Alin Karna – Early life
Alin Karna was born during the 60s in mid July in Old Delhi, the capital city of India.
“My parents were on holiday visiting my Dad’s parents – my paternal grand-parents. Mum and Dad met at the North London Poly down in Kentish Town and my Dad was doing a Business Management course and my Mum was doing a secretarial thing..”
Alin was born in a British military hospital and not in the family home as per custom, although the traditional Hindu priests and astrologers were present at the birth.
Unaware and unconcerned about the circumstances and dynamics surrounding his entry into this world, Karna grew up and went to school in North London and started playing guitar around the age of 8 or 9 years old.
“In the second year of Junior School we had a really cool teacher who, I thought, looked and sounded like Jesus who played the guitar and taught us folk songs with his Jumbo steel-string acoustic.”
Alin became obsessed with the instrument and had soon learned to play a few chords well enough to play and sing alongside the teacher during the sing-song sessions with the children…
..Later, after his parents had divorced, Alin moved to Cornwall with his mother and was soon playing in pubs and hotels with older musicians to earn a bit of pocket money. When Alin left school he returned to London in the summer to stay with his Dad temporarily, and by Christmas he had joined a professional band who had a record deal and a manager.
Music career beginnings
“It was just after the new wave/punk thing. We were rehearsing down in Pimlico and then we just went out and gigged all over the shop at all the circuit venues in London like The Marquee, Dingwalls and the Music Machine and Hope & Anchor over in Islington, as well as colleges and that”.-
The band was called The News and was fronted by the shaven-headed lead singer, Sal Solo. Alin by now had moved into a tiny bed sit in West Hampstead just off the Abbey Road. When The News broke up- ( later becoming Classix Nouveaux), Karna got into session work playing guitar, bass and singing background vocals on jingles: television advertising music.
“I was really very lucky- I was playing pool one night in the local pub up in Muswell Hill and a Scottish bloke said to me ‘you play the guitar, sonny and you’re left-handed aren’t yuz?’ because he‘d noticed my fingernails. He invited me and my girlfriend round to his posh flat above the shops on the Fortis Green Road to meet his wife, Maggie, and we all got well plastered..”
Alin impressed Billy Gray by playing his Yamaha 6-string acoustic upside down the way Jimi Hendrix would do. Billy was a jingle producer working for the Jeff Wayne Music organisation which was one of the main production companies who were hired to create jingles for the top advertising agencies like Young & Rubicam who Alin’s mum worked for during the 70s.
“Me and my sister would sometimes go on the bus to meet Mum for lunch down in Camden Town with our Gran- it was a huge white building opposite Mornington Crescent tube station and the Music Machine- a popular music venue at the time that I was to perform at many times later on- back in them days we could get steak and kidney pie with mash, toad-in-the-hole, bangers and roast spuds and chicken or pork chops with Yorkshire Pudding and gravy, my top favourite!” ..
..Karna was in and out of recording studios and soon put together a band of session players with the singer Rick Driscol as the front man and Lindsay Elliott on drums who was formerly in The News and before that in Cockney Rebel with his brother Stewart Elliott who co-founded the group with Steve Harley. “We recorded two A sides and a B side with Steve Harley producing – me and the bass player, Graham Culpin, had signed exclusive publishing with Elton John’s Rocket Music and Billy got us a deal at Pye Records with Dick Leahy” The record suffered due to publishing and copyright complications but Alin persisted by forming a 7-piece Motown-style group called The Motivations who were essentially bank-rolled by the managers at Rocket Music and Rocket Records who were grooming Karna for future success.
Discovery…on the right track
Before long, The Motivations were ‘discovered’ by pop manager Tom Watkins who signed Alin and the bass player, Russell McKenzie, to Warner Brothers Music and EMI Records via David Ambrose, the A & R executive who had previously signed Queen and Duran Duran among other successful acts. In 1985, the single “Contract Of The Heart” charted and was released as Spelt like This. A second single was released, produced by the uber pop success production trio; Stock Aitkin Waterman but the project failed even after huge investment by EMI Records and Warner Brothers.
