The LA music scene and nightlife is as complex as any city’s, and Karman has become a strong presence over the last couple of years. The young West LA-bred artist has been blending an eclectic combination of hazy trap beats and we’re seeing his latest work get picked up from the underground with some serious fervor.
With that in mind, we sat down with the talented artist to learn more.
You’ve spent the last few months working on your EP, Heaven Complex. What were your biggest difficulties this time around in putting the EP together?
In the studio I sometimes find it hard to juggle between working on the EP, new live sets, collaboration projects, mixes, and remixes. I’m also a crazy perfectionist. So I guess balancing how I spend my studio time and how long I spend on each track would be my main “difficulty”.
On the flip side, you’ve released EP’s before. Because of your experience, was there anything this time around that felt easier than it did when you were first getting started?
I only have one prior release out in the world right now. Although technically yes I have released several EP’s before, 13 to be exact, that are all on “private” on bandcamp. I’d say that my first releases were shrouded in a sort of “ignorance is bliss” mentality. Half because I didn’t understand 70% of what I was doing and half because I really didn’t think anyone listened to my music! So the gradual changing of both those things has made the whole process a a lot differen. More rewarding and fun, with the addition of live shows, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s become “easier”. Just a different game from when I first started, and I know I still have a long way to go.
NYLON has called your video a living nightmare, but for you, what does “No Us” represent in your life?
I’m happy a publication like Nylon saw it that way. Well first of all, speaking as both a musician and a model, I think having Nylon’s take on my latest video was like an honor. I’ve been seeing “NYLON” in bookstores and stuff ever since I can remember.
I was very intrigued on their take on the “No Us” vid partially because I thought the video Soraya Jansen and I did represented something sort of positive and nostalgic… While Nylon’s analysis/description of it was “a living nightmare”. But I love that. I mean I knew it was eerie. Any post-apocalyptic world is, but this felt like a dream to us, one of those weird heart wrenching dreams you don’t want to end. That’s how the song kind of feels for me as well. The warm and shiny synths playing the melancholy melody, the mechanical pin drops and hi hats that fight with the distorted 808 bass. The last gliding melody evokes so much emotion from me and I don’t know if that’s being conceited or just enjoying what I do. Anyway, as I was editing it, I couldn’t help but realize that if I was living in this rural post-apocalyptic dream world that we had tried to set up, I think maybe I would want to wake up. If you’re familiar with Twin Peaks, I kinda felt like the idea of the Black Lodge resonated a lot with me during those quick cutaways.
The LA music scene is an ever-changing landscape. Most of our readers are from the UK. If they were to get on a plane and come visit, what spots/events/etc. represent your LA?
I was raised partially in Little Tokyo and I’ve always liked anime, so I can say that that’s probably my favorite part of town. As far as venues go, Union, Echoplex, and Los Globos tend to consistently book cool acts, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve played at all three.
Musically you’ve been tied to the Wedidit crew, as well as guys like ASAP Rocky, but are there other artists you look up to? Who are your biggest influences musically?
I respect those guys a lot, they’ve put me on the lineup for some great shows and I actually met my girlfriend at one of those shows so that’s pretty cool; I love hanging out with them, honestly Groundislava is one of the closest things I have to a brother. As far as what really inspired me, or who I look up to, Sigur Rós and Aphex Twin probably played the most pivotal role in my desire to create music with a computer. Subconsciously I’m sure artists like Elliot Smith and Basshunter and early Lil Wayne played a role too.
You’ve gone through a near death experience. How do you think it’s shaped your music?
I’d rather not go into too much detail about the actual night. But I was passenger in an automobile accident with a close friend/colleague. He lost his life and I was bedridden for the better half of a year. I am ok now and I will always have tremendous love for my friend Bladee, my grandmother, & 2 of my uncles Jordan and Jason for visiting me in the hospital in Florida; a state hundreds of miles from our homes, thousands for some. I spent roughly 3 weeks in the hospital and about 5-6 months stuck in bed at home spending as much time as possible making music, it was beyond therapeutic. I believe it’s truly shaped my life as a whole and my music in equal ways. Sometimes, I feel incredibly blessed/lucky to be alive and happy; then sometimes I feel like the mental and physical pain is just too much to bare. I think my music translates both sides of that, at least I go through these motions when I’m making it. Every minute of everyday counts, and this entire experience has really reinforced that in my mind.
Lastly, do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
As we talked about earlier; “Heaven Complex” (my 2nd official multi-track release) is coming out September. I got a Palmistry remix in the works. Got some song I’ve produced for Kane Grocerys, Thaiboy Goon, Yung Lean, Bladee, and Ecco that I think should see the light of the day 😉 Also I have a Halloween mix coming up that I think people are going to enjoy.
Bless to Playground for ‘having’ me! And much love to all the people who’ve been supporting me since Memory and Mournings and all my early work. I really have no intention of stopping and it’s because of all the crazy love ya’ll have shown me throughout the years. Forever.