Indie pop duo KTJ & Carly take a deep dive into the strong hold ego has over us, and what happens once we let that go in their new EP, ‘Ego Death.’
Stream: ‘Ego Death’ – KTJ & CARLY
Many people get scared to choose our dreams, and are scared of failure or success. Shutting your ego can help us transcend and fulfill our dreams.
So often we have these beliefs of what we should be and where we should be at in life. Our deep-rooted sense of self-importance causes us to obtain certain ideas in our heads. Those thoughts of who we think we are supposed to be can make us feel inadequate. KTJ & Carly explore what could happen if we just drop the front and seek out a truer form of self-acceptance. Ego is an extremely powerful thing and the pair examines its effects in their new EP, Ego Death (released June 23, 2022). The offering showcases stunning, detailed storytelling and addictive pop melodies. This haunting 5-track body of work leaves us with an intense desire to discover what occurs when we detach from our false self-images.
The Los Angeles-based writer, producer, and musician duo of sisters Katie and Carly Haynes, KTJ & CARLY have spent the past three years lighting up the airwaves with soaring, cinematic electro-pop music with an alternative twist. Following 2020’s acclaimed debut EP Identity, the duo spent the past year releasing a series of singles rife with unapologetic raw energy; in featuring the track “Hidden,” Atwood Magazine praised the band for “constructing catchy creations that truly glisten,” going on to praise the song for its “hypnotic harmonies gliding atop bold, moody synths.” We more recently hailed their emotionally charged song “Daddy’s Little Lawyer” as “a roaring anthem of empowerment and dismissal – of moving on and moving forward from the entitled, immature people in our lives.”
The Ego Death EP opens with a beautiful and bold track entitled “Soliloquy.” The piece is a narration of getting to know yourself when you’ve dropped your pride. One of the most meaningful lines in the song is, “’cause I’m waking up, I’m filling my cup, I could care less if I rise to the top.” Many times we focus so much on gaining success and what we think that means. If we just let go of that notion and do things to better ourselves every day we can feel fulfilled.
“Daddy’s Little Lawyer” focuses on ego from another angle. Their sassy vocals soaring over grungy guitars sing of an ex that is full of himself. This punchy anthem definitely puts him in his place. The pair conclude with “Signing Off,” a synth-infused, rhythmic release all can easily and readily relate to: In a song about taking a break from always being “on,” KTJ & CARLY remind us just how therapeutic a pause can be.
Sisters KTJ & Carly are known for their shiny pop/electronic sound paired with profound messages.
The duo’s songs touch on themes of self-love and discovery sung through soulful, sultry tones that are pure infection. This new EP Ego Death is another chapter in their journey of transformation through music. That evolution is truly inspiring.
We say I don’t care anymore, but when people say I don’t care, that’s usually when they care a lot.
Stream: ‘Ego Death (The Short Film)’ – KTJ & CARLY
A CONVERSATION WITH KTJ & CARLY
Atwood Magazine: I know your names are Katie & Carly, but how did you come to the decision to call your dynamic duo KTJ & Carly?
Carly: For a while we were trying to figure it out. In the end we decided to just stick with our names. Katie had always been called KTJ in high school, because when she used to write her name on papers, she would just put Katie, the letters and everybody started calling her KTJ. I think that’s how that name birthed. I feel like we kind of wanted to keep it a bit more personal, if that makes sense.
Your edgy, indie-pop/electro sound is so compelling. How did you develop that distinct style?
Katie: It’s all trial and error from the beginning, and we just are continuing to grow our sound and trying new things, seeing what works the best in the moment. It’s just fun to play around with it.
Carly: I think when we started off our sound was a lot different than it is now. Over time as our taste changed and as we changed as people, so did our music. So I’d say that the sound we have today is a combination of our personal life, our tastes, and our musical inspirations all combined. I feel like when people ask us what genre we are, we always say pop. It’s a little bit broader than that because we always find inspiration from all sorts of different types of genres.
Your new EP Ego Death is all about peeling away your ego like a snake sheds its skin to transform into your most authentic and candid self. Can you explain this in more detail?
Katie: I feel like the ego, it can blind us sometimes from doing what our soul should be doing. Many people get scared to choose our dreams and are scared of failure/success. Shutting your ego can help us transcend and fulfill our dreams.
Carly: I like that whole idea of shedding your skin like a snake. Shedding your ego, like a skin to a snake. Our ego, it can sometimes hold us back. There’s always a lot of obstacles in the way in order to find self awareness. I think today a lot of people have their egos and it’s very disruptive. It blocks them from really finding out who they are as a person. Everybody’s so scared that they’re not going to be liked or this or that in their life. Everybody’s kind of scared and holding themselves back. So I’d say the whole idea for the EP is letting go of all of it and unplugging and signing off. It’s not really possible to completely shed your ego because there would be no conscious. It’s sometimes important to distinguish your own place in the world, like how you judge, critique and analyze.
Ego Death commences with “Soliloquy,” a soulful, synth-driven track detailing the need for self-acceptance and letting go of the person you think you need to be. What inspired this powerful piece?
