Clubbing and partying is an internationally acknowledged way to have a great time, and Karan Bhatia is a curator of fun. Played in more than six countries, he has created a mark on the industry with his immense talent. DJ Karan makes you jump, groove, and dance to his tunes.
How have you been spending time in the pandemic?
Pandemic was different for many people. While many were frustrated that they were stuck at home and had nothing to do, I, however, didn’t feel that way. I was still working, DJing and creating new content for my audience. So, during this time, I turned my place into a club. I got some new equipment to give out new music to the people using Instagram and Facebook’s live features. Another thing that I did during the pandemic to up the whole experience – I collaborated with an interior design company and created themed sets. One such theme was a party on mars with me in a spacesuit. I also worked with a visual artist to put up eye-catchy and relevant videos on the screen behind me to give it more of a club feel. Basically, I kept myself busy during this time. I worked on some new stuff, exercised, organised my thoughts and goals, did some self-introspection, and planned for the future, which I never had enough time to do before. So, for me, the pandemic wasn’t that bad.
You did many live streams and online concerts during this pandemic. What was the response like? And how different was it than performing live?
The response was great because obviously everyone’s at home, bored, and looking for activities that can be entertaining. People don’t want to sit at home, idle. I feel online platforms like Netflix, and all got a spike in their viewership because of the same. And that happens for us too because many people started tuning in online, as they were spending more time on these platforms. I did shows on my social media channels, with Bollyboom India and for a 24-hour concert for a Dubai promoter. Our online audience has also increased because people are now more active than ever. Coming to how different it was, it was very different. When I’m playing in clubs, I like to read reactions, gauge people and understand what they want to listen to. I tried doing the same for my online shows. Due to the lack of personal interaction, doing this was difficult. Still, I wanted to make sure I play what my audience likes. I got some new equipment to help me do all this. For example, my console now directly connects with Instagram, allowing the audio to go onto the stream, unlike before where the phone’s mic was doing the part. So, it was difficult and different, but at the same time, it was a great way to interact with my audience directly and entertain them.
What is the future of the live music industry? Are the changes we are seeing, here to stay or will things go back to as were they before the pandemic?
I think once the vaccine is out, I feel everything will go back to normal. People are dying for things to go back to the way they were, but at the same time, some things might retain. Online mediums have opened opportunities for a lot of people. Artists can now bring forward their stuff without any restrictions and, people who don’t like clubbing are getting entertained at homes. For me, I will go back to playing cubs for a live audience, but I think I will continue these live streams. Every Friday, before my live performance, I go online and play music for the audience at home because I want to keep that community alive. People who are aspiring DJs, this will be, I think, a fresh outlet. I think they should use this to their advantage. So, in all, I think, some part of the changes we have seen will stay, but the normalcy will most likely come back.
Can you tell us about the whole planning and execution of the track ‘Jump’? What was the whole idea behind the visual of the track?
I started working on Jump in 2018. I wanted to make something interesting and commercial. So, I started working on some music in my in-house studio, and after working on it for a while, it came to a place that I wanted to turn it into a proper song. After the music was made, I started looking for a good rapper who could draft lyrics in a way which is both comical and relatable but doesn’t go into the parody genre. Bali, the rapper who sung and wrote lyrics, did a great job adding references that people find lightered, recognised, and sensible. Once the lyrics were finished, we started the recording part of the process. Bali recorded his vocals and sent them to me, and after that, we started shooting the video. I didn’t want to make a video about women or expensive cars, so we came up with something fairly abstract but still had a flow. We shot the video in Dubai, using the beauty of the city as the backdrop. The song and video was the first commercial project I did, and I wanted to showcase the music and the lyrics and not anything else. We collaborated with editors and cinematographers to create the best product we could.
What was the experience of winning the Best Asian DJ award in 2017 like? What changed after that?
Well, to be honest, a lot changed after the award. I was a part of the music industry for a long time, and people respected my craft, but the award added a title to it. Of course, I was thrilled, but I also believe that one’s work and determination speaks louder than any awards. However, one of the few things that significantly changed was my media presence – Increase in coverage elevated my audience in the local and international markets, which was cool. Earlier, when people used to hire me for gigs, they used to ask for videos or do some research, but now that has changed, a trust has been built. Other than this, I believe the industry also perceives me in a different light; a lot more is now expected of me, and I am trying my best to deliver on that. It has motivated me to do more things, take more risks and create more content for my audience.
How was the process of shooting the exclusive video for ‘Dilbar Remix’?
‘Dibar remix‘ was a practice project. I believe that making videos of remixes is not worth it because you can never have the copyright on the music. However, I liked the remix, so I decided to make the video to prepare for songs like Jump. The vision behind it was something entirely different before, but as the team and I worked on it, we adapted it into a more professional-looking video. Through Dilbar remix, I learnt a lot about camera work, direction and other production aspects that have come in handy in other projects. After shooting the video, I didn’t really know the response, but I think people liked it. I experienced it before I was ready to ‘Jump.’
You have travelled a lot because of your profession, which is that one city or country that took your breath away? Or what travel experience has inspired you most?
I have had the opportunity to play in many different places – New York, Lebanon, Mumbai, Bali, Canada and more. I believe I always take a part of the place with me whenever I visit somewhere new. For example, when I went to Mumbai, the vibe there took my breath away. The audience was so pumped and welcoming that it made me enjoy every second I played. Other than this, I also take inspiration from places I’ve visited in my music. Like, recently, I had done a project called Electronic Yatra. It is a compilation of original electronic songs of mine encouraged by my travels.
If you had to describe the feeling that music gives you in a word or a phrase how would you describe that?
I feel blessed, content and proud of what I do. I genuinely love everything about music, and I am grateful that it is my profession. I am always ready to play for an audience. Even if I’m tired, and somebody asks me to play at a club, I’ll do it. I am in a very content place, and I can never imagine being in another industry other than music.
What’s next for you? What new projects can the people look forward to? Can you give us a sneak peek?
I have some interesting things coming up, but I can’t really disclose them. I am working on a few projects in the pipeline and hope that they will come out soon. I love creating new and innovative content for my audience. So, that’s all I have been working on.
What is your advice for the upcoming DJs? According to you, what must they focus on?
The biggest advice I can give to new artists is to be humble and patient. I have come across many people who, after one gig, think they know it all. Like every other field, the music industry also has a process that every professional should follow. Another trait that I think younger aspirants should have is respect for other artists. I have experienced new musicians come in before the main headliner and play what was supposed to be played later. Such behaviour is often met with backlash. I believe it’s important to be humble, patient and aware of what is happening around them. There are many opportunities for everyone in the world, and with online platforms, the world is their oyster. Hence, young artists should respect their craft, peers and the audience and work hard to earn their place in the industry.