Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing.
CZARINA (Vero Faye Kitsuné) is a musician, composer, producer, filmmaker and general creative from Brooklyn NY. She creates fresh, original music with a clear creative vision all of her own that combines elements of cyberpunk, anime, video games and '80s film soundtrack.
Via email, we talked about her musical background, her approach to creation and the ways in which she combines all of her many talents into a broader artistic expression of her vision.
Karl Magi: When and how was the first spark of passion for music lit for you?
CZ: It started when I was still very young. Music has always been encouraged at home. I had piano and voice lessons and eventually was being professionally trained for Broadway for some years up to my early teens. Then I discovered rock and industrial music at 15 and decided I wanted to become a rock musician then. Picked up the guitar and started writing my first songs. When I was in college, I formed and fronted my first serious band - a progressive rock group with some melodic metal elements. That went on for 6 years before I decided focus on my design career and started a company for the next decade. But I felt something was missing in my life. Only about a year and half ago, I decided it was time to get back to doing music again.
KM: Tell me more about how you were drawn towards making synth-based music.
CZ: Rediscovering synth-based music actually is what truly sparked my return to doing music again. I was re-watching Blade Runner and the music stood out a lot more this time around and really got into Vangelis’ cinematic work. As much as I respect traditional instruments, I needed that extra expanse in dynamics that synths provide. They opened a whole new world for me and made a lot of things fresher atmospherically-speaking.
KM: Talk to me about the ways in which musical and visual art intersect for you.
CZ: To me, they naturally go hand-in-hand. Part of being a true artist to me is also being to create a multi-dimensional experience. It is part of the overall branding and narrative. Why I love making music films. There’s always a grander story to tell behind each piece of music that can only be justified thru masterful visual storytelling.
KM: Who are the musical artists, visual artists, authors and film makers from whom you draw creative inspiration?
CZ: I love musical artists who give a lot more than the others. Björk, David Bowie, Trent Reznor, TOOL, Radiohead, and Fever Ray all brought such fine examples of high levels of unique and genuine artistry that I always try to achieve for myself. They stood out on their own terms and at their own right - always leading, trailblazing, creating something new, never formulaic and never ever following.
As for visual artists, I grew up on manga so I am a huge follower of Masamune Shirow’s (Ghost in the Shell) and Katsuhiro Otomo’s (Akira) bodies of work, along with Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy series). I also grew up cherishing Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films. We all need that bit of fantasy, lore and wonder.
Other filmmakers I love include: Wong Kar Wai and Zhang Yimou for their effervescent masterpieces; Akira Kurosawa and Quentin Tarantino for the sheer gangster badassery; Wes Anderson for the quirky and colorful existentialist narratives; The Wachowskis for championing cyberpunk themes.
KM: How do you go about creating new music?
CZ: I often start with lyrics and melodies along with the basic chord progressions and song structure. To me that’s the heart and it has to sound great just at the bare bones and structure. Then I build and design all the arrangements around that core. That’s where all the love and clever dynamics kick in. I have worked backwards as well, like if I wrote a new riff or guitar lead I’d work to make it into a song.
KM: What are some of the projects you're working on currently about which you're most excited?
CZ: I am involved in quite a number of projects. I’m in the middle of building this massive electronic rock opera and epic saga series with Chris Keya and DeadlyKawaii called Starcross. I’m working on its first music film for it. I am also working on the sequels for my latest music film BLAZE: Dances of the Yokai, which involves more appearances by various synth artists. And right now, I’m about to release this remix compilation by several of my fellow synth producers who each took a track from my debut LP Painted Holograms.
KM: Where do you envision your musical career moving forward?
CZ: I hope to open a new space for the type of work that I create. I want to be able to transcend genres and either bridge over or entirely create new realms and be stylized enough to be a stand-alone brand and entity. I think there’s still a lot to explore. For now, I’m focusing on the experience and new dynamics I can bring to my audience.
KM: Give me your thoughts on the Twitter #synthfam.
CZ: The coolest and most dynamic, tight-knit music scene today that’s still on the cusp. It is its own universe, like Marvel. We all wear some sort of proverbial cape or, rather, mask. Some of us even have our own unique special powers.
KM: How do you recharge your creative batteries?
CZ: I work out and train. I do martial arts, kenjutsu and budo arts training. The focus and discipline help with realigning every part of me. I do give myself time off and veg out watching animes or playing video games. I’m replaying Final Fantasy VII at the moment, in anticipation of the new remake that’s coming out in a few months.