Home Interviews Ruben Karapetyan [Interview]

Ruben Karapetyan [Interview]

30 min read

Ruben Karapetyan - Dubbed as Armenia’s Top Electronic export back from the late ‘90s by Zrutsaser Entertainment Magazine. Ruben is considered one of the heavy hitters in the Progressive house community worldwide. Mango Alley, Movement Recordings, Strange Town Recordings and more are some of the record labels Ruben is signed to. His productions are constantly holding upper spots in the Beatport progressive house charts, with numerous tracks holding in at #1. His work has been remixed by some of the major players in the industry such as Jerome Isma-Ae, Stan Kolev, Matan Caspi, Emi Galvan, Dmitry Molosh, Fuenka to name a few. This week Ruben makes his debut on Canada's Strange Town Recordings with a remix of 'Journey to Arion' by Danny Bonnici & Dave Norris. We had a chance to catch up with the Los Angeles resident for a chat leading up the release. Enjoy!

Hi Ruben, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hello Guys, thank you for having me! It's 3:50 AM here in Los Angeles and I'm in my studio checking out the latest promos. I just came across Integral Bread's remix of "Changes" coming out soon on Univack! What a remix, can't wait to play this.

How’s your year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

It has been a very productive year. I have been invited to be a part of so many great music productions and we are only half way into the year! End of this week Friday, June 24, it is my son Karo's 16th birthday. I think it's fair to say I am more excited than he is. Hard to believe he is turning 16 already, feels like it was only yesterday he was born. Also, on the same day my remix for Strange Town Recordings comes out.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

It's hard to pick and choose which I favor more, since one goes so well with the other. If I really had to pick one I would have to go with producer. It's definitely more exciting to go out and play music you made, but as far as what I enjoy more I would have to say DJing, since sitting in the studio alone all day can get kind of lonely at times.

You are originally from Armenia but now based in Los Angeles I believe, what were your early years in Armenia like? and what prompted you to re-locate?

Yes, that is correct I was born in Armenia and spent most of my childhood there. Life in Armenia was very different compared to the US. It's one of the safest places to raise a family. We were always outside playing till late nights, spending time with our friends. We did not have phones, computers, internet or the need to stay indoors all day since it was always more fun to be out. Nowadays, I have to pressure my son to put his phone away and get out for like 10 minutes, even then he goes outside with his phone in his hands. I came to US when I was about 6 years old, back then Armenia was part of USSR, so I guess my parents moved to the US to make sure we have a better life. Besides, at my age no one really asked my opinion and how I would feel about moving.

How has living in Los Angeles affected your musical taste and the music you make?

I don't believe living in Los Angeles has anything to do with my taste in music. Regardless of where I was living I'm pretty certain I would have been making the same kind of music as I do now.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights, venues or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

I was 16 when I got invited to my first Desert Rave. I was not into electronic music back then, I enjoyed Jazz and Hip Hop more. I figured it was on a Saturday night and I had nothing to do so might as well go see what's up. After 2 hours of driving, and about 4 map points that gave directions we made it to the location in the desert. It's hard to explain the feeling, but best way to describe it would be love at first sight. It's been a good 30 years and I am still in love with this music and culture.

How would you describe electronic music culture and the club scene in the USA? And how would you compare it to other places you’ve performed?

While the music is pretty much the same all around the world, US club culture exploded in the past 15 years. I mean in Hollywood, there is like 10 clubs one next to the other and each one has 3000 people every Friday and Saturday night. When I was booked to play EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) in 2000 it only had 50,000 people. This year for the duration of 3 days it had 200,000 people. So to sum it up US club culture has grown tremendously in the past years, therefore some of the biggest DJs are constantly touring in US.

You’ve gained some nice notoriety within the world of progressive house since you returned around two years ago, is there a release or track you could point to which had the most impact on your resurgent career thus far?

Thank you, I have to say Hathor which was released on Tash's Movement Recordings about 18 months ago. It was remixed by Matan Caspi, and only my 2nd release. Both the remix and the original made it to top 5 on Beatport Progressive house charts, and stayed there for months. I guess that track kind of put my name on the map, and after that there have been many top releases. I am humbled and proud to say most of them got support from some of the biggest names in the world including John OO Flaming, Paul Thomas, D-Nox , Hernán Cattáneo, Nick Warren and many more!

What was it that brought you back to producing again after a roughly ten-year hiatus?

While I was away from production / DJing for 14 years exactly, I never stopped being involved in electronic music. Even though I was not active, I maintained a full studio and a DJ set up at home all those years. From time to time I would play hour long sets for myself, remembering how great it felt being on stage. I stopped when Karo was born, at which time I was still touring, running my own record label "DHV Records", doing monthly desert parties known as "Ambrosia" and owned a record store named DHV Records. I was very busy with everything I had going on, but when my son was born I wanted to spend as much time at home as possible. I changed my whole life around so I can be there while he was growing up. Now that he is old enough and no longer thinks it's cool to hang out with his dad, I am back doing something I'm very passionate about and missed the most.

