Get to know: Karima F

“I’m against happiness – happiness is for wimps. I want to be traumatised to work.”

It’s tempting to think that the opening moments of SCHLOSS02, which features the sound of track racing behind a cavernous broken kick, has some connection with the fact that Norwegian DJ and producer Karima F runs her label out of a disused Porsche repair shop with contemporary artist Ida Ekblad. But then you might start to wonder about other details, like whether her production is influenced by a teenage effort to fit in with the cool kids by playing the violin (it isn’t).

The three songs on her self titled 12” take off in their own direction, tripping through bleeps and metallic riffs on the way to something more ethereal. Coming from a DJ who is as comfortable playing at Panorama Bar as she is holding a residency at Oslo’s Jaeger Club, this debut is no easier to pin down than its creator.

Catching up with her for a chat, we get to know Karima ahead of the record’s release, speaking on the subjects of empty dancefloors, creative frustrations, and the philosophies of Slavoj Žižek along the way.

You grew up and hail from Oslo in Norway. How has living there shaped your musical identity and creative vision?

The electronic scene in Oslo is sparsely populated, and my impression is that it’s often partial to the idea that one should follow in the footsteps of the Norwegian masters of house and disco. It can be slightly monolithic, but it’s slowly branching out. I love Oslo, but living there inspired me to look elsewhere.

Your DJ CV holds pretty solid, having played at institutes across Europe like Panorama Bar, About Blank, Tresor and Lost Village Festival, but you learnt your craft by holding a residency at Oslo’s Jaeger Club? How have your performances and DJ style developed or changed since those early days?

When I started DJing about 10 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I had a summer residency at a club called Fisk & Vilt, which translates to Fish & Game—ultra Norwegian. I played ’80s groove music and 192 kbps Hypem downloads and wore horrendous sequin outfits. Someone told me that what Oslo was missing was a great “stop-and-play-DJ” – something I, a young woman eager for anything that vaguely resembled a compliment, perceived to be a flattering description of my style. It took me about five years to understand that one could actually beat-match records, and that being a “stop-and-play-DJ” wasn’t really a compliment.

My real “musical education” came from living three years in Malmö, where I did my degree in Fine Arts. I became a part of the incredibly inclusive Hi-NRG disco and soul digger scene. Upon returning to Oslo, I somehow convinced Jaeger to take me on as a weekly resident. I played every Thursday, often for a more or less empty dance floor—I’m very familiar with crickets and tumbleweeds. One day I decided to broaden my horizon and maybe read the CDJ-manual.

I am pleased to inform readers that I now know how to beat-match. If DJing has taught me anything, is that I’m a novice. I embrace the fact that I don’t know even a quarter of all the music that’s out there. That’s what continues to make DJing exciting and interesting for me.

Your own night, ‘Affirmative Action’ at Jaeger club has seen you invite the likes of Shanti Celeste, Hodge and Barnt to play. What scenes, artists or sounds are you drawn to most across Europe, and which bracket of music do you feel most excited to be a part of?

I’m an Anglophile. What the Englishmen lost in dental health, they’ve gained in music. I don’t know if I belong to a bracket of music, but I would love to be part of one, so if you want me to be a part of yours, holler.

Your own record will be the next release on the label, how did you step into production? Have you always been making music alongside DJ’ing?

I started dabbling with production about three or four years ago. In terms of equipment and self-development as a producer, I have a pretty laissez-faire approach to making music. Sampling and unscrupulous thievery is at the core, then I might add some soft-synths and run them through various plugins and…ta-da! The only hardware I own is a delay pedal. Very feng shui.

Having said that, I should add that my creative process it often saturated with frustration, torment and anger at not being able to transport my ideas from my fuzzy brain to Ableton. People close to me who are far more patient than I am have stressed the fact that this attitude is a waste of time and that music production should be “fun,” “fulfilling” and “giving.” But I’m going to stick to my guns and Slavoj Žižek on this one: “I’m against happiness – happiness is for wimps. I want to be traumatised to work.”

How would you describe your sound? Are you always trying to make music that’s designed for the club?

Honestly, at this point, if I manage to overcome my technical shortcomings and churn out something that resembles a song, that equals success to me. I think it’s fair to characterise my sound as a mix of art by accident and someone trying extremely hard to sound like an English teenage boy sat in his wall-to-wall carpet bedroom in Bristol.

What can we expect from you over the next year, and where do you see your career heading?

I try not to expect anything from myself to avoid disappointment, but needless to say I hope my career will go well.

You started your own label Schloss Records in 2018 with a release from English producer Max Fowler, what’s the scope for the platform? Do you have a particular intention, or is it simply a way to release music of friends?

I run the label together with the brilliant Norwegian artist Ida Ekblad, who made all the covers. Schloss is the name of her gallery in Oslo, which is located in a defunct Porsche repair shop. We got the idea for a label run out of the gallery one night when we were drunk and happy. Our intention was to release my own and friends music and for her to make the artworks. I guess you could say we’re in the opposite spectrum of someone with a grand plan and a strategy – the stop-and-play-version of a label.

Karima F’s SCHLOSS002 EP is out February 1st on Schloss. 

Order it here.

Featured Image: Christian Belgaux

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