Karthik Poduval is a London-born, Indian-British DJ and producer, and founder of the acclaimed tropical psych rock/psych pop act Flamingods. Poduval’s solo recording project Mera Bhai derives its name from the affectionate Hindi greeting, which translates into “my brother.” The project is informed by Poduval’s experiences as a global citizen: he has lived in Italy, Albania, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Nigeria and of course, the UK — and naturally, that has deeply informed his own globe-trotting, border-crossing, genre-defying take on dance music, which incorporates elements of Indian Carnatic, Arabic Rai, 70s disco, acid house, Detroit echo and Tropicalila. “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,” Poduval says.
Poduval’s Mera Bhai debut Futureproofing EP was released earlier this year through Moshi Moshi Records, and if you’ve been frequenting this site this year, you may recall that I’ve written about two of the EP’s singles:
A bootleg remix of Ahmed Fakroun‘s “Jama El F’na,” which retained the shimming instrumentation of the original and Fakroun’s vocals while pairing them with a Tour de France-era Kraftwerk/Primal Scream/Kasabian-like production, featuring layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats and industrial clatter. The original is a club banger — but the remix manages to sound as thought it comes from some mixtape that someone brought back from 2038.
“Mañana Groove,” a summery, club anthem centered around an expansive and mind-bending structure that featured shimmering synth arpeggios, hot hi-hat flashes, stuttering tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with vocodered vocals and samples from a Mr. Bongo Records reissue of Cissé Abdoulaye’s “A Son Magni.” And while to my ears, the song sounds as though it one part Kraftwerk, one part Evil Heat-era Primal Scream and one part deep house, the song as Poduval explains was inspired by Todd Terje‘s “Inspector Norse” while also nodding at 808 State’s “Pacific State,” one of Poduval’s favorite anthems, “which frames summertime feels for me.” And as a result of its summery air, the track at its core, possesses a carefree “let’s worry about it all tomorrow” vibe.
The EP’s latest single, is EP title track “Futureproofing.” The track is a hypnotic, club anthem centered around an insistent, motorik-groove, stuttering four on the floor, shimmering synth arpeggios and trippy instrumental breaks featuring fluttering flute and twinkling sitar. Sonically, the track further establishes Poduval’s hypnotic, globalist and multicultural take on dance music — all while pushing electronic dance music towards a bright and inclusive future.
\“In spirit, the track is about trying to find a balance between the push and pull of life’s responsibilities,” Poduval explains. “I wrote it when I was in India on my escape from the UK and trying to balance constantly being on tour, my relationships, my job and my mental health, and still very much in the process of grieving lost family members. Fortunately, all aspects of my life have been incredibly forgiving to me, but this track feels like an apt representation of the push and pull of things.“
Directed by frequent Fat White Family visual collaborator Niall Trask, the recently released video for “Futureproofing” is fictional and surreal day-in-the-life affair shot on grainy videotape that follows Poduval on a series of adventures as a celebrity chef/influencer that features cameos by My Panda Shall Fly’s Suren Seneviratne and Wear by Local’s Saudi Rahman. Interestingly, while Poduval is busy with Flamingods and Mera Bhai, he has a day job as a chef — and as a result, the video is a bit of a tongue-in-check play on the duality of having a serious day job and being an artist. Along with that, the video is an extended joke on the delusions of grandeur and inflated ego that can come about if you happen to be a remotely successful artist.
“Mera Bhai contacted my agent Desmond Wolf with an idea for a cooking show which I initially refused. After 7 months of no work because of coronavirus I decided I might as well, Niall Trask explains. “As an artist I’m really interested in exploring difficult issues through my work. This piece allowed me to explore subjects such as toxic masculinity, environmental issues, fracking and body dysmorphia. Rather than through the mise-en-scène, I was able to tackle these issues once I was asked by press for a quote and realised I had nothing to say because my brain is empty, so I thought I would appropriate these subjects like everyone else in the world of music videos does.”