If they were to make a movie based on electronic chanteuse Karin Park , it should be titled Karin Park: International Woman Of Mystery. This Swedish born ElectroPop star might have only recently entered your consciousness, but she’s had a world-hopping life that’s seen her go from Sweden’s deepest forests to schooling in Japan, to the icy tundra’s of Norway and a Scandinavian Pop career to match including Norwegian Grammys and massive hits.
Now she’s breaking out onto the international music scene with the highly acclaimed Highwire Poetry album. A dark, icy, yet ultimately welcoming collection of beat and synth driven Pop tracks holding songs that both, create an emotional connection with the listener, and are pretty darn catchy too. Drawing on all manner of influences from British Industrial to ScandiPop, Karin crafts a beautiful synthetic atmosphere, otherwordly and strange, whist drawing us into her world of lamentations and impassioned, and sometimes sultry, refrains.
David Bowie and Massive Attack count themselves amongst Karin Park’s fans, maybe it’s about time you should too? See what Karin had to say as she took some time out from promoting Highwire Poetry to fill us in on a few things that make Karin Park tick.
ER: So, you had quite a multicultural upbringing, being a Swedish girl in a Japanese convent school. Do you think this influenced both your music now, and how you came to music in the first place? how did that happen?
KP: Everything we have experienced makes us who we are I guess, so yes, my upbringing influences my music and the way I see things. I always feel like an outsider everywhere I go. That hasn’t always been the best feeling but I accept it now and try to make the most out of it.
I knew from when I was very little that I was gonna’ be an artist. It has never been anything else for me and it came very natural. My brother got his first drum-kit at the age of 3 after hammering away at pots and pans everyday so it was the same for him.
ER: And it was moving to Norway that facilitated you rise to Scandinavian fame, bagging two Norwegian Grammys. Does Norway influence your music in a way Sweden wouldn’t?
KP: Not really. Releasing a record in Norway instead of Sweden was a random set of coincidences and one thing led to another. Living in Bergen for some years though, a city that has 250 rainy days per year, makes you stay inside the studio quite a lot. I think you can hear the rain in a lot of music that comes from Bergen like Røyksopp, Annie and Kings of Convenience.
♫ Karin Park – Thousand Loaded Guns
ER: What did you listen to growing up, was it electronic music or did you come to that later?
KP: My first proper encounter with music was Depeche mode and Whitney Houston. I like them both for different reasons. But the love for the whole electronic music genre came later when I discovered analogue synthesizers and the whole world around that. I’ve also had a love for metal music for a long time.
ER: You’ve collaborated a lot with your brother David on your latest album Highwire Poetry and performed live with him for most of the last decade. How do you prevent sibling rivalries and arguments from interfering with the music, or does that just not happen at all?
KP: David is one of a kind and very talented. We do argue sometimes, but we keep it short and pretty straight forward. We are both pretty outspoken so it can sound a bit harsh some times but there is not much confusion that way. And we can read each others mind, so that helps.
♫ Karin Park – Restless (Radio Edit)
ER: Is it strange going from being pretty successful in Scandinavia to essentially starting from scratch with the international audience?
KP: It’s refreshing. This record is a bit like starting from scratch for me everywhere, cause it’s quite different from my earlier records. And it’s nice when people listen to it with fresh ears and no presumptions.
ER: How has the reception Highwire Poetry received struck you?
KP: It’s an honest record and people get it, it seems. The fact that it was well received makes it easier to work and I’m just happy to be able to perform the songs live now as they deserve to be.
ER: Industrial influences aside, why do you thing so much Scandinavian ElectroPop has that icy, dark edge we love so much?
KP: Scandinavian nature and the fact that it’s cold and dark most of the year gives the music a melancholic vibe that shines through in Scandinavian music, books and film. At dinner at my house today, everyone around the table had to tell the others their 3 biggest complains in life. Typical Scando-conversation, I guess.
♫ Karin Park – Tiger Dreams
ER: So what’s the Karin Park’s studio? Do you have a favourite bit of studio kit? Any favourite synths?
KP: In my studio there is a Moog Taurus 1 , Juno 106, a Korg MS 20, a Roland Drumatix 606 , a Casio MT-65 and many other small keyboards and synthesizers. There’s a drum kit, oil barrels, pipes and bells to hit, Hiwatt guitar amps and cabinets, Tandberg tape-recorder amps and my Yamaha silver flute that I bought when we lived in Japan at the age of 8. I live in a big church so I have a lot of stuff there and there’s more to come. My favourite is the Korg MS 20 though. I use it when I play live.
ER: If money was no object, what piece of studio gear would be your dream to own?
KP: An ARP 2600. And an engineer to go with it who can fix it every weekend.
ER: Do you prefer songwriting/studio work or playing live?
KP: Sometimes I feel like writing is a curse because when I write I feel an urge to go somewhere I haven’t been or where it’s painful to go emotionally. But when I’ve written a song and I know it’s really good, I think about performing it. Then it comes to life for real and can’t live without that feeling. Can’t have one without the other.
♫ Karin Park – New Era
ER: Now Highwire Poetry has been so well received, what next in the plan for Karin Park world domination?
KP: I want to go and play live in loads of places and meet cool people in every country. I love to travel and want to see everything in this crazy world.
ER: What’s your breakfast preference? Cereal or cooked breakfast? Would your answer change the day after a show?
KP: My breakfast preference? It depends on what kind of day it is, I guess. Greek yoghurt and honey is cool when it’s sunny but maybe I’d go for a rooibosh cup of tea and a tuna melt with jalapenos and applewood cheese if I wake up and the wind is howling outside. No wait, no jalapenos in the morning….. But definitely applewood cheese.
Many thanks to Karin for giving us a few moments to give you lot an insight into the life of a Scandinavian ElectroPop jet setter.
While you’re hear, check out this reMix of Karin’s new single, Thousand Loaded Guns, but our favourite deep House DJ Maya Jane Coles.
♫ Karin Park – Thousand Loaded Guns (Nocturnal Sunshine reMix By Maya Jane Coles)
The Thousand Loaded Guns single is released 10th September, Karin Park’s début album Highwire Poetry is out now.
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