I find your music connects very well with organic and cross-cultural themes, what are some of your biggest inspirations when working on new music?

I would say my biggest inspiration is daily life. While making music is a very personal thing, it actually expresses how you feel at that given moment. It allows you to express your true feelings and emotions, therefore you can hear sadness or happiness, energy or deep emotions in music. Producing it is like telling someone a story but with notes.

You have a new remix of Danny Bonnici & Dave Norris out this week on Strange Town Recordings. Tell us about the remix and what was it about the original track that made you want to take on the project?

One morning I woke up to a text from Bryan and we started off with our usual small talk. He asked me how my schedule was nowadays as far as remixes and releases. So I told him that I was super busy, but nevertheless I was curious why he asked. So I asked him why he wanted to know. He asked if I would be interested to remix a track that he signed with his label.

Once I received the original, it was a deep dark Danny Bonnici sound, just with this one it was more tribal, since Dave Norris was part of the production. From the moment I heard it, I already had an idea of what my remix would sound like. It took about a month of going back and forth between myself, Danny and Bryan Wolfear with ideas. Let me say this it's no easy task to impress a legend and to top it off I had Bryan Wolfear a great producer himself who did not make this project any easier :)

Big thank you Bryan Wolfear, Danny Bonnici and Strange Town Recordings for this exciting project, I hope listener will enjoy this remix as much as I enjoyed making it!

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of this remix?

I used to be a full Hardware kind of guy, but besides my Moog, now it's all digital, 2 plug ins that I used in almost every channel on this remix are Fabfilter's Pro Q3 EQ and Pro-C2 Compressor this 2 did a lot of sound processing on this remix.

Generally speaking, do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

I guess remixing is always easier since you are sort of given a general idea already and you just pick up that idea and create something of your own. So yes, I have to say remixing for me is easier.

What’s a task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you’d rather have taken care of by somebody else?

For me everything starts from the baseline. I think writing the baseline has to be my favorite part of production. Mixing the final track, now I wish someone could do that part for me, it takes way more time to mix a track that I am happy with than to actually write one.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

Not that much, I send it to few of my friends, it starts with sharing it with Alex Mango, Alex is great producer himself , and has big talent to catch small mistakes on the fly, my manager Alex, Clay Van Dyk, Karl Williams, Split Atoms. They are always kind enough to test / listen and provide me with their feedbacks. When I finish a track I always sit back and listen and I can feel when something is "Done / Ready"

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

Perfect acoustically treated room, and a computer with unlimited CPU Power, on the side note a fridge stacked with full of Macallan 18 Year Sherry Oak bottles will also be very helpful and motivational.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

Last show I watched that I really liked was Queen of South, it's crazy how one move or mistake can turn your whole life upside down.

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

Well, not sure about superpower, but I wish I could stop the war between Russia and Ukraine, and both countries can resume their normal life.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

Top of Mountain Ararat.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

I guess moving from being a full time DJ / producer to starting a major real estate investment company. I wanted financial stability for my family! There is a good Russian saying, "Кто не рискует тот не пьёт шампанския" meaning "He who does not take risks does not drink Champagne"

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Being surrounded by loved ones.

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Like I mentioned it's a busy year for me, today my remix for Anton MaKe and Vladimir Fonarev called "Red Shift" on Digital Emotions was released. Friday my Remix for Strange Town Recordings will be coming out and on July 8 my original Rejuvenescence is coming out on Univack with Dmitry Molosh remix, also on July 22nd, my remix of "Renzzo" by K. Loveski will be out on SLC-6 Music.

I was Invited to join JOOF label by the legend himself John OO Flaming, 3 original tracks signed with JOOF (release date TBA). Also, excited for the invitation from Paul Thomas himself to Join UV label with a single (release date TBA). I would like to take a moment to congratulate UV label for making the #1 Selling label on Beatport Progressive house charts and the same day I joined his label.

There are always ongoing big projects with Mango Alley, my original track called "Aphrodite" will be released later this year and it includes a remix from none other than Nick Warren and Nicholas Rada. I will be as the headliner of AUGMENTED 009 it's a compilation consisting of around 12-15 tracks of my choosing that will be released in both unmixed version and a DJ Set version mixed by me exclusively for streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, etc." due at the end of the year. There are many more projects in the works, but I already mentioned one too many of the surprises coming up. I did say it was a Super busy Year :)

Once again, thank you Mitch and rest of the Release Promo Team for the invitation. Big Thanks for premiering/charting my music more than once in the past 2 years. The work you guys do for Electronic music is priceless!!!

Ruben's remix of 'Journey to Arion' is out now via Strange Town Recordings: https://bit.ly/3AmyXIf

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