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On supporting the minorities, freedom of speech and music

Fast Confession – Slovak pop star Karin Ann: I never expected to cause such a fuss in Poland

Karolína Lišková
20.Aug 2021
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11 minutes to read

At only 19 years old, she’s already moving the world. The rising pop star from Slovakia, Karin Ann, recently "rebelled" on Polish television, where she raised a rainbow flag without telling anyone. Even though she didn’t plan to cause such a scene, this Spotify's Czechoslovak Equal Playlist number one really drew attention to herself with this. In an interview with LP-Life.com, the young girl explained that she didn't mean to hurt anyone, but she herself is simply a member of the LGBT community and is bothered by how otherness is still suppressed.

Alternative titles: I don't care about gender, I care about personality

A lot of people of my generation have mental health problems

Karin Ann na jevišti s mikrofonem.
Karin Ann s duhovou vlajkou.
Karin Ann v barevném oblečení.

You said the last time you cried was when the tour ended. Why was that?

When you want to make music, to be in the creative world, you always imagine yourself on stage. Now I finally had the opportunity to be on the stage, and not just for one show, but as an opening act for the whole tour. Plus it was a great tour, it wasn't like we weren't getting along and looked forward to going home. It wasn't just about finally being on the stage, but on top of that, we all went along well.

So it was emotional but happy.

Yes, it was happy. It's just now I'm suddenly home, I don't know when the next gig is, I don't know what to do, when or if I'll ever see those people again. I put on this singer's song called "To koniec (It's Over)" and I cried at that song that "it's over".

The biggest boom that's being talked about everywhere is what you did in Poland. Tell me about it.

I raised the LGBT flag. On TV.

Luxusní byt na prodej s terasou a výhledem
Luxusní byt na prodej s terasou a výhledem, Praha 1

But you know that Poland is very conservative in this respect, don’t you?

Yes, but on the other hand, I thought that while some people wouldn't like it, some would. Some people from the community wrote to me saying that it was great what I did. To market myself in a way that I support this, and that's what's happening in my life. Some people didn't like it, of course. But I didn't expect it to go this far.

I read that besides the uproar, some people even lost their jobs because they didn't prevent it. Did you talk to them, do you know who they were?

I haven't spoken to them personally, but this regards the person who invited me on the show. I'm obviously very sorry he lost his job because he had nothing to do with it. He didn't know about it, me and my guitar player were the only ones who knew about it. It wasn't like I was going in there, conspiring with him about starting a rebellion or anything like that. I'm very sorry he lost his job. I told him through someone who's in touch with him that I hoped some TV station would hire him. A network that has freedom of speech and exercises it.

I was just exercising my right to free speech; he had nothing to do with it and got fired for it. I think it just shows how bad the situation and censorship is. Because it was just free speech, nothing else.

I, for one, wouldn't call it a rebellious act, I would call it an impetus to a discussion. Do you think this act will spark a debate?

I hope so. The only thing I wanted is that I came to a new market where they didn't know me. I was given a chance to present myself and give people some kind of idea of what I was dealing with, what was close to my heart, and I did that. I didn't expect it to turn into a rebellion or anything like that, that wasn't my intention at all. It didn't strike me as something extreme.

Are there any consequences? For example, do you know you'll never be invited to Poland again?

As far as messages go, what I received has been positive. Of course, I don't look up articles and read the comments under them because I don't want to hurt myself. But regarding the messages sent directly to me, they were only positive. I was even supported by a politician, the biggest supporter of the LGBT community in Poland, who wrote me a special message. I didn't expect that at all, because I'm not Polish, he didn't have to write to me at all. That was also positive.

What happened right after the broadcast?

I finished, and nobody even wanted to look at me. I walked down the corridor and there were presenters standing there, and when I walked past they turned their backs on me.

They didn't even say hello?

Nobody said hello; they didn't even notice we were leaving. I mean, they did, but they pretended not to. I became air.

You said on Quick Confession that you support a lot of communities. The LGBT community is very controversial, it's popping up everywhere. Is that because you're close to it in your own orientation?

I say I like who I like, regardless of gender or what they look like. I'm all about personality, if they share the same views, the same values. It's not about what's in their pants.

So it's not like you're gay yourself, for example, and that's why you support the community?

I'm a member of the community by not putting a label on myself that I like a certain gender. I care about personality. It's not like I can say I'm heterosexual. First of all, I haven't wanted to admit it my whole life, and secondly, I've had friends in these communities for all my life. I see it on social media, for example on TikTok it's become a very big topic during the quarantine. It's a matter of the algorithm there, I got to a part of TikTok where gender, orientation, or what someone is wearing doesn’t matter. The young people there are tackling issues like global warming, how to prevent people butting in what's none of their business.

