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HomeInterviewsKara Cole Talks About New Single “Burn,” Sobriety, and Upcoming EP 'Firefly’

Kara Cole Talks About New Single “Burn,” Sobriety, and Upcoming EP ‘Firefly’

Americana pop singer-songwriter Kara Cole releases her new single, “Burn,” the lead single from her forthcoming EP, Firefly, slated to release on August 30.

Kara Cole
Kara Cole

“Burn” is about the vulnerability and visceral emotions associated with a toxic relationship, as well as the struggle with alcohol addiction. Indeed, Cole likens one to the other.

Sober for almost seven years now, Cole began writing songs when she was 15. Later, at around 20 or 21, she performed at open mics. According to Cole, “I was scared to death. And I feel the exact same way today taking the stage as I did that first time. My legs shake, hands shake, I am petrified. It’s a feeling that never goes away, but at the same time, it’s so wonderful.”

Before going solo, Cole was half of the indie folk duo Keller and Cole. When the pandemic hit and her grandmother became ill, Cole shifted to a solo career. She released her self-titled debut album in 2023, featuring the single, “Mary Francis,” an ode to her grandmother.

Along with a delicious drawling flavor, Cole’s vocals deliver a rasping edge that’s at once beguiling and delightfully magical.

Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Kara Cole to discuss “Burn,” her upcoming EP, and her gift for knowing what sounds right.

What three (or four) things can’t you live without?

  1. God, my therapist, and the program of AA.
  2. My dog, a toy poodle, named Theodore. I got him when he was 8 weeks old, and he is 4 now.
  3. My family.
  4. My coffee.

What inspired your new single, “Burn?”

I’m a recovering alcoholic and I was dating someone who was able to drink but I can’t.  During one of our ‘breakups,’ because there were several times of calling it off, I was talking to her when she was drunk, and the line came into my head ‘You burn me like the whiskey I can’t have’ because she was so easily able to go out and numb her own pain with drinking.  Some other lines like ‘I know these eyes, the ones right before goodbye’ represent just knowing her so well when she would get cold and distant, and I knew the ‘I can’t do this anymore’ was coming. Knowing someone or something isn’t good for you anymore is the easy part, giving it up is the hard part.

What do you want viewers to take away from the song?

The song started out as a breakup song but the more I’ve talked about it recently, it can definitely describe my relationship with drinking. It can cross over from being about a lover or just something bad for you in general. I want them to take away whatever it is they need to.

“Burn” is from your upcoming EP, Firefly. What can you share about the EP?

‘Firefly’ is a four-song EP that I keep considering adding more to.  The four songs are about the relationship that ended over this last year.  I’m excited about these songs.  I referenced drinking in all of the songs.  How I had to give it up.  I have never written about the addiction and I’m slowly starting to add it into my songs.

Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?

When my grandma passed away in 2021, I wrote one ‘country-influenced’ song.  ‘Mary Francis’ was the single off of my debut EP in 2023.  It kind of paved the road for me to fall into that Americana/alt-country lane and it seemed to happen pretty naturally.  I grew up around country music and bluegrass my entire life so I feel like I’ve come back to my roots, if you will.

How did you get started in music?

I started writing poetry at an early age.  I was given a guitar for Christmas by my parents around the age of 10.  I have never taken a lesson and a lot of the time I still don’t know what chords I’m playing.  I just know when it sounds right.  I started singing at open mics around 20 and it’s just kind of gone from there.  I never thought I could sing.  I didn’t know until people started telling me that I could.  I still didn’t believe them, but I loved doing it so much that I just kept showing up.

What kind of guitar do you play? 

I play a Parlor Martin.  I call it the backpack Martin.  I was also given this guitar a couple of years ago as a Christmas gift and was only going to use it for songwriting, in the comfort of my own home.  It has now become the staple piece of my live show.  When I try to play anything other than that on stage, someone from the crowd will yell, ‘Put your baby back on.’ So, we are stuck together!

What’s your definition of tone? And is your tone evolving? If so, in which direction?

I haven’t really locked in a ‘tone.’ I know that I keep going back and forth from that ‘90s country sound and more of an alt-country indie rock sound. I know that’s not necessarily ‘tone’ as much as genre, but it feels similar.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?

I write from a personal perspective or personal experience.  I just recently started to branch out and write from other people’s experiences.  I do like to read things and then write about that as well but the majority of songs I’ve put out as of now, are all directly connected to a personal experience.  I write a lot about heartbreak or love and not being able to keep it or attain it.

What can you share about your writing process?

I have melodies and lyrics running through my head all day.  I typically pick up my guitar every single night when I get home from work and try to formulate the madness in my mind.  Sometimes it’s fast and happens so easily.  Other times, it takes me down a dead-end road.

In your opinion, which music artists are killing it right now?

Brandi Carlile is the queen.  I love everything she does.  Adele.  Jason Isbell.  The Red Clay Strays are on a hot streak, and I love their sound so much.

What is your definition of success? 

Success is subjective. I already have everything I need and want.  I am successful because happiness, peace, and serenity come from the inside.  To be ‘successful’ as a musician is about creating things that I love, that I’m proud of.  Creating material that resonates with others and makes them feel something completely different than what I felt when writing it.  Success would also look like taking this to the next level and being able to tour or get brought on the bill as the opener for a bigger headliner!

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Live gigs? New music? Music videos?  

I will be releasing ‘Firefly’ on August 30th.  I might add some more tracks to the EP but haven’t fully decided yet and that will be a surprise if I decide to do it!

We are opening for The Lone Bellow on July 11th in Indianapolis at the HI-FI annex.

We are joining the bill with Kevin Nolan (Lainey Wilson guitar player) and Tommy Scifres (Lainey Wilson guitar player) at The Cobra in Nashville TN on July 17th

Follow Kara Cole Instagram | Facebook | TikTok | Spotify

Randy Radic

Randy Radic is a former super model who succumbed to the ravages of time and age. Totally bereft of talent, he took up writing “because anyone can do it.” He smokes cigars (a disgusting habit) and has pet snakes (which is just gross). And some people say he’s aloof.

Randy Radic
Randy Radic is a former super model who succumbed to the ravages of time and age. Totally bereft of talent, he took up writing “because anyone can do it.” He smokes cigars (a disgusting habit) and has pet snakes (which is just gross). And some people say he’s aloof.

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