The last time I saw Karen O perform was in New York in 2014. This time, she stood upright on stage in a blue velvet dress, her hair grown out past her shoulders. Instead of screaming, she sang—almost whispered—the lyrics to Crush Songs, her debut solo album. A lot had changed in the decade since I’d seen her in San Diego. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs had released three more albums and would soon go on hiatus; Karen had married, and was soon to be a mother.
Fast forward five years—fifteen since first seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in California—and I’ve got Karen on the phone. Joining us is LA musician Moses Sumney, who performed with Karen on the Crush Songs tour before releasing his acclaimed debut record, Aromanticism, in 2017. The contemporary music industry that lauded the album, a fast-paced world of digital streaming and bankrupt record stores where audiences are voracious and music is released at warp speed, is a far cry from the one that birthed Fever To Tell a decade and a half ago. And yet it’s still hungry for Karen O.