Bapari | Taking Deep Breaths with New EP 'Oasis'

Sitting down with the producer and DJ on their latest offering

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Photographed by Louis F Cota

There are significant moments in time that can differ so starkly, so much so that there is a sense of release after it is finally out of your system. You were able to survive the intensity of the process, and be proud of it, but are hyper-aware of how it felt, eager to finally let it dissipate so gracefully with pride and ease. You’re shedding the skin that feels right to finally leave you – you had your time with it. A weight being lifted off your shoulders. Reminiscent of taking a deep breath. This often mimics the themes of how life can simply feel. Ethereal, melodic, dark, but also indulging in the pleasure and privilege of a friend’s contribution and presence, traversing that same feeling any musician, or human being for that matter, can articulate. There is a dizzying sensation that emotions can cause, and just as rapidly as they can come on, there is also a clarity they can awaken within you, as they leave you. Together, this can bring you back to the present moment.

And for producer and DJ Bapari, that was a similar feeling to their recent creative process. For them it was the friends, the music itself, and the feeling of it all, that proved to be the integral ingredients when putting out their most recent EP, Oasis. The six tracks carry a contrarian presence, some velvety and some textured – a deep dive into a dystopian universe. With two former EPs in their impressive club-esque catalog, Oasis establishes first-ever vocals on a track; housing a sound that feels much more intense, as the producer explains this EP was the product of a plethora of emotions - coming from a more vulnerable and raw time in their life compared to past music. It is perhaps Ari’s most reflective production yet. It’s hard to not find yourself moving your body to the electronic edge, pulling listeners into each transformative beat, leaving you transfixed. This EP is nothing short of a redolent, yet impeccably smooth sonic experience – the imminent change is evident. 

As I listened to the industrial creation, I realized it transcended my ears and brought me to a place I wanted to keep exploring, like a gravitational pull that perfectly parallels the dystopian beats. Bapari's sound is simply contagious. And after speaking with them, the confirmation of said transcendence felt even more palpable. They take listeners through quite the melancholic journey, but when I talk with the producer they insist that just because it sounds sad, doesn’t mean it is sad. There was a sense of relief, however, once the music was finally birthed to the world, according to the DJ’s visionary mind. After I learned the inspiration behind the EP – and stepping into Ari’s universe, it became apparent that their talents also lie in performing, and being able to gauge the pulse of the room.

A quality that only a true club kid behind the booth is able to do. As a self-proclaimed “night person” – something that they didn’t give much thought to when asked, since it's always just been – mentions how because of this, being a DJ is pretty perfect for them. Having that energetic flow seep into the sound waves of the night by a friend who was just introduced to them by another friend, and then suddenly the two creatives find themselves recording a track together; is typical for Ari. It’s the organic process that they relish in, that they find themselves running toward. It's what fuels them. It’s what makes this all worth it. The DJ, currently bicoastal, catches up with FLAUNT to discuss Oasis, their extensive thoughts on a range of sentiments, and what's next. 

So being from L.A., and now you're in New York, going back and forth between the two - do you feel a change creatively or sonically between the two cities?

I think I draw a lot of inspiration from the spaces I'm in. Visually, things inspire me. I think New York and L.A. are related cities in a way, but they obviously look very different to me. I will say in New York I have my own apartment. It's my first time living alone and being able to create a space for myself. And so I have a studio here in L.A., I have this window, and that's one of my favorite things. I love making music when I can have a window. Working in a studio is great, like an enclosed, soundproof studio. It sounds beautiful and you're in a zone, and there's something great about that space, but working from home during the day with a view, there's just something that feels very flowy, interactive, and organic about it. There's a reduced pressure, I can just sit down and do it. It just feels more natural. I don't want to feel contained, I want to have a connection. But, there is something about going to someplace that is a designated studio and you're like, that's all it's for. There's something exciting and inspiring about that. 

Speaking of the difference between the two cities, I have always been fascinated by the slight stereotype that L.A. audiences do not dance. Whereas in New York, everyone is dancing. Do you feel this is true when you're playing a set, do you see the energy levels vary?

