Everyone remembers their real first musical obsession (Editors Note: Mine was Avril Lavigne, I even became a Sk8er Boi for her… it didn’t really work out); Carly takes us through the extensive journal that was hers.
Let’s talk about early music obsessions, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Karen O.
Journal: My First Musical Obsession
“I, for one, appreciate that in an artist; the utter vulnerability of releasing your feelings to the world…”
So, I have a dirty little secret. When I was in Grade 7, I asked for two CD’s for Christmas -this isn’t something I am proud of, but I did it, and I can’t take it back. When Christmas morning rolled around, I ripped open a package that contained one Nickleback album (I know… spare me), & one Fergie album. And I was THRILLED. Needless to say that, phase of my life didn’t exactly last long.
Fast-forward to Grade 8, and a busy lunchroom. I swear I remember this so distinctly: A friend of mine was absolutely stoked on these new over the ear headphones she bought, and insisted everyone take a listen. When my turn rolled around, I put them on and was graced with the substantial drumbeats of “Honeybear” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I’m pretty sure I made her replay that song for me at least 5 times. It was so different than anything I had been listening to at the time (which I might add, was basically just”Cyclone” by T-Pain on repeat), and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was my first introduction to real, interesting music, and changed my life forever.
Cue that very same weekend. I had bought Fever To Tell, their first album, and was eager to show my mom my latest find. I was happy as a clam, listening to Karen O (if you haven’t figured it out yet, Karen O was the lead-singer of the band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) screech through the speakers. My mom on the other hand was probably wracking her brain, wondering how her 13-year-old daughter got involved with this dirty garage rock noise laced with sexuality. But regardless, I was over the moon.
Now, fast-forward some 8 years later and I still can’t get enough of that band. Show Your Bones is in my top 5 favourite albums (which says something because although that list always changes, that album has been consistent throughout), and last year I was lucky enough to acquire Karen’s latest solo project, Crush Songs on vinyl. I feel like in this day and age, bands are all over the place; losing members, changing sounds, changing what they represent. I have always felt like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have stayed true to what they do best: rock out.
From their first album, Fever To Tell, to their most recent album, Mosquito, there has definitely been a change in tempo. The songs slow down, the grime rubs off, and we start to envision a more refined version of the band. Yet nonetheless, they are still able to bring you back to what you fell in love with in the first place.
But what I really want to talk about is Crush Songs.
I don’t know what it is about this album, but it’s magic, and I honestly do mean magic. It’s like Karen O took a chunk out of her diary and slapped it on a vinyl, which then slapped you in the face with nothing but raw vocal steeze and beautifully-minimal displays of acoustic guitar and ukelele. I, for one, appreciate that in an artist; the utter vulnerability of releasing your feelings to the world. There is a picture book that comes with the album – all illustrations done by the artist herself, except for a portrait of toddler Karen done by her grandfather – and it helps tell the story of her love life between 2006 to 2010, where she “crushed a lot” and “wasn’t sure if I would ever fall in love again”. That honesty, it’s refreshing. And you can hear it all in real time in her voice and lyrics. And to me, well, no matter how famous you may be, that takes a lot of guts. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Karen did find love again…she gave birth to her first child, Django, in 2015 with partner Barnaby Clay.
Since that faithful day in Grade 8, I have been heavily involved in what the music world has to offer. The sights, the sounds, the Twitter beef – all of it! I don’t know where I would be without that day, but it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be writing this piece right now. Unless I ran a Cyclone4Eva blog, then maybe I would be writing something similar. Or maybe I would be cruising around on a jet ski in the middle of the night lost with DJ Khaled, keeping him and his thousands of snapchat followers company. We’ll never know.
Thank you, Karen O.