Good beats, vibes and lyrics that speak to your emotions. That’s exactly what to expect when you hear this 7-track EP that Karun presented us with. A little background on Karun… she is a Nairobi-based alternative R&B singer/songwriter and producer who has successfully captivated audiences since she was a teenager as part of the BET-nominated hip hop group Camp Mulla. At 26, Karun continues carving her solo path with over 10 years experience in the music industry. She is a tour de force and an undisputed trend-setter in the African R&B music scene with a track record surpassing limitations.
Her background in music at the prestigious Berklee College of Music propels her skill and abilities to a global level developing new alternative R&B and pop sounds hailing from Nairobi with influences ranging from Erykah Badu, to Justin Timberlake to Alicia Keys.
We had a virtual Q&A chat with Karun to dig a little deeper about Catch A Vibe, who she featured and overall inspirations on this work. Here’s what she had to say:
What sparked the thought to put together Catch A Vibe?
Karun: This EP came after I learned some pretty huge life lessons. I learned to protect my energy, I learned how to spot fake friends and I learned how to keep going even when things seem stacked against you. So this EP came out of a necessity to boss up and work through a couple things. And I feel like it writing these songs and releasing the project really helped through it.
How was the process to make the EP? Paint a picture for us of the studio sessions you had and some of the most memorable moments from that period.
Karun: I recorded a lot of this music in my friends bedroom. This was a time in my life when I found most of my inspiration from being out and about in irregular situations. So I would carry my gear around so that I could capture my ideas wherever they sparked. I must say that the beats I received from Higo, Le Mav and Mombru were really such a vibe.
You featured artists Higo, Mpho Sebina (a fave of ours), Mombru, Kahu$h, Chase Aaron and Xenia Manasseh. How did those collaborations come to place, and what was it about the chosen artists you felt was needed in this EP?
Karun: Yeah, Mpho is a gem! That’s really dope that she’s one of your fave. All the collaborations on this project came about in very different capacities. Mpho and I met a while back at the Homecoming festival in Pretoria. We said that day that we’d love to work on some music together. So when I got halfway through the song “Paths” it just made sense to have her on it. I felt that she could bring a big sister vibe to it. When Moho sings I get the feeling that she has years of wisdom or that the ancestors are singing along with her or something, so it made perfect sense for her to be on this song, a song about finding your path in life. Luckily she also liked the song and didn’t disappoint.
MOMBRU, Le Mav and Higo are the three main producers on the project. They all provided a cohesive sound while still showcasing their own different styles and I think the beats that made it to the project also allow me to show different sides of my voice.
Xenia Manasseh is someone I’ve collaborated with for a long time, but Grind is the first song of ours to come out. And Chase Aaron an LA based R&B artist. He is friends with a friend of mine. We were looking for someone else to have on the track and I didn’t even know he had heard of me, but I heard a “rough take” he had put down on the song and I was just floored. His voice and song writing is amazing, so I’m happy he ended up on the song!
Kahu$h is the final artists we added. The song “Just Friends” was finished but it felt unfinished with just me on it. So Kahu$h came to mind. He also didn’t disappoint and the song sounds way better with a male Kenyan perspective! I love how his personality and MOMBRU’s beats ended, meshing together. This song is a classic now! I really think it’ll age well.
The pandemic (and lockdown) forced the world to isolate like never before. How did this affect the making of this EP and you as an artist?
Karun: There were moments during lockdown where I was having the time of my life! Being isolated meant having more time to make music, and disconnect from the world. Disconnecting from the world also allowed me to dive deeper into myself which was nice. I think self-awareness can make a better artists.
If you had to pick the top 2 songs as your favorite, which ones would they be and why?
Karun: “I Know” & “Just Friends” The energy. These songs are (fire)
What can we look forward to next from you or the EP itself? New music videos, remixes?
Karun: We’ll have to see!