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INTERVIEW: KARYN CRISIS of Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches – January 2015

| 29 January 2015 | 1 Reply

In the latest edition of Where Are They Now, we get a chance to talk to prolific song screamstress Karyn Crisis.  After taking the world by storm with the metal band Crisis, Karyn seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth and retreated into obscurity.  As we will discover, this was more of a self-instigated resignation from the public and limelight of the stage and music industry.  After becoming more self-aware, Karyn once again decided to grace the music world with her presence in Ephel Duath on the release Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness.  Working with the driving force behind that band, Davide Tiso, Karyn is unleashing her next project, KARYN CRISIS’ GOSPEL OF THE WITCHES and it’s self-titled release, expected March 10 2015 in North America.  Luckily, I was given some of Karyn’s time via phone one crazy Monday night…


Toddstar: Thank-you so much for taking time out of your schedule. I know you’re so busy with everything you’ve got going on right now.

Karyn: Oh, thank-you so much though for your interest.

Toddstar: Always a Karyn Crisis fan, regardless of the project.

Karyn: Oh, thanks.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about it. You’ve got this great new project coming out, getting ready to drop a great new disk with a single. The first track is great, “Mother.” What can you tell us about Gospel of the Witches?

Karyn: Gospel of the Witches is definitely a new place in my musical evolution, I guess, and in my life. When I left Crisis, I wasn’t interested in making any music for a while. I really wanted to find out more about… I literally told the universe, “I want to know more about what’s happening with me,” and what I meant by that was I’ve been having a lot of premonitions, sometimes I could see dead people in the room, and all those kind of things you hear about in the psychic world. I share some people’s thoughts or having strange incidences were I could heal an animal, all of these interesting things happening. There were a couple of signs on tour where there was a certain amount of danger happening and I always felt like there were angels around me. I called on the angels to sort of help us avoid a severe accident, for example. Having situations where we did… we got saved from the accident, but there were observable things to those incidences that other people saw that we’re wondering what was happening here, because it wasn’t something simple to the eye. I was having a lot of this stuff happen to me and I just decided that I wanted to go find out more of what all of this is all about. As I did, I started learning more about what I could call myself, like that I’m a medium. That’s how I communicate with people who aren’t in their bodies any more, whether you want to call them ghosts or spirit guides. I understood what healing arts were and how they worked. I started to get a certain amount of training in these areas and trying to understand how to organize them and help myself and heal my own self and my own health issues and understand it mind and how it works and how it sometimes helps me do great things. Sometimes it’s my worst enemy. I wanted to understand what all of these things meant. At a certain point in the journey, I felt like, “Okay, it’s time to make music again.” Long story short, I ended up in Tuscany, Italy staying in a little guest house with Davide Tiso there. We were supposed to work on my solo album. He’d already been composing it and we began to know each other through emails. We were already having some also interesting experience there. Whenever his email would arrive, I would feel this intense energy in my chest in the area, near my heart. Sometimes it’d literally lift me partly out of the bed. I would run to my computer and I would see that he just sent me an email. Before I arrived at that guest house, he said, “I feel like there’s a presence waiting for you here.” When I arrived at that guest house, I would spend a couple of… my psychic senses just really opened. They already had been opening as a result of learning some healing techniques and everything I’d been learning. I would literally wake up in the morning, stand near some water like in the bathroom for a couple of hours. This woman, in spirit, this ghost witch you could call her, began teaching me a lot more than what I was learning from books and things. I had to explain this to Davide, of course, and she started teaching me a lot about this world, if you will. We sort of traveled around Italy, made some plans to finish or start the new album again once we came back to the U.S. When we arrived back there, this witch spirit followed us. That’s when I began to learn who she was in Italian history and what her connection was there. She was teaching me about who I am. I started training as a medium and doing all sorts of things that you hear about on TV, like helping spirits cross into the light and going to haunted house calls, training the mediums, doing readings for people in a very technical way. Somewhere along the line there, I kept trying to connect to music. Davide had been writing a lot of music. He’s a very prolific song writer. We kept trying to find this atmosphere that I was looking for. Some of the atmospheres already there in his songs, it was a matter of me trying to figure out as I was growing with this side of my world … my inner world, or my secret world, how do I talk about this out in the world? What do I sing about when I get back to times of singing? Long story short, as all this growing kept going on and the song writing kept going on, this guide told me her name is Erabia and she was helping me understand a lot of the history that witches went through in Europe and all the things they were actually able to accomplish through medium shift and why it was a threat to the church. I was learning all this stuff in this communication with the spirit. Then I was able to go substantiate it in actual books. This was very exciting for me. At a certain point I finally felt like, “Okay, I’m ready to sing now. I want to talk about these things. She’s taught me so much. This is what I want to express.” We started working on some paintings at first. I still guess I wasn’t quite ready to sing again. We would work on paintings in my mind’s eye, if you will, and then paint them. She would sort of help give me technical advice to paint a little bit beyond my skill set. When it came time to the songs, I listened to some of the songs Davide had recorded for me. We recorded “Salem’s Wounds” as a sketch track. We were like, “Okay, this is it. We’re here. Karyn is connected and ready to go.” After I could kind of feel the atmosphere and the concept in my mind, everything happened very quickly after that. I have to see something in my imagination or my mind’s eye, and then I can make it happen. Instead of like a sketching or jamming, I have to create that way. Then it all happened kind of quickly. I had decided to sort of make it all about these things that I have learned and some of the experiences Davide and I had had together, to set the record straight on some things regarding these matters too.


