Although he now calls Melbourne his semi-permanent base, much loved Gold Coast artist Karl S Williams still finds plenty of time to return to his old stomping ground. Late December sees him back and performing as part of the always epic Woodford Folk Festival line up. It’s a festival that Karl feels a strong affinity towards.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to Woodford. I’ve played it once before and it’s been my favourite experience out of any festival I’ve played at thus far. With their programming, they don’t tend to have people playing in consecutive years, so I’ve had to have a year or two off. I did the Planting Festival last year, which is their mini winter festival, so it’ll be nice to return again this year for the main festival. The audience there tends to be very embracing of discovering new artists, it’s not the sort of festival where people are there only for the headliners.”
I ask Karl how’s he settled into Melbourne life and if he now feels like part of a scene and community there. He says it’s very much still a work in progress.
“I spent ten years on the Gold Coast establishing myself and I need to keep reminding myself that it took a long time to make connections up here and I can’t expect the same thing to happen in just six months in Melbourne. It’s a lot bigger place.”
“The plan is to keep playing more shows and continue to build a following. I still haven’t decided if it’s home or not, and I’m back up here so regularly anyway, so it’s cool to not really have a ‘home’ at the moment.
“I probably wouldn’t get opportunities like playing Woodford without having spent a lot of time playing South East Queensland. And there’s lots of Melbourne acts coming up for Woodford too, which will give me the opportunity to bridge those communities a bit as well.”
A few years have passed since the original release of debut record Heartwood, and the question arises as to how the follow up record is shaping up.
“I got to Melbourne with a bunch of songs ready to go for an album, and the first few months I was there I was able to look at those songs really closely. I generally try not to meddle too much with songs after I’ve written them. But after three months in a room playing some of them, I started to hear other things that maybe should be in there. I feel like I’m being a bit more of a perfectionist about things.”
“I had about 14 songs that I thought would be the ones to go onto the next album, but I’ve switched out about five or six of those and brought in some other songs that maybe didn’t get quite as much attention the first time around. Maybe it’s a bit obsessive at this point and I need to like, let go a bit” chuckles Karl wryly.
As well as his own material, Karl also moonlights in dreamy psychedelic peddlers Tsun. With the three band members now dispersed along the eastern seaboard, I ask him if there have been any recent stirrings within the band’s ranks.
“Yes, I’m very excited actually. We’re playing Jungle Love Music and Arts Festival on the Sunshine Coast in early November. That’s going to be our first show since January. It’s been a bit of a hurdle now that all three of us are based in different cities. But we’ve been doing some bedroom recordings and throwing things around online. And Jared (Franzen, bass player) and I get together and jam when I’m up here. We’re all really excited to get Tsun operational again. I really miss it and it’s a lot of fun.”
Karl S Williams is part of this year’s Woodford Folk Festival, being held from 27 December through 1 January. More at woodfordfolkfestival.com.