March 2, 2012


Go Inside Karen O’s "Psycho Opera"

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

The most spine-tingling, soul-stirring musical experience I had in 2011 was when I saw the debut of Karen O’s Stop the Virgens “psycho opera” last October in Brooklyn. It was a highly-stylized theatrical production directed by Pulitzer-nominated playwright Adam Rapp (Red Light Winter) and based on a collection of deeply personal songs that Karen O wrote and recorded in 2005. It was a harrowing and transcendent experience, and I haven’t thought of O as the same artist since.

Just imagine this: 40 odd female dancers in costume prancing onstage around O, who is standing front and center in a huge ruffle-y white dress that looks picked from Alexander McQueen’s private collection. She coos about youth and desire over a crack 11-piece band led by Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, who wrote the music with O, and featuring YYYs’ Brian Chase, the Raconteurs' Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence and the Beastie Boys’ Money Mark. Musically, it was like O’s Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack, but waaaayyyyyyyyyy better. 

Seriously, if you knew just how fantastic these songs are, you’d be begging for its release. I am.

So, while we wait for news on that front, The Creators Project brings us the next best thing: a new documentary film about the making of the theatre production and album. It’s a great watch and you can even hear the all-star band rehearse my favorite song from Stop the Virgens—that gently lilting, twinkling ballad that starts at the two-minute mark. 

"It was the first time I made something that was so euphoric and so free of suffering or frustration or pain," O says in the video of Stop the Virgens. True that.

Watch the full video on, then tell us what you think of Stop the Virgens in the comments.