Interview With The Singer & Songwriter Judy Karacs
Starting out as a classically trained vocalist, Judy spent the majority of her career singing opera and classical music in churches and stages throughout the world. Her recent foray into the genre of dance, trance and house has only been a year in the making. It was her initial connection with Italian DJ, Adrian P, which served as the catalyst in changing her musical direction. It was this collaboration that allowed her to start honing her skills as a singer and songwriter. Their first musical collaboration, Falling Down, was released in February 2013 on OTB Music Publishing. For Judy, this is only the beginning. Her goal has always been to convey truth and passion in her compositions. She hopes that her music and future collaborations will not only inspire her listeners but allow her to develop her skills as a musician and give her the opportunity take her music to the next level.
FYS * What is your musical background? Do you have a musical family or did you just fall into songwriting all on your own?
Judy Karacs * Well actually I started studying music at a young age. I began playing the violin at five years old and then continued my studies in music throughout university. I began to focus on singing when I was about thirteen. In university I studied classical voice and had the opportunity to perform in local opera companies, around Toronto, as well as to tour with several choirs throughout Canada and Europe. My mother and father were not musical but my mother always had a strong appreciation for the arts and she often would take me to concerts and operas while I was growing up. I think that helped me gain a greater respect for all art forms. It also motivated me to learn more and expand myself more creatively.
I actually didn’t begin songwriting until much later in my life. I never gave myself the opportunity to explore that side of myself but thankfully I was given the chance, through collaboration, to finally begin writing. The experience completely changed my musical focus. I loved the freedom to create something out of nothing. It was totally liberating. Writing was something that I always thought was going to be a very difficult process but it just seemed to flow out of me more naturally then I ever would have anticipated.
FYS * What sorts of things have you done to improve your songwriting since then? Any favorite books or previous mentors you’d like to talk about?
Judy Karacs * I think the best thing for any artist to do when writing music is to be true to themselves and their inner voice. It’s important to write about what moves you. Capturing the feeling behind the story is key to songwriting even if you are telling the story from someone else’s perspective. The audience can always tellwhen a song is genuine orwhen it feelsfake.
Sometimes we are our own worst critics. I think musicians need to give themselves the space needed to become a good songwriter. It is important to give yourself the time you need to write. Some songs take a lot longer to come so it’s better if you aren’t too hard on yourself and allow the process to happen naturally. I try not to force the creative process. Sometimes I can hear the song in my head waiting to be born but it doesn’t come. It can be a frustrating process but I know that it will come when it’s ready and I have to tell myself that it’s ok.
I have tried to improve my songwriting by challenging myself to write better lyrics. Sometimes I find it difficult to find the words so I often struggle with that. I want the listener to be able to relate to my music in some way. I try to imagine myself in different situations and explore my feelings as if I were another person. Getting a different perspective is key to being able to tap into the emotions that unite all of us.
Actually one of the books I have just finished reading is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is not a book about songwriting but I think is a book that all artists should read. The book is like a user manual for people who are feeling stuck creatively and who are desperately trying to tap back into their creative force. I think as artists we often tell ourselves we aren’t good enough and we hold ourselves back from reaching our full potential. I didn’t want to get stuck and stop writing altogether. I think any means of motivation to get back on track is a good one.
Mentors… well there are so many. I love artists who aren’t afraid to express who they are and who always push themselves to their creative edge. They inspire me to keep moving forward and to keep myself motivated. My goal is to become totally free creatively and to allow that natural expression to flow within me at all times. I am always striving for that but I know it’s a lifelong process.
FYS * How have you gotten your songs out to the industry who should hear them? Sounds like you’ve been pretty successful with this. Do you have any tips to offer other songwriters in this regard?
Judy Karacs * This is an extremely difficult process. To be honest I have been lucky because the DJ’s I have had the opportunity to collaborate with have taken care of this aspect of the business. To be honest this is the part of the industry that frustrates me the most. As musicians we also have to be great marketers and promoters and as you know that is a full time job in itself. I love to write music. I love to sing but I hate to promote and therefore I am not very good at it. It is hard to stand out from the crowd in this day and age where anyone can buy a computer and write music and put it up on the Internet. I even ended up forming Duo Records with my collaborator Adrian P because we became frustrated that we weren’t able to release our music through other avenues. We spend a great deal of our time making music and then nobody wanted to release it so we ended up taking matters into our own hands.
My tips to other songwriters would be to spend your time creating good music upload it to SoundCloud, Facebook and YouTube etc. then send it to smaller record labels and hopefully someone will listen to it and accept it as part of their label. You have to keep trying. Don’t give up. It takes years to build a following and it won’t happen overnight. You need to work at it. Many people are releasing things on their own which is also a great idea but one thing smaller Internet based record labels can give you in exchange for the song is more publicity and more audience reach. You need to be able to stand out from the crowd and to be honest I still think that comes down to the song. If the song is good I think people will listen to it.
FYS * You’re currently doing some producing, isn’t that right? How easy was the transition from performer/songwriting to producer? What’s different about it from songwriting – and what’s the same?
Judy Karacs * I am not producing anything at this time. This is something I would love to pursue in the future but I think my technical knowledge is limited at this time. I have worked with sound engineers in the pastin the recording studio. I know what the process is like. I think I have a pretty good ear and I think that my music background helped a lot with that. I can hear what works and what doesn’t. I think the formula for a great producer is a magical combination of a great ear as well as superior technical ability. You need to be able to hear what needs to be changed and make the adjustments accordingly. Creating the right mood, atmosphere and fulfilling the artists creative vision through a musical landscape is a difficult job.
FYS * What’s coming up for you,Judy? What are you working on now and where do you feel your music and your producing is headed?
Judy Karacs * I want to keep collaborating and creating as much good music as possible. I want to push myself more creatively. I want to start learning how to create more tracks on my own but most of all I want to sing more. I also need focus some of my attention on my very neglected self-promotion. I am always open to whatever new opportunity might be headed my way. The journey so far has been amazing and I am excited to see what the future has in store for me.