Immutably in Love: A Conversation with Karsen Daily on her Genesis NFT Collection “27 Times”

Interview by: hole.nyc

27 Times is a cross-medium NFT collection. 27 original poems were given to 27 artists for their unique responses, each in their respective mediums and styles. The Genesis capsule will be released at midnight on February 18th, 2022. The poems and their associated works of art explore expansive themes of love, heartbreak, and all the emotions that lay in an unnameable space.

We had the chance to sit down with Karsen Daily, the artist and facilitator of the project, to talk about Web 3.0, the deep sensitivity of an artist, their importance to society, and navigating through one’s own “hero’s journey.”

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Melanie Maynard: First off I want to thank you for being here today, and I can’t wait to talk to you about “27 times”. It must feel like you’re birthing something huge because, it’s obvious you put a lot of time and so much of your intimate self into this. Would love to get some background on you first if you’re open to that?

Karsen Daily: Yeah, you nailed it. It does feel like a birthing, and it’s an interesting experience because I have done a lot of things that feel like this. I have helped a lot of people with their drops and helped them run their strategy. I’ve launched a lot of things. I’ve brought a lot of products and ideas to market. So in a lot of ways, I’m doing the thing that I already know how to do. But every once in a while, I’ll have this jolt that feels like I’ve been struck by lightning when I remember that this art is about me. It’s almost as if I’ve compartmentalized the realization that I am the artist because of how much work it’s been.

MM

Tell me about your journey down the Web3 rabbit hole 🕳🐇

KD

My journey into this space feels, in its own right, a bit poetic. I was talking to somebody about the literary structure of the hero’s journey. And you have this hero who is kind of living in this mundane life and doing these things, and they have their call, they find their calling and their mentor, and then they walk through the threshold. I try to ask myself sometimes where I’m at on my hero’s journey. But as far as the NFT space goes, it is a culmination of all of the things I think that I am passionate about: from pop culture, communication, to women’s and gender studies, and beyond.

MM

Right. Is this you responding?

Artwork by Mike Three in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

KD

I spent a lot of time using that education to kind of contextualize and build a dichotomy and deeper understanding of why the world works in the way that it does, and why media is created or how media and pop culture influence us, and how we, as people, influence it back. My first job out of college was at a company called Superplastic, where I was employee number three in Vermont. A lot of people know this story, but Superplastic was amazing because I got to actually learn about pop culture.

MM

Vermont-based company?

KD

Yeah, isn’t that cool?

MM

What a great name.

Superplastic NFTs capsule 2021

KD

That’s why I’m saying poetic, because there’s really no reason why a company like Superplastic should have been in Vermont.

It’s crazy. And there’s no reason why somebody who’s 21-years-old should have had an opportunity like that to learn from. I used to sit side-by-side with Paul Budnitz at his desk during my first year at Superplastic. He was so generous with what he knew, and what he shared with me, and what he taught me, that I started to actually understand rock and roll and punk rock, and what’s cool, and how trends start, and who actually starts them, and streetwear, and collectibles, and street art… it was amazing.

So I had this kind of larger, more focused, educational understanding of pop culture and of how hegemonic power structures influence it, and actually, now I’m applying it to real trends, real people, in real moments in history, during which I started to draw these parallels between everything in pop culture you can anticipate; it’s so systematic. It’s very amazing. And so I feel like because of that, I was able to kind of have this Spidey sense tingle around the Web Three.

MM

That’s so interesting.

KD

Back to the hero’s journey, I eventually had the first call under the title of Director of Brand Development. Obviously, I started as employee number three, a Marketing Coordinator, and then had many titles in the three years I was there and was able to work within every department. For a long time, the department was just all of us and everything together. And that was every department in the whole company. This is a long introduction, by the way. So I’m sorry about that.

Artwork by Freedom Unlimited in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

MM

I was going to say, is that where you discovered Web3?

KD

Exactly.

