Growing up in Indonesia, the only American music Francis Karel heard was the biggest of the big, the massive pop hits that had what it took to cross borders and leap continents. Given that he was raised on a steady diet of global smashes, it makes perfect sense that Karel would learn to write his own.
“That’s the kind of music that hooked me,” he reflects, “songs that were instantly catchy and memorable but still felt so fresh and original. It’s the kind of music I dreamed of making myself.”
Take a listen to Handle With Care, Karel’s debut EP, and you’ll find he’s more than living up to those dreams. Written and recorded in LA, the collection marks the first entry in a bold and ambitious trio of releases chronicling a yearlong journey of infatuation and heartbreak, hope and disappointment, growth and discovery. The writing is raw and honest here, marked by deep and unflinching self-examination, and Karel’s performances are devastatingly vulnerable to match, his lush, breathy vocals delivered with a mesmerizing air of confessional intimacy.
Born and raised in Jakarta, Karel first rose to fame online, where his jaw-dropping voice quickly went viral and earned love from high-profile fans like Benny Blanco, Meghan Trainor, Zedd, and Bebe Rexha. Before he knew it, Karel was becoming a pop star in his own right, racking up more than 2.3M followers on TikTok, amassing over 20M streams on Spotify, and landing tour dates with multi-platinum powerhouses like MAX and Andy Grammer.