“’Contract’ should have been top ten if we got on Top Of The Pops but we didn’t.. – .. and I thought it was a great record but I wasn‘t too keen on the video that cost an arm and a leg to make..” Karna says looking back ..“I was very young and innocent back then, it wasn’t to be and it did take me quite a while to get over that whole episode thing back then- but I never ever gave up and I have absolutely no regrets…”
..In 1988 Karna arrived in Los Angeles where his elder brother was based and was soon appearing in bit parts in Hollywood films as well as writing, producing and performing with bands including 80’s pop diva Hazel O’Connor and songwriter Maria Machado whilst living in Venice Beach.
“There was a Hari Krishna temple me and Haze would go to in Venice Beach and there was one out in Topanga so me, my girlfriend, Hazel and her newly-wed husband would drive over there past Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway and then up to Topanga Canyon where Hazel later moved to; into one of those posh motor homes up there on top of the mountain – they even had a swimming pool and we’d all mess about up there and me and Hazel were always writing and demoing songs over in our studio in Burbank..”
..During the early 90s Alin and Hazel did several British tours that culminated with signing a record deal over in Germany and performing top of the bill at the Heineken Beer Festival at Swansea. By the mid to late 90s, Alin was back over in LA recording, performing gigs and dabbling in film music production and advertising and library music as he set up a ‘project’ computer-based midi recording studio.. ..
“I joined a band called ‘Giant Huge’ as their bass player and backing singer cos I love playing bass guitar as well messing around on the piano and drums and so forth. That band ‘Giant Huge’ gigged all over southern California and even up in San Francisco a few times- the lead guitarist, Christian Nesbitt, son of Mike Nesbitt of the Monkeys, was absolutely top class and we were constantly playing the regular LA circuit including The Roxy, La Luna, American Pie over in Santa Monica, Genghis Cohen’s, The Gaslight, The Troubadour and all them sunset strip gigs like The House Of Blues, it was a good crack really, I always had a ball over there though it was tough to live in West Hollywood where I was on Fountain just below Sunset Boulevard- it was a tough neighborhood that was different from Venice or the valley towns- apparently mainly controlled by the Russian mafia, it was safe but a little bit dodgy at times, I used to walk the few blocks over to the Chinese Theatre to go see fillums there..”
During the noughties Alin has lived in the South West of England close to the border with Cornwall outside the Devonshire city of Exeter..
“I’d had enough of the dog-eat-dog rat race city life- I’d been the victim of a horrific burglary at my flat and my health had taken a real turn for the worse following two very nasty car accidents over in America and a third accident in Golders Green.”:
Alin, whilst stationary at a zebra crossing, was badly shunted in his car from behind into the back of a double decker bus by a foreign motorist who wasn’t looking where he was driving at 20-25 mph..
..”Apparently he did a runner cos he was illegal or whatever and ‘Interpol’ had to track him down, the silly sod! .. ..I woke up in an ambulance and the bloke and nurse was asking me what day it was and what colour was this and what was my name and other silly questions cos they thought I had a broken neck or even brain damage or something and I was in the Royal Free Hospital for a while- I’d had a really nasty whack and it was lucky I had a Volvo otherwise it could have been a different story”…
…After travelling to India and over to Ireland and Greece Alin decided to go back to school to study Music Technology and Sound Engineering along with a teacher’s training course at Exeter College. In the summer of 2004 after his exams, Alin left college at Plymouth University to go to South Africa for several weeks- Johannesburg and Cape Town to write, produce and Sound Design for film production companies. Karna achieved three awards for his work on “Born Into Struggle” a documentary that was featured at The Cannes Film Festival and had won awards including the Encanter Film Award.
In 2008, Alin had formed a new production company with fashion designer, Kathy Mason called English Riviera Productions. Alin had started writing songs prolifically and with a tremendous amount of new energy. The two artists began to develop the company and its website with the project ExtraterrestrialUK; a music act, a band that would record and play live gigs and events and essentially was a creative outlet for Alin‘s music and Kathy‘s art design and film editing work.
Over two years, almost three years of planning and pre-production the debut album called “PROVIDENCE” was released in 2012.