Meet Karan Kanchan – young, versatile, multi-genre music producer. From J-trap to Bollywood, Karan has managed to establish himself as a leading producer of diverse sounds at the young age of 26! We spoke to him ahead of his Lollapalooza performance and here’s how it went…
Culture Haze: You’re heavily inspired by Japanese classical music. Tell us the backstory…
Karan Kanchan: Back in 2016, when I was exploring the kind of music I wanted to make as an artist, I discovered my liking for Japanese music. I used to spend a lot of time listening to different sounds on YouTube and I came across this band called Yoshida brothers and the Waggaki band. That was my introduction to classical Japanese sound and that’s how I started doing this genre called J-trap. I realised I wasn’t the first guy to make this kind of sound, there are a lot of people who have done Japanese inspired music, but I really wanted to explore it as a genre and not just as one song. So when I launched myself as an artist in 2017, I tapped into the full aesthetic of wearing a mask and the whole visual indentity to be very Japanese inspired. I’ve always been drawn to the country and that’s how it all kind of came together.
KK: Divine was the one of first hip-hop artists I got a chance to work with actually. I was good friends with Spin Doctor, who was my mentor when I was starting off. One day I was just playing some beats and it one of them really struck a chord with him. So he said that he wants to send it over to Divine. And Divine really liked the beat too but we couldn’t work on it since he was busy with other releases. So the beat was sent over to Naezy and Prabhdeep through DJ Proof. And Naezy reached out to me. However, that beat was never released – it’s still in my vault. But that was my introduction to the world of hip-hop and to these artists. Divine was the first guy to take a chance on me. He was the first one to look at my work as a producer and not as an artist – he wasn’t focused on the genre of music but on the quality of music production and my ability to understand what an artist is looking for – this is what he spotted in me and he gave me the chance to come on board. I’ve grown so much because of him. That’s why when tracks like ‘Satya’ and ‘Baazigar’ came out, it was next level for the both of us. Even with Shubh, it has been amazing. I got a chance to connect with him online and he told me about this album he’s working on called, ‘Still Rolling’ and that he’d like me to produce some songs for the same. When we first spoke, he mentioned that he really likes my work. Shubh is a great guy to work with, he’s very specific about his sound and he has a really really good ear to make music.
CH: You’ve also closely been working on a lot of Bollywood projects. How did you move into this space?
KK: I’m going to be very open and say that I listen to Bollywood music a lot more than I listen to hip-hop music. I’ve grown up listening to that music. I think I’ve alway been very fascinated by this, because Vishal-Shekhar’s music and Pritam Da’s music is the kind of music I’ve grown up to. And being able to be in the same room as these icons, watching them make their art in front of me is something you can’t even pay to experience. It’s something you have to earn. I am so glad I’ve got the opportunity to be in the same rooms as these guys, breathe the same oxygen and see them in action. It’s so inspiring, there is so much to learn and take away. And I think the kind of music I have been producing with Divine and other artists has also introduced me to them in a way. Because these composers are always on the lookout for new sounds and what’s coming out in the country. So I am glad I’ve got a chance to connect with these guys – they’re really nice and humble people. There’s so much to learn and I’m open to exploring since this is a fairly new territory for me. I’ve always wanted to be in this space and I’m just getting started. Right now, I’m just a producer and arranger of sorts but let’s see how it goes.
CH: From producing big projects to creating you own tunes, you’ve come a long way in such a short span of your career. How has the journey been so far?
KK: I think the last 2-4 years is when there’s been real growth. But my journey as an artist started in 2013, when I started off. It’s been almost 10 years since I took to my interest in music. Of course, I’ve been doing it professionally since the last 8 years. It’s been a long journey, the growth however is just happening. It’s been a lot years of making music in the kitchen to get here… (laughs)
CH: This is going to be your first time playing as an artist at the most-sought after music festival – Lollapalooza. You’re going to be bringing out of lot of artists like Hanumankind, Rashmeet Kaur, Yashraj and more. What can we expect at this party?
KK: For those who know me, they know that I really like to curate experiences – be it Boiler Room or NeckWreck. This one is also going to be a very curated, audio-visual experience. There’s a very large team of people and aritists working on this project together to make it all happen. This was my dream, and I am glad I have the right kind of people around me to make this possible. We’re trying to do something that no one has done before, because someone needs to take that risk. And to be on-stage as a music producer is a big deal you know. Usually it’s the artists who are the face of it, but I am glad I’ve had the right kind of people to make me realise how much of an artist I am, myself and push me to do this. Eight years ago, I attended my first concert at the same venue – Mahalaxmi Racecourse and I remember telling myself on the train-ride back home that some day will perform here. And I am kind of living that dream today. I am super excited!
CH: What else is coming up in 2024? Can we expect a ‘Karan Kanchan LP’ from the house of Gullygang?
KK: Let’s see. There’s something brewing for sure – maybe an EP. I’m just going to go with the flow. Like the last one year, nothing was pre-planned. I’ve been doing my work and things have just happened. It’s like God’s plan and I’m just trying to go with the flow. I might however go back to J-trap and explore my artist side!
Catch Karan Kanchan perform at Lollapalooza on 27th January between 6.30-7.30 pm at Perry’s Stage, Mahalaxmi Racecourse.