Julya Karma is a talented DJ and producer who is making waves in the house and techno scene. Based in Brooklyn, she has already established herself as a force to be reckoned with, thanks to her infectious energy and impressive skills as a selector.
Photo credit: Ola Wilk
Julya’s music takes listeners on a journey through uplifting melodies and hypnotic grooves. Her genre-bending sound and contagious energy have resonated with audiences all over the world. She has made her mark on iconic events such as The Brooklyn Mirage, Time Warp, Audio SF, Mayan Warrior, and Bar Americas, where she has shared the stage with Rüfüs du Sol, Sven Väth, Dixon, and Monolink.
Her unique sound reflects her diverse influences, including classical piano, indie and psychedelic rock, traditional Middle Eastern music, and jazz. Her passion for curating music is evident in her dynamic DJ sets, which take the audience on an unexpected journey that is both personal and universal. She blends moving melodies, driving basslines, and stimulating progressions to create a sound that is both inwardly reflective and outwardly appealing.
EG caught up with Julya Karma to discuss her latest release ‘Hypnotized’ via Rose Avenue, as well as her upcoming performances and future projects.
EG: Hi Julya! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you right now?
Julya Karma: Hi guys, thank you for having me – I’ve been doing really great, and have had a very fun and busy summer so far! I am currently at home in Brooklyn, getting ready to leave for Burning Man.
EG: First of all, congratulations on the release of your latest single, ‘Hypnotized’, which is out now via Rüfüs Du Sol’s Rose Avenue. What has the initial reception been like? Do you remember the first time you played this one live?
Julya Karma: Thank you!! I’m super excited about this release, and so happy for it to be on Rose Avenue. The feedback so far has been really positive, both from DJs I respect, and very importantly, from my fans.
The very first time I played ‘Hypnotized’ live was incredibly memorable! It was during a rooftop day party back in February at Superior Ingredients, and I was quite surprised by the positive reactions from the crowd that day. I knew it was a special track and was proud of it, but I didn’t realize how special until that moment – I couldn’t stop smiling.
EG: What was the concept behind this one? How did ‘Hypnotized’ come about?
Julya Karma: My original intention was actually for it to be an instrumental track and when I started it, I wanted to experiment, sound-design-wise. I started with the bass elements and then built some melodic sequences. Everything was working so well that day; I was in that perfect flow state that didn’t happen during every single session. It was so much fun, and most of the main ideas were built in a day or two. I also connected with Emily Marks, the vocalist, and fell in love with her ethereal voice immediately – when she sent back the first version of the vocal recordings, I had goosebumps.
EG: In which ways has your music evolved since the creation of ‘Eye Of The Storm’? What sort of feelings or moods generally guide your music?
Julya Karma: I started ‘Eye Of The Storm’ at the start of last summer, and then started writing ‘Hypnotized’ about 6 months later. In that period, I was making so much new music, and challenging myself to finish more songs than I had previously. I knew that by doing so, I would make a lot of new and different songs than I had previously. All that experimentation and hard work, ended up leading to ‘Hypnotized,’ and the sounds & melodies you hear there.
It’s hard to say which specific moods guide me, but I will say that I love writing melodies and chord progressions, and it feels the most natural with my piano background…the specific feelings tend to depend on my own I suppose. Lately, the moods I love have a darker component, juxtaposed with uplifting and positive moments. I’m very optimistic in general, but think it’s also important to connect with the difficult, tough situations in life and in yourself – so I like moods that bring you to both places and music that allows you to make these connections.
“I’m very optimistic in general, but think it’s also important to connect with the difficult”
EG: You have now been in New York for 4 years, right? Was the move motivated by music? In which ways is the city reflected in your music?
