Karney Love & Respect Interview
One is likely to notice several common threads running through Karney's musical creations, whether they involve her funky indie rock band, her singer-songwriter outings with only a guitar, her compositions for video games and other commercial clients, or her work with a variety of name brand artists and bands. Karney's music has always contained elements of solid musicianship based on diverse influences, a knack for writing appealing and energetic songs, and the benefits of frequent collaboration with top artists.
Karney shows an ear for poetic phrasings that encapsulate the impact of socio-political themes that are often as unsettling as they are urgent. Karney has addressed such topics as war victims, the unreasonably harsh penalties enforced on those violating marijuana prohibition, global warming, and outsourcing and its effects on workers. Her heavy lyrical themes are balanced out by winsome rhythms and some lighter fare that veers away from the political into more personal musings on life's small pains and pleasures, along with the occasional wry wink at unvarnished sexuality. She also dedicated her 2011 EP "A Beautiful Day" to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Throughout her career, Karney has blended musical influences ranging from punk, to Salsa, to the flower-powered music and politics of her hometown, San Francisco. In addition to this blend of influences, she also enjoys direct cross-pollination with many artists. She frequently works with PSM Recordings founder Steffen Franz, who co-produced her single "My Little Bush" in 2003. The single also enjoyed the studio talents of mixer Dennis Bovell and engineering by Bill Ortiz. Reggae veteran Dennis Bovell is a producer, solo artist, and founding member of Matumbi, a venerated reggae act from UK, while Bill Ortiz, owner and founder of Planet Recording also plays trumpet for Santana. Karney's second full-length album "All Connected" was released in 2004 to wide media acclaim.
On her self-titled debut CD, "Karney" (released in 2001) recruited fellow musicians from the Bay Area to use a variety of less common instruments, including the bassoon and the Karna, a double reeded oboe-like instrument from the Marakech region. Her collaborative approach to music dates back to when she co-founded the band Stepchildren, an innovative crossover blend of Heavy Metal and Hip-Hop, in a time before rap-metal bands became commonplace. Stepchildren released an album with London's Big Red Records and had funk luminary George Clinton remix its college radio hit "Jericho." Clinton then invited Karney to appear in a video for his CD "Cinderella Theory." Shortly thereafter Karney went on to play international tours as keyboardist and guitarist for Angel Corpus Christi, and shared her piano and songwriting abilities on collaborations with Linda Perry of 4-Non Blondes.
Karney currently applies her considerable talents both to her own material, as well as to compositions commissioned by clients in the multimedia and computer gaming industries. Her crossover Ambient Electronic and Groove sounds provide accompaniment for Monkey Island IV, several SIMS games including SIMS House Party 2, SIM City 3000 and 3000 Ultimate, Star Wars Galaxies, and other Lucas Arts titles. She has also written scores for Showtime's Heavyweight Boxing events. She also currently writes and designs sounds for Fisher-Price.
The use of dynamic changes, unusual instrumentation, and poetic lyrics has gained Karney considerable attention since she set out on her solo recording career. CMJ Music Monthly, Relix, the Stranger, and Zero have all profiled Karney in recent issues while her tours reach increasingly larger audiences along with fans tuning in from far-flung locales thanks to web simulcasts of several recent shows. Low tech indie rock fans have been able to keep up with Karney through radio play on numerous stations and the availability of her "My Little Bush" single on CD and 7-inch vinyl. Fans who appreciate fine songwriting, a vibrant live sound, and lyrics that don't shy away from harsh realities have been getting on board as Karney's growing musical enterprise gathers steam!
