Karina Interview

Karina Pasian
Artist:Karina Pasian
Label:VY Records, LLC
Next Project:First Love (Aug 19)
Twitter:Karina Pasian on Twitter
Website:Karina Pasian's Website

At 16-years-old, most teenagers haven’t even begun working; let alone landed a job they will hold for the majority of their lives.  In the case of talented musician Karina Pasian, however, 16 years already represents 13 years of work in the job of her dreams.  A native of Washington Heights, New York, Karina began playing piano at the age of three. 

Having received a pre-conservatory music degree upon graduating eighth grade, Karina was destined for success in the industry.  At 10 she met famed-produced Quincy Jones (who was named her godfather) and after several more years of vocal training and performances around the world, the Dominican-American teen signed a landmark deal with Def Jam.  Later this summer, Karina will release her debut, “First Love.”

In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s DJZ,” Karina steps inside the booth to discuss her singing fluency in seven different languages, the importance of tackling teenage peer pressure, why her debut will include the theme of female empowerment, and which iconic singer was her musical ‘first love’.

Listen to the Interview

    Download Download Interview (MP3)
    iTunes Subscribe to the iTunes Podcast

Karina Pasian Interview Transcription

DJ Booth:  What’s goin’ on everybody?  It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a young lady who will reveal her First Love on August 19th.  Please welcome Def Jam recording artist Karina – how you doin’?

Karina:  Hey, I’m good.

DJ Booth:  Thank you so much for joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth.

Karina:  No problem.

DJ Booth:  I read you can sing in seven different languages.

Karina:  Yes, seven.

DJ Booth:  Wow.  I can’t even speak right in English, but you can sing in seven different languages – very impressive!

Karina:  Thank you.

DJ Booth:  What did you go about doing, during that whole process of learning the different languages?

Karina:  Well, my first language [was] Russian.  I just had an open ear to different languages, and when I was young I was in the choir, and in the choir we used to sing different languages like Hebrew and German.  So, just growin’ up in a really diverse environment with Russian vocal coaches, and just bein’ able to adapt to the different languages was just something that came a little natural.

DJ Booth:  Out of English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Turkish, and French, which was the hardest to learn?

Karina:  The hardest I would say would be Arabic and Turkish – it’s like a whole different scale, and the pronunciation are different.

DJ Booth:  Could you give us a little taste of one of them?

Karina:  Of Turkish?

DJ Booth:  Sure!

Karina:  I can do that.  [singing in Turkish]

DJ Booth:  That was beautiful.  Now comes the translation part; what did you just sing?

Karina:  The translation?

DJ Booth:  In English.

Karina:  I haven’t sang that song in a long time; I don’t really remember what I’m singing.

DJ Booth:  You know what?  It doesn’t matter, ‘cause it was beautiful.

Karina:  [laughter]

DJ Booth:  Just like the very talented Alicia Keys, you can tickle the ivories in addition to your singing in multiple languages.  When it comes to performance, which skill do you feel that you excel at best – singing, or piano playing?

Karina:  Hm… that’s an interesting question.  I enjoy [doing] both.  I love singin’, because whenever I’m not around a piano I can just sing, and I’m always singin’.  When I play the piano I love expressin’ my feelings and everything through chords and melodies.  I guess I would just say both.  I know that’s the typical answer, but really, I just can’t imagine doing one or the other.

DJ Booth:  I read that you started playing piano earlier in your life than you did singing.  So what was more challenging to learn – was it piano, or to sing?

Karina:  I would say the piano, since I’ve been playing since [I was] three, and I went to school for classical piano.  So it was basically like, I went to school for it, and I had to practice outside of school, and I had performance classes in school and everything, so it was more dedication.  And singing came out of just love, and I just love to sing.

DJ Booth:  Well, you know what?  The end results is you do both very well, so it doesn’t really matter, right?

Karina:  Thank you. [laughter]

DJ Booth:  You’re welcome.  When I first heard your single, 16 At War, I immediately thought, “There is no way this girl is sixteen!”  At times, do you feel older than your age?

Karina:  I guess – sometimes, I guess I do.  But I don’t like to go beyond my years and feel like I’m too old.  I still have to cherish the fact that I’m a kid, because I know I’m gonna be wanting to have these days back.  I’m definitely taking advantage of the fact that I’m a kid.  I do have, I guess I would say, an old soul, ‘cause I love jazz, and listening to soft R&B, and all of the adult R&B and stuff.

DJ Booth:  Well, what’s interesting is, artists who get their start in this industry at such a young age, oftentimes can struggle to maintain an identity as they grow up, because their career forced them to miss out on the usual teenage routine.  So since you signed your recording contract, do you feel that you have missed out on anything?

Karina:  No, I wouldn’t say I have, ‘cause I still go to a public school, which is a performing arts school here in New York City, and it’s right around the Def Jam offices, too.  It’s just convenient, because the school is especially for people who are artists in the business, and when I’m on the road I get a tutor on location, and I still keep up with all my work, and I still have friends that support me a lot, and that know me for me.  It’s great, because I still get to hang out at home and chill with my family, and my family’s also with me on the road.  I don’t think I would say I miss out.

DJ Booth:  Well, that is a great, unique opportunity.  Let’s dive a little bit further into 16 At War.  You tackle peer pressure, and the effects that it can have on smoking.  So it’s reveal time now: what is something that you have set out not to do, that you were pressured into doing when you were out at a party, or with friends, which you have since regretted doing?

