Vocalist Karen Lee Orzolek, better known by her stage name Karen O, is the daughter of a Polish dad and a Korean mom. She grew up in New Jersey.
Before forming Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O studied at Oberlin, the same arts college in Ohio that Girls writer Lena Dunham attended. It was there that she met drummer Brian Chase.
Karen O soon transferred to New York University and met guitarist Nick Zinner in a grubby 2nd Avenue bar in 2000. The dive closed in June 2011 and the band included a dedication to it on their Mosquito album.
Karen O and Zinner originally formed a folky acoustic duo called "Unitard." During this time they also shared a loft with future members of the band Metric
The pair felt drawn to the art punk scene and recruited Chase for a new rock trio. They quickly earned a significant buzz for their arty and garage punk and got gigs supporting The Strokes
and The White Stripes
as well as a major label deal with Interscope.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs are best known for their ballad "Maps
," which was included on their debut album, Fever To Kill
. "The only reason I wanted to be on a major label was for people to hear 'Maps,'" Karen O told Spin Magazine
"Maps" was voted the best alternative love song of all time in 2009 by the British music magazine, the NME.
Another notable track is "Zero
," which was ranked by both Spin
and the NME
as the Best Song of 2009.
Karen O, wrote and performed the soundtrack to Spike Jonze's children's film Where The Wild Things, for which she earned a Grammy nomination. "Since as early as fifth or sixth grade I wanted to do stuff for kids.," said the singer. "That's my biggest goal, to focus on children's entertainment."
One of Indie Rock's most attractive women, Karen O has won such honors as Spin's Sex Goddess award (2004, 2005), Blender's Rock's Hottest Woman (2006) and NME's Hottest Woman (2010).
Karen O married film and music-video director Barnaby Clay in late 2011. She sung the Mosquito
track "Wedding Song
" to her husband at their marriage reception. She told NME
that she wrote the tune especially for their nuptials. "We didn't have vows at my wedding," she said. "I feel really awkward about saying stuff - so saying it in a song made perfect sense."
Nick Zinner is an accomplished photographer and several exhibits of his work have been mounted. He was commissioned by Lee Jeans in January 2011 to shoot their Winter '11 advertising campaign.