I think it obviously depends on the event. I will say though, if I had to average out every event I've ever done, New York is dancier. At least in the genres and things that I perform in, and the capacity. I think L.A. is great too, but they have different scenes. Connected, but different. Different mainly because of the infrastructure and how L.A. closes at 2 am. It's warehouse-y, it's DIY, and it stops people from having that club culture of dancing all night because you literally have to go home. That may hinder some people's growth to have the ability to get into it. And in New York, they're open till 4 in the morning, so yes, you're dancing all night. There's a more casualness to it whereas in L.A. it's lacking, it's not as casual because the time thing impedes nightlife since the night itself is shorter. 

Do you approach all sets the same?

Every performance is different. Some events are just open, like events in New York. I know the vibe, we're just gonna wing it. It’s not a lack of preparation, it's more of a, let's see how we're feeling tonight. If I'm at a certain party or set and the club is leaning towards this genre or that genre, the most I'll do is create a playlist with more songs than I need, but I never plan a set in any order. But in terms of mixing at the club, it's normal in the moment that I will feel it out. The curation is more on the back end, it's more of narrowing down the pool than actually deciding on a setlist. I will think, "Oh, this makes sense for tonight!" But if it's not working in the moment I'll change it completely. Like, let's say I’m playing something and then I’ll be like, "I wanna play some of this right now!" So it really just depends. 

On tracks like Sore and Outskirts, you had friends collaborate with you, much like you've done in the past. What does it mean to you to have your friends a part of your production, and a part of projects?

I feel like since I've made music it's always been a thing of working with friends. I'm just remembering being back in L.A. and having this little studio and this four-bedroom house that we all shared. I was almost always making music and having a bunch of people over, working on beats. Posting them on Soundcloud, learning honestly how to produce was just me making music with friends and that's really how I taught myself. I was just learning how to figure it out, having fun and working on my own at times too. With Outskirts and Sore, it's cool because in L.A. I definitely had a community of people there, and that's just where I learned how to DJ. So it was cool to now have Lola and Kida on this, as people I've met in New York. There was a part of me that moving here, I didn't have a community yet. And then slowly you meet people you make friends with and those songs came out of friendships. It reminded me of how everything started in L.A., how people came over and you mess around and make music. Me and Kida met the night she recorded on that song. We were hanging out and two of our friends were like you guys should make music together and so they were like Ari, let's go back to your house. And Kida was like “Yeah, I'm gonna sing on this.” Bam. With Lola, I remember we were just hanging out, and I played her the beat that was Sore. She was like, “I want to sing on this.” That's how it happened. She came over, we had several sessions and it just felt like this mutual synergy. It was organic, if you vibe with it, then it's perfect and why not, you know?

You mention hyper-specific places such as New York City in the fall, underground tunnels, and the state of solitude as inspirations for Oasis. Did you physically visit these places as part of the creative process or were they just notions?

I think it was more of a notion. I don't think there was a specific place in mind. I think it's more a sense of the city in the way. New York is very metropolitan and at some points feels industrial. In contrast to L.A., it can get really cold. You're staying inside and you're freezing. There is that element of solitude, and you're seeing the leaves fall off the tree. I feel like it's transcribing visual things into textures. What does this image that I'm looking at with my eyes sound like to me? It's kind of abstract in that way. This feels green, this feels blue. And I think, what does that sound like? I'm trying to evoke that sensation, but you know when you look at it.

After facing some hardships, how do you keep going and what drives you to keep producing and staying inspired?

Making things I like brings me a lot of happiness. Like the song Void, that song is about a father figure to me – he passed away. That was a big loss for me, so I definitely channeled that into the music. But there's something satisfying about being able to let it out in that way. It's a way of processing things too, and paying homage to someone important to you. It felt good to birth something with that energy. Emotions are the best source of inspiration.

With the new year on the horizon, how do you see the next year? What do you wish to accomplish the most?

I feel like this next year is the beginning of the creative cycle again. When you're at the end dealing with the final pieces because all the music is already made, you have to take pictures, you have to write descriptions about things, pitch your playlists, who are we emailing. Blah blah. We were wrapping the bow around it. So now with the next year coming, I'm starting fresh again. I'm discovering what's next. I started working on a new thing already. I needed to let that last project go and be released. It was almost like a blockage, I needed that to go so I could make room for new things. I love that project. But I’m excited for the new stuff. I’m at the beginning of the creative cycle, so I don't have a specific end goal, but I already started figuring it out.

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Bapari, Oasis, DJ, Music, Maria Kyriakos