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| 30 October 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “KARYN CRISIS’ GOSPEL OF THE WITCHES are now streaming the entirety of their new album Covenant. The album was released October 25th via Aural Music. Karyn commented “Covenant is about the chthonic and celestial realms of the divine feminine, about liminal spaces where goddesses pull people deep into the earth’s fire, into astral travel and dreamy places to be bestowed sacred knowledge upon those who feel outcast, marginalized and unseen. A ‘Covenant’ is a type of devotion, an agreement with a larger force. In keeping with our first album, Covenant is charged music, ritualistic, and it is made through the process of channeling.” We spoke with Karyn about the new disc, touring, and much more…

Toddstar: Karyn, thank you so much for taking time out of your day. I know you’re very busy.

Karyn: You too, thank you.

Toddstar: The beauty of this conversation is I’m a fan. There’s been no press releases hitting my email, or anything like that; it’s just me following you and finding out about new stuff. So let’s inform the world. What can the world expect from the new release Covenant from Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches?

Karyn: Oh boy, good question. It’s definitely a Gospel of the Witches album, but you’ll for sure hear a progression. Actually, progression is probably not really the right word. I think different. There are links to the first album, but I would say this one is very different. We have a new drummer, and the musicians that you’ll hear on this album are just three. So Davide Tiso did all the compositions again, recorded all the guitars and the bass. And then our new drummer, Fabian Vestod, who also drums for Skinlab, brought a really different kind of energy to these songs. I’m doing all of my vocals on this album. The songs conceptually are really about the realm of female divinities. Some of the songs are sort of light and airy and beautiful and maybe a little bit sad and full of grief. Some of them sound very primal and fiery and like being in the belly of a volcano, where all the molten lava is churning. So there’s definitely different textures. It’s still a type of album that has creatively been channeled, so there’s a lot of charged energy in the album. It’s definitely an album that makes you feel something and takes you on whatever kind of journey you may be ready for. Sonically, the differences are kind of like what I described. The drumming and bass is a little bit more progressive or really tribal kind of beats that bring up more ancient rhythms. Davide’s guitars tend to delve into really beautiful rounds and then the really minor notes. On this album, some of them definitely evoke southern Italian traditional music. I also sing in Italian and a little bit of Latin on this album as well. As usual, it’s hard for me to describe music. Some people like to describe music in terms of genres. I’m someone who is really all about sensations, feelings, dreamscapes, and concepts, so it’s a little harder for me to put these things into words.

Toddstar: Yet, you’ve done that well, not only in the way you did describe everything, but in explaining the growth from the first Gospel of the Witches record. The journey is just as important to you as the end result. I know after the last album, you really went on a huge journey. You went overseas and did some research. Please fill us in a little bit on that, because I’d like to try and tie that to, as you called it, the progression into Covenant.

Karyn: At the time that Salem’s Wounds, our first album, was being written, I was starting to do some personal research into healers and witches and sorcerers in Italy and the history there partly because of things that I was experiencing in my meditations, like inside a trance, where I was seeing things and writing them down and hoped that one day I would find out if it was just my imagination or if these were little snippets perhaps of history presenting themselves to me. So after Salem’s Wounds was released and the band played a few live shows, I went back to Italy on a personal journey to research what this whole world was about. I ended up getting so many invitations from people who knew healers or witches in rural places, like almost 3,000 feet up in the air in mountain tops, deep in the forest somewhere, in little valleys and places. I found out about all of these rural traditions in Italy and a lot of the history of how it was mixed with a lot of rumor, superstition, socioeconomic competition, and all of these different things that I ended up turning into a book called Italy’s Witches and Medicine Women Volume One, because so many people who don’t normally take visitors or do interviews invited me into their homes, and so many Italians helped me criss-cross all over Italy to do these amazing adventures, and I felt like I should honor those stories. It became a really huge turning point in my life; I spent two years writing this book and learning a lot about Italy from Italians and historians and rural medicine women and everything in between, and it’s something that I’m still doing. I’m working on more books about that. So of course, my own spiritual practice has evolved because of that. My own understanding of the roots of magic and healing and sorcery has changed because of that. So naturally, on the receiving side of that, my creative expression in music would change, which is certainly what this album expresses while I work on the other books.

Toddstar: When you tie all that together, you move from Salem’s Wounds into your travels, into your personal introspection because, as you said, you were looking into healers; that leads into something else you do with the Karyn Crisis Heals website ( How did you bridge the two pieces of music using that kind of as the conduit? Do you think that it altered your writing or where you pulled your inspiration from going on this journey?

