The lovely Karine Hallakoun-Kaczurynski in the band Watcha Clan set the world music scene ablaze with their trip-hop, electro and jungle influences. Now Karine is back with a new musical identity and a new name: siska.
Her North African Sephardi father, a doctor, and her Lithuanian Ashkenazi mother arrived in Marseille in 1966. Karine was born in 1969 and grew up in the working-class north of the city, with traditional songs but also gospel and soul in her ears, since all the family's hobbies were based around music. Her performing instincts were obvious early on. She sang in the chorus for Raoul Petite's legendary band and frequented the local rasta scene with Jahby and Ado, absorbing that philosophy – and vegetarianism. In her late teens she was dividing her time between university studies and performing. Not until the trip to Montreal that marked the end of her studies (with two post-graduate diplomas, in econometrics and in economics and tourism) did she realise that all roads lead to music. Watcha Clan, formed in 1998, was a big success, touring France, doing gigs in the US and Germany, going the rounds of the festivals and recording for the Piranha label. They were four musicians – Karine, a.k.a. siska k, Suprem Clem, Nassim and Matt Labesse – plus two sound technicians and a road manager. With Clément mixing the soundtracks, but also folk instruments like the West African gumri, they created a supercharged musical world with lyrics in Yiddish and Arabic, shaking the dust off traditional tunes and earning renown, while Karine danced till the audience was breathless. With her dark complexion, high cheekbones, aquiline nose, big blue almond eyes and long dreadlocks often wrapped in a scarf, the beautiful Karine looks like a queen.
A new musical world
Karine settled by the sea, had a baby (a girl, called Shanti*) and started looking for fresh inspiration and new musical sensations. She has been writing lyrics in English and singing to an accompaniment of guitar and drums, with her accomplice Clément mixing the backing tracks. It's a radical change of direction. Her voice is stronger and her electro-soul compositions are enchanting. After eighteen months' work she brought out a video and a four-track EP in February, took up residence at l'Affranchi, and had a gig at U.Percut in March. Karine is relying on her skills for this major change of musical direction and has adopted a new stage name, Siska. You can discover her new sound on the concept video by Guillaume Panariello.
* "Serenity" in Sanskrit
Par Dominique Juan