MM

Insane, Vermont…

KD

Fast forward a little bit more, and in December of that same year, I really started to get into clubhouse talks with people about this topic. We were talking about philosophy around agency and autonomy and creative freedom, liberation. And thought to myself, “Oh, my god, the blockchain is a feminist school of thought.” Like, 1000% is. There are so many parallels with feminism. I thought, “People who are leveraging blockchain are micro-dosing feminism. I love this!”

That’s where I got to my calling of my Hero’s Journey. Because I was at Superplastic, I had a bit of a hard time really exercising that feminist muscle and that muscle that is really focused on how figuring out how to achieve equity. I was on the board of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England for a long time, but it just didn’t feel good. So one Saturday in March 2021, I woke up and thought, “I have to quit my job.” I had no savings, no job backed up, no idea what I would do. Who would care that I quit, or if anyone would care about me after I left Superplastic? But I couldn’t quiet that buzz in my head. I walked into work on Monday morning and I quit my job. Ten days later, I moved to California and started my own consulting company. Wow, here we are.

MM

So, you’ve said, “Your Hero’s Journey” multiple times now. What is that? I’ve never heard of it.

KD

So a Hero’s Journey is — I just pulled this up. It’s a story structure, a narrative story structure in mythology. The best example of it — truly — is Disney’s Hercules.

MM

Are you talking about it in terms of yourself? Are you thinking about your journey… like you're writing it?

KD

Somebody gave me this advice a long time ago. They were a writer and producer for television, he said, “Have you ever thought about what your journey is?” There are a number of basic stages: the ordinary world, call to adventure, refusal of the call, mentor thresholds, tests and allies, and enemies, and then approach to the inner cave, and eventually a supreme ordeal. But basically, we’re all on our journey, right? We all exist in our story. So once I started to frame and understand and think about my life as a plotline and a character arc, [laughs] it makes things, I think, easier to digest. And it also helps to create a container for me to feel like I can embark on these vulnerable or challenging missions.

MM

Really cool, like really cool.

KD

Yeah.

MM

Yeah. It gives strength. It gives you strength.

KD

Yeah. People find comfort in all kinds of places.

Artwork by Paulina Almira in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

MM

I get that because it seems like it would allow you to remove yourself emotionally from the thing that might make you anxious, or the thing that feels daunting because it’s a part of this written idea that you’ve had, or this thing you’ve envisioned that’s going to happen 1000%. It’s similar to manifesting and allowing exactly a layer of removal or a degree of separation to work more objectively.

KD

Exactly, You know what’s up.

MM

Okay, so the work you do in this space is super important. When I first started surfing Web3, I found Karsen Daily, your Twitter space, and I had just come out of something that was very uncomfortable. That experience had been one of my first, and I felt pretty beat up from it. On your Twitter, you were saying exactly what I had just experienced and I felt such a strong urge to follow up on your thoughts so I raised my hand, which — for someone who hates public speaking — was really hard! That was the first time I felt comfortable speaking as a woman in what is a white cis-male dominant space. The first time I felt comfortable was on your show. I felt safe there. And so, yeah, I wanted a summary of what you’re doing. Outside of Twitter, what else do you have going on?

KD

First, let me say thank you. It makes me happy whenever people tell me that they have a similar kind of sentiment as you. But it also makes me really fucking sad because damn, there aren’t many people who are facilitating really widely, who are listened to, who have publicized conversations and programming in this space. And it’s not all about numbers, but at the end of the day, it’s still such a new space, so everybody that’s here right now is so fucking important. Everybody that is here right now has the potential to be whatever the Web3 equivalent is of a Steve Jobs or an Anna Winston. Truly, we do. And so it makes me really sad to see how much talent and how many amazing people’s voices are missing because of experiences similar to yours. That’s all to say, I appreciate you, and that kind of gets to my work.

Artwork by Hawkward in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

When I moved to LA, I started my own — what I called — agency. I didn’t really know what that meant, but now I have a better, clearer direction. People who know me know that nothing I do or touch is an independent project. Megan Reynosa (who goes by Metaversemeg online) is my incredible other-half in work life. We have visualized this agency as being a full-stack production and consulting agency where we can do anything that people need in this space. We will help others to create a decentralized solution, or we will help them see where they can implement decentralized solutions to their existing or their imagined brand infrastructure.