Karyn: Well, I’m a medium, which is really a big part of how I write, whether it’s music, whether it’s paintings that I make, or whether it’s the books that I’m now writing, is I really am guided into places in my meditations joined by spirit, the spirit world, the spirit world of helpers, like divinities, gods and goddesses, different types of indigenous guides, ancestors, healers. So these really interesting bits of information and experiences are brought to me from the spirit world, and then I ended up finding evidence for them in Italian history at a later date. Whether we’re talking about a magic ritual or a simple tradition or some historical interesting historical facts, those are all brought to me in meditations first, and then later I’ve found documentation or evidence that this is a tradition, that this is a historical reality. That’s really the way I’m informed about everything I do. For example, Davide is a really prolific composer and so is our drummer Fabian. They both are songwriters and they spend all their time working on music and composing and expressing themselves that way. I have to go where my guides guide me. When they want me to write a book, poof, I write a book. When they want me to do the new Gospel album, poof, it comes. I basically listen to how the songs want to be sung melodically, and I see that… I see little movies in my mind. I go to sing the melody lines for the songs, I see shapes and colors. It’s really non-musical. Then the words are really about also whatever I receive. I sit down and say, ‘What is it you want me to say?’ those words and those concepts come through. I’m really guided. I live my life half in the physical earthly world rather clumsily, and I live half my life in the spirit world. All my creative support, energy, focus, and direction – what some people call the muse – really comes from my guides when they want to push me into a direction. If you want to talk about this idea that we were toying with of progression, there were a lot of Italians on the first album, and this time, it’s just two men who were born in Italy, Italians who were born and bred in Italy, and me. And there’s three of us, the magic number three, which is a very prevalent number in Italian magic, in Italian sorcery, and in Italian healing. Some of these things you plan and some of these things you’re guided to find. That’s really what’s interesting for me about my work – I don’t have a typical artistic process. A lot of artists I know devote some time to their sketchbooks, and they really put a lot of work into honing their skills. Musicians that I know, they play all the time, and they give this time, this devoted time, to their passion. And I don’t feel like an artist or a musician or a writer or any of those things. I’m a medium, and so a lot of my time is devoted to my communications with the spirit world. That’s where I really communicate directly or receive influence into what creative direction I focus on. If I surrender to that, then things just open up, and I’m flooded. I call it downloaded. I download information and ideas, and they’re in line with things that I’m interested in, of course, but then they’re loaded with things that have obviously taken me on a historical journey, or they’ve taken me on a journey that’s a little bit bigger than just my earthly personal self thankfully, because I think my earthly personal self can be very limited and boring sometimes. All humans feel like, “Oh, there’s just no possibilities today.” Then the spirit world comes along and says, “Hey, there’s endless knowledge and possibilities.” That’s how I work, which is different from the way that most people work.

Toddstar: It’s what makes you different, not only in personality, but sonically from everybody else. Looking at the album and the track list Karyn – this project grabbed me from “Woman of the World,” because it kind of caught me a little different. It opened up the album in a great way in my mind. Listening through some of the lyrics, there were a couple songs that seemed that they would really strike personal notes. Are there a couple of songs that you remember just really wrenching into you as you were putting the words down as they were coming through you?

Karyn: They all really were. Every album for me has its challenges, and I like those challenges. They’re brutally introspective. Sometimes you have to get over physical obstacles. Like, where can I rehearse? How can I get my body in shape? Things like this. But this album was kind of gut wrenching. I guess the way I would say it is feeling the emotions and the energy of what we would call like a divine feminism, like different forms of intelligence that have presented themselves throughout history as goddesses from different cultures, which is what this album presents. I didn’t realize there was so much grief. I knew there was a lot of power. Some of that power is scary. Some of it is sad and beautiful, and some of it’s really uplifting. But there is a real grief there. Since pre-Roman ages, we’ve all been seeing the world through masculine eyes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the world has really sort of forgotten the idea of the Great Mother and everything coming through that sort of feminine energy. The universe exists in the womb and that everyone comes through the womb no matter what color, what race, what gender. So there is a lot of grief that I felt when writing these stories, whether they were like love songs sort of from the divinities towards humans, because some of them do sound like sort of broken-hearted love songs. There was a tremendous amount of grief and emotion from this feeling of being overlooked and being forgotten. In our foundational spiritual practices, they were matrilineal, and the great goddess was just like the symbol of abundance. Whatever people need, we’re here to give you from the spirit world: plant cures based on plants that are in your neighborhood, knowledge on how to deliver your own babies and survive. All of this knowledge that was needed was really given women because they were birthing the population. But our times have really sort of pushed that to the side. So I feel this energy, over the last few years, of these guides, these feminine divinities thinking they’re still here to help you. There are other ways to live in the world. There are other ways to heal your body. There are other ways to calm your emotions. And so there’s this desire to reconnect. It’s like a big love story. It’s like this heartbreak of being forgotten and relegated as not being as important as the masculine side of life and God and acquiring things. A desire to help everyone; help people evolve by honoring their emotions and their inner worlds. So that was one of the really hard things. Sometimes I would go park on the side of the road, on the industrial road, and think for hours, so I wouldn’t disturb my neighbors. One of the hardest things was sometimes just seeing all this emotion come up, and I’d feel like I needed to cry. Sometimes I would just stop and let all of this sort of spiritual heartbreak come out. And that was really the hardest thing because I’m like, “Well, okay, ladies,” as I call my guides. I’m like, “Hey, ladies, we’ve got to reel this in a little bit because I also have to sing, and I can’t sing if I’m bubbling up and heaving these incredible sobs of reconnection along with sadness of being disconnected.” That’s one of the surprising things that can happen, whether you’re an artist or have a spiritual path or not, is feeling the emotions of other people and connecting with those emotions. That was a real surprise being challenged. It was quite devastating at times.

