Fusing psychedelic components with industrious beats, Ruturaj Wankhede, better known in the electronic world as KarmasynK, has cultivated a cosmic ability to design human experiences through sound. Flowing like liquid, the La-based DJ and producer takes listeners on a monumental journey through space and time with his unique brand of drum and bass. With a love for film and a deep intent to tell a story through his productions and live shows, KarmasynK has brought a cinematic appeal to his sound, which has turned him into a powerhouse within the drum and bass community. Representing the underground, KarmasynK has helped forge a path for DNB in the North American scene and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Following the release of his massive 3 track EP titled Moondrops The Daily Frequency caught up with KarmasynK to discuss his musical journey, inspirations, and of course, drum and bass.
Check out the full interview with KarmasynK below.
DF: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us! You ended the summer with a massive EP titled Moondrops, out now on Delta9 Recordings! How does it feel to be back working with a label like Delta9?
KarmasynK: You’re welcome! And thank you for taking an interest in me and my work! Ah, Delta9 has been really close to my heart, and I have been following the label ever since Diego took over almost five years ago. Since then, I have been playing the labels’ music and really resonated with the sound the label was taking – the deep, psychedelic but not just restricted to one vibe – a bit of everything but executed really well. And so it was a matter of time before we signed the first EP, Disturbed Motion, and then Moondrops. I love working with Diego, and I have said this many times, and I will say publicly that if there was only one label I could work with, it would be Delta9.
DF: What’s the meaning behind the title “Moondrops,” and is there a particular feeling or emotion you were looking to capture?
KarmasynK: Well, I had the pleasure of dating someone briefly who was obsessed with the moon and moon cycles and energy and also had adopted it as a part of her name and identity. I wanted to write this piece that would embody her personality, her curious but mysterious nature then unveiling into a very comfortable and warm connection. That’s how the inspiration for this piece came. I knew I wanted to write it but didn’t have a clear direction as to how to accomplish this and so it was always in the back of my mind. So one day, on a full moon night, with the whole moonlight glow, I finally had the idea and started laying down the sketch for what then would become Moondrops. The track starts off pretty deep and minimal and then keep progressing into more soothing melodic sections, with the peak happening when all of the elements come together in the second last 16 bars of the track, all working in harmony. Very fitting, much like the nature of the said person where all the parts of personalities come together to form a harmonious one being.
DF: It is clear each track has a cinematic appeal and really takes you on a journey into your sound. How important is it for you to provide an experience with your productions?
KarmasynK: Why thank you for spotting that! Yes, for me, it is incredibly important for a piece to progress. It needs to be a story. Only then can you truly offer escapism, which is an essential element of the therapeutic side of music. I originally started taking music so seriously because I did think music would save the world. The trance dance experience – where you are completely in tune with the music through movement is one of the most pinnacle of experiences I have had the pleasure of experiencing as a human being, and for me personally, the emotional, personal, and spiritual growth that has come out of it is enough of a reason for me to strive to work to bring such experiences to others. Now, apart from the meta sense of journey into the sound, I also just have a straight-up issue with a lot of modern drum and bass songs, and it’s that it has become all about the first drop. The first oooo moment when it drops, and it becomes all about that initial reaction. Which is cool, too, don’t get me wrong, but I felt that since the music peaks right in the first 16 bars of the drop, there is nowhere left for the story to progress. Kinda like sex with no foreplay. Personally, I am more of a guy that likes to take the time and enjoy and dwell in anticipation of the entire thing, which in itself is very pleasing and can make the reward ultimately more satisfying and makes the entire journey definitely much more engaging.
DF: The last track, Revive, is an ode to someone you know who can turn the darkest of times into light, and Moondrops as a whole is very emotionally driven. Would you say creating this record was therapeutic in a sense?
KarmasynK: Absolutely, I didn’t write the EP as an EP. I like to take each piece of music individually. I wrote these tracks on their own accord, and it’s just that maybe Diego sensed the connection and felt that these belonged Together. But yes, not just this EP, but my entire view towards the music and composition process is that it should be extremely personal. I think that’s what adds value and makes it unique to a human experience, and then it’s a pleasure sharing that with others. I think that it is truly this magical ability of music to make connections like that. I know it’s drum and bass and dance music, but I still think of it as a personal lifelong art practice – a reflection of self as I dance through this song called life.
DF: Let’s take it back for a bit. You left your home in Mumbai to follow your dreams and pursue a career in music in LA. What has been the most challenging part of your journey, and are there any important life lessons you learned along the way?
KarmasynK: At first, as a teenager, I was obviously very excited to leave everyone and everything I knew behind and start a new life in pursuit of my passion. And you don’t really realize what it means to be away until difficult circumstances arrive. During the third year of being in the US, my dad got sick with cancer and was undergoing extensive chemotherapy. My mom had to deal with that alone, and due to the financial pressure of being in school (international students have to pay higher tuition), I couldn’t just quit and return home to be with my family. Eventually, his condition worsened, and I had to return before it was too late to see him in a stable condition. I was lucky I was able to get there a few days before he passed, but I still regret it to this day that I was not able to be there for my family because of a decision I made for my personal pursuit and not out of necessity. But this also makes me value my art more, and it gives it a depth that wouldn’t exist if I didn’t make big sacrifices. It’s hard to explain.
