Rising star Karley Scott Collins may be a newer name on the country scene, but that doesn’t mean she’s a stranger to the entertainment world. Born and raised in Lake City, Florida, the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist began a career as a child actor, starring in ABC’s Once Upon A Time, the CBS sitcom, The Class, and more.
After learning how to play guitar, she was hooked and found herself turning to music full-time. Developing an appreciation for bands like Alice in Chains and Guns N’ Roses, thanks in part to her father, who often played metal music in the car while dropping her off at school, Collins started penning her own songs, coupling those influences with her love of storytelling that’s often found in the country genre.
Eventually, Collins made her way to Nashville, where she began collaborating with award-winning songwriters like Liz Rose, Brock Berryhill, and Nathan Chapman. Her passion and persistence eventually paid off, and in 2020, she signed a worldwide publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music. At the top of 2022, Collins inked a deal with Sony Music Nashville and released her major-label debut track, “Heavenly,” which shares her vision for the kind of relationship she’d like to have when she finds ‘the one.’
“I think everyone has been through relationships that bring out the worst in you,” Collins said in a recent press release. “‘Heavenly’ is about the relationship that changes everything. It’s what I hope to have one day.”
Now Collins is out with her newest single, “Tattoos.” The heartbreaking track, which puts her distinctive vocals front and center, has the young talent comparing the marks of a permanent tattoo to the memories that never go away after experiencing the end of a relationship.
Collins recently caught up with Country Now to talk about her musical influences, latest tracks, upcoming plans, and more.
Read on to learn more about Karley Scott Collins in the exclusive Q&A below…
How did you begin a career in country music?
I got started in a little bit of a different way. I used to act when I was a kid. When I was about ten years old, I had this acting audition. I had to learn how to play guitar for it. So, I started taking lessons on top of Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles. I took lessons outside on top of the mountain and started playing guitar that way. I fell in love with it. I came back home after that and stopped acting around age 11. I began to focus all of my energy on writing and playing on guitar. Then I started traveling to Nashville when I was about 18. I just started meeting people and songwriting and performing and stuff like that.
Were you always drawn to the country genre? I read somewhere that you listen to metal music.
That is 100% my dad’s fault (Laughs)! He used to drive me to school when I was a kid, in kindergarten. He would play Alice in Chains, Guns N’ Roses, and music like that. As I got older, I discovered Pantera and stuff like that. As far as country music goes, I was raised in the South. So, it is everywhere around you. But also, in my home, I was listening to Willie Nelson and Brooks & Dunn, who I am obsessed with right now. I think they’re incredible! So, I think it was always in my veins a little bit. When I started to write songs, that’s the direction I went. I love it, and I think it’s a lot of fun!
How would you describe your sound and personal style to those who haven’t heard you yet?
I think a lot of the stuff that my dad raised me to listen to – something that I always took from it is how those artists used their vocals to express emotion. I’ve always admired vocalists like Layne Thomas Staley or Chris Cornell. So, I have pulled from that. But, as far as country goes, I think country music is the genre with the best storytelling, and that’s something that I’ve always been inspired to have myself with my music.
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You moved to Nashville from Florida a few years ago. What were some of the first things you did to get your music in front of people in Music City?
I think my writing has grown a ton since, you know, they say, ‘practice makes perfect.’ Since I moved here, I have been writing almost every day. So, I think that it takes doing it over and over again to figure out what you want your sound to be. I think that’s something that I’ve figured out since I moved here. But I had never co-written at all before I moved here. I spent my entire life writing by myself. So, when I moved here, it was a huge learning experience working with co-writers and finding the people that I felt like I worked well with. I feel like, at this point, I’ve got co-writers that I believe complement my sound well, like Nathan Chapman, Brock Berryhill, and Berry Dean. I think there are certain people that you find who understand what you want out of your music, and they add something special to it.
Do you write songs on electric guitar and acoustic guitar?
I don’t usually write on electric, but I do play it. I also play piano, and sometimes I will write songs on there. But, the first thing I always lean towards is to pick up my acoustic guitar. When I am writing, the first thing that usually comes to me is the idea and melody. I will put a little voicemail into my phone, and it usually comes to me when I can’t pick up the guitar. When I get back home, I’ll pick up the guitar, play it and go from there.
What is the inspiration behind your track, “Tattoos”?
‘Tattoos’ was one of the first songs I wrote when Covid-19 started. I wrote it over Zoom, which was a brand new experience. The song is about love and loss and how memories can sit with you and haunt you and what it feels like to love somebody, not have to be there anymore, but still, have the memories be there every day, and how you can’t get rid of them. The hook and the chorus, which is ‘You’re under my skin in my least favorite shade of blue, and I never wanted tattoos,’ came to me. I made a little voice memo, and then I had this Zoom write with Brett James and Brock Berryhill. I played them that little hook idea, and we wrote the song.
Tell me about the concept for a music video for “Tattoos”?
So the video focuses a lot on being haunted by those memories. It’s only the second video that I’ve ever shot. But, it is the first video where I have a love interest which was interesting for me. It was a new thing. But in the video, we have rain machines, and I’m wearing a dress in the rain. So, It’s like a very emotional feel, which is what I was looking for. I wanted to match the emotional feel of the song. So there’s me singing in the rain and flashes of these memories, and kind of that feeling of how the song feels.
Given your acting background, was it easy to step into the role of being in a music video?
As far as expressing emotions in a music video, I think I was prepared for that part because of my acting background. But, singing while moving throughout the song and things like that was a new experience. But, I will say, being on the sets, it felt pretty natural to me.
Do you plan on returning to acting in the future?
I think music is where I am, at least for the foreseeable future. It is 100% where my passion is at, and it’s all I want to be doing. So, I think that’s the focus right now.
You also released your song “Heavenly,” which has the opposite meaning to “Tattoos.” Were those songs written about anyone in particular?
With ‘Heavenly,’ I would say the verse is written about people because I’ve had those relationships that bring out the worst in you, like that I’ve got some scars from. But, ‘Heavenly’ is more of an aspirational song to me. It’s something that I want that I don’t have yet. So that was a song about all of the things that I’m hoping to find in a relationship. So, it’s real to me, but I guess it’s real to me in a different way.
What do you want fans to take away from your music?
I hope my music is something fans can relate to and enjoy listening to. My ultimate goal for all of my music is for people to feel like they’re not the only ones feeling whatever they’re feeling. You know, for them to listen to the song and be like, ‘Gosh! I am there right now.’ For them to be able to feel that, I think, that’s all you can hope for.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Oh, man! There are so many! Of course, signing with Sony was like an absolute dream come true. But, I guess the thing that has been the coolest for me so far is to have music out in the world. I’ve waited my whole life for that moment, and I think just having that moment, getting ready to put it out, hearing everybody’s reactions, and getting to talk to fans has been a dream come true.
What’s next for you?
On May 14, I will be performing with Caitlyn Smith in Charleston. I am super excited about that show! I’ll have more shows out soon, at some point, in the future. But for right now, I’m just focusing on ‘Tattoos’ and that show!
Fans can keep up with Karley Scott Collins on Instagram.