When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from Canada, the London, Ont.-based electronic talent Khardiac (aka Khatab Hindi).
Khardiac, London, Ont., Canada, Brooklyn Fire Records
What’s it like where you’re living? In Canada and specifically in Ontario, we have been struggling with one lockdown after another over the course of this entire pandemic and currently we are still in lockdown. All “non-essential” businesses are closed – this includes restaurants, salons, gyms and other small businesses – and big-box retailers were told to section off all products that were deemed “non-essential” and not sell them to consumers.
How have you spent most of your time? Within the past year and half, I have been at home, unable to travel or see any family or friends. I spent most of my last year finishing up a degree in Audio Engineering and Music Production, so being in lockdown wasn’t really affecting me until I graduated this past July 2020. Then it started to become apparent that the COVID situation was not going to be resolved as quickly as we were all hoping for. I struggled with mental health throughout the rest of 2020 and being in lockdown really started taking a toll on me. My physical health took a tumble and I gained 50 pounds, due to depression, as my daily routine was to sit in bed and eat fast food and do absolutely nothing, but dwell on the past and overthink the things I missed out on due to COVID.
How did you adapt? When the new year came around, I decided that I needed to change my life and adapt to the new normal and work hard to get my career, health, and relationships back in order, so that when the pandemic is over I am able to have a base to my life that will hold me for years to come. I started slowly controlling my diet, and reaching out to friends and family to hop on calls and video chats to strengthen my social life as best as I could. I also started to get more spiritual and used that as my guidance to have a clear mind to be able to focus on my goals. I was able to step back into the studio and get to work which lead me to starting my podcast “Lethal Rhythms” – a bi-weekly podcast of brand-new house and bass-house music that I hand-pick from up-and-coming artists to showcase the talent we have around this world. Starting the podcast gave me a clearer vision to look for the positive aspects in life that COVID has brought us all. For me, this positive aspect was time. I am currently utilizing every minute to benefit my career moving forward, whether its communicating with people, making tracks, making mixes, podcasts, and working out and staying healthy, all to keep my mind running and busy with positivity regardless of the negativity that this world is going through right now.
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? I lost massive festival bookings, venue shows, as well as booked studio sessions with large-scale artists… which is what really made me spiral at the start of the pandemic because the months leading up to the pandemic I felt as though my career was really on the rise. I played a handful of supporting-act shows and I was ready to keep the momentum going in 2020.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? Currently, I am taking the time to make music and music-related content to continue to stay relevant and to set myself up for success as soon as I can get back to performing. I definitely have learned a lot in my downtime on various topics to help with my music and brand. Social-media marketing, promotional strategies, as well as production tips to improve my mixing and mastering techniques, are a handful of things that I have learned during this time… not to mention having that downtime to not only learn these new things, but to also spend time to learn about myself. Having to spend so much time on your own really forces you to take a step back and reflect on yourself and find ways to try to be your best self possible.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? I have released a track recently with Brooklyn Fire called “The Heat,” as well as my bi-weekly podcast on SoundCloud. As far as the future holds, all I can say is stay tuned for some crazy content that I am super-excited to share with the EDM world.
In the studio, what’s your set-up? My set-up consists of: a 16-inch MacBook Pro 2020 with a 2.3 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9 processor; a 32-inch second screen; a Kensington Studio Mouse; an Apple external keyboard; two Yamaha HS8 studio monitors; an Akai Pro MPK49 MIDI keyboard controller; a Blue Yeti mic; a Shure SM58 mic; a Universal Audio Apollo x8p interface; Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones; Ableton Live 10 Suite; Logic Pro X; and ProTools. As for favorite plug-ins, I would have to say any of the Universal Audio plug-ins and also the Soundtoys plug-ins, especially Crystallizer. I currently do not own any vintage hardware. However, I had the opportunity to work with some of the rare gear, which I fell in love with and hope to own in the future.
What’s your creation process in the studio? I usually don’t have a specific process, other than when the mood hits, I start by laying down a general idea of a drop, whether its vocal-based or just melody-based. Then from there, the ideas start to flow. I do, however, make sure that I take breaks and keep my body hydrated and full, so that I can avoid any headaches or exhaustion that might cause a mental block.
What’s your typical DJ set-up? I’m a big fan of the Pioneer industry-standard systems, and I own two CDJ-2000NXS2 players and a DJM-900NXS2 mixer. I love them because they have always been reliable and easy to use.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? I have realized that being a DJ is a very lonely choice of work. COVID has showed many of us artists that our constant work and traveling from one place to another is not the most stable lifestyle, as it can disappear anytime. It’s been a big lesson to build strong, deep relationships with close friends, family and your fan base, instead of having so many surface-level relationships. The industry is also filled with people who will praise you on daily basis, but when things go away, you realize that you’re left alone and all those relationships you thought you had before were just work-related and not deep, personal relationships. I’ve learned to never forget about who really cares about you in a personal way and to make the effort to improve on that relationship and nourish it, so that you have a good support system that can pick you up whenever you are down.
Have you done anything online recently? Twitch, Facebook, YouTube streams? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you?
I have done a few streams on Twitch as well as Instagram, but I am planning on doing more in the near future. As for DJ video streams that have impressed me I have seen vast variety of them over course of this pandemic from the Lost Lands: Couch Lands streams, Malaa’s live-stream from Paris to Porter Robinsons’ Secret Sky. But my favorite stream would have to be David Guetta’s stream that he did in Dubai from the Burj Al Arab because just watching a stream from that infrastructure was immaculate.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? I definitely would recommend John Lennon’s “Imagine.” With the world being separated and divided especially during COVID, I think this song is a great example of a dream that maybe one day we can achieve.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? My advice is to look at the positives of this situation and we should take this free time we have to rest our bodies, give our brain a much-needed break, and focus on our future goals. There will always be light at the end of the tunnel and no matter what horrible and negative situations we are being put in, we should always take it as life experiences that will help us grow a thick shield to protect us from any obstacles. Focus on your families, your close friends. Try to do as much good as possible in your own community and overall keep your body healthy, eat good, exercise, and give your body the break it deserves because when all this is done you best believe we will all be celebrating together again and loving every moment of it.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
DJ Times Magazine is copyright © 2021 by DJ Publishing, Inc. www.djtimes.com