MUSIC: KARIN PARK INTERVIEW (FAULTmagazine.com May 2012)
Born in the darkest woods of Sweden, schooled in a far-flung Japanese jungle, ascending to Grammy award-winning pop stardom in Norway and now taking on Europe (next stop, the world?), electronic artist Karin Park is getting music fans everywhere (including us here at FAULT) talking with her bewitching vocals, spine-shaking beats and statuesque 6”3 frame. With fourth album Highwire Poetry poised to drop this month, what’s next for the Scandinavian siren?
FAULT: Tell us about Highwire Poetry – what can we expect?
KARIN: It’s electronic, and has a lot of heavy beats and bass; there’s fun in there, it’s fresh. It’s a collection of songs, not just beats with a bit of melody.
FAULT: Is it true that the record was partly influenced by your unusual childhood (being raised in an extremely remote Swedish village, with a very religious family)?
KARIN: Yes. When you write music, where you’ve been will always influence you. I also lived in a missionary school in Japan, where I developed my identity without pressure from society, because it was based almost in the jungle, and we didn’t have magazines or pop groups. With [Highwire Poetry] I wanted to experiment more, and go deeper into electronic music; I want to see how far I can take my music.
FAULT: You’re often described as writing comparatively ‘dark’ lyrics – the word ‘electrogoth’ comes up frequently. Do you think that’s an appropriate portrayal of you, artistically?
KARIN: ‘Goth’ is a strange word, because people seem to have bad associations with that word – but that’s changing. I like it. Electro-goth is kind of spot on what I do. I don’t view my lyrics as especially dark – I write about human subjects that everyone deals with – but the music that I listen to is definitely darker, like The Cure, Fad Gadget and Burial, so that influences me.
FAULT: Would you say that you’re more of a live artist than a studio one?
KARIN: Yes. When I play live, I’m not myself any more; I’m just the music. It’s my brother David and me – I play synthesizer and sing, and he plays drums and bass pedals – and there’s an energy that seems to capture the audience.
FAULT: Are there ever any drawbacks to working with your brother, over an impartial musician?
KARIN: We used to fight a lot, so when we started to work together, I said to him, “You have to remember one thing – I will always be the boss”. He’s very much my big brother, but because he knows that I ultimately decide what we do, we work in an equal environment. We have a very honest communication; I can read his mind, and he can read mine.
FAULT: You recently posted on Facebook that it’s “impossible” to find good female musicians – what prompted you to make that statement?
KARIN: I’d been talking to my friend, who was struggling to find a female bass player, and I said how I’d recently tried to find a female guitarist, but hadn’t been able to. Female musicians – especially drummers and bass and guitar players – are world famous if they’re good, but most of the time, they aren’t really good – maybe ‘just as good’ as a normal guy playing. We need to use more creativity when it comes to the instrument side for women – women play and think about music differently.
FAULT: How do you think women approach music differently to men?
KARIN: Everywhere you go, there are bands with just guys, and the sound engineer is a man, light engineer is a man, everyone working on stage is a man – there must be something to gain from having more of a mix. I’m a little in the middle, because sometimes I feel like a man, and sometimes I feel like a woman. I switch between the sides.
FAULT: Why do you feel like that?
KARIN: I don’t think I fulfill people’s perception of how a woman should be all the time, and therefore I feel like a man… but I’m not really a man, I’m just myself. As an artist, I’m trying to inspire people to be creative about doing whatever you want, but it’s difficult, because people like to lock themselves in.
FAULT: Once you’ve released Highwire Poetry, what’s next?
KARIN: I hope that this record can take me to places that I haven’t been to, both musically and geographically. It’ll be interesting to see what the UK audience thinks of the album.
Interview by Charlotte McManus