Over here for the London Fashion week shows, I sat down and put the world to rights with Karin Park. A talented lady who has been in the industry a long time and has flowed with the ups and downs that having a career in music can bring. We chat about where she has come from and then talk about being a woman in a currently still a male dominated world.
C: Tell me about your music. Where did it all begin?
K: Well it started very early and so did the singing, I had my first performance when I was 4 and I always wanted to be a singer. I grew up in church so I sang in church all the time but it was when I started to listen to Depeche Mode. I started to write my own songs and then it completely changed when I was 16. To begin with I didn't have any originality in my voice and I could take after anyone to sing exactly like them but then when I started to write my own songs, my own voice came out and that was like a different experience. What I wanted in my career changed a lot then so I started to write. It took another 8 years before I started on my voice album. I mean I'm from the countryside so it's not like the big city where you can go and meet a record label or meet people everywhere so it took a bit of time but I think I needed that time to develop. If I would have done it any earlier, it would have been a disaster. I still think I was too young when I had my first album out and now this is my fourth so it's been a journey.
C: How did you go from being the person in the country to having an album deal?
K: I moved to Norway accidentally because I liked the dialect on the West Coast, it was such a music city with a vibrant music scene so I started to play in open mic nights and I started to talk to people. I got a producer and a manager who I really clicked with so we started to work in the studio everyday for like a year before we really knew what we wanted to do. We then got a record deal.
C: Where in the world is your biggest fan base?
K: France, Germany and the UK. I have a lot of people from the States where we haven't released anything but I get a lot of people contacting me on Facebook and Twitter. I had my music and was doing a film that was released over there but a lot of people saw the music and heard my music.
C: Do you think that when you get into the music industry more doors open for you in other areas?
K: Well I never thought I'd be in a movie or a model for any sort of brand, that's completely alien to me some years ago, but it's different now because I want to have all my focus on my music. You can't spend your time focused on many things because then you lose your focus but if I can do a little bit of acting and modelling to help my musical career than I'm up for doing that because you don't sell records the way you did before, my first album was a completely different situation. I didn't have to do anything apart from music but now you have to find ways especially when you do an international push as it costs a lot of money so it's a good way for artists to find other sources of income. It's also important to not let vanity ruin your career so I say no to stuff that I think okay I'm really flattered you're asking me but how is it going to help me. Unless it helps me then I try to be selective.
C: So why do you love music so much? What is it about the music industry that you love?
K: I can't say I love the music industry but what I do love is to play live, it's where I get a lot of energy and I feel like that's where I want to be. I also love to create music; I find it weird that I never really get tired of it. Some days you wake up and you're like fuck this I don't want to do this anymore but I think the joy of singing is quite a big thing. I could sing for hours and don't get tired of it. Sometimes I even surprise myself why I think it's so much fun but there's many sides to music. I think you can create something that will touch people and that's one of the most amazing sides about music, people can get so moved by it, like almost nothing else can.
C: It's so true, music can speak to you when nothing else can. Sometimes if you're at a situation in your life and you're thinking oh my god I don't know where I'm at with this and then you listen to a song, there's the answer, it's so simple. If there could be one record in your whole life that's touched you like that, which one would it be?
K: The Koln Concert by Keith Jarrett. I don't normally listen to so much jazz but this is so soulful and it puts me in such a special mood but I can't say like a whole album, there's so many, there's so many different moods but music has saved me a lot of times. I remember when I was in Peru, for a month when I was 20, and it was quite a dangerous place and if I'd have known how dangerous it was, I probably wouldn't have gone alone. I had this cassette on my walkman so whenever I felt unsafe. I played it, and all those songs, it was like The Cure, Paul Simon, Led Zepplin and in the end I knew exactly all the lyrics and the next songs and it was really comforting to listen to. For me when I do something uncomfortable, for example modelling as it's weird to pose, I have my music. If I can DJ the photo shoot, then I feel really comfortable.
C: Yeah, cause you DJ as well, right?
K: Yeah, I enjoy it. I DJ'ed last night at the Free Pussy Riot, at Hoxton Square. There were loads of people there and it was nice to be a part of it.
