Karen O is one of those women that seems somehow otherwordly. She is insanely talented while possessing a magnetic beauty befitting of someone born under the powerhouse astrological combination of Scorpio / Horse. Not only the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen has explored many avenues including composing the score of Where The Wild Things Are , directing numerous videos and recently bringing us the amazing Stop The Virgens “psycho opera”. Half Korean, half Polish, all American, KO is really funny and totally down to earth off stage but as soon as she gets on it, it becomes clear this is where her domain lays – her performances are mind blowingly electric and packed with raw emotion. Relying on gumption , talent , costumes by Christian Joy and creative friends to add spice to her shows , Karen is unlike some of her contemporaries who are more likely to fall back on too much skin , a gyrating pelvis and autocorrect. There isn’t anyone like KO and that’s why we love her. I asked her a few questions while she was Down Under.
Tanja G: Stop The Virgens is the kind of ecstatic and nightmarish vision one has while running a dangerously high fever. So many elements run through it and it seems like a journey through the depths of self realisation. How did this music come to you?
Karen O: It feels like the music came to me in fever dream but maybe it was more of a pot haze…half kidding. I’m pretty sure it came mostly out of the ether and my sub-unconscious, it flowed out of myself and my collaborators fast and furiously.
TG: When did you know you wanted to be a singer? How did you start?
KO: I thought I wanted to be a film director when I was writing and recording garage punk songs with Nick on the side, then as if by a fluke music grabbed center stage in my life because people started paying more attention to that then anything I was producing in film school. My singing has humble beginnings, singing top of my lungs while driving around new jersey in my car to Neutral Milk Hotel’s On Avery Island. I remember thinking, this guy doesn’t have a great voice but he’s really fucking singing his heart out, I can do that!
TG: What other things excite you ?
KO: I get really excited about In-N-Out burgers you can only get ’em in California and they are the best america has to offer in fast food. I get excited by new old movies that blow my mind like Lovers on the Bridge by Leos Carax that are oozing life at it’s most raw and surreal. I get excited by anything new Mike Patton or Liars have to offer. Free clothes excite me too.
TG:Now that you’ve successfully conquered psycho opera , are you tempted to dip your toes into alternative avenues of self expression?
KO: Oh yes there will be a whole lot of toe dipping to come, I might even double dip if that doesn’t freak you all too much.
TG: Do you feel your state of mind dictates what kind of records you make? And if so, now that you are happily married , can we expect the next YYYs record to reflect this state?
KO:There is no doubt that state of mind dictates a new record and yes there are many tributes on the upcoming record to the ecstasy of holy matrimony, we have a ways to go on both though so we’ll see what else bubbles up.