After getting a signed CD from Karen Stever, I decided that I had to get to know her a bit more…
When I listen to Playground Isolator, it’s sound(s) remind me of music that I would listen to late at night back in the ’80’s. That is, not the average Top 40 that everyone pretended to be into, but the hardcore
music that was made for the fans of music. Stuff like Pixies, Concrete Blonde, Bad Brains, and Black Flag. Music that had a REAL sound to it, not today’s resampled unoriginal crap.
Recently I had the opportunity to ask Karen Stever, the talent of this album, some questions. And to be honest, I could not pass up getting to know her a little better.
I’ve listened to this CD more times than I can count! In my opinion one of the best features of the CD is that the CD cover also has the lyrics printed inside. Often I’ll take the lyrics (not just with this CD but with any one that I purchase) and read them like poetry. Then I’ll go back and read them as I listen.
It gives me a few different ways to interpret what my ears listen to.
Karen, when I listen to these songs I cannot help but feel you poured a lot of soul and emotion into them. I want to thank you for sharing that personal connection with us.
Karen: I don’t necessarily remember most of the emotion poured into it, a lot of it was from a place of blur. I actually wasn’t going to share it with anyone. I wrote it so coded because I didn’t even want some people to see it. It was a really big step to be able to share it after all.
ZM: What exactly is the meaning behind the title of the CD Playground Isolator?
Karen: That title came from watching ‘The Boy in the Plastic Bubble’ (70’s film) which was about a boy who had to live inside a plastic isolator to be free from germs. I related to this in that my own depression kept me from being on the playground and therefore Playground Isolator sounded like a good title for the song and it made sense to call the record that.
ZM: When writing these songs, and putting this particular selection together, did you have a specific image you were going after?
Karen: During the writing of these songs I was a mess. The only thing that makes any of them work together is they just came from a place of honesty. I had no intention of doing a record, or even writing the songs with a collection in mind. They all showed up in different locations; some on paper, some on scrap cardboard. I had assembled them after the fact, really. It’s a wonder they work together but I was fairly focused on being miserable, so I guess they automatically link up.
ZM: Recently you told me that you do music more for art’s sake, you really do value the art form itself. What has been some of your influences with music?
Karen: I adore classical music; Beethoven, Chopin especially. I am inspired by those who would write because they just had to. In rock music I was very inspired by Ian Gillan from Deep Purple and Lisa Dalbello. They are two people who I believe sing from their spirit and probably would even if nobody was listening to them. But I have a huge collection that ranges from Metal to New Wave. I love movie Soundtracks and Score too.
ZM: Can fans find your music in other places?
Karen: I have chosen to remain unsigned and I don’t have distributors. I won’t go into a ‘how much I hate labels’ rant. They just never make sense to me. I am such a butterfly that I have difficulty living under their schedules for a few pennies. I fail to see the logic, I guess. I have way too many things I am involved with and too many things I wanna do. I have chosen to sign CDs personally and ship them out. Not everyone cares about having a CD signed but for those who like music and art outside the mainstream, it’s a good option. I personally look for music outside the main, so I know there are people out there who do as well.
ZM: You were a model too at one point?
Karen: Unfortunately. Don’t try this at home, kids. What a degrading, self-deprecating industry. Yuck.
ZM: And you did an animated illustration and theme song for Ben Templesmith’s Gentleman Corpse?
Karen: Yes, Ben at the time had a new series out and when we were chatting, he mentioned thinking it would be cool to have a theme song for it. So, along with my co-producer Frank Gryner we wrote ‘Let Me Move In’ and we animated some of Ben’s Images from the books into a mini trailer. It’s on youtube and my myspace. What a blast working with his art. He’s brilliant.
ZM: You certainly do live a full life! Do you have plans to do another album?
Karen: I am working on the next one, but it’s large so it’s taking it’s sweet time! I also produce other artists and so it’s getting done a little bit at a time in between everything else. It’s going to be more conceptual and story-based, so it requires clarity and creativity as opposed to just blatant pain.
ZM: I’ve seen on your myspace page that you have some videos listed do you plan on making more?
Karen: My home-made ones you mean? I really need to do some more. I can’t seem to insert that onto the plate! Please keep bugging me about it.
ZM: With ZombieMall, we have come up with a few “static” questions we have to ask everyone we interview, just a curious thing..
When the impending doom-plague of zombies breaks out here in the real world, what will be the first thing you would do, and where on the planet will you go?
Karen: When Zombies finally take over, I will dress up like one and roam around with them. This way, I won’t be eaten.
ZM: What is your favorite color?
Karen: It’s black, but not necessarily in a goth kind of way. Everything just looks good with black and shows up against it. It’s a good go-to color.
ZM: What were the last 3 books you read?
Karen: One was spiritual, one was political and the other was Marley and Me. I don’t read near enough.
ZM: What were the last 3 movies you saw?
Karen: Tropic Thunder is the only one worth remembering.
ZM: In closing, do you have anything you would like to plug? The floor is yours!
Karen: I don’t really have anything to plug, but I will say I have the coolest friends on the earth. Neener neener neeeeee-ner. If any of you are reading this. YOU ALL ROCK!
Oh and don’t be mean. Mean people suck.
Karen, I just want to thank you for the interview and keep rockin on! To find out more about Karen be sure to check out her mySpace page!