Interview: Karina Pasian Talks Shakir Stewart Tribute, Career Struggles, New Music
You knew that Karina was going to be special when she released her debut single “16 @ War” back in 2008. The subject matter was different and she was in a class of her own when it came to talent. Her debut album “First Love” was eventually nominated for a Grammy, but sadly it seems like Karina is still at war. She lost her mentor Shakir Stewart (former Senior Vice President of Island Def Jam) to suicide and the music that she stands for continues to get pushed to the back burner by the music industry. After some contemplating on her career direction, she’s decided that the most important thing is to stay true to herself and that is visible in her new song “Solitaire” which she wrote for Shakir Stewart. YouKnowIGotSoul had a chance to talk to Karina about the song, her upcoming music plans and the creative process of her debut album.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your latest song “Solitaire”. What inspired you to create it?
Karina Pasian: I wrote it from a personal experience of when I was signed to Def Jam. I was signed by my A&R Shakir Stewart who passed away by suicide. It took me a long time to finally write a song about it. It was really dear to me and I didn’t even realize that I was struggling with the whole situation that had happened. Finally after a while, I was able to express it in a song. I was trying to write a Pop song for someone like Demi Lovato at first, but it turned into “Solitaire”. It’s crazy how it just snuck up on me. It all came together really well and then teaming up with the Jed Foundation who support bringing awareness to suicide and depression.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your last project was “Trips to Venus” and we haven’t really heard from you since then. What’s the journey been like since that project?
Karina Pasian: Since that release, my life has just been a lot of trying to listen to myself, what I want and who I want to be. It’s just that young person time where you’re trying to discover who you are. I moved out to LA which was a shock to a lot of people because I was always really sheltered. I really needed that and to grow and experience things. I wanted to shape myself as a young adult because I was still in the old days. That’s what I’ve been up to lately. I’ve been working on some new music and it’s a whole different sound. It’s really true to who I am, so you’ll hear it soon.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know there was supposed to be a part 2 to “Trips to Venus”. Is that shelved?
Karina Pasian: There was a lot of transition stages with that and certain things happened that I didn’t really agree to. IT was just a lot of messy things, so it kind of impeded the process and halted it completely. I’m still working on releasing an EP, but I’m not sure if it’ll be the second part of “Trips to Venus”. I’m not sure if I want to close that chapter or expand on it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: With the way the industry changes so rapidly, has it been for you to find your lane? You’re a true vocalist and that’s a focal point in your music as opposed to some of the stuff on mainstream. Does it make it challenging for you at times?
Karina Pasian: Very challenging and that’s part of my growing process and why I’ve been a little quiet. It’s such a struggle and you listen to what’s going on. You start thinking “Okay, everyone is doing that so should I do that? Should I change my sound or should I stay true to what I’m doing and hopefully it’ll shine through?” Right now in this day and age, it’s just so easy for people who aren’t really vocally talented to shine through. At the end of the day, I’m staying true to myself. At the same time, I’m staying true to my fans and what they love from me because that’s what matters.
YouKnowIGotSoul: On your debut, you entered the industry at such a young age. Did you get to control the music or did the label provide you with directions?
Karina Pasian: I’m not dissing anyone, but I was so young so I thought I should follow directions. I think it hurt me, but at the same time, it helped me realize that I should definitely be a part of it. Even though the album was amazing and I loved every song, I look back at certain things and I don’t even remember what was going on because I was so in a trance of everyone saying “Do this” and I wasn’t really there. I feel like that’s what is so different from before where I’m here and I’m present in every moment. I’m involved with what I’m doing. Even though I was young and I should have listened to directions, I still wish that I could have at least spoken up sometimes.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Sonically, where’s your new music at?
Karina Pasian: I love so many types of music that it’s a struggle daily. I think right now, I still have my jazz influence but it’s very R&B/Pop. I don’t really want to label it, but it’s just what I feel and what I love. I love all the other stuff I’ve done, but I can feel the difference with what I’m doing now. It really flows through my body. *Laughs*
YouKnowIGotSoul: Are you going to release the music independently or with a major label?
Karina Pasian: I think I’m going to stay independent a bit. It’s hard and it’s the toughest thing ever, but I’ve got the gauge of who I am and what I want. I’m not waiting for anyone to do that. If someone catches a vibe, then come along.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Do you think about commercial success when you create music in the studio?
Karina Pasian: I think these past two years, that was a struggle. That’s why I was going back and forth with myself. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do because I wanted to stay current, but I also wanted to stay true to myself. What I’m doing now is staying true to myself. If you love it, you love it. I have to love it first and that’s what matters. How are you going to love it if I don’t? I’m not going to sit here and maneuver the type of stuff I do according to what’s happening. I think if I make a good body of work, it’ll shine.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you’d like to add?
Karina Pasian: Check out the tribute “Solitaire” on YouTube and go check out the Jed Foundation. They do amazing things to help people who are struggling with any type of depression or you know someone who is struggling, please reach out. It’s never too late to ask for help. Just check it out.