Made in Detroit and Chicago with their roots in both Midwest sister cities, Karya is a group made up of vocalist Lailah Reich (Beyond Luck, Dia.L and more projects I can name) and DJ Moppy.
The two frequent collaborators have an absolutely magnetic connection on tape, which comes through on this sensual, deep and vibey new record. Don’t Stop is a four track labor of love, blending Lailah Reich’s unmistakeable voice with Moppy’s love for earthy, blissed-out beats.
Don’t Stop is out now with a sensational skate-rink-social remix from Dez Andres on Moppy’s Animal Rights Records. Buy it here on Bandcamp today to give them some more cash; the digital is out now and the vinyl ships May 30 2020.
How did you originally meet? You’ve worked together before, haven’t you?
Lailah Reich: I was introduced to Moppy through our mutual friend and partner in music, Radius Etc. aka Ramon. At the time, Ramon and I were writing our first Dia.L record and he brought me to Moppy’s studio, the cutz castle, in Pilsen. We would go there frequently to jam, hang, and build on ideas. There were always talented cats stopping by, contributing to the vibe and overall creative energies in that space and time.
I recorded some tunes with Moppy, Ramon, and Kenny Keys, amongst other contributors on Beyond Luck’s third album, Travelling Music Vol. 3, which TBH blew my mind. I fell in love with the sounds being created and how we all bonded through the process. I eventually went to Moppy’s to record our first tune together called Sunshine, which was on Moppy’s Science of Sound Vol. 1. From there it grew into more works, our first album under the moniker Karya, various collaborations, and Don’t Stop.
What are the origins of Don’t Stop?
Lailah Reich: Moppy and I were working on a live set for a few shows back in early 2017 and Moppy had sent me this cut of 4 or 5 songs stitched together for a set. I’d never heard any of the tunes off of this recording before and because we were now building from separate cities, Detroit and Chicago, I wanted a loose recording of our set to practice and write to.
I did a live take at home over the full set, a first take of ideas for all the tunes and one of those ended up being “Moonbeam.”
The final vocal part for the song didn’t really veer from that first idea. I love when that happens. To me, that’s a song that wrote itself. I recorded the first take with an SM 58, which I wouldn’t typically use, but it sounded oddly awesome, so some of those original vocals are woven into the final version.
Moppy sent me “Don’t Stop” later in 2017, with the idea to cut a 12” with a dance floor vibe and a dub or remix version to go with. There was definitely a vision. Moppy influenced the lyrics and we sent versions back and forth. When he hit me with the Dez remix, I pretty much squealed like a little girl. Just beyond any wild dream I ever had for the project and the fact we were able to include Ramon for the Beyond Luck remix of “Moonbeam” is the icing on the cake.
What gear or plug-ins did you use on the production of Don’t Stop? Was there anything new or unusual for you?
DJ Moppy: In the last few years I had bought a house in Detroit and turned one of the rooms into a fully operational multi-track studio. This changed my life as far as production and engineering. It gave me the ability to create in the analog world and then dump the ideas onto a DAW For editing later. For “Don’t Stop” I ran the stems from an MPC thru a bi-amp analog console and used a Pioneer EFX-500 and Chase Bliss Tonal Recall for some added effects on the drums and instruments. The synth line was from a [Korg] PolySix synthesizer. Meftah Layed was on the live bass, Ryan Gimpert on guitar, JayVe Montgomery with the sax. I believe everything else was from a sample of some sort. On the digital end I like to use some compression, delay, and EQ to color the music and add more depth. I tend to try to do as little processing in the box as possible and create more of the sound and texture in the analog world using gear. I get tired of being on a screen so much.
Moppy, what stands out to you about Lailah’s voice?
DJ Moppy: I first heard Lailah sing with a band back in the day out and about in Chicago. I think they were performing at House of Blues and I just fell in love with her voice and energy. It was a breath of fresh air, something pure about her approach drew me in. I think she has a very natural and fluent way about approaching writing. Similar to myself we are both very influenced by nature and I believe that free flow and willingness to embrace change comes across in her work. Her vocals remind me of elegant brush strokes cutting into a serene background. Beyond her voice, she has been such a breeze to work with. Never judging, always embracing creation, I am thankful for her openness.
Lailah, what stands to you about working with Moppy?
Lailah Reich: Moppy from the gate was open to any and all ideas. It’s refreshing to work with someone who embraces experimenting and encourages you to push yourself beyond your typical modes of creating and writing. It’s an off the cuff, tap into your true self and don’t hold back feeling. While working on our first LP Asclepias, Moppy was 100% onboard with my ukulele and violin additions as well as recording various contributors on the album. Nothing is off limits, in regards to genre, instruments, who does what, etc. Moppy has also always been a big supporter of women in music. When you see people like that who are genuine and take their time to be inclusive, teach and show, and lead by example, it really helps you feel like you’re totally supported in being yourself without barriers, which should be the goal of all producers IMO.
“Moonbeam” is about as raw and real as I have been on a recorded tune. I mean, it’s a beautiful thing to embrace what comes to the surface as you write and not judge it.
Don’t Stop by Karya is out now on Animal Rights Records.