The second big challenge was when I graduated from grad school, and Trump was in power, and he canceled all future applications for work visas. I have been in the US since I was 18, and all my networks and connections in the industry are based here. I have spent a lot of money to be able to be here under the promise that if a company thought my skills were useful to them, I would be allowed to stay. And then some racist asshole comes along, makes unconstitutional laws, and suddenly your life is turned upside down. It got to a point where my workplace was ready to sponsor my visa, but the system wasn’t. Thankfully the court overturned that decision, and I was able to get my visa, but that was definitely extremely stressful as going back to India where there is no drum and bass means all of the work that I have put in till now amounts to nothing. It was also an eye-opener to enjoy each moment as it comes as something totally out of your control or what you could have imagined could come along and change everything.
DF: Have you always been involved in music, and what led you to production and electronic music in particular?
KarmasynK: I actually started playing guitars in bands when I was 13 or so and then eventually started recording and producing the bands, as well as my own solo stuff. That was my first exposure to working in a DAW environment. Believe it or not, during the peak of my band days, I hated electronic music, and I thought it was something you clicked on, and the computer delivered. But when I was 16 or so, we had older friends who invited us to a Russian invite-only dark psy party. The artist who was playing refused to go on stage till everyone had taken a hit of this sheet of acid he had got from Moscow. I remember the tabs had the label artwork on them. Anyway, that happened, and my mind was blown, and then I started getting more and more into electronic music. Initially, Shpongle and Infected Mushroom influenced me a lot even though I personally was around a lot more darker and harder stuff is because they had elements of guitars and rock music that I resonated with. So I wrote a lot of music trying to blend in both of these elements, but then eventually, I realized the unlimited scope that digital instruments offered, and guitar just felt limiting. Plus, all of the cool sounds I was hearing had nothing to do with guitars but were, in fact, synthesizer sounds. I loved how psytrance was completely different from the rules of music, or even how it progresses. It kind of has its own rules, and each song makes and breaks its own rules, and this interplay of expectation and tease is super awesome. All of this was impossible to do with guitars and bands.
DF: What is it about drum & bass that really pulls you in compared to other genres of electronic music?
KarmasynK: Absolutely everything about it – the music, the history, the culture, the technical side, the people, the ideology! Everything. At first, it was how amazing the production was – it did everything I liked about bass music but took it to a whole another level. That’s how I initially got into it. Then as I began to read about the music and its origins, the more intrigued I was. The punk aspect of the music – the rebellious nature. Both in technical terms and philosophical terms. How at the very core of the music, it truly brings a lot of musical cultures together. And then something about that beat when it comes on, it hits my heart in all the right spots, you know? All the people I have met through DNB have absolutely been amazing and supportive. And I love how the sound of DNB itself keeps progressing almost every three months. It is constantly evolving, while
most genres have gotten stale. I am definitely a modernist. My point is people have been playing chords on guitars and pianos and singing over them for centuries, and it sounds awesome. But, the whole point of making electronic music is the fact that we get to break these boundaries and constantly make something new, and if we are not doing that, then why even do electronic music?
DF: Do you feel that drum & bass is finally starting to get some recognition in the states?
KarmasynK: Yes, and it’s really awesome to see. I have met people at shows who know about all the underground labels and artists that I like. It’s really cool, and it’s nice as a DJ to play where the crowd understands what you are trying to do. There have been spots like that in the US for a while, but I feel that now there are more such spots and there are more and more people going to the shows, which can never be a bad thing.
DF: Who would you say are your biggest inspirations?
KarmasynK: Musically – Noisia, Tipper. Otherwise – Lewis Hamilton. As a person of Indian origin living in America involved in a scene in which I rarely came across anyone that looked like me, I felt I resonated with Lewis’s story. His take on life and his determination, humbleness, and work ethic is really inspiring.
DF: You teamed up with Momentive Recordings to throw a proper underground party in LA on October 22! What can fans expect once you take the stage?
KarmasynK: Momentive Recordings is born out of the ashes of Noise Revolt. So if you have been to Noise Revolt’s parties before, you know that the production, sound, and the vibes are always immense. The crowd is amazing! As for what to expect from me? Dark.Minimal.Rollers.
DF: Lastly, as 2022 is nearing its end, what does KarmasynK have in store for 2023?
KarmasynK: We have the VA with Momentive Recordings, of course, which features not only me but also some really awesome local artists based in southern California who make incredible music. It will be out on November 22, and we would love all the support we can get from the community! Other than that, I have a remix for Des McMahon on Play Me records as a part of a remix EP also featuring Replicant, Skellytn, and Omen, who are part of the Play Me legion.
I also have a single with Transparent Audio which is a relatively new label out of Bristol, UK, but just within a year, all of their releases are amazing and have been hitting the top 10, if not top 5 on the charts. I love it when underground labels stick to the mainstream labels with huge marketing budgets, and I am really excited to be working with Thomas and the rest of the team at Transparent Audio.
Keep up with KarmasynK and stream Moonboots HERE!
Check out more exclusive interviews with The Daily Frequency HERE!