"I had to fire my first manager because he came on to me drunk at a party... that whole situation sucked for me" We chat with Farao
Three years on from her debut, Till It's All Forgotten, Norweigian Farao (aka Kari Jahnsen) returned recently with her pared back electronica. Pure-O has a slightly different feel to it and we asked the lady herself about its creation, her experience as a woman in music, and what influence Berlin had on her sound.
Hey Kari, how’s your day going so far?
Hey! My day is going well, thanks. I am in my studio sitting in on a mixing session for my good friend Jae Tyler’s new album.
What can you tell us about your new record, Pure-O?
I can tell you that I am really fucking proud of it.
What was the catalyst for making the new album?
A desire to recreate the sound of my existence. I was listening to a lot of new age or minimal composers like Laraaji or Terry Riley during meditation, I grew up listening to R&B like Robyn, Lauryn Hill and Destiny’s Child, and was partying around Berlin going to disco/boogie parties in altered states at the time of the recording. These are all important aspects of my life and I wanted to combine them all together in my music.
How did you go about choosing which songs to record?
Well that’s easy. I wrote 10 songs and they’re all on the album. I’ve never been the sort of artist who writes 100 songs and chooses the 10 best ones. As soon as I don’t see a future for an idea, I stop developing it.
What’s the one song on the record that you really want people to hear?
My favourite track is 'Luster of the Eyes'. I am really proud of the synth work we did on it and how the synthesizers are galloping away while telling a coherent story throughout the song.
There are some complex thoughts about relationships on the album, how much of this is based on direct personal experience?
Not much of it is based on personal experience. I prefer telling a story to myself from someone else’s perspective and base a lot of my lyrics on fictional characters or people that I know.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
I had to fire my first manager in 2014 because he came on to me drunk at a party, and he was married with kids. That whole situation really sucked for me. Especially cause most people thought he was the one letting the project go, because I chose not to tell people what really happened. I was too gullible and believed his excuses and felt sorry for him. After a while I found out he was doing this to other women as well. I think the Me Too movement is great and it didn’t come a second to soon. There are definitely some innocent male victims in all of this, which is an unfortunate consequence, but this is nothing compared to the vast amounts of women who have been victimised for years in a hyper-patriarchal music industry.
Have you noticed a difference over the last few months as #MeToo and #TimesUp gain publicity?
I’ve noticed an awareness that wasn’t there before. It’s always been easy for me to talk to other women about this, but now I find that it is much easier talking to men about the situation as well. I am noticing a bigger interest from men wanting to hear about my experiences and wanting to make sure I feel respected and valued as an equal in the work I am involved in. This is really amazing. Unfortunately, when it comes to the guys that I know have been abusive or inappropriate, none of them have lost their job or experienced any repercussions because of what they have done.
You’re living in Berlin right now, how does that influence the sounds that you’re making on Pure-O?
Berlin has certainly had a huge effect on me. It’s industrial and heavy at the same time as it is so open and warmer than any other place I’ve ever lived. The flourishing electronic music scene fits really well with the framework of this city, and the numerous disco/boogie parties I’ve been to has inspired me both musically and personally. There’s something about this place that makes me not worry so much about the feasibility of my ideas... I just go with them. This freedom is a truly special ingredient of the city and one of the main reasons I live here.
What’s the one place to see in your hometown if I visit there?
I would drive round and round the local roundabout. There was a big party with the mayor the day they opened it and they had a class to teach people how to drive in roundabouts. What they didn’t think of was that you had to drive through the roundabout to get to the class.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
Maybe when I saw Patti Smith perform in Iceland a few years ago and I was backstage cause my friends were also playing. All of a sudden I was standing next to her waiting for the toilet and I worked up the courage to say that I enjoyed her performance. I was pretty nervous and think I wet myself a little while talking to her.
If you could recommend one song to hear this week, what would it be? Marcos Valle with his track 'Naturalmente. Ultimate Brazilian funkiness!
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Lately I’ve been really getting into espresso, but actually coffee makes me anxious and I’m trying to take a break. Caffeine can be scary.
To find out more about Farao you can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, or check out her Instagram.