Artist Interview: “I’m Not Gonna Fight It Anymore” by Caro Kelley

Photo By: Thomas Trachsel

German-American singer-songwriter Caro Kelley discussed her brand new single, “I’m Not Gonna Fight It Anymore,” the differences between the American and German music scenes and much more.

Q: Having lived in both the United States and, now, Munich, Germany, what do you personally think are the differences between the German and American music scenes?

Caro Kelley: I last lived in Kentucky and Arkansas in the U.S. where folk music was huge and lyrics were so important, it’s like singing poetry. And of course, I come from a jazz background, which is a lot more common over in the States. Of course, music is music, and most types of music exists everywhere, but a lot of pop and indie bands here in Germany lean in a more electronic direction than I’m used to from either folk or jazz. I don’t know that I would have realized it on my own, but I’ve learned through audience reactions to my music that the songs I write are quite distinctly not European. That can sometimes be a challenge because I struggle to categorize myself musically, but it leaves me free to do whatever I want. Of course there is a fantastic funk and blues scene in Munich and some incredible jazz and jazz-adjacent musicians, it’s just a little more niche. All this being said, I have only ever worked as a musician in Germany! I’ve lived in Munich now for more than 8 years and it’s the music scene I know best, even if my musical style lies outside the mainstream.

Q: What inspired your new single, “I’m Not Gonna Fight It Anymore”?

Kelley: This year I was honored to be invited to play at the Augsburg Jazz Mainacht with my band. For the occasion, I wanted to write a song that felt like a jazz standard, since although I am a trained jazz musician, I had never written anything I felt could be strictly categorized as jazz. I first found the line “I’m not gonna fight it anymore,” and then I played around with all the ways it feels to realize that you’re about to ‘give in,’ whether that be to one more drink, or to love, or to letting go. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and it feels to me like a song that existed before I thought of it.

Q: Generally, what influences your songwriting?

Kelley: I know some songwriters who constantly writing songs, who carry around little notebooks full of lyrics. I’m more likely to sit down at the piano a few times a month and think “right, it’s time to write a song.” “I’m Not Gonna Fight It Anymore” I wrote in one two-hour session because I had given myself the goal of writing a song for a specific show. Maybe that takes the magic out of the art little bit, but I treat it like a job, and I’m the luckiest person in the world to say that writing a song for a few hours is my job. I’m also a music theory junky and like to analyze other songwriters’ songs, so I have all sorts of chord progressions and melody ideas that I’m looking forward to putting some lyrics to, and it always feels so exciting when I feel an idea coming together musically. For lyrics, I then tend to pull from themes that mean a lot to me: home, childhood, religion, anxiety, self determination, joy.

Q: You’ve described your new song as a “Norah Jones-esque modern jazz ballad” in a “soul pop style,” what other ways would you describe the style of music that you strive to create?

Kelley: My goal recently has been to write things that I haven’t heard before, as well as things that I want to sing. I perform live upwards of 80 times a year, and I want to be able to sing my songs over and over without getting tired of them. So I’ve been looking for really fun melodies, big performance moments, and rhythms that I feel are fun to listen to and fun to play. Any time I hear a song for the first time, my first impulse is to try and play and sing it, and I want to write things that other people might feel the same way about. At the moment I am really into pop with elements of soul and funk, but I’m hoping to lean into R&B in my next few songs. I don’t really care if I am following any current musical trends. Whatever happens happens, I want to write something that feels authentic to me.

Photo By: Caitlin Dalton

Q: What artists/songwriters inspire your own music the most?

Kelley: Carole King, Paul McCartney, Jim Croce, Billie Holiday, Norah Jones, Stevie Wonder, Linda Ronstadt, Adele, Sammy Rae & The Friends, Lawrence, Stacey Ryan, Couch, Laufey.

Q: What’s next for you in 2024?

Kelley: I’ve been so honored to play some great shows in and around Munich, and in 2024 I would love to begin to branch out and take my band on the road. In March I will be playing a few solo shows back in the U.S., and I’m hoping to grab some great festivals in the summer. I’ve also got quite a few unreleased songs, so I’m planning on heading back to the studio after Christmas to work on some recordings. I’d love for 2024 to be full of new singles!

Interviewed by Travis Boyer





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