Swathed in beautiful synths and embroiled in wonderful melancholy, her gorgeous vocals evoked a forlorn abandonment like a Nordic Mary Hopkin.
For the follow-up, the tearful double-header ‘Time To Go’ and ‘Voices In The Wall’ dealt with personal loss and touched the heartstrings. The latest in her series of acoustically derived electronic songs is the dreamy observation of ‘World From Orbit’.
Stating that “From a distance, I see it all, I’m everywhere. I’m not a part of anything. Just an observer”, KARIN MY is an experienced self-taught musician who has largely remained in the background for most of her career. The Swedish chanteuse kindly spoke about the making of her singles quadrilogy and much more…
I have as far I can remember always been fascinated by the sound of electronic devices, but it wasn’t until I was about eleven years old that I got my first “electronic experience” so to speak. A friend of my mother’s gave me five KRAFTWERK LPs (from ‘Autobahn’ to ‘Computer World’) and l remember the moment I first listened to them, sitting on the floor listening to something that took me to another world. I was deeply touched and scared at the same time, to me the music sounded almost like it wasn’t created by humans.
Shortly after that, bands like TANGERINE DREAM and DEPECHE MODE came into my life. The electronic snowball effect rolled on after that and filled my life with beautiful and inspiring music from bands like ELEGANT MACHINERY, DIVE, DE/VISION, APOPTYGMA BERZERK, VNV NATION, IRIS and KITE just to mention a few.
The quality of electronic music appears to be very strong in Sweden at the moment, why do you think that might be?
I’m wildly guessing here, but maybe it’s the fact that since the 90s, we’ve had a lot of talented artists in the electronic music scene, who over time have evolved and fine-tuned their skills. Maybe right now they’ve all reached a point of maturity which makes both the productions and the performances stronger. Because we´ve been doing this side by side throughout the years, we have been ageing together to reach this point. Or maybe it’s just something in the water.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first spotted you doing backing vocals on ‘High In The Clouds’ by TWICE A MAN, how did this collaboration come about?
I was doing a small gig with my guitar, playing some electronic covers in a basement café in Gothenburg, I came in directly from the streets where I used to busk for surviving. Dan Söderqvist was in the audience that evening and after the gig, he asked me if he could use my voice for the next TWICE A MAN album. We gave it a try and liked what we heard, so we decided to continue working together, both in studio and live on stage where I’ve had the honour of being their guest voice on several occasions.
Your time in music goes back further than that in the band NEMO, whose song ‘Voices In The Wall’ you revived for a solo single?
Yes that’s very true. My interest in music started early. I sang Dan Andersson and other folk songs as soon as I was old enough to talk. Later on, as the restless teenager I became, I played every instrument I could lay my hands on, often terribly, but I had fun and learned a lot.
From the money I got picking strawberries, I bought my first piano. Then I found a drum kit in a garage, got it for free and spent one year torturing the neighbours, but at least I got good enough to play drums and sing in a jazz n’ blues band, with some good old silver foxes. I then bought my first cello, learned how to use it and that was a long-time dream coming true.
At this time, I also wrote my first Swedish lyrics which I many years later translated to English and used for my music. Then I met Carl Lundgren, became the female voice of NEMO and finally started to learn about the process of creating the electronic music that I loved so much.
You twinned ‘Voices In The Wall’ with ‘Time To Go’ in a rather emotive video presentation, was this two party story based on personal experiences?
Every story I tell has a grain or a mountain of truth to it. I was surprised though, how hard it was to watch the video. I didn’t expect that. I watched it three times, first to celebrate that we were done, then to see our work and to focus on the details, and then once again just to watch it. I think it’s really well made and I’m so grateful to the girl who acted the young part in the video, but I prefer not to watch it again.
The quadrilogy started with ‘The Silence’, a truly striking song and video.
Thank you, it makes me really glad that you think it is!
I’ll try to describe the creative process as briefly as I can, or this will be a never ending story.
The visuals for this song started as a dream, literally. I saw what later became the video when I was sleeping and made some sketches of it. When I wrote ‘The Silence’ on my acoustic guitar, we realised that the dream and the song belonged together. We spent the spring and summer building the abandoned winter city which serves as the setting in the video.
I was then filmed on a huge white fabric, dragging the sack back and forth for days, with a person standing on a ladder throwing fake snow at me. This was the hottest summer in Stockholm since forever, so me struggling in the video in that winter outfit is not fake. Then I was super imposed into the city.
Creating the musical part of ‘The Silence’ can best be described as a constant search for the most beautiful and mood setting sounds that were hiding inside the machines, to match the sounds of the acoustic instruments.
It would be fair to say that your music has a very melancholic tone, does that reflect you as a person, where your life is your art?
Yes, in some way. The music reflects one part of me that I most of the time carry on the inside, but in the name of art, I have all the freedom I can wish for to let it out, without it being a heavy burden for anyone else. At the same time, I’m genuinely happy for all the beautiful things out there and I easily get emotionally touched in a good way as well.
As I see it, it’s about someone’s silent wishes, to exist just as a floating thought, far from the difficulties that we for some reason choose to live with. To see it all from a distance and dream about making it better. Even though it’s sad to have to live with such wishes, I think this is also a song about hope.
The monochromatic video for ‘World From Orbit’ is very Olympian, what does the burning star symbolise?
We did that scene by illustrating the lyrics literally, (“…a star, shining down on all the children”) so that’s what it is, a shining star. But I’m sure there can be many more fantastic interpretations of that, it’s up to each and every one. I have to mention I was surprised afterwards when I was looking at the video and got especially touched by that scene, seeing it as a mother’s warm and safe utero carrying a new life, and got a bit emotional.
For many years, you have been in the background doing backing vocals or cello for acts like MACHINISTA, CARBON BASED LIFEFORMS and FAKE MOSS, so how does it feel to be at the front? Are you enjoying the experience with all the attention that entails?
Thank you, it feels very good, like a piece of a puzzle that falls into its place. I am very grateful for all the artists I’ve had the honour of working with during all these years, amazing people and musicians each and every one, and it’s exciting to finally release something of my own.
The attention generated so far is both heartwarming and inspiring. Some people seem to have been touched by the songs and sometimes share their own stories with me and tell me I am brave; I wasn’t expecting a response like that.
This was a really difficult question and I hope I don’t make all the other synths sad by choosing only one. But using the Korg PS3200 is like opening a door to another world and I feel honoured to have some of her sounds on my album. The special one I’m referring to here is called “Bettan” (short for Beatrice) so I guess she’s a lady model.
What’s next for you?
I’m continuing the work on the album which hopefully will be released in late 2019. Prior to that a digital EP featuring remixes by different artists will also be released. I’m also doing a wedding concert for Gasleben of TWICE A MAN and Anna Öberg who are getting married this summer. Recently I also got a request from a legend about working together on his next project, to which I of course responded “yes”.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to KARIN MY
‘World From Orbit’ is available on most digital platforms via Ad Inexplorata
Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Richard Bloom
5th June 2019