MuchMusic Notes: Chasing the Dream
You might have heard his music. You might have heard about his fans, the Chasers. You might recognize his face on Billboard's website. You might know his name from the flurry of nominations as one of the newest breakout stars in the music industry.
At twenty-four years old, Chase Karter is no stranger to music, but with the following he has, you might not have guessed that "Night Secrets" is his first album.
For some, Karter and his fanbase came by storm, appearing one day, disappearing the next. Only to return ten fold earlier this year, on Aug 31st, generating a buzz we haven't seen since pop sensation Larry Lawrence returned from his hiatus.
Some might attribute this success to his label, OdE, an imprint owned by Avery Fitzgerald under Stone Hill Productions. Others attribute it to his rumored partner and talented songwriter, Reese Weldman.
Long time friend and personal assistant Peter Yakamane attributes it to Karter's dedication and passion for music.
"Music is something that has always been a big part of him even before he got discovered. Seeing him do it on such a large scale – frankly, it's nothing like either of us imagined," Yakamane said.
Others like Fitzgerald say it's both his music and him as a person. It's one of the reasons why he chose Karter to be his opening act in the North American leg of his 2015 Rewritten Stadium World Tour. "The way he brings all this raw emotion, love and power in his voice just makes you want to listen and dance. His songs aren't just catchy, it's like you're right there with him, falling in love or watching everything crumble. And that's just who he is. He makes you want to listen."
To Karter, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Discovered by Valarie Kohfman of If It Storms at a Friday Open Mic Night at Mikey's, a bar in downtown Baltimore, he had been wary of the opportunity at first.
When I ask why, Karter laughs. "Things like that don't just happen. Got lucky when I fit the bill with what they were looking for, I guess."
What were they looking for? A star, perhaps. Or someone with charisma, boyish grins and a smile that could win people's hearts over? Whatever Kohfman was looking for, she certainly found it inside Karter.
While Karter's music can be found in the age-old depths on YouTube, Kohfman herself uploaded the real gem onto Twitter. His first ever single, "I Should've" hit the Internet on a summer night, racking up views and won fans over in a heartbeat.
His fans know his name, his car, his friends, his songs and just about everything there is on the Internet. But what fans don't know is just who Karter is behind the guitar, behind his music.
When you think of a pop star, or someone who has made it big and quick in the industry, you think of money, flashy cars, big houses. For Karter, make those singular. "There's only one of me," he says. "I get to pamper my family and my friends, but realistically, I don't have the space to put all that much stuff!"
His apartment building is a little blip in the map in Baltimore, tucked away in a gated community. The gated community is a necessity, considering how his house was mobbed by paparazzi three years ago. He doesn't get many visitors besides a couple of friends who stop by when he isn't busy touring the country.
"I don't need something big and flashy," Karter says. "Not that New York is big and flashy, just that I'm comfortable down here."
He isn't slumming in his apartment either. It's not whopping $15 million dollar penthouse, but it's not cheap at $2 million. For all of its expenses, the apartment is sparsely decorated and clean. There are no cluttered counters, no messy line of shoes, few pictures decorating the walls.
When we enter, he asks me to put my shoes in the closet, in the empty space by the right hand corner. "It's not an OCD problem," Karter says, but won't elaborate when I ask. "That's not my story to tell."
It's no secret Karter moved here six months ago, but one would think he would have turned the space into a bachelor pad. The typical things at least, flat screen TVs, ping-pong tables, or at least a music room. (He does have a music room, complete with guitar cases on their respective shelves and a grand piano, though he says he doesn't use it.)
"I know what you're thinking," signature lopsided smile on his face. "It's a bit plain, minimalistic – I promise that I'm not one of those people, even if that's what it looks like."
He leads us through the rest of the apartment, pointing out the little things. "There's a shelf of books for Reese, I swear he goes through them like nobody's business," he says. Yes, the same songwriter, Reese Weldman, who he met three years ago through Kohfman. There are few indications of his presence, though, according to Karter, they're everywhere. "If you know what to look for, he's around. The piano's his kingdom, same with the Reese's Pieces in the kitchen cabinet, but you'd have to open it to find out."
