Photo Credit: Melissa Cohen @imagebymelissa
Young singer-songwriter, Kyla Carter, continues her music journey with the release of her newest single “Half Full Half Empty.” The acoustic pop song showcases her rich vocals along with her unique songwriting. It is an inspiring song that presents a message on how changing your perspective on life can make a big difference.
This is just the type music we need to hear right now.
At just the young age of 14, she is already well accomplished — having performed on Broadway and acted on several shows and movies. She currently stars in the DreamWorks animated series TrollsTopia. She’s even hosting her own podcast. All of this while pursuing a promising music career.
We had the opportunity to do a phone interview with the multi-talented performer. She is a special person who truly radiates positivity. You can feel her passion and joy even through the phone. If that doesn’t say something about her, then we don’t know what will.
In this interview, Kyla Carter breaks down her single “Half Full Half Empty,” her various projects and her musical aspirations.
BTS: How did you get into theater, Broadway or music in general?
Kyla Carter: So when I was about four years old is when I really started getting into theater and singing and all that fun stuff. My parents put me in everything you could imagine as they do when you’re a little kid. One of those things was musical theater class. So I went and I learned “Seasons of Love” from Rent and I started singing it at home and my parents were like, “Hey, you’re pretty good,” and they put me in singing lessons. From there, that’s how I got to where I am.
BTS: Now you’re transitioning from Broadway into the music industry. What sparked that?
Carter: I was given a lot of time since we were all in quarantine and I wrote little songs when I was five years old and of course they were ABC songs so nothing fancy. I started writing music again out of boredom and I discovered that I really loved it. So I continued to write and I took classes. I started learning guitar. Then I decided since Broadway was on a break that I would start something new because I have the time now for it.
BTS: Could you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
Carter: I’d say my music is very honest. It’s really from the heart and it’s unique. It’s more like early Taylor Swift which I love so much and it’s quite classy in my opinion. It’s something you can jam to.
BTS: I’m assuming Taylor Swift is one of your inspirations.
Carter: Oh yes! Taylor Swift, Kelsea Ballerini, Paramore are really my inspirations. I know that’s kind of a wide variety of people but I really connect with Taylor Swift, especially her earlier music because she kind of started when she was around my age and built up her empire of songs now. Kelsea Ballerini, who’s more of a country singer, has some great songs that are really inspirational like “Homecoming Queen” which I just love.
BTS: I’m also assuming that Taylor Swift is one of your songwriting inspirations.
Carter: Oh yes, definitely. I’ve also had a bunch of other inspirations that kind of influenced me more on the Broadway end. That would be Shirley Temple, which I actually for Christmas this year got a signed copy of a picture of her from I think 1970. When I was little, I watched all of her movies. I begged my parents for the movies and I watched them over and over again. Seeing her sing, tap dance and act was really what inspired me to get into acting.
BTS: Shirley Temple is surprising because most of her work was in the 30s, 40s and it’s kinda crazy how she’s one of your idols.
Carter: Yes, a lot of people are quite surprised when I say that because I was only four at the time and I was watching Shirley Temple movies in black and white. I think a part of that influence was my grandfather. He has always shown me operas because he is also really into music. So I guess the influence from him was another thing that drew me into the movies.
BTS: What are your hobbies outside of music?
Carter: Outside of music, I am a dancer. That kinda goes with Broadway but I do every single style of dance, including tap which is my favorite. I also love art. I’m a very creative person so I need some sort of creative outlet whether that’s writing stories or it’s drawing.
BTS: Could you talk a little bit about your podcast?
Carter: Yeah, so Kyla’s Corner is on The Mark White Show. It was another quarantine project that I started. I was on Mark’s show to do an interview with him and he loved how positive I was and he loved my energy so he was like, “Kyla, I want you to have your own mini-segments where you spread positive messages every single week. You can talk about whatever you want.”
I was so excited because it was just another outlet to get to people and really help people which is another thing I’m passionate about. So I started recording every single week like 3-5 minute segments on topics like bullying, speaking out and being confident. I have so many people DM me on Instagram and tell me how much my podcast has helped with their confidence and how they view things around them. It always makes me so happy to hear.
Photo Credit: Melissa Cohen @imagebymelissa
BTS: I love that so much. The timing of it is perfect because we’re living in a time where there’s not too much to be happy about. I mean, things are turning around but it’s been a pretty dark period of time.
