Brooklyn-based DJ and producer, Julya Karma, has quickly become an unstoppable force in the house and techno scene. Her prowess as a selector and infectious energy in the booth has consistently delivered utter elation on dance floors across North America, including The Brooklyn Mirage, Time Warp, Mayan Warrior, and Bar Americas, appearing alongside heavy-hitting artists like Rüfüs du Sol, Sven Väth, Dixon, Âme, Innellea, Mind Against, and Monolink. The feedback from her fanbase has been overwhelming and it’s safe to say that hers is a name we will all be seeing a lot more of for a long time to come.
Julya has just returned to the city for a big hometown show at Avant-Gardner, alongside Adriatique and Mathame. We caught up with her last week to chat about her year so far, her new release on Radikon, and what’s next…
WWD: Welcome to When We Dip! It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How are you? Where are you based right now?
Hey guys, thank you for having me! 🙂 I’ve been really great, feeling quite energized and inspired after an incredible run of shows. I have been based in Brooklyn, NY for about 4 years – I love the energy here. The city and the people are an endless source of inspiration.
WWD: Wonderful, and how’s 2023 treating you? Any highlights so far?
So far, 2023 has been an absolute whirlwind – but so much fun. I have my first release finally coming out on Friday, which I couldn’t be more excited about. I also just got back from some gigs in Central America and Mexico, and feel like I played a couple of my best sets to date, one was a sunrise set for Reactor Festival in Panama, and the other was Bar Americas in Mexico, where I played for almost 6 hours. I think I could have played even longer…the people of Guadalajara are always so receptive and connected to the music. I feel so grateful for opportunities to play for crowds like that.
WWD: You seem to form a really strong connection with the crowds you play for and are always looking so happy on stage. How would you describe your feeling to play in front of a crowd and what’s the key to connecting with your audiences?
The key for me has always been to take a bunch of drugs beforehand! LOL only kidding. 😀 I always play completely sober, and get such a high from the music, especially on powerful sound systems and from the energy from people around me – it’s exhilarating. I believe the DJ or performer is really nothing without the audience – I mean, I do still get down while DJing alone in my apartment haha, but you cannot replicate the feeling of an engaged dancefloor. Every single person in the room, and behind the stage, is contributing to the entire feeling of the experience. I always like to make a lot of eye contact and do my best to engage with the people around me, and find that when we are all truly present, it elevates and intensifies all of the energy and emotion being expressed in the sound itself.
WWD: So… big congratulations on your first release, ‘Eye of the Storm’ on Radikon! Can you share more about this track?
Thank you!! This song is quite special – I started the track about a year ago, writing the chord progression that’s in the main break, and then started to build the melodies off of it. From there, developed the arrangement, and sent the instrumental to Frýnn, who wrote the beautiful lyrics and whose voice you’ll hear on the track. Right when I got her vocals back, I had this immediate feeling that they were perfect, as they really told an emotive story of doubt and hope, which also symbolizes my journey through music production (which I’m sure many artists can relate to).
I’m also very excited for it to be on Radikon, because I’ve been a huge fan of the label and what it represents both thematically and sonically. Also have been fans of co-founders Jonas Saalbach and David Guzy for quite some time, so it was a great fit. They’re an incredible team and have been super supportive – honored to have my first release with them.
WWD: Can you tell us more about your creative process when you’re making music?
It’s always changing and evolving, but often, I start with a sort-of atmospheric texture to set a mood and get me into a creative space. I tend to lean heavily on my background in piano, so my natural next step is to play around with various chord progressions until I find something inspiring and build from there. I’ve been testing out other workflows as well, but so far, this is something that has been working well!
WWD: Can you tell us 1-2 things about yourself that very few people know about?
Hmm lets see… I don’t watch a ton of movies or tv, but if I do, I have this funny habit of always wanting to watch the same handful of movies I’ve seen a dozen times before. I don’t know what to say about that. I guess I like what I like – haha!
Also, my real last name is Karma… many people have asked me if it’s a stage name.
WWD: Love it! What else do you have coming up in 2023 that we should be looking out for?
I’m very excited about my show this weekend at Avant-Gardner in NYC with Adriatique and Mathame. Both duos have been incredibly inspiring musically, so it’s going to be amazing to play alongside them at such an iconic venue! I also plan to share more of my original music this year, but there’s not too many details that I can share quite yet. 🙂