KÁRYYN is a producer, composer and vocalist who makes mysterious, affecting and emotional electronic music. An American of Syrian-Armenian descent, she was born in Alabama and raised in Indiana, but spent much of her early life in Syria—a period that had a strong influence on her work as an artist.
“As it is for everyone, my memories make up my identity,” explains Káryyn. “It’s like I’ve put on an oxygen tank and I’m diving in, swimming around to see what’s back there. Is the thing that I remember really what happened? What’s the difference between the happening truth and the remembering truth? I’ve found there really is no difference. It’s your emotional response to experiences that makes up your reality.”
On the Thursday Nov 2, Káryyn will play at the Iðnó theatre. The show is part of her first-ever tour, having spent years honing her approach to her art alone. “It’s been 8 years since I’ve performed live under any name,” she explains. “I made music in my room privately. I didn’t share, and people were asking if I still made music. It was really about me cultivating myself as an artist until I got to a point where I thought this work could add to the artistic dialogue. Now it’s worthy enough to be part of it.”
The Björk factor
Káryyn spent much of her youth in music, performing live in Los Angeles, but then she retreated, both socially and artistically. “I was basically in isolation,” she says. “I was a hermit and spent time in reflection. When you do that, you’re able to look at yourself and the things you’ve seen and known. And you wonder what it all means. It’s not just about the past, but integrating it to the present.”
In fact, one of the only recent projects she’s has been involved with is the opera ‘Of Light’—a collaboration with theatre director and friend Samantha Shay under the tutelage of Marina Abramovic. After it premiered last year in Reykjavík, Björk raved about KÁRYYN’s music, prompting media comparisons between the two. “If you make a sound that’s not with a guitar, and you’re a composer and a powerful, imaginative woman, you will be compared to her,” laughs Káryyn. “It’s an honour—she’s a legend.”
Trusting the unknown
The work she’s released so far under the KÁRYYN moniker has been met with rave reviews. Bringing it to the stage, however, is a new challenge. “I was hesitant about releasing,” she says. “I’m a very private person, trying to negotiate being in front of people. Now that I’m bringing it to the stage, I want to honour the sounds I’ve designed. It’s a total dream to do so at Airwaves.”
“I’m just excited about going on stage and having communion with my audience,” she finishes. “It’s like meditation—showing up and being present, one song at a time, vibing and interconnecting with the audience. I have no idea what that’s going to be like. Each experience is different. I hope people are excited to go into the unknown with me, and to trust the unknown, because that’s where I’m most comfortable.”
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