Aglae Kounkou

DJ Karaba remembers driving through France’s southern region listening to Motown in a camping car with her parents. Listing off names like a musical-must syllabus, Karaba says The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind and Fire, and, of course, Barry White sound tracked her childhood. Born to a Congolese father and a French-Italian mother, Karaba also listened to the music specific to her cultural and regional homes, such as French rap and Congolese artists such as Koffi Olomide, Awilo Longomba, Papa Wemba and Passi .

While she was in Los Angeles in 2014, Karaba danced for some of pop music’s heaviest hitters such as Drake, Camila Cabello, and Selena Gomez, as well as appearing in numerous music videos and award shows. When a major tour was cancelled in 2016, Karaba felt helpless about the next step of her career. She then found her way to DJing and music production, a thought that had been bubbling up in the back of her mind for some time. Enrolling in the DJ Scratch Academy in L.A., Karaba says she found a renewed artistic purpose.

Her attentiveness to using the rich sounds from African countries comes from one her first few times DJing. While playing a house track, Karaba uncovered all the ways in which music from Africa was being incorporated into these works. “The more research I did, the more I saw that there were DJs playing music from my country, and this is where everything changed for me. I discovered music from the whole continent of Africa and knew I found my niche, my purpose as a musician: To share with people the music from my own people, my own country,” she says.

DJ Karaba is currently working on her own project, an EP that will combine her love of creation and movement for music lovers, and her desire to master production. She’s working with Young Galaxy’s Stephen Ramsay, whom she cites as a key mentor and collaborator during this process. Nearly two years into doing this full-time, Karaba says this project is one of the most personally fulfilling things she has ever done.
DJ Karaba’s music is electric and spicy. There is no moment of pause or slow down. Her intensity, her wish to see people dance and feel the music the way she feels it, is aspirational, all-consuming. There is unmitigated joy to such devotion to sound, and in being enveloped by one’s passion.