He shows us a room painted in a lovely shade of lavender, the only room redecorated with photos dangling from the ceiling. Surprisingly, Karter is only in a couple of them. Photos also line the vanity, though this time Karter isn't featured at all. He isn't bothered by the fact, simply shrugging and nodding. "It's not my business what Misha puts up," Karter says – meaning Misha Leweski, most famously known for her leading role in the popular HBO TV series, Halcyon. "We let her stay here when she's in town. She comes by pretty often just to watch a couple of games."
Karter and Leweski met after attending a Skate Strong charity in 2012 and became fast friends. The two were rumored to have had a fling later that fall. Coincidentally, it had been Weldman that had introduced the two of them. "Not going to lie, I had no idea who [Chase] was," Leweski admits with a laugh. "I was too busy trying to reboot my brain after seeing Reese. Bit embarrassing, but I had to ask someone who he was."
Since then, the two have been close, often seen at hockey games and baseball games, no doubt supporting Leweski's numerous friends and family. "I still don't understand hockey," Karter says. "But I do know a couple of players and teams. Reese tells me I'm jumping on the bandwagon for liking Beaulieu on the Penguins – but it's mainly because he convinced me into doing probably the stupidest thing in my life, but it got me here. I owe him one."
As someone relatively new to the music scene, Chase says that the two of them, Weldman and Leweski, are his rocks. "I wouldn't say we're the three musketeers – Misha could probably handle that title herself," he pauses. "Between the three of us, I'd say she'd probably be the captain of the ship, I'd be the ship, and Reese would be the anchor."
When we return to the living room, he offers us cubes of cheese before we sit down. Karter tells us about staying in London. He stayed in the United Kingdom for a couple of years after releasing his EP, dropping off the face of the earth for a couple of months. But it hadn't been for nothing. "Reese introduced me to a few people down there," he says before pausing. "Up there, I guess. I'm too used to saying down instead of up." He admits that it was nice having the time alone to spend time with friends and travel a bit without a hoard of fans dogging his every move ("I love my fans – they're all really supportive. But it's nice having some private time too."). They'd gone to visit London's Red Eye, where the two were famously pictured the weekend before Christmas. ("It was really cold at the top, so we might have cuddled. Maybe.")
The picture had sent the internet into a frenzy, mostly notably trending "CheeseIsREAL" on Twitter for a full 24 hours. "Cheese" is a name that was created by Chasers who imagine that Karter and Weldman are in a romantic relationship. Most notably, Leweski, Weldman and Karter have all acknowledged the "ship." Leweski and Karter released a photo on Leweski's Instagram holding an "I", a ship and wedge of cheese last August with the caption "We're legen-dairy." Chasers have pointed out that the items quite literally spell out, "I ship cheese."
"I thought it was a lot of fun," Karter says with a shrug. "It was nice to see the fans getting into it and having as much fun as I did with it."
He certainly is continuing the fun if the plate of cheese before us means anything. ("Take that as you will, I'm not saying anything.")
People have pointed out his involvement in LGBTQ+ campaigns and his vocal support for the charities. Most recently, Karter was pictured wearing a rainbow wristband on tour with Avery Fitzgerald. Despite his support, Karter has neither confirmed nor denied allegations on his sexuality.
"I don't feel like I have a need to," he says. "It's about the music, about the fans. What I label myself isn't important and it shouldn't matter, regardless of what I identify as." He shakes the wrist that the rainbow wristband adorns before he laughs. "Trust me, as soon as you write that Misha has a room in my house, people are going to say I'm sleeping with her."
Previously, Karter has allegedly dated Kohfman. There are endless speculations on whether or not he and Weldman are in a relationship. Both Karter and Weldman have yet to deny the allegations. Instead, the two have been seen entertaining the speculations on social media.
