Kelsy Karter went instantly viral after posting a photo of her massive Harry Styles facial tattoo on Instagram a few weeks ago. While the ink turned out to be fake, the 24-year-old singer's artistic drive was legit. The tat was part of an elaborate publicity stunt to promote her then new single "Harry," and honestly, we have to respect the hustle. After the explosive rollout of her breakthrough track, the LA-based Kiwi artist has no intentions of stopping. Karter's new single, "What U," is a bona fide rock 'n' roll banger premiering on PAPER today.
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Karter doesn't wait long to dive in. On "What U," she brandishes her DGAF attitude over a scuzzy guitar riff and generous amounts of distortion: "Said goodbye to my ex/ Are you gonna be next? What are you gonna do?" Her lyrics are equal parts antagonistic and charming. She's daring you to make the next move, or else she'll do it first. Visually, Krater's aesthetic falls somewhere between Ultraviolence-era Lana and Amy Winehouse circa 2008, with some switchblades thrown in for good measure. But musically, her vintage-tinged sound leans into the blues-y textures of '60s garage rock.
Much like her crush Harry Styles, Karter dipped her toes in the pop realm before grabbing the guitar. She'd put out a handful of singles and EPs — even recorded a song with Zayn Malik that's yet to be released — before "Harry" dropped. The up-and-coming singer has gathered momentum opening for The Struts on their recent UK tour, and she's set to headline a show in LA later this month at the Moroccan Lounge. "What U" is a flex, and proves that Karter's musical career is much more than a savvy social media grift.
Listen to "What U" by Kelsy Karter, below.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Midkiff