My favorite story to tell people about Karly Driftwood is the night we first met at Douglas Corner (RIP) four years back. I’d just gotten done performing myself when I turned around to see that my spot on stage had been replaced by a pretty girl with long red hair wearing a blue flower print sundress and cowgirl boots.
Despite the southern bell garb, her big smile, and an upright posture that made her look like she was next up in an Alabama spelling bee, I was hard pressed to describe her as “innocent looking”, though I couldn’t put my finger on why.
As soon as she came out swinging with a song about necrophilia, it all suddenly made a lot more sense. Half the bar was roaring with laughter and the other half sat shuddering in their seats – probably reciting stammered Bible verses beneath their quivering breaths.
Needless to say, my morbid sense of humor felt right at home. And yes, if you must know, I was more than slightly turned on… but that’s my own issue.
Since then, I’ve come to call Karly a dear friend and a fellow connoisseur of all things macabre. Getting to know her and performing with her on occasion has been an unparalleled joy.
She’s like the sinister spawn of Rob Zombie and Sylvia Plath who wandered into a saloon somewhere on the outskirts of nowhere and drank everyone under the table with a diabolical grin and a seductive strut to match.
I could take the usual approach of describing Ms. Driftwood further myself, but I figured my words wouldn’t do the maniacal mistress justice the same way her own would. So, on that note…
If you could fuck any serial killer, which one would it be?
Just answer the question, Karly.
(There’s no way in Hell I’m sharing her original response or the dialogue we exchanged after the fact, so I’ll just fast forward to her second answer).
I’d have to say Otis B. Driftwood.
The man whom you took your name from.
Yes, I did. I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt a connection to that family, so I had to take his name.
Well, if the Firefly family existed, they surely would have adopted you long ago.
So you’re obviously a big Rob Zombie fan then.
Absolutely. He’s got that perfect blend of early 2000’s cheese, badass horror, and a backwoods country theme that I love so much. He’s like the ultimate combination of everything I’m obsessed with, and there’s something slightly nostalgic about all of that for me.
And what about your new video diary? Talk to me about that.
Right. As you know, I started a vlog. I originally planned to do it last year when I was touring full time as a solo artist. I thought it’d be cool to document what it was like being a girl driving alone in the middle of the night through fucking Lousiana, meeting crazy people, sleeping at a different person’s house every night… lots of crazy stories that were worth sharing with the world. Then COVID happened and all touring ended, so fuck that. Now I’m just trying to show people what I’m doing here and now.
I want to keep it going for the next three years at least. Hopefully, if things pick back up again, we can look back at the first episode and be like, “Hey, remember that?!”.
Well, one thing I learned from you is to never say “if” and always say “when”.
I never forgot that.
Yeah, I used to say that a lot. Last year put a lot of doubts in people’s heads though.
Speaking of which, do you care what people think of you?
And what do you think or feel when someone… I don’t know… criticizes or says something bad about you?
I mean… when you sing about crazy stuff and you have a weird background, the shock is just going to come with it. I do remember what it was like back in middle school when you cared what everyone thought of you, but I have no idea what those people are really doing these days. Most are doing their own thing, some have died… I really only care what my family thinks of me.
Anything in particular stick out to you? As in something someone said to or about you. Maybe something you even found flattering in a backhanded way?
Oh, man! There was this one time at The Listening Room –
I love this fucking story.
Yes! I was playing there once, and in the middle of my show, a guy who worked there actually pulled me off stage and was like, “My manager just called and told me there’s some crazy lady on stage and she needs to get the fuck out now.” Yeah… that lady was me.
What did you do to get yourself kicked out?
Nothing that terrible, I don’t think. Maybe because it’s a family restaurant or whatever. I did mention something about being a booty call, but I feel like that’s just real shit. Then I talked about having to go work at the strip club afterward with all of the titties and assholes. Oh, and I brought up having to buy Xanax earlier that day.
Like you said, “real shit”.
Ha! I guess.
On the subject of ass and titties, you used to be a stripper, correct?
Yup! When I was 18, I moved to New York City with a modeling agency. At the time, I was super naive. Eventually, I realized that there are a million models there who are richer, prettier, skinnier, more connected… whatever. It wasn’t going the way I planned and I could hardly make rent. I ended up meeting this other model who was a dancer, so I tried it one night myself and… well, the rest is history.
Is that how you paid for mortuary school?
No, most of it went to my eventual move to Nashville. But yes, as you know, I did go to mortuary school.
Why mortuary school?
I’ve always just had a morbid curiosity about things. I wanted to be a forensic scientist and get in on all of that mystery and detail, but there’s something like eight years of schooling that goes along with it, and I wasn’t going to be able to do that.
What kinds of things were you doing with these bodies? Like dissecting them?
Yeah, embalming. Some of the bodies have been through autopsies, so when the medical examiner sends them to the morgue, they sometimes don’t have brains or certain organs that were removed during the procedure. They just send you a bag of what they took out and you’re supposed to like… put them back together.
I remember one time at school we just got sent a bag of arms.
I would have asked to take one home. Have you ever seen an attractive corpse? Like someone you’d bang if they were alive? Or dead…
No, unfortunately not. We mostly just had old people. There was one girl in maybe her early thirties, but that was the only younger corpse I’d ever worked on. I wasn’t in the business long enough.
And are you afraid to die?
No. Not at all.
No. Everyone’s going to die. That’s the way it is, so I do what I want today.
You’re too mean to die.
And that’s obviously the title of your album. When that came out, I was really excited.
Yeah, that was my first album I’d ever put out. It’s pretty much just a biography of who I am. Well, who I was at the time. I loved talking about how I was a dancer in ‘Stripped My Way To Nashville”. I was smoking a ton of weed back then, so that’s obviously got a lot to do with ‘Tennessee Trees’.
‘Too Mean To Die’ definitely was a reference to mortuary school. I also had a friend who died around that time, so I wrote ‘Ain’t Even Close’ about that. I just asked myself, “What do I want people to know about me?”.
‘Too Mean To Die’. That’s a great fucking title.
Oh, this is one of my favorite stories ever! So, when I was still a stripper, one of the other dancers just smashed through these double doors and out of nowhere screamed, “Listen! No one fucks with my family! No one fucks with my money! No one fucks with my man!”.
It was just a list of things you didn’t fuck with. Right there, I was like, “That’s going in a song one day.”. So I wrote too mean to die, and that’s the main hook – no one fucks with my family, no one fucks with my friends, and no one fucks with my dreams.
It’s a very honest and upfront message. I like it.
And that’s just it – honesty. Honest people inspire me, honest lyrics, honest gestures… I try to make sure everything I do and say is as honest as possible.
And that kind of honesty really is too mean to die. Check out Karly’s new video blog (she posts at least twice a week) and stay updated on everything she’s doing here in Music City.