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The story of O
She’s one of the sassiest, not to say iconic, frontwomen in rock. Up close however, Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O is just a big pussycat. Look, we’ve even made her cry.
Stuart Clark, 13 Oct 2006
There are many things I’ve dreamt of saying to Karen O, but, “Sorry for making you cry,” isn’t one of them.
Before the military wing of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fan Club start issuing death threats, I ought to point out that the tears are of the joyous being-the-recipient-of-wonderful-news variety.
“You read an interview with Mick Rock in which he said I’m one of the most inspirational people he’s photographed?” Ms Orzolek inquires of the legendary snapper whose portfolio includes, well, everybody.
“(Bottom lip beginning to quiver) You’re sure?”
“(Mascara in serious danger of running) Oh…my…God! It works both ways in that he’s the only photographer who’s made us feel like we’re being offered the chance of immortality. Mick’s from that pre-video age where the photo on the back of your record was almost as big an artistic statement as the music. You don’t see many images these days that define the people they’re of. I call him ‘The Boatman’. He’s the guy who takes you from the regular world to the Land of Musical Gods. I got choked up then and I’m choked up now hearing what he said…wow!”
Ms. O’s gob was also well and truly smacked in July when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs blew Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, Black Eyed Peas et al off stage at the Pentaport Festival in Korea.
“I could lie and say, ‘We were the best band there’, but the cheers were kind of allied to me reminding the crowd four or five times that my mom’s Korean,” she laughs. “The other half of me’s Polish, so that got milked last week too in Warsaw! No, Pentaport was really special ‘cause I was able to dedicate ‘Maps’, which is a song about love, to my imo (aunt), halmoni (grandma) and haraboji (grandpa) and feel a real connection. South Korea’s official name is Taehanminguk, so that got practiced before we went on as well.
“In Poland, the mentality is, ‘Tomorrow’s going to be difficult, tomorrow we might die, so tonight we party!’ And, boy did they. We’ve had other great gigs this year, but those two really stand out.”