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Posts Tagged ‘keshav dhar

Horns Up Podcast: Episode 24

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Keshav Dhar (Skyharbor) is someone I have known for close to a decade now and have interviewed multiple times (here, here and also here)

Keshav started off from his bedroom as Hydrodjent, a solo act that quickly morphed in to the global sensation that is Skyharbor – arguably the biggest rock band hailing from India. Over cups of coffee and chai, Keshav Dhar introspects on whether the journey was a product of sheer good luck coupled with tremendous hard work, and where the future lies after three solid albums. There’s also lots about his recent move to Bombay, and some sound advice for young musicians looking to make it big.

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August 6, 2019 at 11:30 am

Skyharbor interview

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Skyharbor are the most successful metal band from India. Last year, the band released their second album ‘Guiding Lights’ which was followed by a tour of India and Europe.

Skyharbor released a single ‘Out of Time’ last month after lineup changes (Eric Emery and Aditya Ashok have replaced Dan Tompkins and Anup Sastry on vocals and drums respectively.) I spoke to Keshav Dhar about their new single, the new lineup and their upcoming tour of North America.

 

Skyharbor

Keshav Dhar (Guitars), Aditya Ashok (Drums), Eric Emery (Vocals) , Devesh Dayal (Guitars) and Krishna (Bass) (Left to Right)

Your new single ‘Out of Time’ sounds awesome. Tell us a bit about it.

Keshav Dhar: It was interesting because we wanted the first song that we released with our new lineup to be a fully collaborative effort between everyone. We had a lot of material written before Out of Time, but this song was born out of a vocal melody that Eric had written previously, so I wrote the skeleton of the song around that and then everyone came in and changed up a whole lot of things. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out, especially because it’s been a fully collaborative effort, so this means we’ve got a good thing going.

The single features your new line up Eric Emery on vocals and Aditya Ashok on drums. How did they become part of the line up?

Keshav Dhar: Basically, as of 2014, Dan and Anup were the only two members of the band for whom Skyharbor was only one of numerous other projects. We were getting a lot of attention with the Download/Graspop festival run, the pledge campaign for what eventually became Guiding Lights, and just stuff that was going on in general. We were also getting a lot of touring opportunities around the world that we had to turn down because either Dan or Anup were unavailable at any given point of time. It was unfortunate because we loved each other like brothers and had an absolutely fantastic musical chemistry and vision for what we wanted Skyharbor to sound like. But eventually as all the projects kept growing bigger and bigger, there came a point when they had to prioritize, and unfortunately Skyharbor was not in a position to sustain them as a full time career band. So they decided to move on and focus exclusively on their other projects, and at the same time free us up to pursue our ambitions freely.

Aditya has been a great friend of ours for many years now, and we definitely wanted to get someone from our home country of India to play drums so that the main rhythm section of the band could have more opportunities to jam together, as we want to move towards a more ‘live’ and natural sound. We asked him if he wanted to join, and he stepped up to the plate wonderfully.

With Eric, we were a bit worried when Dan left because it’s very hard to find a good singer who’s willing to live this lifestyle of touring and album cycles and generally go through a hard time for the first few years of solidifying a band, especially with a new frontman things can really be hard because the sound changes drastically when you change the voice, and it’s almost like the industry and even fans will expect you to prove yourselves all over again and that can take years. Our good friend Forrester Savell (who mixed Guiding Lights) suggested we check out Eric, I looked up his Youtube channel and sent him a message asking if he’d like to audition. He sent in his audition in record time, and the rest was history. Possibly the smoothest lineup transition we could ever have hoped for.

How different was the song writing process with the new members on board?

Keshav Dhar: It’s interesting. Anup and Dan had incredible ideas, but their approach was more like, since they were both so busy all the time we’d usually write the bulk of the music between Devesh, Krishna and myself and present it to them, and then they’d present finished drum or vocal ideas back, and that was usually what we just went with. It was great because it was a very painless exercise, as they’re both outstanding at what they do, but it wasn’t quite as collaborative a process as maybe we wanted it to be. And sometimes they’d have their parts literally sent in at the last minute, by which time we didn’t even feel like discussing any potential changes or trying anything else out even if we did have ideas, because there simply wasn’t any time. But now we literally go over everything, consider trying different things out for every vocal, drum, guitar and bass part of every song, really milk the process and throw billions of ideas back and forth in the quest to make the songs the best they possibly can be.

On ‘Guiding Lights’ you’ll experiment with their sound. There were heavy songs like ‘Evolution’, a ballad like ‘Patience’ and everything in between. Was it a conscious decision by the band? Tell us about it.

Keshav Dhar: We’ve always had heavy moments and peaceful moments, from the very start, and that’s really what we’re all about, light and shade, ebb and flow, peaks and valleys. It can be like having 10 movements in the same song, or you can have 10 songs that are a movement each. There will always be a bit of everything in what we do.

Looking back at the album now, would you like to change anything about it?

