Holding down the low end in her own experimental NYC trio for many years, now, while also playing bass for piano man Marco Benevento, Karina Rykman is no newbie to the improvisational rock scene in the city that never sleeps. She’s come up in it, played innumerable shows, and also promoted others’ shows on the business side of things since graduating from NYU. But 2023 marks a big leap for the self-dubbed “genre-fluid” artist because she’s finally laid down songs to record. The debut full-length from perpetually upbeat songwriter-instrumentalist Rykman is called Joyride and was released in August. (Notably, it was co-produced by Rykman’s fan and friend Trey Anastasio of the band Phish, who’ll be in Nashville for a three-night run at Bridgestone within a week of Rykman’s Blue Room show here in Music City.)
In early September, I caught up with Rykman at a jam- and funk-heavy festival in Indianapolis called All IN, where she played several of the nine tracks from Joyride, plus super fun Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem covers. Her band grooves and wanders into space, there’s no doubt about that — if you stumble up to a late night Bonnaroo set, you might momentarily mistake them for EDM. But the guitar-bass-drums trio also use synth sounds and pads to crank out tight indie rock licks with Rykman’s ethereal vocals on top. Don’t box them in as a jam band.
Rykman thinks the songs on Joyride are “all unified by a Karina-ness, God willing,” though her influences are as wide ranging as Slayer, Phoebe Bridgers, Japanese Breakfast, Ween, Wayne Shorter, Medeski Martin & Wood and The Beatles.
Check out Karina Rykman at The Blue Room on Saturday, September 30 with the high-energy, also genre-fluid Guerilla Toss opening. Get a taste of the making of Joyride and the hype around Rykman’s artistry in this mini doc.