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In the spring of 1996, Karlzen had Ulloa book some showcase gigs in Manhattan and invite people from various labels. The A&R execs showed up, listened, and had only good things to say. But nobody offered her a deal. Karlzen says she felt like she was wearing "the Scarlet D" -- for "Dropped." Finally, one night in New York, an acquaintance from another label pulled Karlzen aside and gave her this advice: "Unless you do something different or change your name, you're damaged goods. You should just hide away for a while and come back up for air later. But right now no one's going to pay any attention to you."
"And it was so true," Karlzen says. "That's when I just went home. I started riding my bike and wasting my days."
For several months Karlzen would ride to Treetops Park in Davie in the morning, then spend the rest of the day writing in a journal. She wrote fiction, memoirs, thoughts -- but not songs. Occasionally she got on the swing set and pumped her legs furiously, trying to lift herself toward the sky. Around dusk she would ride back home.
"It's really hard to encourage somebody," says Scandariato. "You get used to that feeling that when you walk into a place, everyone's there to see you and rally around you and support you. And when all that gets taken away, it's quite an awakening to realize that you're not on the pedestal anymore. I guess she had to come to grips with that. And it was a difficult transition to watch."
But late in 1996, Karlzen began writing songs again. She recorded and released a four-song EP with Scandariato and the band with which she had toured. She bought a Jeep Cherokee so she could haul guitars and amps. In 1997 she wrote and recorded twenty new songs. Ulloa is busy preparing packages to send out to major labels.
"There are a million-billion bands out there, and everybody's vying for the same spots you are," Karlzen says. "That's why you can't do music thinking that you're going to get anywhere. You just have to do it for yourself. If you think someone's going to come along and validate you, that ain't going to happen. You have to do it just because it's in your heart to do."
For Karlzen, Atlantic Records is in the past. These days she's doing things the way she wants to, and she's happy with her new songs. If her recent show at Tobacco Road is any indication, her local following remains as strong as ever. Another trip to the big time may or not be ahead of her, but, with her trunk full of gear, Karlzen keeps on driving.
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