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The Artist Who Interviews

(February 2009)
Artist who interviews

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An Interview with Musician Karen Palmer

This month I am placing my support behind local Maritime talent; however, Karen won't be local for long, between her sell out shows, and her music on the radio, she's already emerging into a larger music scene with great promise. I'm proud to present an interview with Karen Palmer.

Karen swurl-girl

Which artists would you say have been of greatest influence to you with starting in music?
I think Ani Difranco really made me believe that I could play music for people in public. She was a really good guitar player and I worked hard to learn her songs and be a good player too. I wanted to write like her, with interesting words and music together. She was strong and cheeky & just did what she wanted & I liked that model. Ani and Joni Mitchell were probably the two who inspired me the most.

Joni is a poet and I knew how it felt to always be surrounded by male musicians and know that my style and sensibilities were different than theirs. I like her odd tunings as well and the unique way in which she built her songs; they were more jazz compositions than anything. She was interesting and stunning, she painted too. I liked that Joni had more than just the musical interest. I was interested in art as well & took many art classes, love to draw and sculpt but poetry always moved me to write and Joni was such a beautiful emotional poet.

What inspires you to write music? What are the best motivators?
It sounds cheesy, but I think my heart motivates me to write music. I'm a hyper sensitive person who feels things very deeply and intensely - so an outlet is necessary for me to have balance. History is another great motivator - Stories that have substance & emotions that are universally felt are really attractive to me.

In my opinion pain is the best motivator. When we are in pain we need an outlet and so music becomes a great way of getting the pain out - telling the story and expressing the angst that is mulling around inside of you. Using metaphors for pain and seeing the scenes in poetry, while feeling the emotions in the melody.

Describe what you feel would be truly a great accomplishment for you at this point.
I would like to get the chance to tour across Canada with an established artist I admire. These chances are few and far between, but if I could do that at this point I know my writing and stage performance would burst forward & I would be challenged and just learn so much.


I know that you are multitalented in music, in addition to vocals, which instruments do you play?
I started playing music on the piano when I was in elementary school. I was full on into taking exams and playing in competitive festivals & then I took part in the school orchestras playing violin & then cello. I bought a cello many years ago now when I was living in Halifax & I also have a beautiful 74 Ibanez custom bass that I love. I also took drum lessons from an uncle of mine when I was young as well & I can still keep a good beat, but don't own a kit. I hope one day to write an album where I play all the instruments myself… But guitar is my first love - I love to play stringed instruments. I find that I'm most passionate when I can play strings.

On the road

If you could meet with any musician, past or present, who would it be? Why?
I think if I could meet with any musician it would be Stan Rogers. He is a maritime treasure who wrote the most amazing songs at a very young age & he left us too soon. I would want to talk with him about the amazing local history we have in eastern Canada & I bet he would have had the hardiest laugh.

He was an artist that my Father loved & when I was younger I refused to like him because what your parents like is never cool enough, but as I grew up and started to really listen to his songs - He is astounding in his talent, story telling and musical compositions. I would love to sit around a bon fire with Stan & just listen to him talk, play and sing.

Karen on stage

Which of your songs do you feel are your greatest accomplishments to date?
That's hard to answer because they are all like children to me & they each have things about them that are special. 'The Holiest Blues' won an award with the World Quest Music Contest & 'Mr. Perfect' is a great pop song that has won me countless talent show competitions & it's a really fun song - 'The West Side Song' is a story song that really shows my romantic love for history and where I grew up - 'Right Now' is a type of gospel song that reminds us to stay present and be grateful. 'Stove' is a powerful rock song about watching someone you love hurt themselves and how powerless we are to help those who don't want help. 'Picture' is about being judged & trying to get over the blues of people smearing your image. I don't know… Honestly they all have a special place in my life and heart. Impossible to answer with one song… Perhaps my greatest accomplishment hasn't been written yet?


Live performances. . . How do you prepare for them? What goes through your mind just before going on stage?
I just love live shows. I don't have any rituals or anything. I always think about my audience, the venue and how I want the songs to flow together - I usually prepare a bit of a theme in my between song talk. I like to make people laugh and I like to move with the mood of the day. I like to bring politics to the surface, human commonalities, some personal tidbits & I love when the crowd gets involved. I love to talk with my audience and hecklers are always a great challenge and joy when it comes to live shows. Some of the greatest banters are spontaneous ones. I always try to just show a bit of who I am in my shows, so that people might get to know me a little when they see me live.

I drive

Describe the theme and motivation behind your first CD "I drive"
Well the album is a folk album & I wanted to release some of the songs I've been playing for years & years. The album is called 'I Drive' because it's about me taking the wheel and deciding to give this music thing a real effort. Self powered, like the bicycle, pure and true to who I am. I was motivated to make the album by my Captain Richard J Brignoli. He believed in my talent & he sponsored the bulk of the production. I used to play my songs on his boat and people like Lenny Gallant would stop by and play songs too & Richard would always tell me that I could be a musician for a living. I Drive would not have been possible without his support and belief in me and my music.


