Today I got to have a sit down with Karalyn Woulas, lead singer of the Cocoa Beach band Karalyn and The Dawn Patrol. This four-piece band has sounds inspired by rock, punk and alternative melodies and consist of surfers, Space Force and Space Alliance engineers, a Cocoa Beach city commissioner, a Berkeley graduate and one of the most famous surfboard shapers in the world! And, I have to stress that don’t let Karalyn’s day job fool you: this woman can come out hitting strong songs like Blondie, Melissa Etheridge, The Cranberries, 4 Non Blondes, Mötley Crüe, alongside her engaging surf rock-inspired originals. And, speaking of live performances, the band has played hundreds of shows and is doing regional Florida runs now, with more tours on the horizon.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Karalyn herself to talk all things Dawn Patrol.
I have personally seen the band become an incredibly evolving entity in the local scene in Cocoa Beach, which intrigued me to reach out to Karalyn, eager to learn more… especially since the band members’ individual vocations are of such high caliber! I think the first time I saw the band was at Beach Shack in Cocoa Beach. I was like… HOLY MOLY, wowzah! It was the missing piece to the puzzle! From the local band scene to balancing work and play to what’s next, this is what the kickass frontwoman let us know.
Can you tell us a bit about your band members? Is it hard to do your important job(s) and do music, too?
- KW: We all have quite the background! My drummer, Ricky Carroll, is a world-renowned surfboard shaper; my guitar player, Gary Potter, earned a degree at Berkeley School of Music in Boston and has toured internationally with several bands — including Daughters. My bass player, Mike Witherington, retired from the Space Shuttle program as a TPS inspector. I, myself, am an Aerospace Engineer for the Space Force. I am also a City Commissioner for the City of Cocoa Beach.
I can only imagine the stress those careers can have on you guys! Your original music has a beach vibe that can ease your soul. You guys love playing covers, as well…?
- Most definitely! I do have some original songs that have a beachy vibe to them, but I also have some in the blues rock genre, as well influenced by Susan Tedeschi, Ana Popovic and Beth Hart.
I feel like you guys are evolving immensely! Can you tell me more about this? It looks like you guys have all been together playing your whole lives!
- Yes… thank you! I have had this band for 12 years and have had several different rounds of players. We have evolved through all these rounds. Gary Potter started playing with us about a year ago and we have been experimenting with several different genres of music and it has been a lot of fun!
Your band is constantly promoting videos and band practice on YouTube — especially during COVID. I know the music industry was crushed and devoured by this damn sickness. How did this affect your music life? Did you guys write more during the lockdown?
- COVID helped us figure out how to get our music out in more alternative, creative ways. We started Facebook Live band practice sessions and that has been a lot of fun. We have been learning how to keep in touch with our fans, even when it was hard to be accessible; this also gave us time to work on new material, which has really enhanced our performance.
When did you first find music? Or, did it find you?
- I first found music when I was a baby. My first words were lyrics to an Elvis Presley song, who is one of my biggest musical influences throughout my life.
I love Elvis, too! You guys are planning a nice long tour coming this year October, going straight up the east coast from Florida to New York. How many tours do you have for 2023? And, who do you aspire to tour with?
- I plan to do as many tours as I can for which the parameters of my day job allows. I would love to share stages with any band! I feel like spending time with other bands and musicians can teach us a lot, no matter who they are. But, if I can dream, I’d love to tour with Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, Beth Hart or Gwen Stefani (lol)!
Are there times when you feel like being a female lead vocalist has its pros and cons? What gives you strength to be a strong leader?
- It definitely has its pros and cons. Being a female lead vocalist does set you apart from a lot of bands, because female-fronted bands seem to be a minority in the industry, so that really gives you an edge. At the same time, being a female in the industry, you have to work 10 times harder and longer in order to gain the respect of a lot of the male players in the industry. It gets hard… you can find yourself being insulted and treated unfairly in so many ways. But, you have to have the courage and the guts to keep moving forward and it does pay off if you believe in yourself.
- My father has been telling me, ‘People are going to try to take you down, but you have to believe in yourself, keep pushing forward, be a bitch if you have to… but, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it!’
Your father sounds like a very smart man! How do you feel about the local music scene here in Cocoa Beach? What would tell the world about our sweet little beach town that only has the best Space Program in the world and world surf champ Kelly Slater?!
- Our Cocoa Beach is the most unique beach town, where our close-knit music community is bonded together by our love of the beach, surfing, music and supporting each other through tough times and good times.
A song called “Alone for You” — what inspired you to write it?
- I was sitting home alone one Friday night writing some music. I went for a walk up to the beach from my house in Cocoa Beach to take in the scenery and get some inspiration. I saw everyone enjoying the night and kind of felt like an outsider. I was a little sad, so I captured the moment and the emotion and wrote this song.
I know that you surf! Can you tell us a scary surfing story?
- My most scary surfing story was when I went to Costa Rica back in 2007. I went with a group of friends for a wedding and we all traveled around Costa Rica surfing. One of the places we surfed at was Playa Hermosa on a super big day, when most of the local weren’t even going out… but, you know, we had to… I got stuck in a clean-up set at the end of the day in a 15-foot wave that I couldn’t paddle over or duck under. I just had to hold onto my board for dear life! I got held under three times and finally shot out to the beach… there was six of us in that situation and we were so glad to make it back to the beach with our lives flashing before our eyes! The next day, we reflected on the situation and just started cracking up so hard in disbelief!
You guys were so grateful to not have drowned, I bet!! If you could tour full-time, would you leave your career for music?
- I definitely would… no question.
Is there something about you that no one knows or anything you would like to share about you?
- Lol! I have a pet rabbit named Bunny… he’s my best little buddy!
Aww! Well, btw, sis and I would watch your fur baby Bunny while you‘re on tour, whenever you need!
So, who books all your shows/media?
- I do all the booking for my shows and some of the social media, as well. Alicia Olink, of Cocoa Beach, our band photographer, takes all our pictures and takes care of the build of our social media.
Is there a message you want to share with other artists out there that want to do music for the rest of their lives?
- I just want to say, if music is your passion, just do it — don’t let anyone stop you or tell you that you can’t! If it’s in you, it’s in you and you have to share it, and that goes for anything that you are passionate about!
Talking with Karalyn, as I have many times about her band when I head to her shows, I always get inspired. This band is a lot of fun while remaining professional in every way. They present themselves onstage with a humble presence and just have this look on their faces like, ‘hell yes, this is what we are supposed to be doing!’… and, I totally get it! Their upcoming tour starts this fall and will convey how much dedication they give to their music. They are a true Force To be Reckoned With.