Julya Karma: The time is flying crazy fast, but yeah now ~4.5 years already! I moved here in May 2019 from San Francisco. The move was actually not motivated by music, but by my office job that asked me to relocate to New York. I’m so grateful for it, because I loved San Francisco, and wasn’t sure I wanted to leave at the time. Living in New York has had an enormous impact on me – I’m always meeting people from so many different backgrounds and different ways of life. It really opened me up and helped to inspire and motivate me to keep pursuing my little musical passion project and to take it to another level. What’s also amazing about living here, is that the city attracts DJs & artists from around the world…and you can pretty much go for a night out and get any type of music you desire. So I was definitely exposed to a more diverse selection of electronic music upon moving here, which has had a huge influence on both my DJ sets and my productions. I could go on and on about New York…it’s a special place, and a place for me, that has nurtured my musical journey. I’m so grateful for all the people here who have supported me from the beginning.
EG: This year you’ve had your European debut with Naturklang in Zurich, debut in San Diego with FNGRSCRSSD, debut in LA with Framework/Sound, and now you’re set for your Afterlife debut and your ADE debut. You must be very excited about all of this! Do you know what to expect at ADE? How do you prep for these big events?
Julya Karma: It’s been very exciting to play in so many new cities this year! All of these were highlights of my summer, and playing in Europe for the first time was an incredible feeling. Naturklang in Zurich was an epic one – they’ve built a great community there.
As far as prep, I tend to create a playlist for each set, with a very large track selection (way more than I would need by maybe 3-5x), and then I organize it in my own weird way (laughter) – this way it allows me to be spontaneous during my set. I typically have an idea of 2-3 options for the opening track and the 2nd track, and then I like to feel things out from there in the moment. I have to admit I get quite nervous playing in a new place for the first time, as I am unsure if my music will resonate – people around the world have such different experiences, and music can impact people so differently depending on the context, which is why I try to balance my intentions for the set with spontaneity.
EG: Now, stepping away from the studio for a bit…Have you found any good books, movies, or albums lately that you’d recommend?
Julya Karma: (Laughter) Great question… I feel like I’ve been so busy this summer that my book and movie consumption has been quite low. I love to read though when I make the time, and I just started Rick Rubin’s book ‘The Creative Act: A Way of Being’. So far it’s great. Before that, the last one I finished was ‘The Surrender Experiment’, by Michael Singer – highly recommend it! As far as albums, one of my favorites that I tend to throw on is a bit of an older one… ‘Times’ from David August. It always puts me in an introspective and good mood.
EG: Right now, social media seems to play a completely prominent role in the development of an artist’s career. What’s your stance on this? Is the bringing us closer than ever, or is it drawing our attention away from the actual music?
Julya Karma: This is a very good and relevant question for us in 2023 – it seems everyone is having these thoughts about social media’s impact on music and art in general. One thing I already took away from Rick Rubin is that, especially with art and the development of technology, you always gain something, and you always lose something. And that it’s difficult to tell, in the near term, if what was gained is equal to what was lost. While there are a lot of drawbacks to the influence of social media for sure, social media platforms also give a voice to so many more people who wouldn’t be able to have one otherwise, which I think motivates people to work hard on their art, as there is a chance to be discovered. Anyone can record themselves singing or making music and then post it online… and you never know what can happen or who will find it.
“It’s been very exciting to play in so many new cities this year”
EG: What’s next for Julya Karma? Where can your fans catch you next? What new milestones are you looking forward to in 2023?
Julya Karma: Next up is Burning Man! I’ll be frolicking around the desert, and also playing a few times while I’m there. After I get back, I’ll be playing at the Brooklyn Mirage for X by Adriatique, which is going to be a very cool show! I’m also happy to be going back to Los Angeles in October to make my Afterlife debut. After that, straight to the Amsterdam Dance Event, which I can share more info on very soon.
EG: Thank you for your time, Julya! We’re excited to see what’s in store for you. Take care!
Julya Karma: Thank you! I appreciate the time and the interview. Talk soon!
Julya’s ‘Hypnotized,’ on Rose Avenue Label is out. Download your copy here.