For more information visit Karney at www.karney.org
Interview with KarneyQuestion:
What is the story behind the records name? Karney
: Love & Respect is the name of the first song on the cd. It started as a sign off when writing a letter to someone and then became its own message. Both love and respect are fundamental to positive interactions among people so I thought that part of ourselves deserved to be spot lighted. Question:
How did it feel to hear your song played all over the airwaves? Karney
: I think one of the biggest thrills, second only to a live performance, is hearing one's music on the airwaves. An artist feels enormously validated and for me it is also a real honour that someone who you don't know and could choose from thousands of other artists, has chosen your song to spin. Question:
Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry? Karney
: It has its magic moments, and it has its very dark moments. As a young artist I researched "the road to success" by reading industry books and magazines. Then thirty seconds later, it all changed. So it doesn't help to assume anything based on any previous paradigm, one just has to stay current and embrace reality. I will say that deciding to create an independent business is the best way to go for me, and I have a team of people I work with called Independent Distribution Collective. People you trust who really have faith in your music is a blessing. Question:
Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration? Karney
: Yes I write all my songs. I get inspiration everywhere, I am constantly hearing music in my head, the trick is to try to translate what's in my head to reality. Also listening to other artists no matter what the style because there are so many artists that I am in awe of. I also am married to a great trumpet player Bill Ortiz. He is my inspiration every day. Question:
What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own? Karney
: Right now I am listening a lot to music of East India. The rhythms of the tabla drums and other percussion are so complex and at the same time primitive. The pitched instruments also sound very detailed but have a mantra like vibe. I love Middle Eastern traditional music too, it is so mesmerizing the way the vocals move through their song. I listen to so many artists and genres with equal excitement it is hard for me to be specific. Question:
Why is it important to you to address strong topics in your music?Karney
: For me music is not just something I barley pay attention to in the background. Every artist has priorities when it comes to their style; I suppose my choice is to try to write songs that mean something to me. I have a lot of strong opinions about the world and so bringing that into my music is how express myself. Having said that, on all three of my albums there is always one or two songs that are just fun and provocative. I don't really care for music that is narcissistic, or disrespectful, even if it is delivered with a clever lyric or a good beat. I find that to be a waste of time. Question:
Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel? Karney
: I don't think that is possible for me. In the end I'm gonna be wheeled in with my drool cup and I will still be trying to write and perform music for the world to hear. Question:
Do you prefer performing live or recording? Karney
: The miracle of live performance is that is the ultimate interactive experience for a musician. That incredible vibe generated between performer and audience is like none other, it is a one time and unique experience. The miracle about recording is that in a controlled environment you can perfect the music, make it everything you dreamed of, provided you have a good engineer. Question:
What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry? Karney
: I would give credit to all my wonderful friends who have encouraged me to make a go of it. Their enthusiasm and support inspired me to believe in myself. That is still true today. Question:
What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success? Karney
: Self-doubt, practical obligations in life, financial survival.Question:
What's a typical day like? Karney
: Wake up, walk my dog, go teach music to fifty middle schoolers, go teach music to seventy or eighty high schoolers, rehearse with the kids for a concert, go home, walk my dog, work on a track or two for a computer game, do a little social networking, pick up my guitar, sing, write, kiss my husband good night. Eating also happens somewhere in there. Question:
What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist? Karney
: Being able to live my bliss every day, meeting and working with great musicians, bringing my musical creations to life, sharing my passion through performance and recording. And when listening to a particularly inspiring performer or piece of music, I think musicians experience that in a particularly deep way, it is so incredible. Question:
If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be? Karney
: Stevie Wonder, Patti Smith, Beethoven.Question:
Can you tell us 5 things required for a happy healthy & enjoyable life? Karney
: Plenty of sleep (a challenge for most of the world), a healthy diet, love (it doesn't matter if it is romantic, family, friends, or pets), creativity, working at a job that enriches your life. I will add three more, giving back to your community, being physically fit, and taking time to enjoy the beauty that is all around you. Question:
What message would you like to say to your fans? Karney
: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love. Your support not just of my music but independent and local music in general is so important, because innovation often happens at the grass roots level, and that is what keeps culture/humanity thriving. And it all comes back to you.
Interview by Brooke Hunter