Karley Scott Collins Taps Into Nostalgia & Her Love For Tom Petty’s Music With New Single, “Petty in the 80s”

“The hook of the song is, ‘you got me free fallin like Petty in the 80s.’ I really loved getting to reference him cause I’ve loved him for forever,” Collins said of “Petty In The 80s.”


Nicole Palsa


Posted on February 21, 2023

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Karley Scott Collins; Photo Courtesy of David McClister

Although 23-year-old Karley Scott Collins wasn’t around during the 80s, her love of classic rock music helped inspire her latest single “Petty in the 80s.” The track follows Collins’ previous releases “Better Strangers,” “Tattoos,” and “Heavenly,” her debut single which came out in February 2022.

The Lake City, Florida native chatted with Music Mayhem about how her single came to life, what she’s learned from her seasoned hit co-writers since moving to Nashville, and her vision for future music projects.

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Collins wrote “Petty in the 80s” with Brock Berryhill and Josh Miller, who share a love for classic rock music. In this particular session, Collins knew she wanted “a fun and upbeat song that people would really like to hear live that I could maybe open a show with, and that would be a lot of fun.”

Petty In The 80s” Is A Tribute To The Late Tom Petty

Berryhill was one of Collins’ first co-writes within the first few months of arriving in Nashville. “Brock and I kind of bonded over our mutual love of classic rock music, which is kind of what I was raised listening to,” says Collins, who grew up just 30 minutes from Petty’s hometown of Gainesville, Fla. “He knew I loved Tom Petty, so he actually brought in the idea of ‘Petty in the 80s.’ The hook of the song is, ‘you got me free fallin like Petty in the 80s.’ I really loved getting to reference him cause I’ve loved him for forever. I think we probably wrote that song in an hour. We just had so much fun writing it.”

The singer-songwriter has been journaling ideas for songs since she was 12 years old and started playing guitar at age 14, initially taking a slow approach to songwriting. “An idea would pop into my head in the middle of the night and I’d make a voice memo of it and maybe write the chorus the next day. And then a few days would go by and I’d write a verse,” Collins recalls.

When she moved to Nashville, the pace of co-writing was a bit of a shock to her. “Show up at 11 and have a song finished by 4:00 PM. That was a big adjustment for me. But it’s kind of nice because you don’t have the time to overthink the lyrics, which is something that I tend to do. I’m a big overthinker,” she admits. One of her first co-writing sessions was with Nathan Chapman. “He and I have written a lot of the songs that I still love and that I’ve cut,” says Collins, who considers Chapman a mentor. 

“I feel so comfortable with Liz Rose or with Nathan Chapman to go into a room and say like, hey, this is what I’m dealing with. And they kind of know exactly what it’s like because they’ve talked to artists for 20 years in this town. So I really rely on my co-writers, who I look at as friends, to give me advice if I’m struggling with something as far as the artist stuff goes, at least for now.”

Co-writers like Chapman and Rose have helped Collins fine-tune her craft and trust her instincts. “I think the biggest lesson that I actually learned through writing with people that write hit songs is that there isn’t a right way to write it and that nobody has a specific process or formula. And I think that was a really freeing feeling also because I kind of learned that the only right way to write a song anyways is the way it comes natural to you.”

For Collins, that can mean getting ideas in the middle of the night and jotting them down. “My process has always been just randomly an idea popping into my head sometimes even while I’m asleep and writing it down and kind of doing it that way.” Collins continues to learn from her co-writers. “Being able to be in a room with people who have written songs that I really admire and learn from them and seeing their process and watch the way they do things has taught me a lot.”

Karley Scott Collins "Petty In The 80s" Single Art
Karley Scott Collins “Petty In The 80s” Single Art

Collins Also Paints Portraits

Collins’ artistry spills over into the visual arts as well. She signed her record deal shortly before the start of the pandemic, which left her with extra time on her hands during 2020. “I sketched a lot of my life just for fun, but I didn’t paint anything until the pandemic happened. I hadn’t really ever tried to paint, but I figured I’ve got all this free time on my hands, so why not?”

Portraits had been Collins’ specialty, with sketches of some of her favorite musicians, including Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, and Ozzy Osborne hanging on the walls of her bedroom. “I had just been kind of fooling around painting, but then when it came time to do the single artwork for Heavenly, I had the vision of having one of those Sistine Chapel type vibe things, but I couldn’t license one of the pictures, so I needed to create it on my own, so I figured I’d give it a shot, even though I had literally never painted anything really. And it worked out.”

The rainbow of colors she uses in her paintings also applies to the vision she has for her future music projects. “I look at emotions in colors a lot of times,” says Collins. When she released her single “Tattoos,” it was blue, which spawned the idea of everything having a different color. “Love to me is red and tattoos or sadness is blue and regret is maybe gray. And so I’m kind of looking to just represent every single emotion as I go.” 

Collins is currently in the studio with producer Dan Huff for the first time, who she says has helped her work on “anti-perfectionism.”

She’s admittedly an overthinker, while Huff is “very much about the feeling.” When Collins has told Huff that she thinks she could sing something a little bit better, he’ll stop her. “He’s like, no, the emotion is perfect and that’s what matters.”

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She’s finishing up more music and doing a lot of writing for a future music project. “I’m super excited about that stuff and for everybody to hear a lot of the new stuff we’re working on because I’ve been having a lot of fun.”

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