A lot of that is focused on community, but a lot of it is also strategy. I am fortunate, but I do feel like I have a deep — yet ever-evolving — understanding of how blockchain technology actually works and how those systems work. For me, NFTs are not the medium: blockchain is actually the medium. When you think about a medium in, for example, art, you think about how these systems work together as an ongoing practice, with an ongoing existence. The blockchain is always waiting for its next change agent. It really is. You can mold it in any way that you’d like, really, it’s just a matter of dreaming it up and then finding the Dev and tech team to help you build it.

So that’s where I come in. I also work on production stuff — very fun for us to create content and have Twitter spaces. So we do a little bit of everything a little bit too much, but every day we are tapping into our existing skill sets or into creativity and intuition.

MM

Learning! Ok, ok, so 27 Times. Let’s get into it.

KD

27 Times is a collection of my original poetry that will be minted on the Ethereum blockchain and sold as a collection of 1-of-1 NFTs in a 24-hour minimum, no-reserve auction. 27 Times is an NFT drop in the collection, similar to a genesis collection. I’m calling it a cross-medium collection. It’s very art-focused. It’s very community-driven, collaborative. Not to toot my own horn, but I really wanted to implement a level of innovation around the tokenomics of this to really reflect who I am and what the content is in the collection, and what it means to me.

Poetry for Karsen Daily’s 27 Times Collection releasing 2/17 at 12am

When you say Genesis collection, what does that mean?

KD

So it’s my first NFT drop, basically independently. I have consulted on, advised, and worked on many drops, which has been amazing. I did a drop over the summer: a collectible series with Chad Knight and Nathaniel Parrot called NFT Affirmations, which was also incredible, really fun. I learned through these and they deepened my understanding of the space and of the technology. This is the first drop of my own artwork

MM

So “genesis” means the premiere drop.

KD

Exactly

MM

Cool. That one is for those who are transitioning into the space!

KD

We’ve all been there. We’re all learning. We often forget, because we are so used to using jargon and colloquialisms. It tends to make conversations like this not very inclusive. So I always appreciate when people get me to slow down.

MM

I know it’s talking two different languages.

MM

So, I can really relate to your sentiment in one of your videos where you were talking about loving to love. And I think love is what makes — corny I know — but love is what makes the world go around. I think we all need to express it to those around us way more. I think that it’s such an important thing. There’s a lot of fighting. There’s a lot of shitty stuff in the world. And I think that a lot of things can be remedied with kindness, empathy, and love. And I think it’s just a really beautiful time of year, too, given that Valentine’s Day has just passed. You’re sharing something so intimate and being very vulnerable. You’re sharing your heart with us publicly, to a wide audience. Minting your heart, so to speak. So, thank you.

KD

I love that, thank you. Love is like an interesting thing, right? We have so many expectations placed on us, which are, again, rooted in patriarchal systems and societies. And I think that we have a skewed understanding of what “love” is and what it ought to be and who it’s reserved for. We’re constantly pestered with messages around love, but everybody is kind of on their own journey to figure out what that means for them so that they can live authentically. And I also think that there’s no separation of frequency between love and art, so it all ties together.

Artwork by Kid Eight in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

MM

This work is like a very intimate look into your heart. Was this a challenge to be so close to those feelings and your history with poetry? What were your general feelings when you were going through this?

KD

Well, a lot of my poetry is about heartbreak. A lot of it is quite sad. I’ve always said I don’t really write poems about people when a relationship is going well. I feel like I’m pretty good at expressing to those people how I feel in various ways. But it becomes hard to express how you feel after a relationship — or love affair or whatever it is, friendship even — ends. Things get closed off. If you get to the end and people are upset and angry, nobody wants to hear anything. It’s difficult to let your ego fall by the wayside. You also can still love somebody and not want to be with them anymore. You can love them and be mad at them. All of these things can exist concurrently. And people forget that. So poetry is kind of like my outlet, to help me get over something or to process something and say the things that I didn’t have a chance to say. Once I exercise that creative outlet, I’m able to move on.

