With a jam-packed year of festivals and a string of successes under her belt, which include plays on Triple J Home and Hosed and Unearthed, it is hard to believe Gold Coast songstress Erin Foster – aka Karamilk – has been releasing music for less than a year.
Teaming up with Sydney’s Sam Parker on vocals, Karamilk has just dropped her first duet, a shiny indie pop gem by the name of ‘Swimming Pool’. An epic labour of love over several years, ‘Swimming Pool’ saw more than a few versions, and producers take a crack at it, before finally Erin sat down, re-wrote it and pulled the entire thing together on her own. The bright, boppy production leaves no room for doubt that Erin’s producer savvy is well on par with her electro-pop songstress chops.
With another single and EP planned for release this year, we thought we would sit down with Erin to chat about the single and what other Karamilky goodness she has up her sleeve for us for the rest of 2020.
A lot of artists would have given up after so many setbacks. What do you think it was that drove you to keep on going with this track through so many obstacles?
To be totally honest I really wanted to get a return on all the investment of my time in the track. My partner said to me one night that I should just drop it and move on because I had so many other songs underway. I wanted to prove him wrong, so as a last ditch effort I stayed up all night and totally re-wrote the track. I remember finishing it around 3am and I just knew it was a sick track. I knew it was my best work.
What lessons has this process taught you?
I found it hard to describe my sounds to producers and mixers. I would get my demos to the best quality possible and then go into the studio and handover control to a producer. So many times I came away a little disappointed and I would feel there was something lacking in the finished product. I’ve now learnt to back myself and just go for what I want. It’s definitely a confidence thing. It’s taken me about five years but I’ve realised that only I know the real Karamilk sound and only I can produce it. It’s an amazing feeling knowing I can now be self-sufficient.
Do you think this experience has forever changed the way you will write and record and do business in the industry?
Absolutely! All my previous tracks were recorded in a studio with professional production. I had a great team behind me, but all that cost a lot of money and takes a lot of time. Late last year a major label reached out and I went back into the studio under the label’s direction. In hindsight what the label really wanted was for me to produce my sound, and what I wanted from the label was their marketing and promotional reach. I made a mistake by allowing the label to control my sound. So for now I will remain independent and put music out myself. I have written more material than ever and I have self-produced five more tracks for my upcoming EP. I’ve also teamed up with an agent to kick start my promotion. I guess I’m doing things in reverse order – going from pro studios and producers and now back to home recordings!
Tell us a bit more about what we can expect from the upcoming EP.
I’ve got a five track EP ready to go. It’s an EP with essentially five very strong singles. I don’t believe in B-side songs. After all, why put out a song that isn’t your best work. ‘Swimming Pool’ will be a single from the EP and I will shortly release a follow-up single called ‘Hurt’. I want to time the release of the EP with gigs re-opening as I am craving playing live. I’m definitely going to tour the EP, fingers crossed by summer.
How did you choose Sam Parker?
Sam was recommended by a producer in Sydney and we spent an afternoon in the studio laying down his vocal. That was like two years ago. We then went on to do the song so many more times and with two other male vocalists. I always kept coming back to Sam’s vocal because it was so soothing. Sam has some music out of his own and it’s sick. But he has also gone to uni to study medicine (yes he is really smart too) but I hope he keeps up his music.
What have you been doing to keep sane during iso?
Iso has been tough for the entire industry. All our gigs have been cancelled. We were selected to play at Surfers Paradise Live and that was going to be the biggest show of my career, so I was gutted when that was cancelled. But I have focused on writing a lot more material and I have been more productive than ever. I am an introvert so I’m actually fairly happy staying inside and working away on my laptop all day and night.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know?
I moved to the Gold Coast about 18 months ago and it’s home for me now. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And despite what some people say, the Gold Coast has a really solid music scene. I hope that everyone stays safe and gets through COVID-19 and we can come back and build the scene even stronger.
Interview by Natalie O’Driscoll, Words by Simone Gorman-Clark and Natalie O’Driscoll.