Carter: Yeah, actually the song that I’m releasing next week is called “Half Full Half Empty” and it’s exactly on that of how perspective and the way you change your mind to think positively can impact your life, which is something that I have talked about on The Mark White Show. That’s where I got the idea to write the song because I tend to see things positively, especially COVID.
I wasn’t really given a lot of time to hang out with my family since I was always traveling, on tour, in movies and tv shows. I was always doing something. So when I was finally given the time that COVID gave me to be with my family and figure out my interests, it was really a blessing in disguise. That’s what “Half Full Half Empty” is about is having the choice to see things positively or negatively.
BTS: So you mentioned your upcoming single “Half Full Half Empty.” Could you take us a little bit into what that creative process looked like?
Carter: Yeah! So, I do messages on The Mark White Show. Every week I have to come up with a topic that I want to talk about and something that I have always been inspirational about is being optimistic even when it’s hard to be because I feel like so much of the world looks at the negative side of things. Like if you turn on the news, the news isn’t quite positive. It’s actually quite dreary and negative, especially now with Coronavirus and everything going on.
There’s a lot of conflict and you can either see the happy side of it and the blessings that come out of it or you can focus on the negative. So when I wrote the song, I actually wrote the song really fast. I wrote it in under an hour because I was so passionate and I was so excited to write something like this. I did go back and tweak a couple of things but it was one of those songs where everything just clicked and I was just so happy with the result.
BTS: Is that the kind of music you want to make going forward?
Carter: A lot of the things that I write are about being inspirational, being yourself and pushing forward. But it doesn’t necessarily mean I want to forever be labeled like that. I feel like artists can get themselves into boxes where they’re kind of forced to write about one thing and I don’t want to put myself in a box.
I’m producing another song that I’m releasing in early summer that’s totally different that isn’t necessarily inspirational but it’s a story song. It tells a story. It’s more sad and mellow than the upbeat, happy songs that I’ve been releasing. So I want to make sure that I’m not put in a box and labeled as an inspirational artist, even though I love inspiring people. I think I need to keep my options open.
BTS: Does songwriting come easy to you?
Carter: It kind of depends on the day. The song that I released called “Average Puzzle Piece,” I initially wrote the song and I looked back at it one day and said I hate it and I rewrote the whole entire thing. So my inspiration and creativity is sometimes very lacking to the point where I will just stare at a blank piece of paper for two hours and have nothing written down. So when inspiration strikes, I have to catch it. But sometimes it does come easy like “Half Full Half Empty.” It was super fast and super easy and I was proud of it.
BTS: If you could perform or work with any artist, living or not, who would it be?
Carter: I think it would be pretty cool to do a collab with Harry Styles. I really like his music and I know it’s kind of cliche, every teenage girl likes his music. But I think our styles would be quite interesting together and our voices would contrast each other nicely.
BTS: What’s one of your favorite songs that’s been in your rotation lately?
Carter: Right now I guess my favorite artist would be Lizzy McAlpine. She isn’t quite known, which I think is so much fun that I get to listen to her music. It’s very cool and especially “Half Full Half Empty” is based off a lot of her music and she was a really big inspiration for that song, especially her voice type and style. Billie Eilish is on my playlist of course. The queen. If I had to pick one, “Where Do I Go” by Lizzy McAlpine.
BTS: How are you balancing the music, Broadway and school?
Carter: I often get that question a lot because a lot of people see me doing a million things at once and they’re like how aren’t you tired? My answer is always the help of my parents. They’re always guiding me in the right direction, especially my mom, who’s probably my biggest inspiration out of everyone. We have my life planned down to the minute, which is so funny to say out loud.
BTS: What has been your favorite accomplishment this far?
Carter: I’d say my favorite accomplishment so far is releasing my first single “Average Puzzle Piece.” After everything I’ve done, which I’ve done a lot of stuff, I’d say that left me most satisfied. Because when they’re watching Broadway characters that I play or they’re watching Trolls, they’re not seeing me. They’re seeing a character that I’m playing. So I was able to show them this is me, this is my song, this is what I’m putting out into the world. I thought that was so cool that people loved it, when I wasn’t playing a character.
BTS: What’s next for Kyla Carter? What does the rest of 2021 look like for you?
Carter: What’s really set on my mind right now is releasing music and I’m going to be releasing new music in the summer, really early in the summer, which I’m so excited for. That’s really what I want to focus on right now is releasing music and getting my voice out into the world.
Stream her new single “Half Full Half Empty” on streaming services everywhere
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