Deep Dive: DJ Farhad Karkaria
The charismatic pop banger fanatic and KeepingItQueer and GayBCD presenter is like your big brother, best friend, favourite dish and pub quiz host all in one.
Farhad at Pride (Photo: Farhad Karkaria)
Farhad speaks to Moodagent from his neon-lit lockdown apartment in Mumbai one hot summer's eve, engaging and hilarious in a way that so clearly brought him to grace the podcast airwaves as host of not one but two high-streaming shows. As his Insta bio details: he’s ‘just trying to live a life I don't understand’ and he documents this with aplomb on the air for KeepingItQueer and GayBCD, two of India's leading LGBTQ+ podcasts. His quippy, frank style, brutal honesty and heartwarming welcome to both his guests and listeners makes his discussions some of the most candid and entertaining re: the lived queer experience that you’ll find online.
The creative is a thinker, doer and nurturer, which may be why his anecdotes and advice come so thick, fast and naturally from episode to episode. After spending any amount of time in Farhad’s company - even interactively - it becomes apparent that outside of lockdowns and forced home arrests in our troubling times he simply loves to dance and cajole his peers, but he’s the one taking care of everyone’s needs at a party: with water and snacks (when he’s not behind the deck or the mic he’s whipping up a storm in the kitchen).
But his main delivery at any hot Mumbai bash is his never ending, encyclopedic music and pop culture knowledge. In the spirit of his love of sharing, we asked Farhad to curate his ultimate LGBTQI+ playlist in the Moodagent app in celebration not just of Pride Month 2021 but Pride as a lifestyle, every day. Why not try sparking your own moodagents when listening to some of Farhad’s special selections?
Reading the crowd and knowing his audience comes naturally as a lifetime music obsessive who’s worked across production and festivals. We dive into some of his playlist highlights; peppered with and starting with some of his hobbies and interests, too. We hear about some seminal artists and memories from the influencer, moments that helped shape a healthy and proactive queer identity that wants to help others do the same.
“I spend my weekends these days mostly on it. I’m obsessed with it. You give me a place to talk and I’ll keep talking. I ask gay people what they hate about being gay, which isn’t done enough in this day and age. There has to be space for that. I do a lot of food chats, cooking things and food memory chats.”
“I listen to so much Madonna but ‘Borderline’ is my current favorite and I only discovered it with that Will & Grace comeback at the age of 32!”
“They do the groundwork, I mean they’ve actually been incarcerated for speaking up against the government. How could I possibly leave them off this list?”
Antony and the Johnsons/Hercules & Love Affair
“‘Blind’ is just everything. A member of the band was in Mumbai and my friend spotted them in a bar. I arrived as fast as I could and they sort of did an impromptu gig.”
“The downside of being queer! He nails it. Gay music is so exuberant and tend to be larger than life, but his lyrics are sometimes like 'it sucks to be gay’ and his videos are brilliant. He’s probably the only person on my list with HIV, and he’s very vocal about it, which is very healthy. It's important for me that this playlist covers the whole and very real spectrum of the gay experience.”
“One of my favorite genres that isn’t a genre is ‘sad breakup songs that are dancey’ and ‘Dancing On My Own’ is a big one. Donna Summer’s ‘I Will Survive’ is the biggest of all. Robyn’s ‘Honey’ had to go in here too for this reason. Two Bears’ opener on my playlist is another one of these.”
“Even before, way before, even I had come to terms with my sexuality, Vengaboys were such a big deal to me. I say this all the time: I've been to so many concerts and gigs but Vengaboys was my favorite concert of all time. I used to work for a music channel and they had passes to a Vengaboys gig in a mall. All my friends were being a little snobbish but we’d grown up by then. I took around 20 friends and I remembered they’re like SIX hit wonders, not just one! But wow. They soon realised these six were all people wanted to hear, so they performed them twice! Then there are the total bangers like ‘Macarena’, ‘Livin La Vida Loca’ etc… it was fine to love them as a kid but…”
“A lot of my friends call me Frodo and everyone was like ‘Frodo are you going to Frodo’s gig?’ And of course I had to go. And obviously it was quite bad: Elijah should stick to movies. It was sort of an electronic ambient vibe.. but came off sounding like that episode of ‘Friends’ where Ross tries to be a multidisciplinary artist. I saw Michael Cera playing and trying the same kind of thing, but that actually worked quite well.”
“I’m OK with skipping them unless there’s someone playing who I really like. I feel socially anxious at them. Everyones running around having a good time but I had to work at them for a few years putting out various fires and working like crazy so I still sort of think of them that way.”
“So poetic, such wordsmiths, bards! Modern Shakespeare they were. A friend of mine once got their autograph for me and it got lost in the post. So sad.”
“I just love Peaches' work and the music she’s done with various stars with such a carefree, obnoxious vibe. Her songs are clearly made with the intention of making gays go crazy, pieces of music that are hilarious.”
“If I had to name a favourite LGBTQI+ artist of all time, it’s him. His artistry is all encompassing. See his videos, especially ‘Love Bizarre.’ I also included Robert Parker in my playlist for similar reasons, because it’s the closest thing made now that sort of captures the gayness of times where I wasn’t even alive yet, with those powerful synth sounds.”
“She gave us one of the best albums of the pandemic with What’s Your Pleasure? when no one’s clubbing or moving, and I had to credit her with making me bop around my house during these times.”
“She captures perfectly on my chosen track that feeling of being in a gay club with your friends but no one letting you leave. Because I’ve chosen sobriety, I have a cap on how long I wanna be out and about when everyone’s sweaty and hedonistic. In the video a hundred shirtless men in leather just won’t let her leave, haha.”
“I really love putting stuff on playlists that I might not necessarily play myself, because I know it makes people feel good. You know when people are tripping? I’m the designated music guy.”
“If I listen to, say, the one I made for June 2020 I can immediately remember where I was, what sort of meals I was cooking, and how I was feeling. What the light was like, what the wind felt like. Music that’s the opposite to how I’m feeling can really pull me out of a mood, get me out of my head."
Follow Farhad on Instagram