“They say love is blind,” Kara Marni laughs when we talk about one of her early singles. “In some situations it’s difficult to see what’s really happening to you, difficult to have perspective, to know if you’re being treated well. Especially if you’re not in a great place.”
Marni isn’t talking about herself, but a friend. An early single, ‘Opposite’, was her take on a close friend’s struggling love life, a series moments that removed her to the role of helpless onlooker, committed to song. In it, Marni takes a stab at all the boyfriend’s mistreatments, the behaviours she saw slowly dragging her friend down. “I think you’re better on your own, but you’re too scared to find out,” she sings, a less than delicate reality check.
“I could see what the situation was, being removed from it,” she explains. “The song basically came from being frustrated she wouldn’t listen to me. I ended up playing her the song, and she got it, so I guess it worked!”
Marni’s music is a lively fusion of soul and R&B, set to beats, but its unquestionably the vocal and the clever messages it contains that stand out. Her compact but varied voice soars over the choruses, breaking into forceful peaks and exploring the reaches of a broad vocal spectrum. It’s colourful, potent stuff.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Marni says of her breakthrough. “It’s been such a whirlwind, in fact, that I can’t remember everything. But I feel I’ve been growing, and everything’s really picked up for me. I’ve had so much support for something that started in my shed with the help of my parents. They built it so I could have everything there in the house, which is just another way they were really supportive.”
To say Marni rose quickly is quite an understatement. Her very first YouTube video, a beautifully-vocalised cover of Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’ released when she was still in high school, saw her grab over 30,000 views inside a week, and immediately attract interest from the industry.
The latest headline tour, something that’s relatively new to Marni after supporting Lewis Capaldi and Rita Ora, feels a little different. “I won’t be playing at Brixton Academy just yet,” she jokes, “but this is extra special, as I am very used to supporting in front of someone else’s audience. I’ve loved supporting, but this is a different thing, people are coming to see me. It’s all me and my band, playing a lot of unreleased music. I’m so excited.”
“I have so much music written,” she continues. “I’ll definitely be doing some kind of big project this year. It won’t be an album. These days things are more single focused, and people don’t really listen to albums. It makes sense to be the same way, so I’m working on ‘projects’. Though there will be an album one day.”
“I relate to albums, obviously. My family’s vinyl collection growing up was a big part of what brought me here. I’ve always been a huge fan of huge voices. Aretha, Diana Ross, The Beatles, they were all big for us.”
Marni feels she’s still learning, and is open about it. In fact, she closes our interview by asking for recommendations for soulful local artists who might be willing to support her. She’s keen to make her second headline trip to Dublin stand out, and wants to hear who might be a draw on her Workman’s Club bill. Her enthusiasm feels boundless. There’s plenty to suggest her music might prove to be, too.