MM

And you find resolution through the work.

KD

Yes, because I’ve said what I needed to say. Some of the opportunities for challenge, personal growth, and expansion have been through bringing those memories back to the surface, reliving them, making sure that they look good and that the tokens are set up perfectly. And it’s beautiful, visually. And the second piece is just like you said, to share it with the world. All this is, I guess, contradictory to what I think people’s perception of me is in this space. And that is the disarming part.

MM

Cool. So we’re talking about love, we’re talking about feelings. Artists are sensitive. Artists are so important, the world would be such a dull place without art and without the sharing of intimate expression.

As artists, we feel things deeply because we are sensitive beings. Sensitive to the world and how work, life, relationships, climate change affect us all on a deeper level. Maybe we were born more sensitive and we’re more sensitive to things around us, like work — things that will maybe trigger us more easily.

Artwork by Lizzy Aroloye in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

KD

Definitely. It’s challenging because, as you said, a lot of the players or participants are cis, hetero, white, male, like a lot of masculine energy. Think about the duality and binary of feminine and masculine energy, through the lens, for example, of yin and yang. That exists within all of us. And technology is very much a masculine energy. And especially in this space, it’s very active and feminine energy is more passive. That’s all amplified by the speed at which this space is moving and evolving.

It’s also hard when your work is your art. For me, ideas are an art form as well. So when I’m coming up with this innovation, I’m experiencing imagination. When you come up with strategy or how to be, like, how to have an innovative drop mechanic or tokenomics or whatever, that’s imagination, which is art and play, and that is very feminine energy. So, of course, there’s a lot of sensitivity with that. I despise when people are like, “Oh, it’s not personal, it’s just business.” This work takes every bit of me. If I’m involved with something; it’s personal. You can’t just separate the two.

I’m somebody who wants so badly to always have a collaborative element to my projects, whether it be strategic or creative or otherwise, so I have to sort through all that. I think I’ve gotten better. At Superplastic when I was younger, I might cry if one of my ideas or suggestions was challenged. I remember when Superplastic announced their Series A funding round and telling us they were going to hire ten people and how amazing it would be. I saw that as a difficulty at the time. In retrospect, that’s another reason I quit Superplastic. I grew so much and I didn’t know how much more growing I needed to do there; it was time for me to go out and into the world.

Like, I think we’re shifting away from this entire paradigm I’m discussing, though. It seems we can get to a place where we admire and respect sensitivity, empathy, compassion, and feminine energy in the workplace, especially because some women have a lot of masculine energy, too. I’m doing, I’m working, I’m creating, and I’m building. We have to honor both of these realms.

Artwork by Rachel Wolchen in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

MM

As a fellow existentialist, I feel like introspective and sensitive beings experience feelings of loss of identity and self and this desire to switch up life as a recurring experience. While you’re in this kind of painful and numbing state of a loss of identity, in my experience, there’s a fundamental shift happening in your life. There’s another self waiting just on the other side that is explosive and beautiful. It’s like the perennial blooming after winter. I had an existential crisis recently when I had Covid, and I was like, “What am I doing?”

KD

What am I doing? It’s what came to mind immediately. Haha

MM

Hahaha! Totally. Our identities becomes so intertwined with what we create and we begin to question, “Who am I outside of this?” It’s important to be in tune with these existential feelings: loss of identity, confusion of self, and wanting to change. It’s painful, but there’s always something waiting to happen on the other side, in my personal experience.

KD

True. If you have to make that jump, you have to take the lead. What other choice do we have? I will be miserable if I cannot be myself and understand myself. Although in order to understand myself, I have to get away from myself. That is a big part of 27 Times, for sure.

MM

Cool. Yeah, sometimes taking the moment to just “be.”

KD

Yeah, ask, “What am I doing?”

MM

And restructure and be with self: replacing the moments of depression with the idea of what lay on the other side. I think it’s important to highlight that there’s always a breakthrough when you’re feeling that low.

KD

Totally. You have to be with it. The more that you fight it or resist it, the more you risk getting turned inside out. Sometimes you have to just submit to it and be like, “I have absolutely no clue how I got into this mess or where I go from here. But we’re going to keep moving.”

