Slovakian alt-pop artist Karin Ann released her latest single, “a stranger with my face,” in September. The record examined the theme of identity loss in romantic relationships. Accompanied by blues-infused guitar lines and intricate harmonies, Ann scrutinizes the toxic yet relatable habit of over-idolization.
“Some of the lyrics almost felt religious to me, so I wanted it to sound like a choir on the chorus. It’s almost like you’re making that person your God, you’re worshipping them in a very toxic and unhealthy way,” the singer explains. “It’s not even about trying to make them like you, more so that you like them so much that you almost want to be more like them. You end up not knowing who you are without them.”
In addition to the audio, the release was accompanied by a short film directed by American duo TUSK, who previously worked on projects for Camila Cabello and Tate McRae. Shot in Prague, the visuals star Ann alongside Gus Kenworthy and Ashley Moore in a queer spy drama, set in 1950s Hollywood—a period when sexual identity was a contentious topic. The narrative arc enhances the song’s underlying message, providing a multifaceted exploration of identity.
The recent offer positioned Karin Ann as an artist merging complex themes with multifaceted visual storytelling. It serves as a prelude to her upcoming track, “favorite star.” Below, we spoke to the musician about experimenting with her sound, love as it relates to relationships, touring, and her personal style.
So how would you describe your sound now, for someone who hasn’t heard your music before?
I feel like because I started so young, I kind of felt a lot of pressure, not necessarily consciously. I feel it was very subconscious. But I feel like there was pressure on me, kind of proving myself and being taken seriously as a musician. So, I was doing a lot of different things to try and impress certain people. Now, I don’t really feel like I have to do that as much anymore. I’ve grown a lot more into my writing and became more confident in who I am and my songwriting abilities. A lot of the new stuff that I’m working on now, I genuinely really love, and I’m really, really proud of. I didn’t really have that until now.
Speaking of, can you tell us more about your recent single, “a stranger with my face”?
Well, “a stranger with my face,” I wrote it in January during my LA trip at the beginning of this year. I’ve been working on a lot of new music with these two guys that I really love. We have incredible creative chemistry. I’ve actually been working with them since I took my break from touring. To some people, it looked like I was doing nothing for a month, but behind the scenes, I was working on a lot of new things. Before meeting them, I’d been really uninspired for a very long time and didn’t write anything new. But when I met them, we clicked creatively.
I was in LA to work on some other music with them. But I also got in touch with this artist that I’ve loved for years. She’s based in LA, and I asked if she would want to do a session, and she was down. So it was me, Benjamin Lazar Davis, Will Grave, and Kelly Morgue, and we went into a session. I was really nervous because I’m generally pretty new to sessions, especially with artists that I’ve looked up to.
When I was there, I wrote everything on my phone. I always have notes on my phone of random sentences, verses, and ideas. I also brought my journal where I do the same; I draw in it, and I write ideas in it. And what kept popping up on everything — my different notes, my journal — was the sentence “make me in your image could mean your words, I want to see what you make me, I want to see who I become.” So I thought maybe something’s there, maybe we should write about it. And that’s how “a stranger with my face” was born.
What’s your relationship with the word “love”? How would you describe your last few experiences being in love?
I’m kind of a hopeless romantic. I’m someone who loves love, and all my friends always say, “You just love love.” And it’s true. But I feel like most people who are like this aren’t exactly lucky in the love department. A lot of my experiences have been pretty negative and limited. I think it also comes down to growing up with certain experiences having certain traumas, and then because of that, you have a pattern in the people you go for.
There was a time that was just not healthy for me. Now I’m getting better at not doing that. And it definitely reflects in my music. For example, “If I Fall for You,” one of the songs that came out before “a stranger with my face,” is about me falling for the same type and having the same pattern and noticing that and thinking, maybe I should stop. So it’s complicated. As I said, I’m a hopeless romantic, and I’m also an artist.
I romanticize, and I like to live in my little fantasy land of love, being this fairy tale thing, but it never is in real life. So, it’s a complicated relationship. But at the same time, even if something healthy came my way, I wonder if I would run away from it. Because what would I write about if something healthy was happening?
Also, the visuals were quite incredible, to say the least. What inspired the concept?
Usually, songs are at least a year or more old before they come out. This one was really fast. A lot of changes were happening with my team, and I’m moving. So we were exploring new options, and a lot of chaos was going on. Then, I was told the next song to release is “a stranger with my face,” and we had about a month or two to prepare everything for that. I hadn’t explored any directors or ideas for the music video, so I was like, “What am I going to do?”
I remember that when I was filming “If I Fall for You,” the directors asked to hear something I was working on. So I played them a very early demo of “a stranger with my face,” and they loved it. They said when I was going to make a music video for it, they wanted to be involved. It became an inside joke for a while. Then, when I realized I had to make a music video, I reached out to them, and they were like, “You know what, let’s do it.”
I know that you recently wrapped up touring with Paris Paloma. Can you talk to me about touring and how it feels to perform your music live?
This tour was really amazing. It was just really short, which we were saying that like, oh, now that we started really getting into it, it’s over. But the crowds have been really amazing. I took a break from touring at the end of July, beginning of August last year. Since then, I’ve only played a festival in June and this sort of tour that we were doing, and one festival in London. But it was kind of a whole different thing because my music changed. And it’s still changing.
And now I’m in the in-between period of my old music and my new music. So it was, first of all, a nightmare putting a set together. But second of all, just figuring out how to perform this new music and how to adapt this new style on stage. Not to mention that when you’re out of touring for a while, you kind of are like, wait, I forgot how to do this.
So there were definitely a lot of things to figure out and a lot of new angles on touring for me, but it was an amazing tour. And the crowds were incredible. I love Paris in general, I love her music, and I’ve been a fan of hers for about a year now.
Finally, I wanted to talk to you about style. How would you describe your personal style?
It’s kind of going back to what I’ve always loved, going back to my roots a little bit. I’ve had different phases and different experiences. Recently, looking back on my life, I figured out where a lot of the different phases of me dressing a certain way came from, and a lot of it was from traumatic experiences growing up. Now, I feel like I’m going back to what I’ve always loved, which I call “doe-sen core,” like you would be in a cottage in a field, and there’s a girl in a corset and white dress.
It’s mixed with Tim Burton and ’70s inspiration. That’s a lot of the fashion inspo that I draw from. I’ve always loved those and gravitated toward them. But as I said, a lot of things happened to me, and it affected how I changed my styles. But now, I feel like, in general, in every aspect of my life, I’m going back to basics. I feel like when you’re a child, up to a certain moment, you are a person that is truly, authentically you.