Then when I go out and see that it's not like that everywhere, I'm surprised to realize that I'm living in some sort of my own bubble. I think there are a lot of young people, and they’re being motivated even more to talk about it and try to change it in society. A lot of people think that now all of a sudden we want to rule the world, but we just want to be accepted, to have a happy life. That's what we're trying to do, and I think that's what everybody should be trying to do.

What are some other global things, that you as an individual can't control, bothering you?

I'm dealing with mental health, the LGBT community, as I said, also racial inequality, I’m trying to bring attention to that and help. I'm addressing the freedom of expressing yourself not just with words, but with clothing, makeup and tattoos. I find it terribly stupid that according to some people, just because someone has tattoos and coloured hair, all of a sudden they can’t do such and such a job and so on. I try to address things like that in general.

I'm old school compared to you. I feel like you young people must have had something happen in your lives that leads you to this. Where does it come from in such a young soul who is still maturing, who should be just figuring out what they want to do in life? Has anyone ever been mean to you or your friends?

I think everyone has had someone to be mean at them. We see it as a mix. First of all, the social networks that young people are on. I've been on social media since I was maybe 10. You see a lot of things there, things that maybe you shouldn't even see when you're ten years old. That's what you grow up with. Then you also grow up seeing how intolerance has affected the older generation and what hate can do to the younger generation, for absolutely no reason, because we haven't done anything. Many young people say they don't want to have children because they don't want them to grow up in this world.

Prodej luxusního bytu, Praha 4 - 106m
Prodej luxusního bytu, Praha 4 - 106m, Praha 4

I think it's a mix of seeing life on social media, how intolerance and hate have affected the older generation, how unhappy people and life can become, and we don't want that. We want to live our way, because we're not hurting anybody, and I believe 99% of these people are not hurting anybody. And the ones that are hurting are on the other side as well. They're even often more aggressive on the other side than they are on this side.

If readers don't have anyone in their circle who understands how they think, how they want to express themselves, or how they are, and they don't have anyone to talk to about it, I hope that my music and my community could be a safe haven for them, because I'm trying to create a community that doesn't judge.

Your songs and lyrics are often quite depressing. Some people identify you with Billie Eilish, that's one big depression through and through. You write your own lyrics. Why, how does that come about? Because then it seems to me that you're sad inside.

And I was, for a long, long time. I think that how it wasn’t talked about at all when I was growing up didn’t help either. I believe that's yet another thing that my generation wants to change, to end the stigma of talking about what makes me sad and what's happening to me. How many times when you've told someone that you're sad about something, they've responded that someone else has bigger problems. Yes, he does, but that doesn't mean you don't have your own problem as well. That, I think, is a problem that has arisen and has only added to the fact that many people of our generation have a mental health problem. Not just our generation, the older ones, too, of course. A lot of people don't understand how a young person can feel this way.

A lot of singers tell me that their lyrics come from their inner feelings. Do you feel the same way?

I would say definitely, I try to be authentic to myself at that moment. I always say that when I fall in love one day, that's definitely what a song will be about, love and all that. But I'm not in that state right now, so I'm writing about other things. I'm happier now than I've been in a very long time.

How did that happen?

This is going to sound a bit wrong, but I think the quarantine helped me, at least the first half of it. Because a lot of people don't have time for themselves, they have to do this and that. Then all of a sudden, the quarantine came, life stopped and what now? All we could do was focus on ourselves. I think that helped me a lot because I had time to deal with a lot of the problems that I had.

For example?

Food issues, relationship with food, mental health. Why I react to certain things the way I do. To take a moment to think about what to say before I respond, so it doesn't come from a place of hurt, in the future. Also to learn to live with myself, with my mindset, to acknowledge how I function, what I need. For example, now I know I need a lot of alone time. I shut myself in my room for a few hours, and that’s what I need, because if I spend a lot of time with people without having time to myself, then I get irritable, I lash out at someone for absolutely nothing and then I take it out on people I like and don't want to take it out on at all. I think that's definitely helped a lot.

Now the tour has helped a lot. I didn't have a lot of time to myself there, but I was back on stage, which I really enjoyed. It's really ironic, since I'm a huge introvert and I have a hard time starting conversations with people. But I feel at home on the stage, and suddenly I can have fun. I don't know what happens in that moment, but I feel so comfortable at the stage.

I've also accepted what I struggled with for a very long time, that I'm always changing, that in a month I'll be someone completely different than I am now. For example, I've started to like skirts and dresses again, which two years ago I totally rejected and fought terribly against anything "girly." It took me a long time to accept that I've changed, that I've started to like things again, but at the same time I like what I liked before.

