By Nicholas Jason Lopez
For Melbourne, Australia-based singer-songwriter Karly Jewell, music runs in the family.
The granddaughter of highly acclaimed country singer-songwriter Tony Jewell, she picked up his guitar at age five and there was no way back. Years later, she found a versatile, genre-bending sound and worked with a number of producers and artists.
She then formed a live rock band, who’ve played all over from Australia to Los Angeles and have shared stages with Hell On Wheels, Gravity Layne and the late Chuck Mosley (Faith No More).
Jewell released her 2019 debut album with the band, entitled ‘Phoenix,’ available worldwide via Hitman Records. The official music video for single “Let You Down” was unveiled on Feb. 6, 2020. They hope to support ‘Phoenix’ with a Japan tour in late 2020 and a return to California in early 2021.
The Music Bugle had the chance to chat with Jewell about the new album and more.
Music Bugle – What are some advantages that come with being a singer-songwriter?
Karly Jewell – I get to share my journey and take people with me or to a place we have all been at some stage in life. The other advantage is having a way to express myself and sometimes, writing is my greatest escape. I write way too many songs also, so that has given me the opportunity to write for other artists and I have finally made that happen. This year, I was honored to cowrite with Italian Artist Bow’N’Arrow with the track to be released August 10th called “Sawdust.” That had also been a dream I had, to write for other artists, so there’s definitely more to come.
Music Bugle – What was it like shooting the music video for “Let You Down”?
Karly Jewell – The day we shot “Let You Down” was a huge day. We actually had already booked to shoot the clip that morning in a studio with Daniel Armstrong from Strongman Pictures and then we got short notice to play at Deluxe Bar that same night. Looking at the venue page, it looked incredible, so Daniel and I thought we’d ask If we could film in the venue. The event organizer, Coby Chatz had told us about the bar and the amazing rooms they had there and it had also been a location where they had shot many scenes from the Australian hit TV Series “Underbelly.” The place was amazing. We got there first thing in the morning, filmed all day, then hit the stage at 10:30 that night. The best part was when we found the bar upstairs, we knew already that it had Dave’s name on it, so he had better get up there and start rocking out. He did exactly that.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Melbourne, Australia to someone who has never been there before?
Karly Jewell – Melbourne really has a little bit of everything from all over the world. Culture, food and music. There’s a ton of adventure here. The music scene before COVID took over was well alive. You’ll find tastes of every genre. Great metal scene, rock music and a huge amount of new electronic artists. It doesn’t matter, it’s all here. Live festivals, indoor and outdoor, there’s opportunity to make your own history as an artist, or even just to come visit.
Music Bugle – Did you ever feel any pressure in following your Grandfather’s musical footsteps, so to speak?
Karly Jewell – Never any pressure. I was so lucky to have him teach me everything I know. It’s where my music journey started. I think one of the greatest lessons he guided me with was really how to never feel any pressure and just to be honest with music and writing. He’d say, “It’s your story, no one else’s,” so I guess because I didn’t have to meet expectations, I could be focused on my love of writing and creating my art pressure-free, not worried if someone would like it or hate it and no pressure to be amazing, because it was just my story. I think now would be the only time I’ve felt some kind of pressure, with him not being here. I have this journey for the both of us now, but I carry music in my blood and I had the greatest teacher, so I trust I’ll be okay.
Music Bugle – Which Genre are you most comfortable working with?
Karly Jewell – Okay, it’s definitely rock. That’s really where I found my home. In saying that, I would also have to say music in general is my genre. I love working with it all. I have a love for writing, so I don’t even think about how it will sound. It’s a journey of emotion, so I kind of let them fall into place, finding their own sound based off the feeling. I do have a love for electronic music. That’s something I’ve done on the side from the band and plan on doing more again soon.
Music Bugle – Which song of yours was the hardest to write or compose?
Karly Jewell – “September” was that one song for me. It was for my late Grandmother. That song took me on a journey of emotions, but at the same time, it was very healing to be able to finish the track for the album.
Music Bugle – What has been your most memorable moment while at a show?
Karly Jewell – It will always be the Whisky a Go Go show when Dave almost bled to death first song in and was yelling at me, “Keep going, I’m fine.” I remember the sound guy yelling at us to stop because he was bleeding to death. I looked at Mars, he was like, “I don’t know, he’ll be fine.” It felt like slow motion, like we had stopped time all in a verse or two. I’m yelling out to Dave, “Are you okay? Do I stop?” He’s like, “Keep going! We didn’t come this far to play one song. I’m fine.” He reached back, put his finger in some straight Jack Daniels and well, we smashed into the songs and at that moment, I knew Dave was a solid boss. It would also become a solid feeling that we would all carry from that very moment and nothing would stop us. I guess it was a real “rock and roll” moment for me. The crowd thought it may have been a part of the show, so they loved it. Then, when they realized it was really real, they loved it even more. I was sure Dave would either need a new finger or a blood transfusion at the end of the set. I’ve had some very special moments though, that touched my heart. I think you take a moment from every show.
Music Bugle – How would you describe the experience of putting together ‘Phoenix’?
Karly Jewell – All kinds of emotions. A feeling of being so proud, also trying to let it sink in that I had really just finished my first real-life album. I couldn’t wait to have one to hold in my hand. I was in disbelief that I had really done this. It was a process for me, a journey I would also share and how I would introduce myself to the world. I mean it wasn’t just my journey, it was the whole band. We did this together, the whole process was amazing. I’m beyond proud and a massive “thank you” to Mathew Robins at Colour Sound Studios for all the hard work he put in.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Karly Jewell – I’m still working, so I was lucky I didn’t lose my job, but mentally, it has its moments. Not being able to see family and travel home has been the hardest for me. I’m just using this time to focus on writing and getting ready for when this is over to record our next album and really live life again like I haven’t done before.
Music Bugle – What inspired the artwork for ‘Phoenix’?
Karly Jewell – I was inspired and knew exactly what I could see when I wrote the song “Phoenix.” I also knew at that very moment, I was doing what I was meant to be doing and nothing would stop me. Nothing had stopped me or the band and we would always be doing music. We all share a love for music that goes beyond anything I know. It’s an energy when we are on stage or when making music, it’s fearless at times and I can see a fire that lights up. It had been a journey for me sometimes, but I never give up, even if you knocked me down. I got to talking with Marc Welsh, who is always my art guy to go to and it just fell into place. Marc designed my logo also and to keep the same artist, it would always be our own kind of originality with our music journey. Marc is a big part of our team we have built around us. ‘Phoenix’ would be the album title and was written at the Viper Room on drink coasters I took from under Vani and Dave’s drinks. The lyrics in “Phoenix” that go, “I won’t stop until I’m bleeding,” that’s a line I wrote for Dave. I thought he’d like that after the Whiskey show. Coming offstage supporting the late Chuck Mosley of Faith No More was a pretty unbelievable feeling. I had been on a mission to play the Viper Room for my Grandfather and I. It was a dream we had, to play where the amazing Johnny Cash had once played and I made a promise I’d do that for us. I had done it, so I knew I could do anything, just like a phoenix would, so that’s what inspired the album artwork.