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Music

The best advice Karen O ever received

Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O is one of the most captivating musical artists of contemporary times. An iconic singer, she blends her unmistakable vocal style with energetic onstage antics and a kaleidoscopic wardrobe to create a persona that has been nothing but influential since the band first broke onto the scene in the early 2000s. 

One of the key players in the seminal New York scene that gave us the likes of The Strokes and Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ mix of art-rock with the dancier ESG-inspired side of post-punk created a sound that was unlike anything we’d heard before.

Featuring drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner, the trio has only released four albums to date, which tells you a lot about their brilliance, considering they’ve released some of the most iconic rock tracks of this century. 

The likes of ‘Heads Will Roll’, ‘Maps’ and ‘Gold Lion’ have filled the floors of indie discos and house parties since they were released, and it is without question that they would not have such a timeless essence without the outstanding performances of Karen O, who is something of a contemporary mix of Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux.

Why Karen O doesn’t understand the success of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ biggest song

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Aside from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O has worked with a host of other legendary artists such as Santigold, The Flaming Lips, Swans and even the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. She even caught the eye in the opening credits for David Fincher’s 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when she collaborated with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for a highly industrialised rendition of Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Immigrant Song’.

Given that she has enjoyed such a storied career, Karen O’s thoughts on life have been listened to closely. In a 2019 interview with Spotify for Artists, she revealed the best piece of advice she’s ever been given, and unsurprisingly, it’s a fascinating one and something that all budding musicians could do with hearing.

She said: “The best advice I ever got was from my best friend who said, ‘Karen you need to be more of a bitch.’ And so, and that’s basically like him just saying like, ‘Yeah, you just have to look up when you feel like someone’s pushing you in a direction that you feel not comfortable going and stuff’, you know?”

Adding: “So I have no problems really doing that to a certain extent, but that’s not usually what you hear, you usually hear, ‘if you don’t do this, you’re going to mess this up for yourself and that up for yourself’, and generally that’s not true. I think like, not a single time have I ever regretted saying no to something that felt wrong. Yeah, I think that’s more just like self-respect to a certain degree, you know? 

“But like, but you know, you don’t want to, like, jeopardise that… as an artist you have to protect your gift because it’s a precious thing, and if you kind of say like no when you need to say no and yes when you need to say yes you’re kind of carving a path for yourself as an artist who does their art on their own terms and that’s really important.”

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