Keshav Dhar: Honestly, no. I don’t believe in that stuff. We said what we wanted to say with the album, and I feel it expressed us perfectly as people and musicians at the time. Sure there are things that we know now that we didn’t know back then, but then that’s what life is all about, growing and discovering.

Renowned producer Forrester Savell mixed and mastered ‘Out of Time’ as well as ‘Guiding Lights’. How was it working with him?

Keshav Dhar: He’s almost like a member of the band by now, he understands us perfectly and absolutely nails the vision we have for the music. All of us in the band absolutely love Sound Awake, it’s one of if not the greatest produced rock record of all time, and to be working with him is a real privilege.

This November, you embark on your first tour of North America with Tesseract, The Contortionist and Erra. What can fans expect from your set?

Keshav Dhar: Well we’re opening, which means we’ll only have a half hour set, so we won’t really be able to do the sprawling 8+ minute songs haha but it’ll still be a fun, short and snappy set.

In the short period, you have emerged as the most successful band from India. Do you have any tips for metal bands that are just starting out?

Keshav Dhar: Really, just do your thing and focus on the music and not on facebook likes or album sales or even live shows, until your material is of the highest possible standard it can be. Everything else is secondary, and in any case none of us have any control over whether someone will like what we put out next or not, because we all write music for ourselves, so just keep doing that without hope of reward, and if you do become successful that’s a bonus. I personally consider us extremely fortunate and lucky to be in the position that we are in today, and although we have worked very hard I won’t say that the limited success we’ve had is entirely down to hard work alone, because there are plenty of bands that work very hard and have nothing to show for it. Just treat it as a passion and if you happen to get lucky and thousands of people connect with it and put money behind it, then you can start treating it like a business.

Have you started working on your third album? What can fans expect from it?

Keshav Dhar: Yes, it’ll probably take a lot of people by surprise just like Guiding Lights did to those who got into the band with Blinding, as we’re exploring a completely new direction for us, but it will always sound like Skyharbor. We’re super stoked with how it’s shaping up.

You are also currently booking a tour of India in February next year. Do you have other plans do you have in the New Year?

Keshav Dhar: We’re looking at hitting Australia at some point early next year, releasing the new album at some point in the first half of the year as well, and then of course touring it, so the same as any album cycle really. Excited to get back out on the road again!

Listen to “Out of Time” below

 

 

Written by trendcrusher

October 2, 2015 at 10:00 am

Interview with Chaos

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Chaos are a thrash metal band from Trivandrum, Kerala. I first heard of them last year when they released a video ‘Game‘. A couple of months Chaos released their debut album ‘Violent Redemption‘ and it kicks ass. The album will take you back to Thrash metal from the 80’s. ‘Violent Redemption’ has received positive reviews from media around the world.
Find out more about the album, its production and also their future plans in my interview with their lead guitarist Nikhil below.

chaos2

Hi guys, congrats on winning the “Best Metal Artist” award at the Radio City Freedom Awards. How does it feel? Were you your expectations prior to the awards ceremony?

Thank you very much Peter! It feels amazing. The fact that we were nominated amongst such heavy weights itself was indeed an honor for us! And winning it? Didn’t see that coming at all. Totally unexpected, and absolutely blown away by the support that we’ve been getting over the past month or so. We’d like to thank everyone who’s voted for the Popular Choice category! And of course the jury for thinking that we’re worthy.

You released your debut album ‘Violent redemption’ earlier this year in March. Can you tell a bit about the album?

Violent redemption has been in the workshop since the band has been conceived way back in 2005. And over these years, we’re tried out different things. Some of it just stuck on with the band.

Majority of the material that you hear on ‘Violent Redemption’ has evolved with the band, with us playing them faster every year! And of course, there are songs on the record like ‘War Crime’ which just happened while we were in the Studio.

Violent RedemptionWhat was the songwriting process for the album? You have been around since 2005, how long have you been working on these songs?

Most of the songs in the album starts off with me and JK talking about a subject that’s worthy of turning into a song. It could be something that we saw on the news, or something we’ve read somewhere. The lyrics come first and the riffs and the song structure follows. How long have we been working on these songs? Since the day we’ve started jamming back in 2005.

I have been listening to the album for the past week and its sounds great. Keshav Dhar has produced the album, how was it working with him?

Keshav is an amazing producer. He has this uncanny ability to just blend in with the band and get involved in what the band’s doing, be it making a kick ass record or partying like there’s no tomorrow! As a band, we were really comfortable with the way that he was working.

Last year you released a video for the song ‘Game’. Tell us a bit about the production of the video.

The entire credit for that goes to Kiran and crew of Red Ray productions. They’ve put in a massive amount of effort to make that happen. The whole video shoot was indeed a great experience for us. Since the people that we were working with were damn good at doing what they do, we didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Overall, the video came out good and we did get a lot of new people to listen to our stuff thanks to the video.

