Coleman says she doesn’t know who or what she sounds like. She can understand fans who say she sounds like Miley Cyrus and those who say she sounds like ’70s icon Linda Ronstadt. She leaves the comparisons to the fans, but she’s certainly got her own unique taste, which comes through in her earthy voice.
“We get Linda Ronstadt a lot,” Matisa says. “But I don’t think she sounds like her. If you take Pat Benatar and Joan Jett and threw a little bit of country flair on it, that’s what Karly sounds like. When we sing covers at bar gigs, she sings a lot of ’80s stuff like Def Leppard and Whitesnake.”
She says she likes Adele, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and Sia. She also loves 1980s “hair bands,” but doesn’t like music that sounds mass produced.
“I don’t like the idea of going up onstage half naked to dance and lip sync,” she said. “I like the ones that sing.”
It’s clear Coleman has some very fresh energy and a totally different approach to music than what’s out now in the YouTube age. She’s doing a cover on one of AJ Salvatore’s productions through his deal with Sony, she’s working with a Japanese EDM producer, as well as with Charlie Stavish, who has worked with Katy Perry and Kesha.
Matisa has also pitched Sirius XM Hits One. As far as modern music production and promotion goes, its something Coleman can do without. And Matisa adds that in 2018 a music manager has to have more than an attractive artist with a catchy song.
“The music business is tough,” he said. Its a great thing, the internet and social media. You don’t need a record label to put your stuff out anymore. But there’s so many choices out there. The fans don’t know who to listen to. The labels don’t know who to sign. There’s all the singing TV shows. Long gone are the days where Bruce Springsteen got signed in a green room at a club in Asbury Park somewhere.”
He instead tries to focus on his relationships with producers all around the country and on the internet.
“They’re going to ask, ‘Well, how many Spotify streams does she have? How many YouTube followers?’ They want to see that you did all your own A & R, then they pick you up, take 50 percent, then take credit for it,” Matisa says. “That’s what happens. That’s the business. You have to change with the trends or be forgotten about. I don’t want to see Karly fail because I didn’t want to do something new, which is the new way to do business.”
As frustrating as some of these interactions are with pop producers and TV casting departments, Karly C. seems focused, excited and ready to take the music world by storm.
“We just like to share music with people,” she said.