Karo Lynn is a name set to become very familiar to you over the next few months. The Leipzig native is an up and coming singer-songwriter with unique vocal talents. It’s already been a busy year for Karo, having won the Köstritzer Fresh Talents competition, performing live and working on her second album. We met over coffee to talk all things music, ahead of the her concert at Mortizbastei next week.
When did you start playing music?
I started with music when I was 10. I started to learn classic guitar and at 13 or 14 I started to sing. Then, I watched a movie and one of the actresses sang and I wanted to do that too. That was the start of singing. At 15 or 16 I started to write my own songs. I had to write songs because our music teacher in school wanted us to. And after I wrote my first song for school, I kept doing it. The first songs I wrote were crap but it’s practice. With practice you get better and better at it.
I watched a movie and one of the actresses sang and I wanted to do that too. That was the start of singing.
Listening to your music now – it’s very raw and filled with emotions that everyone can identify with; do you always write from a personal experience?
Almost every song I’ve written is about personal emotions or personal situations I experienced with other people. Yeah, it’s really personal. But I think my lyrics are not so specific that you could tell the real story. The only person who could tell the story is me and maybe the other person involved.
Can it be exhausting to put so much of yourself into your music?
No, for me writing songs is a way to express my feelings or a way for me to get over things. When I experience bad situations or emotional situations, it’s my way to go through everything and figure it out. Most of my songs are melancholic and reflective.
Is there a usual process you follow when writing a song?
I always start by writing the music. I sit down with my guitar and play some chords that I think sound good. Then, I start to sing along with kind of a fantasy language which is some English words and some random sounds. Sometimes there are some phrases that already make sense and so I sometimes make something out of them.
Do you have a team working with you on your songs?
Up to now, I’ve written my songs on my own but for our recording for the new album I had a team. I have two producers, who are making the best out of the songs with more instruments, drums, electric guitars, bass to just fill it up a little more. I have a band. There are some gigs I play alone but for the gig in October we are playing as a band of four people.
It is my music and I wrote the songs but every single person in the band puts their own part into the music.
Your new album will be released in March 2020, four years after your first album, Karo Lynn – Frames. Has the process you’ve gone through for your new album been different from the first?
The process was hugely different. The first album is really basic, only my voice, guitar and some other instruments but the focus is on my voice and my guitar. The whole thing was recorded in four days. For the second album, we had three months of pre-production and after that we recorded it for another three months. The recording process itself was a lot longer than the first. There are so many more instruments, bass, synth, drums, backing vocals. It’s just bigger and I think it’s more professional. It’s a step in the direction I want to go to.
What do you want to convey with your new single Your Mind?
That’s a hard question! It’s about a personal situation. It’s about not getting the mind of someone else, not being able to understand their thoughts. Everyone has their own mind and sometimes the thoughts don’t cross over.
You won the Köstritzer Fresh Talents this year. What is this award and what came from it?
It was the first year of this award organized by Köstritzer and Rea Garvey. It was really nice, a kind of workshop weekend in Berlin. There were three finalists: Two other bands and me. We had workshops about management, booking, labels, songwriting and more. After the workshops, we had a gig where the three of us had to play. A jury of 10 people decided who was the winner. And they decided to pick me. I was totally surprised to be the winner.
I was there on my own because, at that time, I didn’t have a band. So it was just me and my guitar and the other two bands had full manpower.
There was a big difference, but I think that difference is maybe what won it for me. I’m really happy with this win because I got to support Rea for two of his shows in Halle, and Tier in front of like 7,000 people. It was huge!
What’s your aim for the next year?
My aim is that the album goes out well. Right now, there are some people who know me and I hope after the album many more people know me. I hope people like it and give good feedback. Radios playing the songs, that would be a really big aim, but I think it’s difficult because my music is not that mainstream. I hope everything gets bigger than it is right now and that it gets easier for me to get gigs. Maybe I could play some support shows, that would be really nice. The next big step would be to go on tour with a more famous artist but it’s really hard to get into that.
You are studying to be a teacher so obviously you are doing a lot of juggling right now. In your ideal furture, is music your full-time career?
Yes, I have to say that music is my ‘Plan A’. I’m studying and will do my exams and finish my studies but there will be a point where I have to decide if I will be a teacher or if I can live off music. And if I can live off making music, I would definitely decide to work in music full-time.
I’m delighted that you sing in English as I don’t speak German! Why do you write and sing in English?
I don’t listen to German music at all. All my inspiration comes from English music, like Bon Iver, Ben Howard, Daughter. So why would I write in German when I only hear English music? That wouldn’t make sense for me and I like the language and I like to have English for writing my songs and keeping German for communicating with people in my normal life.
If you could collaborate with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Definitely Bon Iver. They are so great. I like all of their songs and I think they’re doing great stuff. I like the way they write songs. The structure is not that clear when you first listen to it and there are crazy sounds they use. I’m really into them.