C: Amazing, what do you think of the Pussy Riot stuff that's going on? What's your view on it?
K: My view? It's insane of course. I just think that I read a letter yesterday, they were going out to 3 different working camps, like punishment camps and it's not looking good for them. I don't understand how the world cannot do anything about it. To do something like that and get arrested for months, God knows for how long, but I think, for women, even if they die in prison, people are going to remember it forever. It's going to be a thing in history that women are going to look back on and think that's a part where women have really stood up for their freedom and didn't just swallow what they get served.
C: Do you think women get a harder time in the music industry then men?
K: Definitely, absolutely. Women get a harder time everywhere. But I think, I spoke to someone the other day and he said isn't it pretty much even now and I had to remind him 99% of what you can own in the world, is owned by men. And 98% of that is owned by white men so it's not even. It's weird, I could discuss that forever.
C: Do you think it's going to change because even in the UK charts, most of the people I interview are guys. There are a few women but most are men. Still. That's ridiculous. Why is that? You hope women are going to eventually feel strong enough to stand up and say you know what I am good enough to do this, I do feel strong enough to stand up and be more confident in myself to go out and chase after my dreams cause there's so many talented people out there.
K: Yeah, I think we have too...it's going to take a long time, a lot of courage and self confidence and role models, like the Pussy Riot, to make people think "I can do this as well". For our generation, there are not enough role models. There's hardly any female guitarists, there's hardly any producer heroes, actually, Missy Elliot - one. There has to be more women who can do stuff. Maybe we have to go back a little bit, like how we present ourselves and be a little bit more hardworking in the doing process because we can get a little bit lost in all the shoes, clothes and make-up and that's fine but I think we need to learn to do stuff so we can be confident.
C: I think as well women hide behind men, like women I know from back home would be like "so my guy makes it, I can sit at home, look after the kids and go shopping" when actually that's probably not what they're here to do. They need to get in front and stop hiding instead of choosing the easy way out.
K: Because there's such a long tradition of their mothers doing that. My Mum builds stuff, like putting a new floor in the kitchen and she always taught me to just do whatever I wanted to do. She's quite old school in one-way of thinking but she learns how to do stuff, she educated herself to be able to do it and that's what you have to do. It's really comfortable to stay at home and shop and look after the kids but for all women you have to step up. Also, learn from men and go "okay, I know what to do now" and then do it in your own way 'cause I think the way guys play guitar or drums or the way men do all sorts of stuff is not the right way we should do it. Maybe we need new ways that aren't invented yet. Maybe we have to invent our own ways to do stuff otherwise it's just going to be let the men do it but slightly less good.
C: Yeah, it's sort of like carving your own way but I think in so many areas it's starting to happen gradually like in governments but it's such a slow process.
K: Eventually though, it's going to be much more even and that's going to save the world because at the end of the day, for me, and this is not the men's fault who live today, but the root of all evil...
C: Is down to men
K: Like the eagerness for power and women don't have that. We wouldn't have any wars...
C: I totally agree. It's so funny having this conversation because even in the industry, it's male dominated and I'm a women standing up and people are like "what is she doing?" and I'm like "I don't give a shit. I'm a woman and I'm bringing as many girls as I can with me." It's so true though every government and every bank is all run by testosterone but if women were there, they would nurture and care, it would never happen because they'd be like "what on earth are you doing? Get back home, have a hug and sort it out" It's a battle for power.
K: I think you have to be careful not to blame the young men of today because they're just the product of the patriarchy of where we're living but when that is said, I'm not sure if we'd have ever discovered America if it wasn't for men. We need both but it needs to be even.
C: Balance. Everything in the world is the same: you have light and dark, night and day, all of that has to be in balance but it's when it becomes too one sided either way, this is when the world becomes a bit of a mess.
K: I totally agree with you!
C: Hopefully it's starting to get there but there is a long way to go. Even when you say about the America thing, maybe it's meant to happen that way and us women will gradually stand up.
K: I think it was meant to be like that, because you need one thing then and you need another thing now