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The Mind Behind “Tied”: Behind the Scenes with Savannah Karam

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

Sometimes, you have to stray from the path in order to find your way again. At least, that’s what I’ve learned after my in-depth conversation with NYC-based singer and songwriter Savannah Karam. Karam dropped her very first single, “Tied,” on Sept. 29, streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, and already has plans for her next song release. I got the chance to sit down with her and dive into her history, her relationship with music, the inspiration behind “Tied,” and who she is as an artist.

Savannah Karam grew up in (funnily enough) Savannah, Georgia, and was something of a child music prodigy. “I’ve always loved singing, for as long as I can remember,” she recalled. “I started playing guitar when I was eight, because, like a lot of people our age, I grew up on Taylor Swift. She’s the reason that I started playing guitar and writing. I started playing piano a couple of years later when I was 10 or 11.” 

Despite finding her passion for music at such a young age, sticking with it wasn’t easy. 

Karam admitted that while she knew she wanted to make music, she didn’t fully commit to this passion until her later high school years. “Sometimes you get lost; the path is there, you know what the path is, and you let yourself get lost a little bit,” said Karam. “One thing no one talks about is that music can be very lonely. My twin sister, Sierra, was doing a lot of theatre growing up, and I was here just playing songs on my guitar, all by myself. There’s no sense of community when that’s what you’re working with. So I started doing theatre with Sierra, because I wanted the performance aspect and the music aspect, but more so the community.”

“I don’t think I was ever very good,” she laughed. “I was always in the ensemble, which was fine. I did chorus in middle school, switched to theatre when I went to high school, and I very slowly found my way back to music when I figured out that theatre wasn’t working out for me.” When asked why she took such a detour in the first place, Karam replied, “I think It’s like a self-sabotage thing, where you know what you want but you actively choose not to go for it because you’re afraid that it’s not going to work out.” It was a long road of denial and avoidance, but Karam couldn’t ignore her calling if she wanted to. “I went through this four-year period of sitting at school, writing out guitar tabs, memorizing chords, and just itching to go home and play guitar. And whenever we’d go on break, I would just stay in my room and play guitar until my fingers would bleed. It was just my favorite thing in the world, and that’s how I really got back into it.”

We should consider ourselves lucky that Karam decided to follow her passion. If she’d continued with theatre, we might’ve never been blessed with “Tied,” an alternative mix of acoustic and electric sounds with hauntingly beautiful vocals. According to Karam, the song is largely inspired by none other than Lana Del Rey’s newest album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard: “Specifically the song ‘Let the Light In,’ featuring Father John Misty,” said Karam, “I actually took the chord progression from that song. St. Vincent was a big inspiration as well.”

When asked what genre Karam identifies with most as an artist, she sighed. “That is such a difficult question. I don’t really like to define what genre I’ll be working in. I like to say alternative because it’s so broad, and every genre I’m interested in falls under alternative. Part of it is that a lot of my biggest influences will do a different genre for each album, so you can’t really use just one genre to define their music.” This response surprised me. As an outsider to the music industry, I just assumed most artists knew exactly what genre of music they wanted to create. Karam provided some insight as to why this isn’t always the case: “Even if you have an exact idea of what kind of music you want to make, if you box yourself in, it’s harder to branch out,” said Karam, “and no one is going to stop you from branching out but yourself. If you define yourself very strictly as one thing, it’s going to be a lot more difficult.”

When it came to her creative process, Karam confessed that the whole thing was daunting. She began writing the single around May of this year and, with only six lines and a melody, flew to Los Angeles in June to begin working with friend and producer Morgan Mok. “I met Morgan, my producer, in late 2021, and I guess that’s when I saw an opportunity to take this seriously,” said Karam, “For most of the things I’ve done in life, I’ve always felt like I started too late or I’ve been behind on everything, so I kind of had this realization that if I really work for this and make it happen within the next year, I can get an early start. I’m only twenty. It’s exciting to be able to start early, and this is probably the first thing I’ve ever done where I haven’t felt behind.”

The biggest challenge Karam faced when it came to recording the single? Braving the studio itself. “It’s something I had dreamed of for so long, and I thought it would be this big exciting thing, but it’s kind of glamorized if you’ve never done it,” she admitted. “And it’s really fun, but it’s also very frustrating and it can be tedious because you’re singing the same line over and over again, and you have to get at least three good takes of it.” In this case, the glamorous reality of studio recording involved staying up all night. “We booked night blocks in the studio, so we were there from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. So we’ve lived a whole day, and then suddenly it’s 11:30 at night and it’s time to pack up and go to the studio.”

Despite the crazy hours and tedious sessions, it seems the most uncomfortable part of the experience was Karam’s anxiety and anticipation. “Every single step that I took towards making this song, there was a little voice in my brain saying ‘whatever the next step is, it’s all going to fall apart.’ So, I thought, being in the studio and recording is gonna be the moment I realize I’m not cut out for this…and then I was fine,” she laughed. “I got into the studio and we did the whole thing in six hours.” 

After listening to “Tied” on repeat for weeks, I couldn’t stop myself from asking what was next for the singer-songwriter. “The next song I drop will be a grunge song,” said Karam. “After that… I just have to get back to L.A. to find out. I’m hoping to be able to put out an EP next year, so maybe five or six songs on that. I’d really like for it to be cohesive, so my genre identity crisis might have to briefly end,” she joked. 

If you’re looking for music with Lana-esque vocals and a dark, almost chilling sound, I can’t recommend Savannah Karam’s “Tied” enough. Karam’s uniquely floated voice is soothing, yet has a deadly edge that leaves you wanting more. The lyricism alone feels like a constantly juxtaposing train of thought, something familiar yet alienating, lonely yet empowering. A single moment of the song has the power to raise the hair on your arms as the instrumental cuts out almost completely and Karam’s ethereal voice is in your ear, asking, “Would you kill me if I begged? Drink me down and leave the dregs?” This kind of provocative artistry is a testament to Karam’s talent, and I am ecstatic to follow her career as she can, without a doubt, achieve whatever she puts her mind (and stunning vocals) to. Do me and yourself a favor by streaming “Tied” on Apple Music or Spotify, especially if you’re looking to feel something again.  

Julia Kennedy is the Secretary for Her Campus at Pace. She oversees all communications to members regarding meetings, important events, and club incentives. She ensures that each exciting club event is processed and spaces are reserved so that members may enjoy exclusive social opportunities. Julia loves acting as an intermediary between general and e-board members, facilitating important information to the people that make Her Campus at Pace the incredible club that it is. Beyond her role within Her Campus at Pace, Julia has been conducting creative research on 2010's social media culture for the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate research program as an awardee of the Amelia A. Gould Research Grant. She also works part-time at the Pace University Counseling Center as a student assistant. In the past, she has been a Junior Editor for Her Campus at Pace and worked as an assistant Editor and Copywriter for Pace University's Communications Department. Julia is currently a Senior working toward her Bachelor's in Communications and Media Studies, with a Literature minor already under her belt. Julia enjoys escaping academic obligations through reading, writing, and especially drawing. She has always had a soft spot for the fine arts. When even the smallest amount of sun warms the skies of NYC, she can be found sitting on a bench or in a grassy park, listening to Jack Johnson and photosynthesizing.