Located in Toronto, Kristen Karma is no stranger to the ever growing music industry. Karma not only wields a certificate in Audio Engineering from Hot Sole Music, but has studied voice with Judith Rabinovitch, who has worked with the likes of Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan.Even though much of her formative years were devoted to a theoretical and exacting world of ballet lessons, Air Cadets, Military Marching Bands, and The Royal Conservatory of Music, some of the only evidence that remains of her past is the neon pink tulle that shoots out from under her black corset.
In 2013, Kristen Karma was selected as one of two performers to play the Lady Gaga Born This Way Ball After-party and open for Tour DJ/Lady Gaga BFF Lady Starlight in Vancouver. With rave reviews from her performance, she then went on to work with lil’Jon on her single “Sirens.” In 2017, she opened for Grammy Award Winner Akon in Guelph, Ontario on his Canadian Promo Tour. Hot off the heels of her performance, Kristen was then approached and selected to play the Lady Gaga – Joanne World Tour VIP After-party once again in Vancouver after Lady Gaga’s performance at Rogers Arena.
Her recent single “Party Heroes” reached the iTunes Canada Pop chart Top 20, peaking at #17. The follow-up “Try” reached the Top 30 Pop, while also reaching the Top 100 All Genres chart. Her brand new October 2019 single is “Dear John,” dedicated to the memory of her father. Karma continues to wow audiences with her energetic live performances, and she does it all with a neon pink microphone in hand.
- When did you realize this is what you wanted to do, and how did you get started?
Kristen Karma: I knew I always wanted to do something in music but never knew what, when I was growing up. I dabbled in the world of dance, and then I started to learn different instruments and it took off from there. I learned Piano and the Saxophone and pretty soon it was everything I could get my hands on… After high school I went on to learn about Audio Engineering and haven’t looked back since.
- Who are your early musical influences, and who are you listening to right now?
Kristen Karma: I was listening to all types of music growing up, but it wasn’t until I was on a school trip in Paris that I heard Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi that I got hooked. From there I discovered the Veronicas and kept following the trends of Pop Music eventually discovering Lady Gaga and Katy Parry who all can be cited as my influences.
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Kristen Karma: I’d definitely say it’s Pop Music with an Edge to it. I combine epic guitar solos and rock riffs over dance beats and combine it with catchy melodies. The Rock vibes gives it some edge which appears to a wider range of fans than the typical pop music that’s out there now.
- Have you had any formal training?
Kristen Karma: I started off making my way through the grades of the Royal Conservatory of Music on Piano and when I started singing I started training under Judith Rabinovitch who is a top vocal coach in the Vancouver area. As for the Technical side, I went to school for Audio Engineering at Hot Sole Music in Vancouver to further my background.
- Do you handle your own recording, production and mastering work or do you outsource any or all of these processes?
Kristen Karma: I have a background in Audio Engineering so it allows me to compose really good demos and get a sense for the instrumentation and sounds I’m looking for. I’ve been working with Mark Zubek of Zedd Records for a while now, and head into the studio with him to polish up and co-produce the final product. I’m extremely hands on in the entire process and am able to articulate more than the average artist because of my education in the field.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do start, and go about shaping ideas into a song?
Kristen Karma: Honestly, it’s different for me every time. I tend to write a lot in the “notes” on my phone, or voice memos. When I’m near a computer I write a lot in Garage Band to get ideas across, and melodic ideas down before I forget them. I try and sit down at least once a week to sift through all of the ideas and put something together!
- What has been your biggest challenge so far? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Kristen Karma: My biggest challenge was always self-confidence and since I’ve started putting myself out there it’s always been a struggle. It’s one thing to write songs in your room, but another to be able to share those songs, and thoughts with the world. Growing up I was judged and bullied quite a bit by my peers and it’s something that continued when I started in the industry. I used to care about every detail and try and control a lot of what was going on around me, but once I discovered the reason why I was in music to begin with, everything eased up. Now I have fun, much more relaxed and like to have a good time. Haters are always going to hate, and once you love yourself all of those protective walls that you’ve put up to block you from the hurt won’t be necessary.
- What would you say are the most important elements, tools and/or instruments in creating your sound?
Kristen Karma: I use guitars, and synths as my main instruments and are a staple in my sound. It’s the combination of the dance beats with guitar riffs that make my sound what it is!
- Do you have any favorite track in your catalog that has a specific backstory and/or message very dear to you?
Kristen Karma: Absolutely! In 2013 my mother was battling Cancer and so I wrote her an anthem-like song called Believe to get her through the rough times. She would tell me on the daily how much she listened to it and how it got her through some hard times.
Currently, I’ve just finished up my latest single written for my Father who passed away from Cancer in 2017. The Music Video for the single Dear John comes out October 11! Both have a special place in my heart.
- How do you handle criticism and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
Kristen Karma: I used to pay attention to every little thing that was said and had it take over my life, but you can’t do that though in this industry. Everyone has an opinion about everything, and in order to be happy, you need to be happy with yourself and what you are putting out. Once you are happy with that, then there’s no need to focus on others. At the end of the day, it’s your name, your image, and your music and you need to be 100% behind what you are putting out.
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a video you could suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your craft?
Kristen Karma: It’s extremely important. It’s a way to not only express my music in audibly but visually as well. Fans can get a better sense of who I am, my vision, and how I want my fans to see me.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry and entertainment.
Kristen Karma: Music can do and say a lot, you just have to listen. For my music I tend not to focus on political or social themes but more on events or people I have come across. I tend to express my feelings and what I am going through and have people relate that way.
- Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two do you ultimately prefer and why?
Kristen Karma: I LOVE performing on stage. I love being able to let loose, say what’s on my mind and radiate my energy to the fans. I love seeing/hearing my fans sing back my words, and dance to the music I’m playing.
- What would you consider the most successful, proud or high point in your endeavors so far?
Kristen Karma: I’ve had a couple so far that I’m really proud of. My song Party Heroes peaked on the iTunes Top 20 charts, and my single Try peaked on the iTunes Top 30 Charts with the highest debut of any song and any genre at #69 for the day. I’ve opened for Akon and played Lady Gaga’s Official After-Party (twice) which was pretty neat and can’t wait to see what else is in store!
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with all the new technology at hand?
Kristen Karma: Absolutely! There not better way to reach fans that are outside of your Country, let alone City. I love how I can reach new fans and have them share the music, but also communicate with them on a personal level. I love hearing from my fans no matter where they are!
- What is the best piece of advice regarding the music business that you actually followed so far, and what is the advice you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Kristen Karma: Have fun. It’s plain and simple, but once you realize that and put out your true and authentic self, it speaks for itself. People are drawn to that! It took me a while to break out of my shell, but people will radiate off you when they see how you are having fun and want to join in.
- What do you like best about what you do, and what do you dislike the most about it?
Kristen Karma: I love that I am able to share my story and what I’ve been through and that that in itself resonates with others. I’ve had fans come up to me and tell me how much my music has impacted them, and that’s a special moment.
- Tell us something about your latest music release and where fans can find it?
Kristen Karma: I’m really excited for my latest released called Dear John. I wanted to write a song for my father who had passed, and knowing that my friend and Artist Marian Hanna’s brother had passed away (and coming up to the 10 year anniversary) I asked her to join me in writing a song for them. We sat down and came up with a demo within 15 minutes which was crazy! When then went into the studio and finished our music video which will be released on October 11!
- Do you have a specific musical vision and/ or goal set in your mind for the future?
Kristen Karma: I’m always writing new music and working on finishing up my album to be released in the New Year. I also continue to play shows around the Toronto area and support other acts when I can!