Stepping into the musical spotlight, R&B/pop singer-songwriter Karis Lee marks her solo artist debut with the release of "2pm," a reflective, late-night musing on modern-day hook-up culture, coupled with the longing and inspiration for a geniune, daytime emotional connection ("I need a 2pm guy, not a 2am high"). Karis' warm, soulful vocals carry the listener throughout this moving and reflective track with a less-is-more keyboard accompaniment that creates the perfect loungy, late-night vibe.
Prior to her solo debut, Karis was one half of Philadephia-based R&B/pop duo Eleven, which released an impressive series of singles, including "Step Forward" and "All Mine", the latter being Eleven's collaboration with French electronic outfit Sense and a track which has accrued over 5 million streams on Spotify alone for Karis' vocal feature.
SoundThread Music Blog recently caught up with Karis to talk about the inspirations for "2pm," her musical background, creative process and upcoming plans.
[STMB]: I first heard your voice and music in 2018 with "All Mine," your musical collaboration with French electronic band Sense and your then current band, Eleven. Can you tell us about your transition to a solo artist?
[KL]: In 2019, I got a grant to work abroad for the year and with that opportunity, Eleven came to an end. But, during that whole year, I continued writing music by myself. When I came back to the U.S. at the end of 2019, I made it a goal to work on my own passion projects, thus I emerged as a solo artist! Being solo has been great because I can reproduce the exact visions that I have in my head. I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve received so far!
[STMB]: Are there any particular artists, noteworthy life experiences or people in your life that inspired you to become a musician?
[KL]: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t describe myself as a musician! I started playing piano at a young age and from there, I learned how to play the oboe and clarinet. I played in orchestras and bands and did a ton of competitions all throughout middle and high school. Amidst all of this, I was singing and writing songs constantly, and just never stopped. I can’t imagine my life without music—it was my first love.
[STMB]: Can you provide a glimpse into the lyrical theme and inspiration for 2pm?
[KL]: "2pm" is a song I wrote at 2am after receiving a very classic “you up?” text message from a guy. Basically, I got super frustrated/annoyed/emotional and out came this song. The lyrics are about wanting more out of a relationship, they’re about wishing for that person that you can hang out with in the afternoon, not just at 2am. At my age, a ton of people just want to hook up—which is totally cool—but in that moment, I wanted more than that. I wanted a museum buddy, a person to grab coffee with, someone with whom to share my fears and joys—I wanted an emotional connection.
[STMB]: What does your creative process look like as you bring melody, lyrics and production together?
[KL]: Typically, I start with making a chord progression on piano and putting it on a loop. From there, I let the melody and lyrics flow out of me—it’s really no science. For me, it’s all about emotion. After that, I’ll play around with the rest of the production, usually adding in some percussion. I know the song is finished when it transports me back to the very moment I felt the emotion that I’m writing about. If it can do that, the piece has done its job of feeling honest.
Thanks to Karis for taking the time to provide the insightful responses!
In addition to "2pm," Karis tells SoundThread that we can look forward to another single release next month, with her first EP following shortly after. In the meantime, you can follow Karis Lee on Instagram to keep up to date with upcoming news as she shares more impressive, relatable music with the world!