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Decoder - Ghanaprajna


A talk with the Texas techno wunderkind.

By John Chiaverina


Though he is only 19, the Dallas-based DJ and producer Decoder (real name: Gautham Garg) has already staked out his own space within the global techno landscape. Jeff Mills and Richie Hawtin have played his tunes. Legacy labels like Axis and Molecular have put out his records. Punters from Houston to Berlin have raved to his DJ sets. It’s not a shock: Garg trades in the kind of mind-warping minimal techno that resonates through multiple generations, and he does it really well. His newest record, Ghanaprajna, a double LP for the Fixed Rhythms label, extrapolates on that sound, pushing it into new dimensions. We sent the artist a few questions.

Decoder - Ghanaprajna
Decoder - GhanaprajnaFixed Rhythms

  • 1Comportment
  • 2Inaction
  • 3Non Dualistic
  • 44 Stub (Auspicious)
  • 5Tenuous Sentiment
  • 6Visionary
  • 77th Ritual
  • 8All I Have

How did you get into techno in the first place?

Decoder: It was really a culmination of a few things. The first being that my mom, who grew up in a rural area of Chennai in India was given these mixtapes of pirated 80s pop music and Euro dance hits by her father, which she then used to play for me a lot as a kid. Hearing that kind of club-focused music at such an early age definitely left a big impact on my life as that’s what I always equated good music to be. When I turned 5, I started playing drums, which always had me focusing on grooves and beats, as techno is a very rhythm-heavy genre. Video games also played a big part in how I ended up getting into techno, as a lot of the games I played would have fast-paced, instrumental EDM always playing in the background. It was actually through this one game I used to play called Geometry Dash that led me to find out about FL Studio, when I was around 10 years old. These were the main catalysts for what really made techno resonate with me, but my first proper introduction to techno was actually thanks to the YouTube algorithm. Back in 2018, I was randomly recommended the track “Imperia” by the Spanish artist Tensal, and I clicked on it just because I liked the artwork. After listening to that track my life was truly changed, as that track pretty much checked off all the boxes for what I love about electronic music.

What does your studio look like nowadays? Take us through the making of Ghanaprajna.

These days, I’m primarily all in the box with FL Studio. It’s my favorite way of getting my ideas down quickly as I’m the kind of person who likes to just get the sketch going before further refining it. That being said I also have a few boutique Roland synths (SH-01, TR-09) that I love using in my tracks every now and then just to spice things up. The making of Ghanaprajna was actually not initially as a full length album, but rather as a demo of roughly 40 to 50 tracks I had sent over to Taylor, who runs Fixed Rhythms. I had sent them to him to see if we could do a potential EP, but after listening through he suggested that there was enough material to put out an album instead. After some back and forth with the curation, we finally came up with the whole album! I really enjoyed working this way as opposed to sitting down and writing an album in one go because I could look back at older tracks that were all made at different times and places, and find overarching themes throughout each song that could make for a cohesive release.


How does your own experience raving and dancing to techno music inform how you work in the studio?

To be quite honest, my experience as a raver is extremely limited. I’ve DJ’d clubs before ever getting to experience them as a raver, which is usually not a route that most people take. My first proper club experience as purely a raver was at Berghain back in 2022 in Berlin, as I’m not allowed to enter clubs here in the states until I turn 21 and I couldn’t be bothered to get a fake ID, ha ha. I’ve been producing long before I ever went to any clubs, and I think that a lot of my experience in making techno comes from my background in drumming, as I’ve always felt drawn towards music that has a strong beat or sense of rhythm to it. I will say however that in the few raves and club nights I’ve gotten to experience in the past year, it’s definitely given me a stronger sense of direction for what I would want to hear on a sound system, which has given me a lot of new inspiration as to what I’ve been making lately for those dancefloors.

Where do you see this newest release fitting in with your larger body of work?

I definitely see this album as a kind of turning point in how I’m planning to release music in the future. In the past most of my releases have been “functional” techno EPs, and while I do love them, the album format has always resonated with me as it gives me a lot of room to experiment and try new things artistically. I’ve put out three other albums before Ghanaprajna, which have all had a bit of a different identity from my regular EP releases. I also think this album marks a bit of a departure from my previous releases, as a lot of my older work is centered around one certain theme or idea. Whereas going forward, my new approach is just putting out music that I like, regardless of it fitting into any subgenre or category. It’s just going to be “Decoder” tracks, without any type of label on it. I feel like as an artist that it’s a healthy progression moving forward, as I’d hate to get stuck in a box of only being known for one specific type of sound. If that makes sense!


Tell us about the techno scene in Dallas, and in Texas as a whole.

For Texas as a whole, I’d definitely have to say Austin is the place to be for techno. There’s lots of great parties happening, and dance music and culture is really well understood. Dallas however is not really the best city for raves and techno, as it has endless suburban sprawl and has become a place where people come to start a family. But despite that there’s some really talented people holding it down there, as well as a lot of unsung heroes who keep the history of techno alive and well! It’s a small tight knit scene but I’m hopeful that, like every scene that comes and goes in waves, there will be a resurgence of nightlife culture soon. I definitely have to shout out the crews holding it down there, like Beverly Hills Cowboy, It’ll Do, and Proton. Some really incredible and influential artists are from Dallas too, like Convextion, Declan James, and Cygnus. I do wish I could be in town more often to get more involved with what’s happening out there, as lately I’ve been on the road a lot for shows. But it is a big goal of mine to be able to one day leave some type of impact in the city at some point in time, as I’m very proud to call it my home!

Who are some of your biggest dance music influences? What about non-dance music?

I have way too many to count, but my biggest dance music influences would definitely have to be Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin, Terrence Dixon, Luke Slater; all the techno greats really! They all have mastered a really nice balance between music that can move people on dancefloors as well as music that can stimulate your mind. It’s something that inspires me daily and I hope I can achieve that with my music too. I’m grateful that I’ve already had the opportunity to release an album with Jeff for his label Axis, and go on tour around the world with Richie, as their advice and overall philosophy on music is truly a breath of fresh air. They’re legends for a reason! My non-dance music influences are more so not even musical at all. I draw a lot of inspiration from Eastern philosophy, Hinduism, surrealist art styles, and lots of weird internet rabbit holes. Lots of things that have esoteric qualities to them always get me thinking in new ways and I love to try and translate those thoughts and emotions into my music however they end up manifesting themselves!

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