Interview with Karen Dezelle

Karen Dezelle

Earlier on this week, indie singer-songwriter Karen Dezelle answered some questions for me in light of her brand new single Alchemy and the forthcoming release of the EP Room for Two. 

1. So, as I understand it you just moved across America, from LA to New York, how are you finding living in a new city? Is it inspiring some song-writing?
Yes, I moved to NYC from LA last November. I spent six months in the West Village of Manhattan and have just returned home to LA to record more music and pursue some new opportunities that came up. NYC was wonderful. A big part of the reason I went is that my grandfather is over on the East Coast. He is one of my best friends and one of the most grounded, wise, and spiritual people I know, so I wanted to spend some time with him. Our conversations definitely inspired some writing. NYC in general was also very inspiring… so many sounds in that city, so many characters, so much art! It has a pulse and I loved being a part of it for a while. I loved the musicians I met there, and I learned a lot from them. LA is home. 

2. For any readers who aren’t familiar with your sound, how would you describe it?
It is rooted in folk tradition. My songs are stories. For me, writing is therapy, and the songs are the part of the story worth retaining. Instrumentally, we mix acoustic and electric sounds, rhythm guitar, and weave in a lot of vocal harmonies. You can hear alt-country, gospel, and americana influences. There is a lot of experimentation, and the songs are all very different, but the consistency is that all the music is composed around a story. The sounds of the story are built around it to encase and transcend it. I think of writing music almost like painting, where to put the sound and how much and how it relates to everything else is so important in composition, and it all has to mean something, to be built around a central theme. We experiment with genres a lot, but the story is the centerpiece, at least in my mind.

3. It’s been two years since your last EP, what can we expect from Room for Two?
These songs span years of my life. Some are old and some are very recent. There is a lot of variation in subject matter, but I think or hope it’s consistent in its message somehow. Muscially, you can hear a departure from previous releases. More variation in tempo and back up beats. I have been really inspired by Sharon Van Etten and the Lumineers and some other alt-country and americana bands over the past few years and I think they really influenced my sound from traditional singer-songwriter to sound to something a little more outside the box.

4. What inspired your latest single Alchemy?
I had a crush on somebody. Ha. Seriously, it was a gift for someone I was dating at the time. It is all about how transformational it can be to love someone, the alchemy it can bring into your life. 

5. The last decade has seen an explosion of popularity for indie artists in the music industry, in your own experience has this made it easier or more difficult as an artist to break into the market?
Both. I think the reason indie artists are more popular is that the tools for creating, recording, and distributing music are so much more accessible now. Coupling that with how much easier it is to connect to a massive number of people through social media and streaming services, it’s clear to see how so many indie artists have been able to find the audience that appreciates them. I think Pandora was a big game-changer. I still remember when I first heard about it and fell so in love, the idea of playing a particular musician based on the calculated propensity of the listener to like them was revolutionary. There have been so many online platforms and digital stages emerging, so many ways to create and connect; it’s a dream for artists that just want to put their music out there, and it’s a dream as a music-lover because the catalogues are infinite. The only drawback as an artist I can see is that there aren’t really any rules anymore. There is no clear path; the traditional models have been replaced; and everything is a bit of a wild west. Ultimately, for me, it’s a good thing. My dream is to create the most honest music I can and share it with as many people as I can, so I am grateful for the opportunity to do that. 

You can check out Karen’s website here

Listen to Alchemy here and see my review of the track here

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