MM

And it’s okay. It’s okay that I am where I am. I was feeling all of this reading over your work so I wanted to include the thought about breaking through the low times with the promise of another side.

GIF of Artwork by Zoe Winters in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

MM

I would specifically love to hear more about your roots. Your intro video mentions how people see the flower but aren’t as aware of the roots. Tell me a little bit about that. I know you grew up in Vermont?

KD
A large part of my roots are certainly still in Vermont. I created my Twitter account in February 2021. I had zero followers, brand new. Like, I left Superplastic and I wasn’t sure if anybody knew who I was and was unsure of whether or not they would know who I was at any point in the future. It comes to a point on social media and stuff like that, where you lean into what works. I felt like people would celebrate or like me or want to get to know me based on this online persona, which is still me, but not all of me. It’s the allegory of the cave, even if we’re talking about the Web3 cave. This is only a shadow, a snapshot of who we are. You just have to keep moving. My journey to adulthood has been tumultuous. I had a single mother who did her best and kept running uphill. She always had something going on. I watched that happen.

My dad was a drug addict and an alcoholic, and he was deeply depressed and had a lot of mental health issues that he was never able to work through or talk about because of where he came from. I’m sure my mom had a hard time processing feelings and emotions because of the stigma around them. As somebody who is a volcano of emotion and fear and anxiety and anger and frustration and energy, I didn’t really feel like I had outlets to express that. I tended to assimilate into my environment or those I was close to in a way that was inauthentic. When people get to know you and who you really are — when you’re in a bad mood, angry, tired — they sometimes get offended by having their expectations let down., even if it’s because of something you tweeted or posted, or whatever. That part is still complicated and frustrating to me.

MM
Honestly, I got a little teary when I was writing this, but I wish I could give 14-year-old you a hug.

KD
Me too. Me too. But I am still 14-year-old me. This is the hug. This conversation is the hug. The blockchain is the hug. It’s amazing. It’s fucking epic.

Artwork by Renderfruit in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

MM
I love that. I’ve also been to really dark places and used writing as a way out of it. I’ve always written. I wrote to my grandfather after he passed. I hate to see people struggle and empathize deeply when people are struggling. Nothing is forever when you’re feeling down: there’s often another path or unexplored door. And I want to put that there for those who feel really bad right now. We’re both proof of that.

Anyway, speaking of unopened doors and untraveled paths, let’s mosey down the limitlessness of blockchain capabilities. I’d love to hear more about it because you’re a writer, and you’re getting it on the blockchain. You’re collaborating with artists. You’re finding a way to bring your vision to life with the new technology.

KD
Yeah! The blockchain is an infrastructure, and it’s new and young so it’s important to reinforce or reintroduce the idea that we can be playful. It reminds me of when you’re an adult and you look at a cardboard box, you’re like, this is a cardboard box that needs to go to the recycling. And when you’re a child and you look at a cardboard box, you’re like: “This is a spaceship. This is a school bus. This is an ice cream parlor.” Like, what is this? It’s a computer. It really just came to me. But it’s so true to me. The blockchain is like that as well. You have to get into that child state and then be able to express and find devs or people who know how to code and can build for you.

What I am seeing in this space is people leveraging new technology to just recreate the same systems and product verticals that already exist.

MM
Boring! Where is the ingenuity? Where is the imagination?

KD
Exactly! It doesn’t have to be like that. That work doesn’t need to go on the blockchain. What can you do to better protect your consumers or to help them earn or to expand their understanding of the world? I think real issues that we are facing in society, like global issues, can be solved by creating a code and a function on a smart contract on the blockchain. And then all it takes for somebody that has been studying this in the real world who understands how to implement it is to say, “Holy shit, this can be scaled and brought into the way that we live life.” That is my belief.

MM

Yeah, I love that. Okay, so I’m curious, I guess, we’re jumping a little bit, but I’m curious about how you conceptually developed the project and how you decided who you wanted to collaborate with.