Toddstar: I can only imagine. I love this album and cannot wait to get a physical copy of it. One thing that I’ve been waiting for for years is to see Karyn Crisis and Gospel of the Witches on a stage in Detroit.

Karyn: I really hope it happens. The band is rehearsing right now, and we are just about done locking in really spectacular members, which Davide, Fabian, and I are building the band. We’ve been rehearsing, and our plan is to take things live. Of course, the challenge, especially a band like us that doesn’t really have financial support, and like you said earlier, there’s very little media support from lovely people like you. It’s hard to go everywhere you need to go, but we’ve really set our hearts and minds on doing some spectacular, quality shows. It’s not really about quantity. We want to give people an experience. So we’ve been really working hard on getting the right people involved, because life is hard for a lot of people these days. They have to hold down jobs, and there’s all the inner workings that are borne with the logistics and time and money, but it’s something that we’re really working on right now. We’re rehearsing every week to make it happen. Since we’ve lived here on the West Coast for so many years, we’ve had some opportunities to play live. Of course, on the East Coast from my days in Crisis, there’s wonderful places who want to welcome us back and a nice fan base. Everything in between is a little bit more challenging because of the logistics and letting people know there’s a show. Let’s really hope that it can happen, at least in a few cities this year, because it’s something we really, really, really love doing and want to do. Let’s just hope that it’s in the plans for us.

Toddstar: The reason I ask is the two albums lend themselves to that live vibe, where not only can the crowd feed off of what you’re giving, but you can feed off of what the crowd will give you back when these songs hit them.

Karyn: Absolutely. We really, really enjoy feeling that power in our rehearsals, too. When you’re doing anything in a group where there’s an energy involved that transforms you, it’s a very, very exciting thing. We all love that feeling and definitely want to bring it.

Toddstar: You mentioned that you didn’t have the big label and all of that; let’s talk about that for a second. If my reading is correct, you guys are putting this out on your own label, Golden Viper Records. What’s it like to kind of be in charge with all this thing from infancy to realization?

