Like so many other people around the world, Kelsy Karter has a thing for Harry Styles. But as a performer, Karter gets to put her crush out in the open — as she has on her new single, “Harry,” whose retro-styled performance video is premiering exclusively below.
“The song says it all, doesn’t it?” the New Zealand native, a product of jazz musicians and a theater background, tells Billboard. “It’s just my ode to him, I guess. I think he’s amazing and, come on, he’s like the best person on the planet.”
But Karter says her admiration for the One Direction member is mostly musical and based on his style-broadening self-titled 2017 solo album. “I love that he’s from the pop world and went and did a rock album and introduced kids to rock ‘n’ roll, to sounds they wouldn’t have otherwise heard. Everything he’s doing is amazing and bold. I want to be a female version of that in my career.”
Does Styles know how Karter feels? “I don’t think so, no. Not yet,” she says — though it’s no accident that the video is coming out in time for Styles’ 25th birthday on Feb. 1. “Yeah — happy birthday to Harry,” Karter says.
Karter, who’s now based in Los Angeles, co-wrote “Harry” with Anthony Rossomando, a touring musician with The Libertines and founding member of Dirty Pretty Things and co-writer of the Grammy and Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning “Shallow” from A Star is Born. “The Libertines were one of my favorite bands. So were Dirty Pretty Things,” Karter says. He wasn’t thumping the “Shallow” gig while they were writing “Harry,” however. “We wrote (‘Harry’) in April of last year, and it was around August that I found out that he had the song in the movie,” she says. “He’s a legend, so I’m very happy for him.”
As “Harry” rolls out, Karter is getting ready for the March release of Songs for the Rocket Ship, a seven-song set that she calls “basically just a rock ‘n’ roll record, mostly about my personal life the last couple of years — rock ‘n’ roll songs that tell stories.” It may seem like a brief introduction, but Karter promises there will be plenty more to come from her if she has her way.
“Listen, I want a 50-year career,” she says. “I want to be as big as I can be. I want to make music and make movies and tour the world. If I’ve learned anything about myself it’s that I’m built for this. I didn’t really know what to expect; I’m not the kind of person that thinks before she jumps. So it wasn’t, ‘Oh, what should I prepare myself for?’ It was, ‘Yep, I’m gonna do this,’ and off I went. You have to be resilient and innovative and strong and independent — and I’m all of those things.”