Toddstar: It’s a very cool back story, because your origins in metal and rock really… I mean, it’s who you are, but you evolved so much to get to this point. The music has grown and moved with you just based on what I’ve heard. It’s nice to get that back story, so the fans of Crisis or anything else that you’ve done, when they grab this, yeah it’s Karyn Crisis, but it’s not Karyn Crisis in the respect that they’re used to.

Karyn: Absolutely. Well you know, that was the one thing when I had originally felt that it was time to make music again, I definitely did not… I didn’t know… as a musician, I didn’t know how to say, “This is what I want to do.” I have to search again for that feeling or that atmosphere. I definitely didn’t want to try and recreate what I’d already done. First of all, I wasn’t fully that woman anymore. Second of all, I always just think it’s a really bad idea to try to capture something that happened very naturally. You’re just not going to make it happen. That involved me letting go, letting go of who I knew myself as and being grateful for everything I went through, but moving into my new experiences. Those were really heavy days for me in Crisis. I was going through so much internally that I didn’t really tell people about. The music for me was the catharsis. The music for me was like the transformation. That’s when I could be my warrior self. In daily life, it was really hard for me to just get through my life, like a lot of people. Now, it’s not that I’m not touched by that same thread of darkness. It’s just that I have a lot more tools now in how to deal with that. I understand a lot more about who I am, which is what anybody is capable of being naturally. For some people, I am sure this will be different, but along the way I’ve had people telling me, even in the early days of Crisis, “You’re a shaman, don’t you know that?” I was like, “Well, what’s a shaman? I don’t know.” People would recognize some of these things that I’m saying now about myself. There are people along the way that recognized those things before I knew what to call them. They would try to tell me, but I was one of those people who didn’t… I didn’t ever take a supernatural class or a psychic class. I didn’t ever study the witches. I was just busy being me. I kind of had to come at it from the reverse angle of saying, “Okay, well who am I? What am I supposed to call myself? What am I supposed to call all these beings who I’ve always been? In learning what to call them, will these help improve my life and my way of functioning?”

Toddstar: Great. In writing this album, again I can’t wait to hear the whole thing, but when you were putting this together, you mentioned earlier you wanted to tell the stories. You wanted to get some stories straight. You wanted to lay some history out there. How much of this album, in its theme, will be bits and pieces of Karyn as well? Not just the fact that you wrote the songs, but how much of this will be, “This is me. This isn’t just a concept album. This isn’t just me laying out there the stuff about witches and history and especially the European vein.” How much of this is going to be, “This is where Karyn’s at in her beliefs and her train of thought?”

Karyn: Well, that’s the interesting thing about the songs is they’re layered. There’s a general stream of the lyrics and vocals going on in every song that are more about my personal journey. You should be able to recognize that. I know Davide has told me that my lyrics definitely read different than they have in the past. You can still tell it’s me, but it’s a different part of the journey. There’s definitely, in each song if you will, a confessional that is about me. Then when each song gets into maybe more like the choruses or the parts where the song becomes powerful and more layered, that’s when some of the history comes in or the magical words or the bright light intentions are layered in there. That’s a very interesting thing is that it’s layered with my personal journey along with everything else that I’ve learned.

Toddstar: With that being said, going through the process, once you decided that, “Okay, now is the time. I feel good about where I’m at in my life and my place with the universe,” once you made the commitment to doing this, what was the hardest part of the process for you?

Karyn: It was really hard for me to kind of come out of my cave. I’ve been here in San Francisco… I’m not a prolific song writer again, like I was saying, as Davide is. I have to have some music to work against, and I have to be able to find my way into it. It took some time there too, like I worked on… I did vocals for his Ephel Duath album, and I was doing a lot of painting. I was doing a lot of public teaching about the psychic senses and the medium shift. I was training people actually. I became involved in the spiritual community of mediums here. I kind of grew really quickly there and began teaching those people. Coming out of the broom closet or the medium closet, is definitely… It’s a little nerve racking, and just the idea of going public again was a bit nerve racking for me because I’d been trying to hide away, as you could say, to do my own thing. That time came to an end, and I had to accept it. It was partly my own will and intention and partly the will and intention of the album for it to be out there. For me, that was really the hardest part, just having faith that it would all work out from just an idea into a full blown album and band.

