DJ Karin Park Talks All-Black Fashion, Her New Album, & More



60-secThe list of Swedish artists making waves across the Atlantic is a long one that just keeps growing, but for fans of Robyn, The Knife, and Little Dragon, Karin Park's brand of dark pop should find an easy home. Park, who splits her time between Djura, Sweden, and London, is a style icon, as well as a singer, and her love of stark and severe outfits is evident at her intense live performances. We caught up with Park before she DJed our recent bash with ASOS in London to talk about her new album, Highwire Poetry, her architectural fashion sense, and the music she finds inspirational.

Tell us a little bit about your new album, Highwire Poetry. What did you want to accomplish with this record?
"On Ashes To Gold, I had started a little bit of a new direction. I had become better at programming and producing, and I wanted to get deeper into the same things, music-wise, while keeping it simple, as well. I didn't want to add add too many layers and tried to peel off a little bit."

Did you have a favorite song to record on the album?
"I think that "Fryngies" was maybe the quickest song on the album. We made the music in like five minutes. I just layed down the vocal and the lyrics the quickest I've ever done, and it was quite fun to see how everything came together. Some songs I struggled with a little bit, but all the songs that eventually ended came quite fast and naturally."

What are the most important elements of a good live performance?
"For an audience to connect to a song, if I can really get into the lyrics and music myself, the audience can connect with that and follow. It's incredible how that can happen sometimes. But I never try to deliver it to the audience as some kind speech or anything. I'm just trying to get into the music as much as possible."

When did you realize you wanted to make music?
"I started singing before I had heard any sort of recorded music, I think. I come from a quite musical family. I didn't realize I was going to make my own songs until I was 16, maybe, and started to write songs. It was a whole new world of actually creating music. That's when I realized I wanted to be a singer/songwriter as you say."

What do you think about all the attention Swedish artists have been getting over the last few years?
"Robyn and I went to the same music school when we were 16, and we have the same producer and management as The Knife, so it's kind of connected in a way. And I like all those artists — I think they're great. I understand why a lot of people draw connections between those artists. I don't know why it's gotten so much attention now, because there have been artists from Sweden all along. Maybe it's because there are more female artists now."

You have a really distinct look. Can you tell us a little bit about your personal style? What designers inspire you?
"I like designers that make women look strong and independent. I like architecture, and I like architectural style in clothes, as well. I like Derek Lam, Rick Owens, Hannah Marshall. I mean, I wear mostly black. I don't know why, but I like that contrast between black and white and how it stands out with very structured pieces when it's clean and quite angular."

What makes a good outfit for performing?
"My outfits on stage have to make me feel comfortable. They can't be uncomfortable clothes — they become a barrier between me and the music. I have to be able to move around. I also don't want them to be too chilled out; I want to be a little bit like a superhero, almost. When I'm in the street I don't feel the urge to stand out as much. I'm so tall, so I get so much attention anyway, I try to be a little bit more laid back."

What music was inspiring you when you recorded the record?
"I was listening to a German band called Einstürzende Neubauten, which is an avant-garde industrial band who had their glory days in the '80s. And to a little bit of Captain Beefheart. I mean he's a blues artist, so his music is completely different, but his music has no limits whatsoever. When I record something that's too far out there, I remind myself of Captain Beefheart — that nothing can be too far out there. I like to listen to mind-expanding music. Where there's no limits to what you can do. That's an important thing to remember, when you're in the studio and you're in any creative process, because it's easy to lock yourself in. I like pop songs, and I want to write in that format, but there's still a lot things you can do with a good song and be creative about it."