Stream a new song and read a Q&A with experimental artist Karima Walker.
Halfway through Karima Walker's Hands in Our Names, you might forget what you're listening to. The album initially begins with Walker's hauntingly beautiful vocals over the subtle plucks of her guitar. But as it progresses, things take a turn for the abstract. There are entire tracks of glitchy samples layered together, or songs that devolve into static white noise. There's field recordings of chirping birds and chimes that will transport you to the deserts of Walker's home base in Arizona. You'll forget that you're at your desk, in your car, in your bedroom as Walker works you into a trance, before snapping your focus back to her crystal clear voice. Throughout the twelve tracks on Hands in Our Names, Walker masterfully weaves together a menagerie of sounds to produce something truly unique. Listening to her music isn't simply just listening – it's a fascinating experience.
Walker will be re-releasing Hands in Our Names on Orindal Records later this month, but you can hear the closing track "Lullaby" today. It's the perfect bookend to the album, filled with wisps of reverberating guitars as Walker lulls you out of hypnosis and to sleep. Listen to "Lullaby" below and read an interview with Walker about her song creation process, how she's influenced by metal, and the best place to listen to her music.
The Le Sigh: How do you gather samples for your songs?
Karima Walker: Sometimes I would go out with the intention of recordings field sounds, waiting for something I liked. Other times I'd stage materials and instruments in specific places. Often, I'd be carrying at least one recording device around with me; my phone, a zoom, or straight onto a tape.
TLS: I know this is technically a re-release, but when did you start putting together music for Hands in Our Names?
KW: A lot of it came together about a year and a half to two years ago.
TLS: Your songs range from acoustic numbers to sound collages - how do you piece together a song between the conventional and the abstract?
KW: It comes from this desire to push the songs outside of their clean crisp song-ness, take apart their prettiness and frankenstein them back together, but on different terms. I'd sit with these song lyrics on paper, voice memos, vocal drones, melodies on tapes, samples sprinkled everywhere, video footage too. All of these different voices and instruments. I really love the physicality of this process-- sitting with all these materials and working with them, drawing out ideas.
TLS: Do you focus on one style when you're writing a song or do you tend to combine the two?
KW: Ohh all of it.
TLS: When did you decide to pursue this style of music? Were there any other genres or past bands that you explored before your solo project?
KW: The shift happened a couple years ago. I'd been doing music solely as a songwriter, but I was increasingly dissatisfied with what I was making. (crisis) So, I stopped writing for a while. I started listening to drone and some contemporary composers, I became really interested in black metal, and also just metal as a genre. Eliane Radigue changed my life, Helge Sten, Pauline Oliveros. I'd also begun transitioning from photography to video, was part of a freak folk project called Human Behavior. All these pieces were coming together.
TLS: Your music feels so natural, like it would hypothetically be harder to create in a city - what sort of setting do you best create music in? Are you inspired by the setting around you when you write music?
KW: I wonder what kind of record it would have been, if I'd been in a large city! My setting definitely inspires me. There is a little house, a couple hours from where I live, that I sometimes get to use. It's near the Chiricahua Mountains, in higher New Mexico desert. So quiet, lots of light and you can watch the weather roll across this big grassy plain. That's where I arranged everything and wrote several songs. I wasn't in my everyday world, my phone doesn't work there.
TLS: How do you translate your music to a live performance?
KW: I want the live performances to be immersive, to take up a lot of space but I'm not trying to do what a metal band does. I use projections and keep one continuous set of sound, so it reads as one piece. And sometimes I like to wear white, so I get to be part of the projections too.
TLS: What's the coolest place you've performed so far?
KW: The drainage tunnels way down under Tucson would probably be the coolest. But certain gallery type spaces have been really wonderful, for the spaces themselves and the communities. Ocotillo Room in Albuquerque, Galveston Artist Residency, a friend's house in Grand Rapids.
TLS: On that note, where do you think is the best place your audience could listen to Hands in Our Names?
KW: On a long drive.
TLS: What's one word you would use to describe the album?
Listen to Karima Walker on soundcloud and pre-order the album here.
Photo by Eugene Starobinskiy
KARIMA WALKER LIVE DATES:
March 12, 2017 - Denton, TX - House Show
March 13, 2017 - Tulsa, OK @ pH Community House
March 14, 2017 - Springfield, MO - Front of House Lounge
March 15, 2017 - St. Louis, MO - House Show >
March 16, 2017 - Rock Island, IL @ Rozz Tox =
March 17, 2017 - Iowa City, IA @ Public Space One =
March 18, 2017 - Ames, IA @ Vinyl Grind =
March 19, 2017 - Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall =
March 20, 2017 - Sioux Falls, SD @ Total Drag =
March 21, 2017 - Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium =
March 22, 2017 - Duluth, MN @ Red Herring =
March 23, 2017 - St Paul, MN @ Amsterdam =
March 24, 2017 - Eau Claire, WI @ Oxbow Hotel =
March 25, 2017 - Madison, WI @ Frequency =
March 26, 2017 - Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club =
March 30, 2017 - Chicago, IL @ Gman Tavern =+
April 01, 2017 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Sage House =
April 02, 2017 - Kalamazoo, MI @ TBA =
April 03, 2017 - Windsor, ON @ The Rondo =
April 04, 2017 - Toronto, ON @ Silver Dollar Room =
April 05, 2017 - Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place =
April 06, 2017 - Nyack, NY @ Kiam Records Shop =@
April 07, 2017 - Brooklyn, NY @ Union Hall ?
April 08, 2017 - Providence, RI @ Columbus Theater *=
April 09, 2017 - Portland, ME @ Apohadion Theater /=
April 10, 2017 - Boston, MA @ Atwood's Tavern *=
April 11, 2017 - Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA =#*
April 12, 2017 - Baltimore, MD @ EMP Collective =
April 14, 2017 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr Roboto Project *=
April 16, 2017 - Cincinnati, OH @ The Comet
April 17, 2017 - Bloomington, IN @ TBA
April 18, 2017 - Louisville, KY @ Dreamland
April 19, 2017 - Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
April 21, 2017 - Marshall, NC @ Marshall High Studios
April 22, 2017 - Atlanta, GA @ Mammal Gallery
April 26, 2017 Houston, TX @ TBA
April 27, 2017 Galveston, TX @ Galveston Artist Residency
April 28, 2017 Austin, TX @ Lemon Lounge
> w/ Dubb Nubb
= w/ Advance Base
+ w/ gobbinjr
@ w/ Amy Bezunartea
? Orindal label showcase w/ Advance Base, Lisa/Liza, Hello Shark and secret special guests.
Written by Emily Thompson