'I'm a sucker for meaningful music, music with depth'
Minimal techno stalwart Folic State, reveals his journey with music
One of the most highly revered techno artists India is Mumbai based Karan Desai, popularly known as Folic State.
With several top releases and remixes on highly reputed labels, his crisp, subtly psychedelic, groove laden minimal and deep techno is a fan favorite not just across the nation but also globally. An extremely talented and versatile artist, we got in touch with him to speak indepth about his beginnings, inspirations and other interests.
When did you get into Dji’ng ? Do you remember your first gig ever ? What was the experience like ?
I got in to it professionally in 2009 but prior to that, around 2001-02 I started off playing psychedelic trance with friends either at home or at intimate private parties. We’d play on a pair of denons with a 2 channel Gemini mixer. I got into Progressive house / Tech house in 2006 and In 2009 I played my first official ‘paid’ gig at this pub, OBA in Bombay, which belonged to a friend. She was like ' My dad owns this club, why don’t you play?' That’s how it began. At that point I didn’t have a stage/artist name. By then I had a decent amount of experience behind the decks, the only difference, I was playing to a larger audience, a commercial audience, and longer hours since I had a weekly residency. It taught me to adapt to various situations and the vibe of the club.
What inspired you to come up with the name Folic State? Is there a story behind it?
To be honest it’s a mystery to me. It was around 2011 or 2012 when I came up with it. Super difficult to recollect but all I remember I was really baked, watching a documentary on discovery channel about the human body, atoms, molecules and some crazy stuff. Something came up with regards to folic acid. That stuck with me, and then I probably put the 2 together - Folic and my state of mind at the time.
You are quite versatile in your productions. From the deeper techno stuff to a bit more house oriented vibes, there seems to be a fondness for the more melancholic yet uplifting sounds in such tracks. Will you continue to make more as you progress, under the same moniker, or would you keep a separate alias as more and more acts taking that approach?
From a very young age I’ve been exposed to a large spectrum of music/ genres thanks to my folks. The music in the 90’s was amazing, not that it isn’t now, but it’s definitely diluted. So I think the versatility factor comes from my roots. Im a sucker for meaningful music, music with depth. Story based. I need to feel it not just hear it. I've been thinking about an alias, still contemplating. At the end its all me, at times I feel its not required and at times I feel I should since Folic State already has its global identity. Lets see, it’s definitely on my mind.
Is there any particular field or aspect of life that inspires your music?
Inspiration comes from a variety of things. Nature, the cosmos, challenges, idols, friends and art are few things that inspire me. What I’ve noticed is that I write best during my lowest moments in life.
What are you working on currently?
Heaps of stuff. Working on an EP for Sci +Tec. Remixes for Eme Kulhnek and Peku. A collaboration with this incredibly talented producer VERV and now a good friend. Couple of EP’s in the pipeline with Anina Owly and Reclaim. Some other stuff which I can’t talk about right now. I'm also working on a bunch of ambient tracks which I can’t wait to put out.
We noticed that you’re going into wildlife oriented travels. Does it play a part ?
Haha yeah, it totally does. We (family and I) are huge wildlife enthusiasts and not many know that i am fond of wildlife photography. Most of our trips are in the forests of India or Africa. I love the sounds of the wild and surrendering myself to nature. It gives you time to think, introspect and truly connect with yourself. Getting a chance to watch nature unfold in front of you is magical. Not to mention the dramatic skies, especially in Africa - they’re gorgeous!
The last 5 years have witnessed a massive uprising in the techno scene in India. What is your take on the current scene and the industry ?
I'm glad to see the rapid increase within our scene. Thanks to a bunch of us pushing it in any and every way we can in spite of the hurdles we face. It definitely has come a long way, in terms of quality of music, production and concepts. Numbers of attendees have increased as well. But now let’s wait and watch where we’re headed. The future is uncertain at the moment.
Besides the typical club and festival side of things, what kind of events do you think the scene could have more of ?
Well as of now there is no scene. These online streaming gigs, live streams are alright but doesn’t really cut it. It’s definitely not the same and won’t be, as compared to a club with an audience, lights, a good sound system etc. There’s no connection. IMO this is a good time to re-build our community, online interactions via educative streams, informative events, tutorials or group chats. It’s time to strengthen the core and stay united.
Who are some of your fav artists in India and what of their music particularly catches your attention?
Man, everyone is on top of their game right now. We are flourishing with talent, so much so that we can do without international headliners. We’ve got them all. There are heaps of producers am a fan of. I’ve been digging sounds from
Blot! – haven’t yet met anyone as anal as Gaurav (technically) I admire his dedication and focus. (definitely heaps to learn from him)
Kohra – Madhav has dug deeper and im totally digging his new sound and direction.
SHFT – Vipul is on another league. Intelligent production, I like how he keeps things organic and crisp!
Synister – Forward thinking, futuristic, amazing use of elements. His new music is totally up my alley.
Calm Chor – Ashvin has a unique sound, love the way he infuses psy elements with minimal techno. He’s a beast! Top stuff.
Tasneem – She’s super talented. Her productions take you on a deep journey. Which is always welcome.
Jay Pei – This guy’s a freaking genius. His ability to sculpt sounds is impeccable. Definitely a top contender.
The boys from Calcutta, Rudra, 8 Bit Culprit and Dharmalogy - Quality productions! Ok I could go on, I think I should stop.
It’s been a tough year already with the pandemic and the industry foreseeing a tough time for the artists with no actual remedy in sight or in place for a while. How are you keeping yourself motivated during these tough times? As an artist what would you suggest to other fellow or aspiring artists in this period?
True, these are indeed crazy uncertain times. It has impacted us drastically; we don’t know what the future holds. I’ve been taking it easy, going with the flow. Keeping a positive outlook, working when I feel inspired or have an idea. Not really forcing myself to work. There are times when am locked up in the studio for days, when am not producing am either giving a shot at cooking or working on my photography skills (not instagram) checking out some tutorials and spending quality time with family.
I feel its vital to stay focused, keep the faith and work on improving your craft, do a bunch of tutorials, learn an instrument, whatever floats your boat. Having said that, it’s absolutely okay if you’re not upto anything new or being unproductive during this period. Nobody is judging, this isn’t any competition. It’s equally important to chill the fuck out. So yah, don’t stress too much, don’t take life too seriously, go with your gut and lastly do what makes you happy!
Beer and Whiskey are my poison. Though i'm not much of a drinker.
If you were to be sent to a forest with no internet access and to make music for one day, what would be a plugin that you cannot do without.
Thank you for speaking with us. If we were to ask you to make a playlist right now, what would be the closing track?
Folic State – Floating Souls (Original Mix)