Karaboudjan, the pseudonym of Billy Kim, has just released the last single to comprise his debut EP IMAGO — available digitally now, with a vinyl pressing of the EP to come! The accomplished musician is a member of Tycho‘s band and has already seen success with a feature in Rolling Stone Magazine and a GRAMMY nomination (all prior to the release of his solo debut as Karaboudjan). But, it seems sometimes the universe has other plans. Amid his success with Tycho and other projects, at home, Kim’s father passed away. The LA-born and raised musician reflects back to his roots and honors his Dad with the new release, IMAGO.
Painting a picture of growth, love and loss on the EP, Billy has created a fully-realized project.
For starters, the name ‘Karaboudjan’, for Kim, is symbolic and taken from formational childhood memories. According to Kim, “The name had always fascinated me — it was the name of a ship in The Adventures of Tin Tin. I remember begging my parents to take me to the library, so I could check out the next book in the series with which I was so infatuated. For me, ‘Karaboudjan’ reminds me of the purity of my youth and its enormous curiosity of life un-lived.”
For the EP name, Kim explains, “There are two definitions and I’m using both. The first definition is quite literal, as I’ve reached adulthood while completing my first solo endeavor. It’s like I’ve finally reached a stage in my life where I am comfortable enough to finally release my own music that relates to personal topics for me. The second definition is an homage to my father, who definitely influences my behavior, especially after his death.”
IMAGO delivers five songs, all released as singles and out now, yet flowing together into one solid piece. Listening to the EP in order — from “Same Mistakes” to “I’ll Be Just Fine” — is a sonic ride of dream-pop bliss to hints of psych rock and chilled downtempo moments peppered in to create expansive soundscapes. It is a collection of songs that are lyrically rich with deep and intentional sentimental thought, all of which enveloped by reverb, echos and warped synths, blasting throughout to bring an eerily classic and familiar vibe.
All the songs were written during the in-between times while working with Tycho.
It all started coming together in 2016, when Kim moved away from his childhood home to the east side of NYC towards New Jersey to join Tycho. He describes it, “Our apartment faced the Hudson River and we had the most incredible view of the Empire State Building. It was magical to have that view every time I looked up from my computer. It was the first time I ever lived away from home, and there was something so enchanting about the city for me… probably because that’s where I fell in love with my wife.”
The songs are rich and heavy in nature, dealing with the loss of a parent to life lessons learned and finding your one-and-only. But, the lyrics and the tales they spin do not hold the song: the epic and expansive, everlasting guitar, synths, echos and reverbs drive most of the songs to soaring heights. It sets the mood to one of nostalgia mixed with whimsy.
One of the more upbeat songs with catchy hooks, “Let Go”, is set against an open-wide chilled-out production while addressing the passing of someone who perhaps might have been too young to leave this plane. And, “I’ll Be Just Fine” is a romantic song, written right after reuniting with his soon-to-be wife. It is beautifully enveloped in dreamy synths and a driving back beat to create pure lo-fi, electro pop bliss, yet without the traditional overtures of a love song.
On IMAGO, nothing really is as it seems… but, I guess that is what growing up is about! It’s about accepting that tomorrow is a new day and we are only ever experiencing today by riding high with the joys life can bring and dealing with harsh realities of yesterday that make us human. And, sometimes a love song doesn’t need to say ‘love’ to express love; maybe all a partner needs to hear is “I’ll be just fine // I’ll be waiting by your side // I’m doing fine // The worry’s all mine // I’ll be waiting by your side.” DAMN, that is deep!
Purchase or stream ‘IMAGO’ EP:
- Same Mistakes
- Let Go
- Seems Like
- Falling Forwards
- I’ll Be Just Fine
Karaboudjan – “I’ll Be Just Fine” official video
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.