Karyn: It’s really our own imprint. We signed with a label called Aural Music in Italy. They are going to be selling the vinyl. I think they’re selling pink and black vinyl and CD’s. They’re focusing mostly on Europe, but they will have distribution in America. For people wanting CD’s and colored vinyl that are different from the ones the band is selling, you can get those through online distributors. I don’t really know what those outlets are yet. But they gave us the option, which is a really beautiful thing for bands. One of the reasons I love this label’s attitude is they gave us the option of printing whatever we want on our own imprint. It’s the same imprint we used when Century Media signed us, and it was sort of like our crowd-fund helpers, which is Golden Viper Recordings. We are having printed… they’re in the process… our own double vinyl sets in fluorescent violet, so people can order them directly from us. This is also great if we go on tour – we can make our own CD’s, vinyl, and shirts and have access to that. Also, people who want to buy the vinyl in Europe and other countries can do that more affordably. For example, as a band, having your own label located in one place and sending vinyl and CD’s overseas, the postage is ridiculous. People have to pay a heaving shipping charge. There are also struggles. We’re not really acting like a label. Aural Music is doing the business side of things. We like the fact that we have access to our music and can print what we want whatever way we want, and make it available to our fans directly on our website, It just feels really exciting, versus being on a label where you don’t really have access to that. When Salem’s Wounds came out, the band started raising funds for that through a crowdfunding campaign. We did it through Kickstarter, and we didn’t get all the funding we needed, so Kickstarter cancelled the fundraising and gave those monies on hold back to the people who contributed. Then our fans are like, “Start one on Indiegogo.” So we moved it over to Indiegogo kind of quickly, and then people were able to rededicate their funds to Indiegogo. Century Media came in right at the end and said, “Hey, we’d like to license your album, and we’ll be like your last crowd funder to help you get everything made and do press and things like that.” Before our second album option came into play, they were bought by Sony and Gospel of the Witches got dropped. I’m really unhappy about the way the music business treats fans. I wasn’t unhappy to be dropped from Sony because I would hear things like, “Oh, your voice is too weird. Oh, your band is too weird. You’re never going to make any money for us.” And I don’t really need to hear those kinds of things. Either you want to work with me or you don’t. You know what I mean? I don’t want you to work with me and then give me all of these positions like, “Well, don’t expect much because you’re really worth nothing.” That’s really not a creative relationship. It’s been a couple of years since, and I’ve been trying to get my hands on whatever vinyl and CD’s are left, and no one really wants to talk to me and help me get those things. As a musician, I feel like I’m really kind of locked away from my own music. Why did I hand over my rights to these people? These are the kinds of questions I ask. They sound a little bit harsh, but that’s how I feel about it. Being able to print our own thing is really nice. It gives me some access to my own music. It gives the band access, too. Instead of having to have vinyl shipped all the way from Europe, which is also expensive for a label, I can produce our own over here and sell those to fans directly.

Toddstar: I know you’re busy, so I want to try and keep this brief, but it’s always so fun to speak with you. You hear so much about people being starstruck. When’s the last time that you were starstruck? And I ask this only because you’re so introspective, and some of these things may or may not matter to you. But when’s the last time you saw an artist, whether it be in music or writing or whatever, and you were just taken aback?

Karyn: Oh, boy. This is a really bad time period to ask me this because, because of my writing schedule and traveling and teaching so much the last few years, I really have no social life other than the workshops I give and rehearsals. I would say, on a different level, like maybe on a more grounded level, I’m regularly blown away by people. For example, when I’m in rehearsal with my band mates and I look around the room when we’re in the middle of this incredible transformation of playing these songs, and there’s this power coming out, and it makes me feel like a proud parent where I’m like, “Wow.” It’s people that you know on a social level, in a different way, or not at all. They’re doing this incredible thing, and we’re all connected by this flow of energy. Those kinds of things hit me. Or when I have friends that I connect with, which hasn’t been as much lately as I’d like to do, when they’re like, “Oh, I’m doing this new project, or I got this new promotion at work,” and they’re living their dreams. They’re focusing on moving through challenges, and they arrived to some really exciting new place. Those kinds of things make me excited, like the little daily life transformations, because I think, as a whole, life is harder for people economically, social pressure, questions about politics. When I see people I know on a daily basis or on a regular daily life basis achieving their goal, whatever that goal is, that’s the kind of thing that really jazzes me up, and I feel super excited. Like, “Look at that. You moved past your limitations. You made magic.” That’s really the kind of thing that tickles me. Also, I go to Italy, and I’m just blown away that people want to help me get around Italy, and I’m blown away at some of their attitudes of like living in the present moment and how much joy they get from just being around their friends and living in the daily moment. And then they’ll take me to this house of some old lady who cures a specific disease, and I show up with my pink dreadlocks, and somehow she’s not judging me. She just opens her heart to me and gives me this love and maybe gives me a cure, and I’ll try some cures. That’s really the kind of thing that makes my heart melt lately, is going to spiritual extremes of learning everything my curious mind could ever want to know about things that are hard to put into words. I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for, but those are the kind of things that really blow me away on a daily basis, partly because of the way I live. I’m someone who travels a lot. My things are in storage. I don’t have my own home, so I’m really almost like a wanderer. So my life is all about making something from nothing. Maybe that’s probably also why I’m not such a starstruck person. I think when I was younger I was someone who looked up to musicians and things like that, but I never really have been a starstruck person. I don’t really get nervous or things like that. I’m inspired by what’s around me, I guess.

Toddstar: On the flip side of that, what’s it like for you when you get that person who looked up to you all those years ago and gets a chance to meet you, and they’re stumbling over themselves because they’re starstruck by Karyn Crisis?