Rumors have floated around whether or not "I Want to Dream Of You" from his Extended Play, "Open", was about Kohfman, Leweski or Weldman. "I met Misha a day before I wrote that song. Didn't know anything about her except that she gets star struck by Reese," he says before grinning mischievously. "Was I not supposed to say that? Avery and Reese wrote that song – I kind of let them do their thing with that."
As for "Night Secrets", Karter has several pieces that have sent tongues wagging on what his inspiration was based on. With 12 tracks and titles like "Reward You", "Oceans Apart", "Songbird" and "I Thought You Were Fool's Gold", it's hard to believe Karter doesn't have one person in mind when he writes. "I think we all write from personal experience at least once." He wouldn't elaborate on about just which song he wrote from personal experience.
Stepping into the M&T Bank stadium for an Avery Fitzgerald concert, it's loud and crowded. Men, women, boys and girls alike are clamoring to reach their seats. The signs are always amusing to see. The group of girls beside me has a large cardboard printout written in luminous letters, "I JUST CAME FOR MARIE KATE", no doubt trying to get the attention of the two time Olympic gold medalist, Marie Kate Villeneuve, who also happens to be Fitzgerald's wife.
There are more supporters for Karter in the crowd than you would expect for an opening act. Screams erupt when he steps out on stage with his sleek guitar slung over his shoulder. His face lights up as he takes in the crowd – evidently, the taste of performing every other night across America hasn't gone stale for him just yet.
"Hello Baltimore!" he says to the massive crowd.
The response is as loud as a jet turbine taking off. It only ramps up from there as he plays his ten-piece set, only dropping to a hush when he stops to talk to the crowd. But as he does, Chasers in the crowd hold up their rainbows (and some signs with pictures of cheese wedges).
"Thank you guys for all the support you've given me so far. I wouldn't be able to make it without everything you have given me."
He may not be a headlining act just yet, but Chase Karter knows how to appreciate his fans. Like his song, he certainly isn't Fool's Gold.
STAR WATCH: Chase Karter releases newest hit single "I Thought You Were Fool's Gold"
You remember that song, "I Should've", the one that we jammed all night long to leading up to Christmas? And how we never got another single?
Wrong. Singer songwriter Chase Karter has teamed up with Reese Weldman again and released a song fit for the summer, "I Thought You Were Fool's Gold". It's his first single since his Extended Play, "Open" back in 2012.
Check out the lyrics! Who could these two possibly be writing and singing about? Cheese? We all know how much both Reese and Chase love their dairy. After all, both of them have publically supported the ship as Chase wore those cheesy (see what we did there?) shirts and Reese tweeted about it back in December of 2012. Since then, both have been publically pictured, including that infamous picture of them at the London Eye.
Four years later...
It's weird watching from the seats instead of being up there.
Chase rubs his mouth as the stage goes dark, strings beginning the rumble he has only heard a few times before it hit the radio. Reese wouldn't let him hear this piece until it was finished. It was a piece that he wanted to make perfect.
Not for him, Chase knows that much. He rubs a hand over his ring finger, tracing over the platinum band he's had for the last year. Oh no, this one is for the girl standing up on stage, face pale beneath the makeup.
The thing is, it's not like he hasn't been to a concert in ages. Cause he has. They've been to concerts with Misha, a couple with Derrick and his whole extended family of sports people that Chase can't keep straight. He can barely hide the snort as a cough as he thinks of the manager. The guy may have gotten released by XEPA, but Avery swooped him up for his imprint and management company. Derrick got a better deal than XEPA, by a long shot.
His foot jiggles as he tugs at the tie knotted at the base of his throat. It's almost time, right?
Around him, the other stars talk among themselves, oblivious to what's going on stage. He would too, if he weren't waiting for what was to come.
Don't get him wrong, everyone knows that there's a performance coming up. And they know it's going to be Easton Newell, from the band PanDemic.
