Tommy Karlas

Thank you for taking the time to have this interview with IMAAI.
Tell us about your music.
Very much influenced by everything from James Taylor & Bill WIthers to George Strait & Don Williams. As a professional songwriter for over two decades writing songs for other country music artists, I have come to find my own artistry and what I would put out as an act myself. You can hear more than anything the well-crafted 90’s style commercial country music mixed with contemporary style in production, melody, and lyric.

When did you start performing?
I started playing guitar and singing country music in school talent shows at 12 years old. At 14 I took my first trip to Nashville and saw Dean Dillon, Skip Ewing, Gary Burr, and Hugh Presswood at the Bluebird Cafe, and knew this is what I wanted to do with my life; be a professional songwriter in country music. I made a 5 year plan and moved to Nashville at the age of 19.
My first week in Nashville, we pitched our songs at a workshop to the #1 independent company, and the next day they called me in. Weeks later they offered me my first publishing deal.
Since then, I’ve written songs for Blake Shelton, Randy Travis, Trisha Yearwood, Old Dominion, Warren Zeiders, and many more. I was nominated for ASCAP Songwriter of the Year in 2009 for a multi-week #1 I wrote for Montgomery Gentry called Roll With Me, which became their fastest rising and most downloaded song.
I’ve had the pleasure of writing songs professionally for most of my time in Nashville and am on of probably a few dozen songwriters still doing this as a living after two decades.

What do you consider to be your hometown and how does that affect your music?
My hometown is Alton, IL. It’s a mid size town across the Mississippi River from St Louis, MO. Since my first #1 song, I have had a good following in my hometown area and play many shows there each year. Most of my family still lives there and many friends, so it’s a place that is very important to me and reminds me of where I come from and my roots.

What performers have been your inspiration?
My biggest inspirations are two fold: One is artists like James Taylor, Bill Withers, Jim Croce, Don WIlliams, George Strait, Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks… And the other side is songwriters like Dean Dillon, Tom Douglas, Gary Burr, Bob McDill, and many others. Garth Brooks was one of my first concerts and as a performer there is nobody better in my opinion. As far as great songs Dean Dillon, Tom Douglas, and Bob McDill are just masters of their craft and write the kind of songs that I relate to and aspire to reach that bar of songwriting.

What do you base your success on?
Again, I think this is two fold; Obviously you want as many people as possible to hear the music you write so that is probably a big part of what success looks like to me. But mostly I would say success is based on writing truly special songs that affect people and impact their lives, even in the smallest way. If it does it for one person, that is success to me. But even more so if on a mass scale.

What was your latest musical release?
My latest release is a six song EP “Now That’s A Memory” that is a section of my forthcoming album. Most of the songs on that EP were songs that when I walked in to write them on those days, I was sitting down to write the kind of country songs I would want to hear and sing, and what feels real to me… which is probably why the EP leans more toward old school style country that still fit the contemporary format.

Do you have any news to share?
We have a full 16 song album we are releasing Oct. 20, 2023 that I’m very excited about. It will be my sophomore album and at this point our reaction to the music we’ve put out has far exceeded my expectations. We recently just went over the 2,000,000 streams & views mark, so we are excited to see what kind of reaction the entire album will get.
Also, recently as a songwriter I have gone passed the 100,000,000 streams mark. So that is very validating even just as a songwriter.

How can fans find you?

Lastly, please share some final words with the fans.

I am very excited to see what the future holds not only as an artist but as a songwriter. One of the good things about doing this for so long is it feels like I’ve found my confidence and style and know what I want to say and how I want to say it. If you are a country music fan, I hope you can check out our music and maybe even hear a song that might have even a small impact on you.