Is there a spiritual element that you create to your music?
This is hard to answer but yes, sometimes. I have experienced a type of hypnotic feeling when I'm writing or that somehow it wasn't or isn't me who really put it all together, but that I'm the one with the key to how the recipe works. I don't know how else to explain it. It's like I'm there but being touched sometimes… It's not always present, but I do think that sometimes when I'm writing I become like a window and things blow through. I also like to inspire in my songs & touch people. I love to connect & it's so gratifying when someone tells me that they were moved when they heard me play or listened to a song of mine. Nothing better!!

Neptune show

What and when was your happiest time? What makes you happy?
I think my happiest time was in 2006 when I was always hanging out with my dear friend Leslie Bruce & I had just found my love & we were first dating. I had my own apartment uptown Saint John and I loved my job, I was working on the album, Leslie was always at my house & we would do fun things & I was falling in love with my present husband. It was a really happy time in my life.

Security makes me really happy. When I feel safe I feel happy. I do not trust easily, but when I do feel safe and secure I feel free to be who I am and it makes me able to find ease and peace.


If someone were to describe you in a word or two, what would you want them to say?
I would just want them to say I was real. I would want them to say that they always knew I was being myself with them, straight forward and that I had no hidden agenda when in their presence. I would hope that they would say I was comfortable in my own skin.

If there was anything you could change in the world today, what would it be?
I don't know where to begin? I think I would change prejudice and racism! I would want to make everyone see that we are all human beings, with hearts, bones, lungs and limbs. We as people have more in common than we are different & I would want the world to focus on that instead of all the other silly things they create to too try and separate us.


Do you have a role model/hero? If so, who?
Yes, my Parents.

My Mother is kind, secure, funny, amazing with children, in love with my Father & an educator. Growing up I always felt like my parents had the most amazing love & so many kids loved my Mother as a teacher. She sings and plays guitar and was my first inspiration in regards to music. I used to watch her sing and play in church every week & think that she was so talented and such a good singer and so pretty.

My Father is a song writer, guitar player & manager. My Father was always involved with the criminal/impoverished populations of our society. He always loved to help people, to make things possible that others thought impossible. He was my Basketball coach and he always supported me. He loves history and music & gave me a great base because I grew up with music around the house like Stan Rogers, Cat Stevens, the Beatles, James Taylor, The Band, and many, many more classic musicians ...


Describe a time that you overcame insurmountable odds.
Well I was recording in Lunenburg & traveling from Saint John back in 2005. During Christmas break 2006 my car was stolen & so I couldn't travel back and forth to work at the studio, the man I was working with and someone who I thought was going to produce the album quit the project, the studio I was working with moved from Lunenburg to Halifax & because I had no car, I got the engineer to send me all the work we had completed to Saint John. Then in Feb 2006 my Captain Richard died at sea. With Richard gone I was on my own and so, I started to look for a new engineer & studio to work with in Saint John; this new engineer ended up wasting my time and trying to rip me off.

It felt like the universe was constantly putting things in my way. A few months later in Dec 2006 my best friend Leslie Bruce died. I was in utter turmoil. My other best friend was suppose to paint the album cover, but failed to do so & became very jealous of my new love. She accused me of terrible false things and so I ended the friendship... I started to see people for who they really were after loosing two such important people in my life. I was suffering sever self doubt and depression.

But I just kept working at the music and my album slowly. I found Lancaster Studio and started working with Mike Boyer. I painted the album picture myself and researched who I would have distribute and print the final product. I persevered regardless of all the road blocks and losses that the universe threw at me. So after years of hard times, loss, theft in many areas of my life, suffering through the grief of loosing those I loved living and in death, I worked slowly until the project was complete. I'm very proud of the obstacles I overcame & it makes this album all the sweeter.

tree hug

Genie in a bottle... Three wishes... What would they be? (Other than my favorite: more wishes)
I would wish to secretly have the magical powers of the fairies & be able to use that magic to change the world and the lives of those I felt were worthy. (I love fairies)

I would wish to have a cure for diabetes so that my husband, our family and our children would not have to suffer with this disease.

I would want to reverse all the destruction that mankind has caused our planet & restore our environment to a clean and sustainable state.


Everyone I interview, I find additional talents that the public is not aware of. Describe one of these about you that I can share.
Hrmmm... I have an extensive history playing basketball. I played ball all through my youth up until university. I played with the provincial teams and went to elite camps. I coached camps with Basketball New Brunswick… I have tons of medals and awards from playing basketball. In university my team mates didn't know if I was a hippy or a jock - So they called me the 'Hawk' *haha*

What advice would you give to someone starting as a musician?
I would say 'Go for it!' Play the kind of music that you love, don't ever listen to the critics & never, ever give up trying to get better, learn more & do new things.

Karen Palmer Music
kp music logo

Karen on MySpace
Karen on myspace

To obtain her music
link to music

Thank you Karen


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