A founding member of Tropical-psych outfit Flamingods, Mera Bhai, the project of Karthik Poduval, recently made his debut solo release with a kaleidoscopic acid house cut. We caught up with him to talk five tracks that have influenced him.
Released earlier this month via Moshi Moshi Records’ singles club, ‘Jama EL F’na’ sees Mera Bai rework Ahmed Fakroun’s original, taking the tempo up a notch and skewing the track with blissed-out, acid-tinged hypnotism. “Having grown up all over the world, I was surrounded by a wealth of different sounds – I’m just trying to weave the cultural through line that I hear in music”, Karthik explains. And with this remix he very much encapsulates this diverse fusion of eastern and western influences within his music.
Speaking on his choice of track, he further expresses, “doing a bootleg remix of Ahmed Fakroun’s ‘Jama El F’na’ sonically made so much sense to me, though I never really questioned why. It was on his record ‘Mots D’Amour’ released through French Label Celluloid in 1987, as his crossover record into the Western Music industry, heavily influenced by Europop and dance music. He was marrying his Libyan influences with his love for western music, presented to a western audience, while he was living in the UK and France – very much something that mirrors my story. I guess I’ve subconsciously taken his western crossover and made it into my own.”
Get to know Mera Bhai In Five…
808 State – Pacific State
This track speaks for itself really, it’s an anthem. It’s a track that I can play in any of my DJ sets whether it’s with Flamingods, or whether I’m playing a 6am set at a warehouse party. It manages to straddle so many genres with the vibe. When I’m writing club tracks this is always sitting in the back of my mind as a reference, it’s really upfront, with non glossy production.
Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti – Jorgea Corisco
Man, I love this record SO much. Everything about it. A hard choice, but this is probably my favourite track on the album. They manage to straddle funk, disco and prog so seamlessly (similarly to other Brazilian bands at the time – like Banda Black Rio who preceded them by a few years). This track and the record is just covered with the cheekiest key changes and breakdowns. Having the confidence to play with the listener is something I always try to keep in mind when I’m writing – whether or not people notice what they’re doing musically, it’s super impactful.
Daphni – Ye Ye
For me, that Jiaolong EP was seminal, and this was always a stand out track, super dark – and also really impressive (to me) that he could take something like that William Oneyabor sample and run with it. I definitely take massive inspiration from his use of sampling, just super up front and also always very straightforward and stripped back instrumentation. When I get carried away with writing parts, I tend to stick this on and remind myself that simplicity is the way.
Charanjit Singh – Raga Bhairav
I first heard this record about 9 years ago and it blew my mind. I’d never been able to contextualise club music as anything other than ‘Western’, so this record really hit home for me. Like, “right, this thing can totally be done”. I’ve totally referenced motifs and arpeggiators from this record in a bunch of my tracks, I still find it so inspiring, and glad to see it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves. I actually had a ticket to what would have been one of his last ever gigs, at Cafe Oto, which very sadly was cancelled due to his health – he then passed away a few days later. Gutted I never had the opportunity to witness his presence and performance in person.
Ilaiyaraja – Vikram Vikram
Listening to Tamil music was a huge part of my childhood as I spent a lot of my time (basically all my holidays) in India. What I love about it is how honest the use of electronics is – you can really feel that the whole electronic thing just started popping off there in songwriting and production, and key players like Ilaiyaraja, Kalyanji-Anandji, and Ananda Shankar (to name a few) were really pushing it, fusing a western sound (taking inspiration from abroad) with this new technology and obviously Indian sensibilities. To be honest, as a kid I wasn’t hugely into it, but as I grew older I appreciated it more and more, and now I go back over all that stuff that used to be playing on TV or the radio and also pick up a stash of records every time I go back, for inspiration and samples. Daphni actually sampled this on his track ‘Vikram’ as well.
Header image credit: Kamal Rasool & Andrew McIntosh