In November of 2011, Syrian-Armenian-American composer and vocalist K Á R Y Y N embarked on a trip from Brooklyn to upstate New York’s Cherry Valley to find seclusion after visiting two dying relatives in Aleppo. A string of family deaths had left her feeling disillusioned and unable to relate to the people around her. “I felt like part of me was dying. I had decided to leave music. I was totally devastated,” she remembers. At Cherry Valley, K Á R Y Y N lived in isolation, spending her time drawing, reading and recording music that she thought nobody would ever hear as a way to explore and purge feelings of loss. On the 11th of November, a song was written in a single, visceral recording take. That recording, “TODAY, I READ YOUR LIFE STORY 11:11,” began a seven year journey of self-examination, discovery and healing through music known now as THE QUANTA SERIES. Released in pairs over the last year, the series of singles explores K Á R Y Y N’s familial legacy, themes of quantum physics, love, grief, growth and the impact humans have on each other. Dubbed a “sonic architect” (Dazed & Confused), “curiously powerful” (Pitchfork) and an “electronic adventurer” (FACT) by press who have lauded recent releases, K Á R Y Y N’s work highlights her ability to manipulate sound in unique and beautiful ways. Now releasing via Mute, the entire QUANTA series will be released as an album, with three new tracks on March 29, 2019.
Recorded over a seven-year period, THE QUANTA SERIES tracks K Á R Y Y N’s movements across continents in search of healing and inspiration. Following an 18-month stay in secluded Cherry Valley, K Á R Y Y N left America for Berlin where she would live for two years. After connecting online with a producer named Frank Wiedemann based in the German capital, she flew there in search of new surroundings and a fresh source of inspiration. There she wrote “PURGATORY,” the third single to be shared last year. The song is about finding the courage to free yourself from periods of anxiety and fear, illustrated by a story from her childhood: while exploring behind her family’s hotel in the Forty Mountains of Idlib province, Syria, K Á R Y Y N tripped and fell through a gap between two stones. After hours of searching, her family eventually found her covered by the stones. “I remember my Aunt telling me that if I could just reach through a crevice in the stones, she could pull me out. It’s all a reminder that sometimes all we need is trust in the face of the unknown.” Visually, the home footage that track is paired with was designed to reflect the differences between her American and Syrian upbringings - the juxtaposition between the twinkling lights of her Indiana Christmas and the sacrificial slaughter of a lamb by her uncle in Idlib. The duality of her upbringing is a consistent theme in her work.
In addition to music for THE QUANTA SERIES, K Á R Y Y N became involved in the production of an original opera with a theatre artist called Samantha Shay while living in Berlin. The opera was being made under tutelage from performance art legend Marina Abramović and would go on to premiere in Reykjavik to 300 audience members. In what she describes as a “beautiful cosmic joke”, that audience happened to contain Bjork who described the work as “extremely nourishing” and went on to list K Á R Y Y N among a number of creatives she was particularly excited about for a Guardian profile. It seemed that after a long period of struggling to trust her voice as an artist, that first performance would be a form of rebirth for K Á R Y Y N and after many years, the universe had signaled to her that it was time to move forward. A song from the score was released as an outlier in K Á R Y Y N’s canon called “MOVING MASSES,” the only recent release not present on THE QUANTA SERIES. Described by Pitchfork as “the most beautiful song in [her] growing catalog,” the track is made of intertwining loops of vocals layered on top of each other like a lattice. When performing the piece live, K Á R Y Y N enlists the help of a choir who appear on stage midway through her set, serving as a reflective break in her often erratic, intense performances. While in Iceland, K Á R Y Y N also recorded “Un-c2-See,” a “raw vocal collage” released last year as a counterpoint to the thudding “EVER,” a track recorded on a trip to the UK to visit collaborators and friends. The production speeds through clipping synths and vocal samples, tying together a lyrical patchwork about the complex ways love can exist between two people.
In 2015, K Á R Y Y N returned to her native LA where she recorded “ALEPPO” and “BINARY.” Released as the first stage of THE QUANTA SERIES in 2017, the acclaimed tracks were described by Pitchfork as “a stunning solo debut.” While the former muses on memories of the Syrian city now nullified by the destruction of war, the latter is a study in quantum physics and time. Feeling galvanized after her stage debut in Iceland and the acceptance of her audience, she sought out ways to begin releasing her work. After a drip feed of releases throughout 2017 and 2018 via her own label ANTEVASIN, the series continued with the release of “QUANTA 11:11” – “SEGMENT & THE LINE,” a song written about impermanence and being faced with the consequence of our actions, and “TODAY, I READ YOUR LIFE STORY 11:11,” the first song recorded in Cherry Valley seven years ago. “The entire series is a journey back to myself. My heroine’s journey. It’s about uncovering the covered, searching for parts of myself that I had lost.”