With trance-like, atmospheric melodies, White Owl’s musical sound is a standout in the Canadian indie-folk scene.
Hailing from Calgary, Alberta is Canadian indie-folk singer-songwriter and mother of 2 Karina Brown (Musically known as White Owl). Picking up the guitar for the first time at the young age of 15, music has always played a crucial role in her life. As she points out, “ For a long time I felt I couldn’t communicate properly with those around me, but I discovered I could via my music.” (Brown). Hence, the lyrical word became a tool for her to connect with others and share what’s on her mind in a way she couldn’t before.
Over the past two years, she has been giving music a serious go outside of her day job. This led to her being selected as a contender for the 2021 CBC Toyota Searchlight Contest.
While she actively works on new music, fans can listen to her 2020 single, “Right Now”– a song that combines spoken vocal recordings with soothing instrumentals in order to encourage listeners to live in the moment and go after their dreams. As for the songwriting and recording process, it’s a rather unique one. She started jotting down notes to get through her daily life. As she explains, “I’ve been on a huge journey these past few years; I got divorced, had mental health struggles and felt like I was not living to my full potential.” (Brown). Journaling helped her process what was going on in her life. When she looked over what she had written, she realized there was a song there. Taking her own story as inspiration, sure penned “Right Now”, which she later recorded from her phone in her children’s bathroom. The end result? A song that strayed from her expectations. As she voices, “The song turned out completely different than I had planned. Despite that, it turned out a lot cooler than I thought it would be initially.” (Brown). Brown also hopes the song has a positive impact on her fans. As she states, “With this song, I hope to inspire others to go after their dreams. It’s never too late to take life by the reins and just go for it.” (Brown). Taking her own advice, she recently left her long-term job to pursue a new career in construction– joining the mere 4% of women who work in skilled trades.
Brown is also a mental health awareness advocate, something that she believes needs to be spoken more about. As she explains, “ I suffered from depression as a teen, since grade 8. My parents weren’t sure how to handle it and help me, because back in the day, mental health wasn’t really spoken about.” (Brown). Now that mental health is more widely acknowledged, she thinks it’s important families today have more of these conversations openly with their children.
Reflecting on her own struggles with mental health, this past year has been one of self-discovery for the artist. During this personal journey, she became more aligned with her mission to help others through her music and advocacy work. As she recalls a story, “I was performing at a work Xmas party a few years ago. I had played a song I had written about emotional abuse. Afterwards, an acquaintance came up to me and shared her story with me and how she related to the song. I really realized then how much of an impact I could have with my music. That’s something I want to continue to have moving forward.” (Brown).
The pandemic this past year also proved to make things difficult for those working in the music industry– including for Brown. As she explains, “I lost a lot of opportunities such as live gigs and open mics slots. However, I was lucky I wasn’t relying on my artist income full time.” (Brown). Despite this, the pandemic also opened new opportunities for her that she wouldn’t have previously had. As she mentions, “I was able to do virtual live stream shows via the Limelight app (The creators reached out). It was my first virtual live performance and it helped me get my name out there more. I also was able to slow down and focus on my music more than before, which was one of the blessings that came out of the world shutting down.”(Brown).
Moving forward in the second half of 2021, Brown plans to “Take it day by day. Busk and participate in more livestreams.” (Brown). She also aims to release the title track in advance of her upcoming EP–” We Are Wild”. She describes the single as being, “A siren song for women. It’s a song I wrote for my daughter– so she can be reminded that she can stand on her own feet and doesn’t need to rely on a man.” (Brown). Keep an eye out for announcements on the upcoming single in the near future.
Listen to “Right Now”:
Stay up to Date With White Owl:
Spotify: White Owl
Brown, Karina. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Apr 20 2021.
Richer, Valerie. “Featured: Indie-folk artist Karina Brown.”. Photo courtesy of Karina Brown. Accessed Apr 20 2021.
Richer, Valerie. “Featured: Indie-folk artist Karina Brown.” Photo courtesy of Karina Brown. Accessed Apr 20 2021.