Karyn: That always is a little bit weird for me, not because of the way they approach me. When I’ve met people who know me because of music I did and it meant something to them, it’s a really beautiful moment to meet someone, and I love those moments just because of the way people are telling me that I meant something to them in their life. I think it takes a certain amount of vulnerability to do that. There was a time in the past, and I won’t mention the man’s name, but I was playing with a show, a show with a band that, at that time, I really, really admired, and they were really horrible to me based on some personal grievance they had with someone in my band. I wasn’t even a part of that grievance. I didn’t even know the people involved, but they choose to make a dramatic thing about it. So I was kind of heartbroken. Like, “Oh, I opened my heart to these people. I was so excited to play with them, and because of something I don’t even know existed, they’re giving me the cold shoulder.” So when people approach me, I just am super happy to meet them and find out what their life is like and what they do. But it is a little bit weird to me when people bring up the past, only because I’m someone who so lives in the moment, that it blows me away. I’m really honored that the music of my past has helped so many people. And I still get emails. “Your song helped me through this. Your music inspired me to do this.” Yeah, that’s something that still makes me weepy-eyed. I feel really honored by it, and it touches me deeply, even though I don’t necessarily feel connected to that part of my life so much anymore, I’m blown away that that means something to someone, and so I’m always really deeply honored to meet people who let me know that. Just to know what they went through on their own, but also like, wow, I can’t believe that I impacted someone, because at that time of my life, I was also struggling with my own stuff, but I was determined to transform myself at least when I was working on my music. So it’s really an honor to meet people who that meant something to in some way.

Toddstar: I know you’re busy, so I’ve got one more for you, if you don’t mind, Karyn.

Karyn: Of course.

Toddstar: You’ve gone on this journey more than a few years now. But if you could go back and talk to 1994 Karyn when you decided to put yourself out there, because whether you were a medium back then or a medium in training just on a smaller level, but when you first jumped into the public foray and put yourself out there and exposed yourself really, if you could go back and tell yourself something then that you know now, what would that piece of advice to yourself be?

Karyn: At that time, I felt very alone and like I had no one that I could look to for guidance on how to navigate all those waters. I really did trust myself. I would definitely reinforce that – “trust your own heart and your own instincts above all else, and don’t worry. It will get better.” It was such an emotional time, and it kind of makes me cry to think about it.

Toddstar: I’m sorry to lead you down that road.

Karyn: No, that’s okay, because I’ve always had a warrior spirit, and that helped me do it in a public way, which made me get past my fears of being in public. I would definitely tell myself to trust yourself above anyone else, and you have a value no matter what anyone says. That was a time period of music where there weren’t a lot of women, so I found myself the center of curiosity for people. It could be hard to handle it sometimes. I had to work on keeping strong boundaries there for myself to protect myself because I really didn’t feel like anyone else was interested in doing that. It was an experience I wouldn’t change for anything. It was really growing in a lot of different ways: bands I met, people I met. I loved the challenge of touring and taking my body to its physical limits and overcoming and triumphing. It was really a lot about triumph and personal successes and a lot of incredible energy created on stage. I’m not saying that it was a negative thing. I definitely don’t want to say that at all, but being a little female on tour, there were times where people would try to bully you or say really inappropriate things. I had no problem taking care of myself in that moment, but it did make me feel really isolated at times, which I’m also really good at handling. It would have been nice to maybe not feel quite so alienated. But then maybe I wouldn’t be the person I am as a result of having just myself and my instincts. Tours were really when a lot of my psychic abilities that were already there, my medium mystic abilities did grow because I would get a lot of messages. Like, “Watch out for this promoter; they’re going to rip you off.” Or, “Be careful. A fight’s about to break out.” Or, “You can’t trust this person even though they seem nice.” Or, “This is a great opportunity. Go for it.” So my sort of intuitive senses really did protect me more than people did.

Toddstar: Much like when we spoke just before Salem’s Wounds was coming out, I’m truly honored that you carve some time out of your day to talk about Covenant and everything else going on. And I want to remind everybody this is going to be written, but I still want them to make sure that they go out to the website and order their own version or copy of Covenant as well as checking out; maybe buy some cool art, check out some cool videos, and just kind of track where you’re going and what you’re doing with different lectures and classes.

Karyn: Thank you so much. You’re awesome. I really appreciate all of your enthusiasm and also for taking the time out of your day. Thank you so much.

Toddstar: Well, thanks, Karyn. And hopefully, we’ll talk to you soon and get some live dates out there.

Karyn: Yeah, it would be nice to see you on the road. Let’s hope. Have a great day.








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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