Carly: We wanted it to be like a letter to ourselves. Our album Identity was all about finding yourself and Ego Death is all about losing it. We wanted an entryway to figure out who I am in this world. How do I figure that out? The whole song is like, I don’t know who I am. How am I going to figure this out? We call this soliloquy because a soliloquy is pretty much what that is. It is a letter or monologue to yourself. In Shakespeare, they do a lot of soliloquy, such as “to be or not to be.” I’m trying to figure out who I am in this world. That was our intention for it.
You go for a more punk rock radiance with “Daddy’s Little Lawyer.” The angst-filled, emotive single sticks with the theme of killing off ego, as you put an ex in his place. What was it like to get that cathartic release?
Katie: It was one of the most fun songs to write because it’s rebelling against that idea that you have to be in a relationship or with somebody. We say I don’t care anymore, but when people say I don’t care, that’s usually when they care a lot. The whole song is about the power of indifference, and the idea of moving on. When somebody moves on, it’s never like, oh, I don’t like you anymore. It’s I really don’t care anymore. There’s a lot of power in that. Writing it was a step in my life saying I don’t care. It was very cathartic in that way. We wrote it with our good friend, Stefan.
“Pink Ferrari” is another synth-soaked song with booming bass and sultry vocals. How were the sonics constructed?
Carly: We wrote the song originally on piano. It was a little bit more stripped down. It was going to have a different vibe. Then we started producing it out. It was really fun to write. We wanted to touch on the idea that what if all your inner demons are just like your friends. They are people you’re embarrassed to bring to the party. You just decide to say fuck it and bring them anyway. It’s all a big metaphor for not trying to hide your flaws or your mental health issues.
“Pink Ferrari” examines the intense highs and lows brought on by mental illness, which is something I’m sure many listeners can resonate with. How has mental health issues effected your life and what advice can you give to others looking to seek relief from this struggle?
Katie: “Soliloquy” and “Pink Ferrari” kind of play off of each other in a way because it starts off with over analyzing yourself or the world or whatever it may be. That can lead to depression and anxiety. There’s so many ways to treat that. I feel like it’s so stigmatized these days. It’s okay to not always be strong. You can grow and find happiness and peace without doing what society expects. In my personal life, I tend to get stressed out and I get anxiety a lot. I always feel like I have to be on to the next thing constantly. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Especially now with social media, I compare myself to everybody else. I’m always like why don’t I have this many followers? Or why am I not more successful already at this point in my career? Why, why? why? Pressure is a big problem for me. This whole EP actually was very cathartic to write in that sense.
I know your song isn’t literally about a Ferrari, but picture you are driving in your dream car on your dream scenic route. What car and place would that be and what tune would you be blasting?
Katie: Originally, my dream car was always a G Wagon, but then somebody told me that it’s bad for the environment. I’m still deciding what my dream car is.
Carly: My dream car is a Comet, maybe a convertible black Comet. An old one from the 80s. To have one of those like all scarves around my head with like the really big glasses too. I’d be on PCH listening to talking heads.
Katie: I’m thinking I’d be driving on the side of the mountain next to the water and I’d be listening to “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
The EP ender “Signing Off” is the ideal finale, as it is raw and highly stirring. In today’s society, especially with the rise of social media we so often feel the urge to display this perfect persona. This release reminds us that we don’t always have to be “on” at all times. What prompted you to create this track with such a profound message?
Carly: We needed a track to close it off. Not only close it off, but touch on the fact that it, like every single song that we have in our EP, covers an obstacle of self awareness and an ego death. I think sometimes people also get into their heads about not being able to do a certain thing or being too caught up on a certain thing. The only thing you can really do when you’re having issues with yourself or other people is to let go and sign off. I think that’s a great way to meditate and forget for a second about your problems. It’s been the best medicine for me personally in my own life. Anytime I’m too caught up in my phone or I’m in a fight with somebody, I think that the best thing to do is just unplug. That’s why we wanted to add that song in there. It’s also a metaphor for letting go of all the stress.
Katie: I forget what that documentary is called, the really creepy algorithm one. I feel like everybody was talking about it for a while. It made us realize that social media was generally the cause of all of our standard social anxiety. Then five minutes later, we just went right back to these fake personas online. Acting as if everything is picture perfect all the time. That’s not life at all. That’s not accurate. I feel like it’s good to unplug from that sometimes. Whatever that may look like to someone.
Finally what are some artists you are currently jamming out to that you could recommend to our readers?
Carly: I just started listening to Madeline The Person, she’s got a really cool vibe. I just discovered her on TikTok. Shakey Grave.. I’ve started listening to more Beach House. The Japanese House as well.
Katie: Maddie Zahm… I’ve always loved Paramore, and I’m listening to a lot of 2000s stuff right now. Our friends have a band called The Townies, and I’ve been listening to their new EP.
The only thing you can really do when you’re having issues with yourself or other people is to let go and sign off. I think that’s a great way to meditate and forget for a second about your problems. It’s been the best medicine for me personally in my own life.
Stream: ‘Ego Death’ – KTJ & CARLY
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