We caught up with the talented Karen Ruimy to find out a little more about her and her debut album, Come With Me, which is out now. Karen is a very interesting lady, with many strings to her bow. Karen speaks a number of different languages and has a wide range of influences when it comes to her music, which helps to shape her sound.
We were also very interested to learn about her background and to find out about her path to becoming a pop star, which was not a conventional one! Read on to find out more!
Hi Karen, how are you today?
Hi Carys! Great thanks and you?
Really good, thank you! Can we start from the beginning, as you’ve had quite an interesting and unusual ride in your career so far to get to this point where you are about to release your debut album. Can you describe your journey from your career in finance, to being a flamenco dancer, to now being a solo artist?
I was a financial broker and suddenly I was feeling weird, anxious and not at the right place at the right time in my life. I listened to my inner voice that it was time for me to move on to a new life, to discover what life has to offer for me and that I did not know about yet. It was like a spiritual awakening. I discovered lots of things that were waiting in me, like dancing and music were really important for me to express not just like a secret passion, but like a life expression, so I allowed myself to train flamenco thoroughly with my beloved teachers and at a precise moment felt a huge urge to go on stage and create a show. So we did and from there it never stopped happening from flamenco shows to recording albums.
Was it a hard decision to leave behind a finance career, to moving on to becoming a recording artist, or did you always want to be a singer and performer and how hard was it to work in a career such as finance, when you obviously have such a strong creative side to your personality?
It was a hard decision to leave a very successful job in terms of money and social ladder. But I knew deep inside myself I had to leave to find myself. I was always expressing dance and music in my youth but it was no question at that time to become the artist I was. It is only when I understood I was not meant to be a banker that I rediscovered my gifts and passions.
Yes then I had to work hard my dance to be able to dance with professional dancers who were basically born and raised with flamenco music in their milk bottle! But I was driven, there was in me the fire of passion. Nothing could stop me and I was finally expressing my creative side.
You’ve also written a few books in your career, do you plan to write more in the future too?
Yes! Writing was the first creative expression after finance that I was able to access. I am a writer. I view life as a writer, I am always questioning about what I live. I love it, It’s part of my functioning. I am writing two books right at the moment. One about the energetic body that we are and the other one about my experiences.
Your debut album has recently been released, how do you feel about that?
Excited and happy. Happy to express more and in fact I’m finishing my next album that I recorded with the late extraordinary producer, Phil Ramone.
Your album features an array of many different influences and cultures, which makes for a very interesting album. What culture would you say has influenced this album and your work the most?
It is hard to answer, as I am a living mix of cultures myself! I moved in London seven years ago and I fell in love with the English music culture. When I moved here I felt I wanted to create a very personal album, not linked to my shows. Then I met with Justin Adams, the musician-guitarist for Robert Plant and many more. He knows Moroccan music like a Moroccan man! So I felt it was a sign to be able to start from my roots and create around the rhythms of my origins, Morocco. We delivered world music together. It was remixed by the fantastic producer Youth. So Moroccan-English pop, but there are a few French songs we wrote with Justin that I also love!
What was your favourite part of making your album Come With Me?
Spending time with Justin in Real World studios, Peter Gabriel gave us his personal studio. Seeing the creation of it unfold without any creative constraints like I always had for the shows and being free.
Did you find it easy to switch from singing between the different languages which are on the record and do you have a favourite language to sing in, or one that means the most to you?
Again it is hard to say, as I cannot define myself as one language. Although French is my natural language and singing in French is like a natural pleasure, it comes so naturally and isn’t it the most poetic language in the world?
What is your favourite song on your album?
Come With Me.
What was it like working with Youth, who produced your album? Youth has worked with so many high profile artists, did you learn a lot from working with Youth?
Working with Youth has been a gift. First of all meeting an extraordinary man like him. He is a special and generous man. We had an immediate connection. I learnt to be simple, more than ever. I’ve learnt that the first creation is the best and to never doubt it. Organic music, all that I love basically. He is a super intuitive creator, a lot to learn with!
How did the collaboration/remix of your song Come With Me by Paul Oakenfold come about?
My manager had the idea to go for collaboration. And I loved it. Don’t forget I am a dancer! When Paul Oakenfold listened to “Come with me” he wanted to mix it! So we did it! He delivered a great mix and it was a great success!
How do you feel about Come With Me becoming a huge anthem in the club scene? Are you a big dance fan?
I am a big dance fan! I was thrilled to listen to all the mixes of my songs. The DJ were really good! I am very happy about Come with me becoming an anthem! It is a great song and it has the potential to be a slow intoxicating song or a great dance remix!
Who would you like to work with in the future?
I love to work with Youth and we will do more! We’ve already started a different album of real organic, spiritual music. I’d love to collaborate with wonderful DJs again, I enjoyed it so much.
What does the summer hold in store for you? Do you plan to tour the album?
I love performing live and we are currently working on some key live dates for the near future! (Details to be announced) I will also be writing for my new book and creating the next album with Youth.
What could we expect from one of your live shows, as you used to be a flamenco dancer, would this be something that would be featured, as there are flamenco influences in your album?
I am trying to create now a form of gig where I could still express some of my dance between my songs, it would be a show on what I want to express, my personality, my collaborations! Rather than doing a full dance show with some songs. When a genre does not exist in art, it takes a while to create it and to have people in the business wanting to follow you on your idea, right?
What has been the best gig that you feel you’ve done so far?
Sangre! It was a fantastic and surreal show mixing flamenco and contemporary dance. Expressing loads of passion through the story, the dance and the songs. All the dancers were fantastic and intense! The set, the choreography, the direction, all very unusual and creative.
You do a lot of really great work through campaigning and fundraising for women and girls in developing countries. Can you tell us a bit about the projects that you are involved in and a bit about The GREAT Initiative, of which you are a trustee?
I am involved in this foundation that is fighting for the gender equality in Africa and here too. We’ve been helping amazing women in Africa who are fighting for their life, for their education, for their rehabilitation after war, after losing they had, after being abused. For example we helped a radio for women in Liberia to survive and many other projects on the ground. In the UK we are developing a campaign called Great Men Value Women. We are going to visit schools with amazing singers, actors etc like Doc Brown and Marlon Roudette to talk to boys about what is it to be a man? Teaching them how it is not about bullying women. I am a passionate trustee who is amazed at what can be achieved with such campaign! If any singer or public figure who reads this and wants to be involved, then please do.
How important is it to you to be so involved in charity work?
It is very important to me to give back to those who need my help. It just gives a bigger dimension to my existence in the world. I cannot do otherwise now.
How important is spirituality to you?
Spirituality is like air that I breathe. I can’t see life without a spiritual perspective, it has no other way for me. Life is a partner, you have to understand that and from there you walk on your path and try to do your best every moment and enjoy it!
What has been the highlight of your musical journey so far?
Finding my voice with amazing people.
What would you like to achieve in the next few years?
Writing more music, singing with great collaborators, life will tell me.
What are your goals for the rest of the year?
Have the album Come With Me received by the public and finising my next album that I wrote with Phil Ramone, remixed by Youth and to also write more.
Karen, thank you very much for taking the time to chat to us and good luck with the release of your album.
Thank you and enjoy life!