BWW Interview: Karine Hannah Talks Sharing GUILTY PLEASURES at The Green Room 42
Chris Struck caught up with Karine Hannah to talk about her next show on Thursday, March 26th at 7pm at The Green Room 42. Tickets can be found here. She launched an EP with Universal Music in 2018 and has been on stages all around NYC.
Chris: Hi Karine, nice to meet you. You've been performing for a little bit now and you've done a few cabarets in New York City at Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Birdland.
KARINE: Nice to meet you too. Yep, and this past summer I performed at City Winery. And now, the next stop is the Green Room 42.
Chris: Yep, you have a show you've done before, "Guilty Pleasures" coming to the Green Room 42 in late March. What do you enjoy about performing cabarets in these various venues?
KARINE: You know I'm also a recording artist, so I really love to keep my chops up and perform live, even though I'm recording new material and getting ready to launch that. At the very beginning of my career, when I first got signed to a record label, I came up with a couple of concept shows, so I could get out and perform live shows. This particular one that I've been doing for quite a few years now, called "Guilty Pleasures," is songs from the 70s and the 80s. They are all great melodies, great guilty pleasures songs that people secretly love, but that they don't want to admit that they love them.
Chris: Fair enough, I have a few of those. What do you think makes your show different than other performances in NYC?
KARINE: Well, I wouldn't call myself a traditional cabaret singer. That's what seems to happen when you're performing in New York City. Because of the type of venues probably. I think what makes my shows, or me, different is that I'm a pop singer, you know. And, my shows aren't strait-laced. They're kinda raunchy. You don't know what's going to come out of my mouth. I don't hold back. And, the music is less theater and more pop.
Chris: You've also released a few CDs, including your 2018 EP, is any of that music going to be a part of your show, or is this going to be like you said mostly the guilty pleasures songs of the 70s and 80s?
KARINE: In some of my past shows, when I've had a single that was ready to be released, I did feature some original music in these shows. But right now, I'm just in the process of working on new recordings, so I don't have anything to really share. It's going to be all music that's 70s, 80s, and a little bit of 90s. Really undeniable melodies.
Chris: So, you mention originals, do you musically direct and arrange your music?
KARINE: 99% me. I do it all. I came up with all the medleys. I created the whole thing from beginning to end. I also do a tribute to Barbra Streisand show, and that's all me, from beginning to end. And, I guess there is a theater side to me. It is there. It's a weird mix of pop recording artist whose even done some dance tracks that have gotten on the Billboard charts with the cabaret, theater world. I've made it all mix together, and it works.
Chris: So, you do have something new in the works coming up? Is it still to early to share, or can you talk a little bit about that now?
KARINE: Sure, it's going to be a lot of reimagined and scaled down cover tunes, classic songs, and because, you know, first and foremost I'm an interpreter of song, I like to sing these songs in my own way. There will be some original songs, and I'm going to have some duets. That I can't disclose, because there's going to be some cool people on some of my records.
Chris: Well, your career speaks for itself. Very impressive. What would you say have been your main influences in performing, or in music in general?
KARINE: I think that the influences are my childhood, and that drips into everything. My mother had the radio on all the time. The kind of music that she was listening to, and the things that were in the background all the time. I didn't really appreciate it enough, but that becomes your influence whether you realize it or not. Now, as I'm older, rediscovering all of this music that was playing in the background all my life has influenced what I'm doing now, whether it's recording or all the live shows.
Especially the material that I do in this "Guilty Pleasures" show. That's all the stuff that was playing on the radio that I didn't really think about when I was a kid and it was playing there in the background, but now I realize these are amazing, great songs and they should be heard. And, really there is nobody singing them these days, so why not me?
Chris: So, if you're doing a Lionel Richie song, you're doing the lesser known ones?
KARINE: Exactly, I don't go totally obscure. The melodies and songs that I'm picking are songs that you know, but may not remember the artist or why you know it, but you know it. It's undeniable songs. It's like wow, who knew that I would like a Barry Manilow song. He has so many songs that you probably don't even realize that it's him, and if you heard, it you'd be like, "Oh yeah, I know that one." Though you might not let anybody know that you actually like it. Some of these songs are super cheesy, but I'm trying to bring cheesy back a little bit. With my own flair.
Chris: So you mentioned when you first signed with a record label, is that what brought you to New York City? Did you ever dream of being on Broadway, or did you find your niche in music in a more pop style early on?
KARINE: When I was a kid and in my teens, I really thought I was going to be a big Broadway star. That's what I was envisioning. I wasn't envisioning being a recording artist, because I had this big, belting voice. And, I was picturing myself on that stage, but then I remember getting an audition for Les Mis, when I was a teen, in my home town of Montreal for some kind of national tour, and I remember singing and seeing all the type of theater people waiting to audition. Then I made it first the round, and they told me to stick around. I'll never forget, and they said, "Okay, did you bring your dance shoes?" And, I'm like, "Dancing really?" And, I remember bolting out of there, because I'm not that interested in the dancing. You know, I just want to sing. I was just so focused on vocals. So, then I had the opportunity to sing at Celine Dion's wedding when I was a teenager, because we are both from the same city, and I remember thinking, "okay this is what I want to do." That was the path for me.
Chris: I've also noticed that you've done some really cool music videos, including "Victory," which I really liked. What's your favorite part of the process of creating a music video?
KARINE: I think being able to make sure that you're able to portray message. Especially in a song like Victory. I mean you don't have 100% control over what the end product will be, but you want to try your best to show yourself and to show your soul through the video. You hope that, in the end with the editing, because it's partly your ideas coming through, but it's also other people who are involved. There's a whole big machine.
So, for example in the Victory video, they have a lot of inspirational moments that they implemented. It's a combined effort. You don't always have 100% control, but I'm satisfied. You want people to see your soul through the video. That's the main thing.
Chris: Is there anything else you'd like to share that's in the works with the Broadway world audience?
KARINE: I have dabbled with Broadway. You know, I did some songs with Jim Steinman. I did also want to mention with this Guilty Pleasures show, that most of the songs are pieces of songs. I'm basically doing medleys and snippets of roughly 40 songs, so you're just getting glimpses of melodies. And it's so fun to see the audience responding, saying like, "Oh my God, that's a George Michaels song. I love that. I haven't heard that song in 20 years."
I feel like I treat the audience differently than if I were on stage and promoting my material. I still have the same personality, but I get a lot more engaged in this show with the audience. I'm always basically giving them a hug from the stage and getting them involved in what I'm doing. It's like we're having this amazing party together with all this music.
Chris: Cool, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today and look forward to seeing your show!