kariti released the dark-folk LP ‘Covered Mirrors’ a while back and we really liked it: nine tracks that are slow, deliberate – perhaps you could even say they are a little awkward – but with a strong sense of purpose about them, driven as they are by the poems and cultural themes that catch the eye of the creator, who, incidentally, only ever refers to herself in the lower case ‘i’. We catch up with kariti for a short chat over influences and direction, and a wrangle over guitar tunings…
Photo by Paola Erre
When did you start making music? Were you ever in any bands?
Hello, thank you for your interest and for the nice words about my music. i’ve been writing poetry for as long as i can remember myself and composed some simple tunes as a kid when i was in music school studying piano, but my first real attempt at creating actual songs is Covered Mirrors. While studying and also later, i sang with some bands, we played mostly cover songs, mainly for the sake of it, for friends’ parties, basically just for fun, there was anything from the Russian rock to Alice in Chains and Guns’n’Roses, but before kariti i have never been in an ‘actual’ band playing own music.
I notice you are not capitalising the pronoun i. I checked my olde English texts and apparently it was only made a capital in the 14th Century to make it easier to read.
i know it’s incorrect grammatically and it’s ok. i don’t see why i should be capitalized.
You recorded Covered Mirrors in a country house – although you say it is a ‘home recording’, it’s a very good recording, and of course very well performed. Maybe you can explain to new listeners how it was making that album? And how are you recording your music since then, and for your future releases?
The quality of the recording is entirely the merit of Lorenzo, who recorded and mixed the album, we’ve actually done it on his family property in a beautiful old Italian country house, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. i loved recording there, especially at night, with windows open, you can hear the forest and animal sounds all throughout the record, i think that place has a magic aura and i feel very at ease there as opposed to a ‘real’ studio, my next record will likely sound different than Covered Mirrors, probably less stripped-down, but i still hope to be able to record it there with Lorenzo.
Are the Slavic folktales present in kariti something you had to research, or perhaps were you aware of them from your childhood – from books, school etc?
Actually, there are no folk tales per se, but rather the overall folklore imagery and spirit, however there’s poetry: Anna Akhmatova’s ‘Requiem: to Death’, which i freely translated from Russian, the myth of Kybele, which i read about in Ivan Efremov’s book ‘Tais of Athens’ as a teenager, and it stuck in my head for years, an ancient folk song ‘Razlilas rechka bystraya’, which i wrote my own lyrics for (the Baptism of a Witch) and of course the intro, which is traditional funerary singing/crying, all of it i knew about before and didn’t have to research specifically.
‘Sky Burial’ is probably your standout track so far. To my ears it sounds as if you start with the lyrics first and your music follows, because the words and sounds connected. Right or wrong? And if I’m right, how many more poems do you have in your notepad? 🙂
Yes, i wrote the lyrics for Sky Burial in like 15 minutes, inspired by an article about the ancient Tibetan funeral rite posted by a friend, it just poured out of me and i grabbed the first random piece of paper lying around and wrote it down. most of my songs start with the lyrics and then i compose the melody to support it or adapt/develop the tunes i came up with while playing guitar or piano.
Poetry comes naturally to me, while writing lyrics for an existing melody is a bit harder. just recently i’ve been asked to write lyrics for a song (and sing it) by a very cool band i love and it’s a different experience, although i’m loving the challenge and very much looking forward to the outcome.
Right now i have maybe 6 or 7 somewhat finished poems (and many random phrases, concepts or just words i love the sound or the meaning of and would like to use at some point).
Do you think melancholy in art is an exclusively European thing?
i don’t, a lot of people i know from the Americas, Oceania, Middle East or Asia love dark melancholic music and art in general, i think it’s more of a personal choice and journey, but i do think that some countries and peoples, due to their historical and cultural background, are more inclined to suffering and to anything dark, Slavic populations included.
There are some who think identity is irrelevant when making music or art – has being from Russia, and perhaps being a woman, had any effect on your art?
to be honest, i’ve personally never experience misogyny, except occasional mansplaining by an omniscient metal guy, neither as a musician nor as someone who has been involved in organizing DIY live shows for many years, but i know artists and people involved in the ‘alternative’ (forgive the cheesy term) music scene who have, especially when it comes to extreme music, so i guess i’ve just been lucky (so far). Neither being from Russia has ever been an obstacle for me, but i have a feeling it is going to change.
Do you have any favourite Russian composers – traditional and / or modern? And how about more popular influences?
absolutely, although not all of them are necessarily Russian, they rather lived and created in Russia or the Soviet Union, classics such as Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Gubaidulina, Tchaikovsky (Pyotr), Prokofiev, Schnittke, but also Vladimir Vysotsky, Yanka Dyagileva, Viktor Tsoy, Aleksandr Bashlachev, who are poets and songwriters, as well as composers. as for the popular music, there are many folklore songs i love, many related to the nature in some way and to its connection with the soul, but also a lot of music from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, from the soviet cinema and popular songs from the period of the WWII.
I like your short bio on Bandcamp, although I had to look up the word ‘perigrination’ in my dictionary. How easy has it been for you to define kariti for others?
when people started asking me what kind of music i make, i came up with ‘mourning folk’, mourning for obvious reasons, folk – because it seemed more fitting, than any other genre, but i don’t really care about definitions, when people ask, i usually tell them that i sing and play guitar and piano and that they should listen for themselves if they’re interested. ‘cathartic peregrination through bereavement’ is more related to Covered Mirrors, to be honest. it did its job (being indeed cathartic), my next record is going to be a lot less based on my personal experiences but rather on some themes that are important to me and i want to talk about.
Obviously there is a lot going on at the moment with Russia and Ukraine, and it is a tragedy for both countries. Do you have family back in Russia, and if so how are they ( and yourself ) coping?
yes, i have relatives and friends in both countries, although i cut ties with some of them because of how they see the war Russia started in Ukraine in February. it’s really hard for me, i cannot even start to imagine what it’s like for them, i think it will take a very long time for the relations between Russians and Ukrainians to overcome this, maybe it will never happen.
What are your plans for Kariti? Any live shows? Perhaps you have links with other artists in Italy?
i’m nearly done with writing the record number 2, i hope to record it and maybe even release before the year ends. i have a few shows in Italy this spring and probably will add more in summer and in September/October 2022 i would love to tour Europe for a couple of weeks, although getting gigs booked is very hard right now.
You are married to a musical artist, yes? How does that work out. I mean, if you are both day-dreaming about your creations, who does the dishes?
yes, we’ve invested in a dishwasher
All dark folk types seem to have a cat…
sorry to fuel the stereotype, but yes, i have two cats, Lilith and Slasher, both are rescues and seem to enjoy their life in ‘captivity’
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time to when you first started out?
to slow down, to literally play slower, i often speed up while playing guitar. only after finishing the recording, i realized that some of the songs should’ve been slower. also, to get back to playing piano sooner (i’ve waited about 18 years to touch the keys again).
i have many, i’m sort of obsessed with words, ‘drowning gives meaning to breath’ from a song by Steve von Till is the first that comes to mind right now, and ‘fires aren’t made just to be tamed’ by Bambara from a song ‘heat lightning’.
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