Meet KÁRYYN, the digital adventurer who inspired Björk

The Syrian-Armenian-American’s minimal music captures childhood memories of Aleppo and seems to come from a another dimension

KÁRYYN: time to get acquainted with her work – and  how to say her name. Photograph: Derek Hutchison

KÁRYYN: time to get acquainted with her work – and how to say her name. Photograph: Derek Hutchison

 

In what appears to be a highly-stylised pronunciation of Karen, the composer and vocalist KÁRYYN will initially have you at a loss as to how to say her name and will then swiftly leave you speechless with her layered and ambient music.

Based in Los Angeles, the Syrian-Armenian-American’s music is minimal, but with its overlapping vocals, gentle orbing synths and rigid electronic interference, it makes for an all-enveloping experience. She trips up over the set rules of music, and takes us to a place that feels like a different dimension. Oh, yes. We’re going intergalactic with this one.

Also, Björk includes the composition KÁRYYN did on the Of Light opera (co-written by Samantha Shay, who is under the mentorship of Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic, no less) as one of her inspirations from 2017. If Björk is inspired by your work, then you’ve absolutely nailed it.

In 2017, she released the singles Aleppo, Purgatory (both from her Quanta series) and Moving Masses, from Of Light, through her own label Antevasin (a Sanskrit word that translates to “one who lives at the border”). With a promise of new material to surface this year, it’s time to get acquainted with her work.

Aleppo captures her childhood memories of visiting relatives in Syria, and she laments the city she once knew so well, contrasting it with the one that’s crumbling down. The various crunches and blips that you hear over her fragile voices are intended to echo the destruction we see played out on the news.

The pining, delicate strums of Binary feel isolated, and conjure up the quest for a soulmate between the 1s and the 0s, which should feel dystopian, but, when we’re looking to be paired up and matched online – to find love in the abyss – Binary is our hollow reality.

Supping from the same cup as FKA Twigs and Zola Jesus, KÁRYYN’s music ensnares your brain and jolts your senses. It’s an immersive experience and her sounds leave a barely there but altogether heavy imprint on your brain.

This week we are unfriending . . . Bono

Bono: Manly music for manly men. Photograph: John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images
Bono: Manly music for manly men. Photograph: John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images

If we were ever invited round to his Killiney gaff for dinner, we now have a debate locked and loaded for him. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he said: “I think music has gotten very girly. And there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment – and that’s not good.”

Girly. It’s hard to know what his definition of girly is. Is it sensitivity? Is it synths? Is it wearing high heels? But if he’s worried about girliness stepping in and taking the place of the angry, male voice in the charts, I suggest he prepares himself for a new type of rage. The fearless and boundless rage of girls and women that are finally having their say in a society that was built to silence them. Take that, Bono.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.