On the Couch with Karina Utomo

AAR Karina Utomo - photo by Paul TaddayWho is Karina Utomo?
I am the vocalist in a metal band called High Tension, and one of four soloists in Speechless – a new opera by award-winning composer Cat Hope.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would have commenced strength training at least a decade ago.

Who inspires you and why?
Those with no fear.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Where to start? Perhaps encouraging others to focus on small actions like ‘showing up’ and donating to pressing causes, making considered decisions to lessen environmental impact, to listen more, to have more empathy and understanding of experiences and perspectives other than our own. As Malcolm X succinctly puts it: “One day, may we all meet together in the light of understanding”.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Jakarta (because it is home for me and the only place where I can have the best, quintessential Indonesian street food: bakso and martabak), I also cannot wait to go back to Tokyo and Alice Springs for the landscape and atmosphere of these places.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I would walk them to the end of my street. It is a beautiful part of the Yarra river and the eastern boundary of the former Warrandyte Aboriginal Reserve; it is particularly magical and still on a weekday when there is no one else around except for perhaps some blue tongue lizards and birds. There is also a gum tree that looks like a giant ‘doom claw’ coming out of the earth – it is very metal. It is possibly the best tree in North Warrandyte.

What are you currently reading?
Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s books – I find his writing particularly enriching and brave considering the consequences of being anti-colonial for the era of his works. He faced censorship and was imprisoned for a decade (1969 – 1979), then later under house arrest for several years. The books I am currently reading are from his time as a prisoner on Buru Island, with no access to writing implements, he recited his stories orally to his fellow inmates, the stories were eventually documented and smuggled out. Behrouz Boochani’s book that was written on Manus Island through text messages reminds me of this incredible feat.

What are you currently listening to?
I have always found extreme metal to be an effective stress reliever, the more gruesome the vocals, the better! At present, a band called Vermin Womb has been on repeat; the vocalist is in another band called Primitive Man. The vocals are very primal, very guttural and very satisfying.

Happiness is?
When my dog speaks to me in non-verbal language.

What does the future hold for you?
More learning, more action and more explorations.

Karina performs in the premiere of Cat Hope’s new work, Speechless at the Sunset Heritage Precinct as part of the 2019 Perth Festival from 26 February – 3 March. For more information, visit: www.perthfestival.com.au for details.

Image: Karina Utomo – photo by Paul Tadday