I had to accept that, learn to live with myself, accept that I would always have certain problems. Some mental problems don't just go away. For example, an eating problem is not something you are cured of overnight, but something you carry with you for maybe your whole life. But you have to know how to deal with it, what to do, when to say stop, think about what I'm doing and things like that. That's what I think I'm doing quite well at the moment.

Don't you feel old already?

That's what a lot of people tell me (laughs). People always peg my age, thinking I'm older. I don't know. I guess I'm an old soul.

We should still classify you as an emerging star, but you've already had a lot of success. Can you list them for me?

If I can think of them all myself... to me, even a very small thing is a success. For me, success is that I released my first song, my first EP, that Wonder Land wrote about me. It's an accomplishment for me that I've been on tour, that I'm working with a producer who's working with people who have influenced terribly how I feel about music and how I write music. Meeting him for the first time was also a big accomplishment for me. It's an accomplishment for me to be in Times Square now.

For me, achievements are even small things, I just don't think I always recognize them at the time. I'll stop in two months and only then will I realize it. Now I try to slow down sometimes and realize some things and reflect on them a little bit, but at the same time, I don't want to make too big a deal out of things because that, in turn, can have a bad impact on me and how I perceive things, in general, afterwards. For example, if I'm about to meet someone, I still understand that they're just a person; they can disappoint me or they can surprise me and be cool. But I don't have high expectations of certain things.

Have you graduated yet?

I've been in an individual program for two years.

Does that mean you don't have to deal with, like, envy from your classmates?

I think going to an individual program has helped me a lot mentally and in finding myself. School sometimes puts pressure on you that you have to wear, do, or say this and that. It takes away from a person's identity, then they can't find themselves and it takes an awfully long time to find yourself.

It helped me a lot. I didn't even realize it at the time; I hurt my hand and had to leave school. But when I look back on it, I realize that it made me start writing full songs, not just random poems. Not only that, but I started expressing myself by dressing the way I wanted to. I had no one to stop me and ask what I was doing. I don't know, I think even this, I mean going to school, can affect people very badly because it takes away a person's identity.

How do you feel about politics? You knew how it is in Poland. How do you perceive politics in Slovakia?

I think everywhere, but especially in these countries that were originally conservative, there is still a lot to be done for equality. I notice it in terribly stupid things that don't even occur to me at the time. But just as an example, the fact that a seat belt in a car is more physically comfortable for men than women, and when a car accident happens, a woman is more likely to die than a man. Little things like that. Or comments like how women need more time, to prepare, whatever.

Does sexism bother you?

Yes, it does. I see it everywhere in society, in terms of equality of anything, it's not ideal anywhere yet. But I think the best example at the moment is the Nordic countries. There I've seen rainbow street crossings or rainbow benches next to a church, I like that they are open like that.

Are you going to vote?

I hope so. I only turned 18 after the last election, and I was in quarantine. Now I want to go.

How do you see yourself?

I think it's clear that I'm very open-minded, unbiased. So whatever ideology is the closest to that. Now, when there was an election in America, it wasn't an ideal situation either. I wanted so badly for the guy who won to win, but I didn't agree with everything he does. I think a lot of people who voted for him felt the same way. They wanted him because the alternative was so much worse. That doesn't mean it was a good option.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Fast confession:

Why did you choose to support the LGBT community?

I support all minorities. This was just an opportunity for me to support something that is burning the most. It's the most important issue in Poland right now. It was something I prioritized.

Are you in favour of the death penalty?

It's a very complicated question; it depends on the individual case.

What do you see as the biggest problem of humanity?

People. (laughs)

The worst hate you received after your performance in Poland?

I didn't get any, I avoided it.

Your musical role model?

There are a lot of them.

Do you feel like Billie Eilish?

No, everyone’s unique.

What does it mean to you that you've made it onto the Times Square screens?

I haven't processed it yet.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope I'll have a happy life, I hope to do well, I hope I'll have everything I've ever wanted.

What singer do you think changed the way society thinks with his lyrics?

There's a lot of those, too.

What are you proud of?

That's an interesting question. I guess the fact I'm finally at an ease of mind like I haven't been in a long time.

If you could choose, would you want to be on stage with Michael Jackson, Prince or Karel Gott?

All three, but at different concerts.

What was the last thing that made you cry?

When the tour ended.

What was the last good deed you did?

I don't know what is or isn't a good deed. Depends on how you feel about it.

The best cure for depression?

Getting to know yourself.
The interviewee asks the editor:

What are you having for lunch?

Something Asian, they have the best bun bo nam bo in town right around the corner here.
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