Toddstar: Okay, fair enough. You mentioned you’ve been San Francisco for some time now. You also mentioned coming out of that medium closet. Does that mean a tour is looming, Karyn?


Karyn: Well hopefully. We have a couple of shows on the East coast coming up, the 28th of March in Clifton Park and the 29th in Brooklyn. The goal is to definitely get the full-fledged tour going on. That’s one of the things we’re working on right now along with finally having all the art work done and a release date for the album. Keep your fingers crossed as we are here, because we’d all really love to do that.

Toddstar: I want to say, you’ve been very, very, very missed in Detroit.

Karyn: Aww, thank-you.

Toddstar: It’s been a long time since we’ve been graced by Karyn Crisis here in Detroit, so we miss you here. Let’s talk about you for a minute, Karyn. For the people who are familiar with some of your more recent work and getting familiar with this new song and the album as it gets ready to come out. What made you, way back when, decide this was the route that you wanted to take, that you wanted to be a performer, that you wanted to stand on stage and please the masses?

Karyn: It’s kind of a strange thing, because I’ve always been a very, very introverted person, especially when I was a kid. I mean painfully introverted. I like to play piano. I took piano lessons. I wanted to be a gypsy, so I took violin lessons. I spent time creating in my room. I’m very much like I am now, though now I’m a bit more social. I had always connected to music on the radio and I started listening to college radio before I went to college, because I lived just outside of Chicago. I heard all sorts of wild stuff there. There was a great music scene in Chicago, so I was exposed to all of that stuff. I was always looking for something heavier and darker, but what I found first was a lot of industrial and experimental music. I just kind of… I just felt this impulse like I want to do this. I want to make music too, which is kind of hard to do if you’re an introvert. You don’t have any friends to make a band with, but I bought myself a copy of a Gibson hollow body guitar from the thrift store and learned how to use a four track. I would record music in my house. I was a tomboy so I had a couple of guy friends that I could borrow instruments from. I started making my own demos when I was like in middle school and then in high school. It was a side of me that I called the siren song. You know the story of the siren is that you just… You can hear her and you know there’s danger, but you just can’t close your hears, you have to go investigate. That’s been my relationship with music. As I grew into high school years and started going to see shows, I was like, “I should be doing this. This is what I want to do.” I auditioned for a band and played with them for a little bit, but it didn’t really go anywhere. When I left Chicago for New York City for my one and only year of art college at Parsons, I did a lot of open mikes with some musician friends of mine, and I kept recording my own demos. After that year was when I moved down by, sort of by the World Trade Center. My roommate at the time, or my housemate, knew one of the guys in Crisis and introduced us. Then I got invited to audition. It’s just always been there since I was a child that I want to make music and I want to be in a band, which totally goes against my very introverted nature.

Toddstar: That’s awesome. That’s a cool story. Well listen, I know you’re busy and I know you’ve got a ton going on, so I’ve got one more for you before I cut you loose. With everything going on and with everything you’ve experienced and all the self-realization and revelation you’ve had over the last few years, and incorporating that into your personal and professional life, with everything going on around you, at this point and time for you, what’s the meaning of life?


Karyn: The meaning of life is really remembering, and you may have heard it said for remembering that we’re not just a finite physical body. That’s the whole journey in itself, is understanding the eternal energy there and how to, as you learn that, how to understand that you have a co-creative process in your life, that you’re not just a victim of circumstance, that you can change a lot of things. You can use your ability to connect with that eternal energy of yours and to find a way to as they say, “follow your heart,”. Your soul is always trying to speak to you through your heart, but then you know we’ve got our stubborn will, which is so closely connected to our physical body and are life on earth and we forget that this is just an illusion here. The purpose of life is to try to remember that and see through it and then experience the universe through the reflection of life on earth. If you can do that, life starts to have meaning and it can be fun and you can take your creative ability to a whole new level for yourself and others.

Toddstar: Well, thank you so much for sharing that. I knew it would be a very thought provoking answer, because of the searching you’ve done over the last few years. As much as I wanted to lead with that question, I knew ending with it would be the best thing ever, so thank-you for sharing the thought with us.

Karyn: Thank-you. I hope I get to meet you in Detroit. I hope we get back there this year and I look forward to that.

Toddstar: Oh definitely, and trust me, I will be getting in touch with Nikki to make sure that that happens when it happens. Again, Karyn, thank-you so much for sharing your time with us, and we cannot wait until this project sees the light of day for the whole world to consume.

Karyn: Thank-you so much! You are awesome Todd, I really appreciate it.

Toddstar: All right, Karyn, we’ll talk to you soon.

Karyn: Sounds good, Todd.








Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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