Chase distinctly remembers meeting her. Derrick had called them up one night, saying that he had a person who wanted to write with Reese. She didn't have a lot of songwriting accolades beneath her belt, but Reese had wondered why not? It had been a while since he'd written with a new artist – not since Chase had been his primary writing partner.
The thing is, the song they've created is beautiful. It makes Chase's heart pang every time he hears it, especially when he knows what's behind the Easton's inspiration.
The lights on stage dim and with it, the hum from the crowd. Stars filter back to their seats, knees bumping against Chase's as he stands to let them through.
"I heard there's a special guest tonight," someone whispers behind him. "They're next right?"
"I heard it was a duet."
A smile twists at the edge of his lips. The strings begin the opening strains of the song and Goosebumps snake up Chase's arms. He has to force himself from squirming, prevent himself from leaning forward on the edge of his seat.
"Here is their newest single, 'Forget the World One Last Time'."
And when the spotlight finally shines on stage, Chase lets the smile broaden on his face, fingers twisting the ring on his left hand.
Cause for the first time in nine years, he is back on stage. His hand is intertwined with the girl's, interlocked as if he is her anchor – and Chase knows the feeling. His voice sweeps over the theater, smooth and rasping at the same time. It's low velvet, something Chase gets to hear every night. This is the voice he hears in the day assuaging his fears, the voice he can listen to for hours on end. And he does. But this? This is something different altogether.
It's surrounding him, at every angle, ballooned by the speakers and the cello gurgling along. Chase can't close his eyes, can't take his eyes off the man standing in the spotlight. Classic suit and tie, the man is nothing special, except his smile. Beautiful, beatific, strong, full – everything it wasn't six years ago.
Standing proud, lead lifted high, without a pair of sunglasses obscuring his face is Reese.
They talk about us,
About the way we fell in a shower of sparks
And how we rose like fireworks.
Oh we flew so high no one knew our colors.
We had those invisible touches,
Those dark-corner kisses, those late night whispers.
Whispers that we keep because we burned.
Oh we burned so high it hurt when we touched.
You're the rope that I found
To anchor me back to the ground
Oh from the way you shined
I thought you were counterfeit
But oh, no, no, no, you were far from it.
We weren't a teenage phase that had no control,
I knew from the way we built fires from frozen hearts,
You were no Juliet and I was no Romeo,
Oh I can't believe I thought you were fool's gold.
December was the coldest month,
The month that nearly blew us down
Yet we held on to the ground,
And it was like we never even left town.
Oh, we had our fights
Those slamming doors and those sleepless nights
Nights we knew we'd get past because we knew we'd find
At the end, our own paradise.
And some day we'll look back and remember,
Remember those autumn nights it hurt to be alone
How we didn't want to fight anymore,
How we didn't want to bleed anymore.
Oh, I'll never forget the moment I knew,
You weren't fool's gold.
You're the rope that I found
To anchor me back to the ground
Oh from the way you shined
I thought you were counterfeit
But oh, no, no, no, you were far from it.
Oh I know you aren't fool's gold,
We built fires for broken hearts
We built rafts for rivers of tears,
Oh I know, oh I know, oh I know,
You aren't fool's gold.
AN: Andddd that's it! Oh my god that took forever. Updating a bit early since life has been completely miserable and this is one less thing for me to worry about tomorrow. So thank you guys so much for reading and reviewing ITYWFG. I had so much fun writing it and I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed it as well. As always, thoughts on this chapter is always welcome.
As for sequels, there is a small chance I'm going to write one; however, the piece set right after this one is called Forget the World One Last Time. It's the song that Reese sings at the end of this piece. Easton Newell is the protagonist of the FTWOLT. The story is a bit different from this one, though it is set in the same universe, thus Reese and Chase's planned reappearance in the later chapters. It's still entrenched in the music/entertainment industry. I hope you stop by and check the prologue out!
But if you're looking to see more of Derrick and just who the person who gave Chase /the/ advice, head on over to Snapshot. It's not as sports based as it seems.