KD

Anybody that gets to this space, especially in the NFT community, probably has a moment in which they wonder how they can participate. Usually, the answer is through art. I think that is a blessing. There are so many people whose creativity probably goes beyond what, so far, we’re seeing minted as an NFT. There’s just so much room for everybody here. It’s a new country. Every chain, every DAO, every project can be its own little country and economy. But that being said, my art form is poetry. This work occurred when I was writing a lot for the first time in a long time. It was scary to me because of imposter syndrome and this and that. I’m also not seeing a lot of people doing writing or poetic NFT. Ether poems is the first one that I saw that Digital Art Check put together. I asked myself, “How do I want to do this?”

I wanted to do something that was different, and I wanted to do something that was collaborative and true to myself. I wouldn’t have wanted to do this if the poetry was a side of me that they hadn’t seen or witnessed or experienced. I wanted them to look at the website or understand the technology or see the people involved and think: “This is definitely this has come from her all the way through.”

Artwork by Ricardo Cavolo in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

MM

Yeah, very cool. So now that we’re on that topic, how did you choose who you wanted to collaborate with?

KD

It was challenging for me to ask these people to be a part of it because some of them are artists. Some of them are my artists and people that I love and respect. Ricardo Cavalo, for example, I worked with when I worked at Superplastic. He was part of two Janky series, and he had his own SuperJanky, and I worked with him a lot. Ricardo and I had had a conversation once where he mentioned that his characters have two sets of eyes because everybody sees themselves differently than how they’re perceived. That stuck with me. And that’s also a scene that’s being explored here in 27 Times. So I knew I wanted to ask him and then render fruit. He did an incredible drop on Nifty Gateway that was also very emotionally driven and focused. I think it’s called Paths, and it was all about the path that we take based on our emotional influence or impulse.

A lot of these collaborations also came organically through my friendships. I’m lucky that I had built friendships with these people and that they trusted me enough to dedicate their most valuable resources as artists. This is their time and their creativity. It all is kind of surreal.

Artwork by Vee in collaboration with Karsen Daily for her “27 Times” Genesis Collection

MM

Collaboration is so powerful. I think that collective aspirations towards a common goal is an incredibly rewarding feeling because it is shared. You’re working with another artist, another brilliant mind, and you’re both putting your ideas on the table, and you’re responding to one another. I mean, we do this all the time as artists. We listen to the music and we respond to it as we create, and it influences our work. We read poetry, we feel something, we respond by creating based off of the words, the feelings, the underlying meaning.

27 times is really a beautiful display of what autonomous collaboration looks like.

KD

There is a poem I had published when I was younger, and it was my suicide note. It was a response to a prompt given by a teacher as a homework assignment. This is how the art came to be. So for the artists, the collaborative pieces were prompted from my poems. We didn’t talk about ideas. We didn’t go back and forth. There were no changes or revisions. I didn’t even really explain to them what the poems meant or who they were about or when I wrote them.

It was definitely a trust exercise. I didn’t plan for backup artists. I didn’t overstack it. In a relationship, if you trust somebody and you get cheated on or you get ghosted, you don’t plan for a backup partner, you just have to figure it out. And that’s kind of what I wanted to do. I wanted to be true to all of that.

MM

I love that. Karsen…I know you’re off to see Doja tonight and you gotta get ready.

KD

Yeah, I’m putting pink eyeshadow on! Literally, about to be the best day of my life. I feel like it’s like a wedding day, to be honest.

MM

Well, thank you so much for opening up to us today and sharing your project with the world. It will live on forever in the chain.

The auction for Karsen’s genesis nft collection, 27 times, goes live this Thursday, Feb. 18 at 12am est. the day she was born. Hole_DAO will be hosting a live twitter space the night of her launch to speak to all of the artists and support Karsen in her Genesis debut.

For more information visit: 27times.xyz

Stay-tuned for updates:

Auction: https://auctions.27times.xyz/

Karsen’s Socials:

Karsen’s Twitter
27 Times
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Our Socials:

Twitter
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Special thanks to Naomi Falk for the rapid edits to our in-depth convo.

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