Karina:  I’ve never, never, ever, gone with the peer pressure, because I’m strictly against it, and I feel like it’s the wrong thing to be pressured into doing something that you don’t think is the right thing to do.  I come from a Christian background, and I have very big, strong morals.  No matter how many times people may pressure me, or just try to tell me to do it, I just never gave in.

DJ Booth:  Well, I’m sure your parents are very proud of the daughter they raised.  In your bio, Karina, you’re quoted as saying, “I wanted to do a song about what teenage girls go through in urban areas.”  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but since you did not grow up in that type of environment, do you feel that you completely understand what these girls do go through in these areas?

Karina:  I feel like I definitely do, because in my household I definitely didn’t go through all of that, but I still grew up in a neighborhood where I saw a lot of that goin’ on, and in my school and seein’ people that tell me about their stories, and all the girls talkin’ about what they go through, I definitely can see what they go through and how hard it is.

DJ Booth:  Karina, your godfather is famed record producer Quincy Jones; you’re very lucky.

Karina:  Yes. [laughter]

DJ Booth:  How much influence would you say that he has had on both your singing career and your signing of a major deal over at Def Jam?

Karina:  Well, I met Quincy Jones when I was about ten, and he named me as his musical godchild.  He has had a lot of influence.  He brought me to Rome, to an event, We Are the Future, when I was only twelve years old, and I sang at his tribute.  He also brought me to the Hispanic Heritage Awards, and he just got me experienced, and showed me to a lot of different people.  I guess he also helped in my signing, because I went to Interscope, and I went to a lot of different [labels], and he’s just influenced me a lot and given me a lot of good advice.

DJ Booth:  Well, in addition to Mr. Jones, you also have a lot of talented people around you that you’ve been working with on this upcoming album, including the writing/production duo of The-Dream and Tricky Stewart.  What has it been like working with the two of them in the studio?

Karina:  It’s been great.  It’s fun to see the process, and what they do in the studio, and just being around that.  They’re really talented writers and producers, and they’re just great to work with.

DJ Booth:  Well of course, they worked on 16 At War with you, and another song that’s going to make the album, Baby Baby, in which you basically put every boy and young man on this earth in their place, by letting them know that you are “not a toy in their toybox.”  But in all seriousness, Karina, will teenage female empowerment be a recurring theme on this debut?

Karina:  Definitely.  It definitely will, because I definitely respect myself, and I wanna show that females should respect themselves also, and just showing that we shouldn’t degrade ourselves just to feel like we’re cool or whatever.  I don’t know how exactly to put it…  The women nowadays… I’m not tryin’ to get at anybody but I’m sayin’, we shouldn’t have to degrade ourselves to get any guys, or to please anybody, so that’s basically what I’m talkin’ about in this whole entire album, that we should have respect for ourselves if we want people to respect [us].

DJ Booth:  And furthermore, you shouldn’t have to degrade yourself to sell records…

Karina:  Yeah, definitely.

DJ Booth:  We’re going to now play a game, based on the title of your debut album, First Love.  It’s gonna be called “Karina’s Firsts.”  I’m going to ask you several categories, and you’re going to share with me your first love in each.  For example, if you asked me my first sports love, I’d say football.

Karina:  Okay.

DJ Booth:  So, Karina’s first food love.

Karina:  Hm… rice and chicken, my grandma’s rice and chicken.

DJ Booth:  Rice and chicken… mmm, I’m hungry now!

Karina:  [laughter]

DJ Booth:  Karina’s first fashion accessory love.

Karina:  Layer necklaces.

DJ Booth:  Okay, see, I’m gonna go way back, because I’m an eighties baby – you remember slap bracelets at all?

Karina:  Slap bracelets?

DJ Booth:  Yeah, they were bracelets – guys and girls both wore ‘em – and you smacked your wrist with it, and it slapped it around as a bracelet?

Karina:  Oh… Yeah, I’ve heard of those.

DJ Booth:  Yeah, they’re gonna make a comeback probably in the next ten years.

Karina:  [laughter] Yeah, ‘cause everything in the eighties is comin’ back now.

DJ Booth:  Exactly.  How about Karina’s first TV love.

Karina:  Disney channel.

DJ Booth:  How about Karina’s first music love – what artist caught your attention, and it was just love at first sight?

Karina:  Stevie Wonder.

DJ Booth:  Stevie Wonder – great choice.  Karina’s first movie love.

Karina:  Titanic.  That was my favorite movie when I was younger.

DJ Booth:  Did you cry? 

Karina:  I think so.  I think I let out some tears here and there.

DJ Booth:  Did your mom and dad put their hands over your eyes during that one scene in the carriage?

Karina:  [laughter] Well, I didn’t go to the movie [theater] and watch it; I watched it afterwards, so…

DJ Booth:  Oh, okay.  Then you might have watched the edited version – that’s good.

Karina:  Yeah.

DJ Booth:  Karina, it sounds like you have a wonderful head on those shoulders, and I wish you nothing but the best in your upstart career.  Go ahead, give everyone a website, or a MySpace page, so they can find out more about you.

Karina:  Well, you can go to my blog, which is called meetkarina.net, and you can also go to my MySpace, which is myspace.com/karinapasian, and you can check out a lot of videos of me on YouTube, and some information.

DJ Booth:  Well, that’s what’s up.  Karina, I appreciate your time greatly. Thanks for joining me inside the DJ Booth.

Karina:  Thank you so much.

Best of DJBooth