Slovakian alt-pop artist Karin Ann (aka Eastern Europe’s answer to Billie Eilish) is fast becoming a Gen-Z icon, is the first ever Slovak artist to feature on a giant billboard in New York’s Times Square, and she’s not shy about standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. She explains why it was very difficult for her to be herself in her conservative hometown, and why being tired of people saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” inspired her new emotive pop-ballad, for a moment.
What were your musical influences as a child that have shaped your sound?
I listened to so many things growing up because I used to do figure skating, dance and ballet, and there were certain guidelines about what type of music you were allowed. It was mostly instrumental and classical music, so mainly instrumental soundtracks.
But also my mum is really big on musicals, so I grew up listening to a lot of Czech musicals, because my mum is Czech. She also really loved Queen, so I grew up on Queen and The Beatles.
I grew up on the Disney Channel too, so since I was five I was like, ‘This is what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna sing an act. It's my thing’. Everybody was like, ‘No, you won't’. So I put it aside until later. Then I started having my own mind and own taste, and that's when I branched out a little bit.
You started writing music when you were just 14. Can you remember your early songs?
I actually wrote a poem first when I was in third grade, and it was horrible! Then I ended up writing a full song with music and melodies and everything when I was 14 – I never want to hear it again! [laughs]. But it's like a cool part of my life, you know?
It's kind of like having a diary. You look back on it and you're like, ‘Jesus Christ, this is horrible!’ But it's a chapter in your life.