Karin Plato is a wonderful person and fantastic artist. A little story about her, last year when we were up in Sorrento at Swing Camp (the best jazz camp in BC!) there was a lot of smoke from forest fires. I had collapsed a few days before and was on the passenger side coming back into camp and as we pull in, I see Karin with a scarf strewn across her face, trying to avoid the smoke herself, come over to my window and ask if I'm okay. A heart of gold. I had the pleasure of conducting this interview, and here is the unedited (full) conversation!
Q. What moves you to be an organizer of events?
I suppose even in my younger days I became aware that I had the skills to be an organizer and a leader. In University years I was swimming pool manager and I loved creating special events which would feature synchronized swimming routines, groups of kids showing their swimming and diving skills with recorded music and special lighting enhancing the experience for the parents and audience members.
In some ways I believe that I am better organizer than I am being the actual artist on stage. I can view the bigger picture and try to sculpt something that I think would be of interest to others in the same way that the event is of interest to me. I suppose I try to maintain the “if you build it, they will come” mentality but sometimes, even if the event is topnotch in every way, you still can’t guarantee a sizeable audience. So, you try to do your best as an organizer, thinking of the other artists involved, the venue, the potential audience and the experience. You want the audience and artist alike to have a wonderful experience.
Q. Why did you commit to Strong Women Strong Music’s annual concerts?
Since I am an artist myself, I don’t necessarily have lots of money available to donate to causes that I believe in so working behind the scenes for SWSM is my way of contributing whatever skills I have in helping to organize, book and promote the concerts. A bit of background now about SWSM and how things changed over these 13 years.
For many years SWSM was a special one-night event and I’d say it was a somewhat ad hoc concert, perhaps looser on a certain level. Every year since the beginning SWSM involved Laura Crema and Karen Graves and Jennifer Scott was mostly there for those years as well. The instrumentalists changed on occasion and we even had some male artists play with us one year in the rhythm section.
After a few years it was my idea to try to expand the event, to include more artists than just the few of us who performed annually. I thought the event could grow and improve if more people were involved. Particularly when this event became 3 nights of programming there was more of a chance to include younger upcoming artists with more mature artists plus the 3 nights meant that we would be able to raise more money. That was something that Coastal Jazz & Blues Society enabled us to do providing Frankie’s Jazz Club as the venue. For a few years now once I’ve arranged 6 artists for each night, the artists select solos and duets and they communicate and rehearse with each other and they each are deeply committed to helping create truly diverse program. It can be a challenge for some of the artists since they are all very busy in their personal lives and yet they put their hearts into it and somehow through communication and trust,
Q. Tell me the concept behind She Can Bloom, what sets this event apart?
I had been notified that for 2019 SWSM wouldn’t be able to use Frankie’s Jazz Club for the March 8th date. Since that is officially International Women’s Day I was initially disappointed but then soon after I got the idea that I could create something additional, something that wasn’t specifically jazz oriented (although jazz is a represented genre) but that celebrated women and creativity in a few disciplines. I thought about some artists I know and admire and everyone I invited agreed to be apart of She Can Bloom. We’ve all been communicating and planning and developing what I think will be a unique celebration of women artists.
Q. What do you think makes change in the Vancouver jazz scene?
I wasn’t so certain about this question, but I’ll attempt to answer. Jazz is still not a “popular” form of music with the mainstream audience. However, if they are given some opportunities to listen to live jazz, they may certainly discover that jazz is much more than they presumed when they discounted it altogether. It is such a big umbrella of styles. For some people it is an acquired taste, so we need to assist the non-jazz fans and get them to some shows as our guests, to give them the experience of some of the things we treasure about jazz: the spontaneity, the improvisation, the musical interplay, the soul connection.
Q. As a professional Vocalist, what do you want instrumentalists to know about you?
I want instrumentalists know that I respect and appreciate them; I am hearing them; I am listening to them and I certainly want them to know that I believe in the collective. It is not about me. It is about the song, the music we are playing together. I want them to know I am trying to improve all the time so that they (hopefully) witness some growth each time we make music together.
Q. When was the last time you experienced pure joy on stage? Who were you playing with?
Yesterday I had pure joy singing with my band mates for a Jazz Vespers performance downtown. Although I was plagued with a hacking cough/cold I was somehow able to get through each song and I am certain it was partially due to the way my band mates played each song with me. Hearing their musicality was truly what gave me that feeling of joy.
For more photos please visit her facebook at https://www.facebook.com/karinplatomusic/