It took a considerable amount of musical wandering for Vinayak Karthikayan to finally find his groove. “Deep house, experimental dub ambient and triphop is what I enjoy playing and listening to,” said the 27-year-old, whose first brush with music was as a child in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand (then Bihar), playing the harmonium with his mother and learning the tabla. It wasn’t long after that he came to Bangalore to train under Sean D’Souza at the EV DJs at Work programme. The love for organic sounds – sounds we’re surrounded by – began about that time. “I decided to take it further when I joined the School of Audio Engineering in Chennai sometime in 2004,” he said.
Karthikayan’s career since has been dotted with some unlikely destinations for a DJ – such as Coimbatore, where he set up a studio at his house (ostensibly, to make music in peace). He also played in Mumbai, at the club DNosh, before moving back to Bangalore to play at the Japanese bar and restaurant Zen, at the Leela Palace. As his love for deep atmospheric sounds heightened, so did his aversion to ubiquitous commercial TV and radio music, said Karthikayan. He now records EPs using sounds he’s been collecting, said the DJ. “There are a few Indian DJs making experimental music,” he said, naming Praveen Achary (featured in this cover story) and Arjun Vagale [of Jalebee Cartel], apart from Vipul Angrish from Delhi.
Karthikayan pins changes in the music scene in the city down to DJs like Vachan Chinnappa. “He stuck by his genre of electronic and techno music, and didn’t simply pander to mass taste,” said Karthikayan about Chinnappa. “That created an audience we can play to.” Set to release his debut solo album (four years in the making) Lonesome Train later this year, Karthikayan’s also looking forward to collaborating with DJs and producers. Mumbai’s on the cards, he said, for more studio and industry experience. Bollywood, though, isn’t part of his plan.