Kerala is not known for its metal scene; What are the bands from Kerala that you think we should check out?

Well, Kerala should get more credit! We’ve got a few great bands, coming out with awesome material! For instance, our brothers from ‘Heretic’ and ‘The Downtroddence’ are ready with their albums. In fact, ‘Heretic’ already released their album online, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. ‘The Downtroddence’ is ready with their album, and I can’t wait to listen to what they’ve done. Do check them out as well. Then there are bands which are extremely talented like ‘Blind Fate’ and ‘Decaying Humanity’, of whom you’ve probably never heard of, but trust me, you will. To be honest, the music that’s coming out of the state is a s good as its from anywhere in the country. And I guess we’ll still have to work on getting the music across to more people.

Do you have any gigs planned in the coming months?

Our management is working on the same, getting CHAOS and Violent Redemption to as many cities as possible and yes very soon you can catch us live!

Any final words?

Do check our album out if you haven’t yet! Hope to see you all soon! Cheers!

Buy ‘Violent Redemption’ from Oklisten and cd from Transcending Obscurity

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July 1, 2013 at 1:26 am

Interview with Skyharbor

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Skyharbor the progressive metal band of Delhi based producer Keshav Dhar is one of the most promising acts of emerge from India recently. The band generated a lot of buzz online when it started 3 years under the “Hydrodjent” moniker. Their set at the NH7 Weekender in November last year was one of the highlights of the festival for me. Earlier this week Basick Records, a progressive Metal label from UK released their debut album “Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos” and it kicks ass. Read my review of the album here.

Find out more about the album, getting signed to Basick Records and their future plans in my interview with Keshav below

Hi Keshav, how do you feel now that “Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos” is all set for release after 3 years in the making??

Keshav: Very, very happy and proud! I feel we’ve written a solid debut record and there is nothing that I would do differently in hindsight. The album was finished around the fall last year though, so I’m quite anxious to get cracking on the next one and plan ahead for the future.

“Illusion” features Dan Tompkins (White Moth Black Butterfly, Piano, Ex-Tesseract) on vocals and Chaos features Sunnieth Revankar (Bhayanak Maut, Providence) on vocals. How did you go about writing the songs with 2 different vocalists?

Keshav:Interestingly, the album wasn’t really written with the point of view that there would be different singers for different songs, or for that matter even that all the songs would have vocals. It started out obviously instrumental since it was my solo project back then. I had always wanted to collaborate with Sunneith on some material though, so around early 2011 he recorded vocals for ‘Trayus’ and I was absolutely blown away. We proceeded to extend the collaboration with songs like ‘Aphasia’ and ‘Insurrection’. He’s a phenomenal metal vocalist with an incredible sense of phrasing and groove. Then shortly afterwards I was contacted by Dan on MySpace, and he was interested in guesting on ‘Order 66’ – which I was really excited about since that song sums up the other side of our music quite well, the more delicate and proggy side. I sent him some more material along those lines and he enjoyed it and offered to sing on that as well. One by one we ended up doing 7 songs in total. Even some songs, which were meant to be instrumental from the get go like ‘Dots’, just sounded so, so much better with his vocals that I totally gave him free reign to do whatever he pleased vocally.

Basick Records has released “Blinding White Noise: Illusion and Chaos“. How did you get signed to them?

Keshav:My good friend Aaquib from Rock Street Journal was in contact with Barley and Lisa at Basick, and he put us in touch. I described the plans and long term vision I had for the project with Barley, and we came to an agreement very quickly. The whole deal took literally just a couple of weeks to sort out.

Skyharbor’s only live performance so far has been at the NH7 Weekender in November last year. Tell us a bit about the whole experience.

Keshav: Ahh, where do I begin! What an absolutely fantastic festival and experience. First of all there was Anup coming all the way from the US to rehearse and play with us, then the actual rehearsals which was an incredible feeling as I jammed these songs that had thus far only been sitting on a computer, in a room with a full band! Then the festival itself – awesome organization, awesome crowds, awesome sound, awesome lineups – I can’t say enough, how much fun we had at the NH7 Weekender.

From “Hydrojent” to “Skyharbor” what has been your most memorable moment so far?

Keshav:There are so many – the numerous wonderful collaborations, all the good things being said about us online and in the press, etc – but I would say our getting signed to Basick Records was really very special to me. I hugely respect and look up to them and the bands on their roster, and it’s extremely inspiring to know that they enjoy our music enough to want us in their family.

You were in Another Vertigo Rush for a short period before the band split up. Have you been in any other bands previously?

Keshav:Another Vertigo Rush haven’t disbanded actually – just on an extended hiatus. We’ll start writing again when the time is right, but we all have our individual priorities very clear right now. Besides that, a couple of jam bands in college which was fun but nothing serious.

You are also a much sought after producer, what projects are you currently working on?

Keshav:Heaps of projects at the moment! I’m producing Dan’s solo EP for his project ‘White Moth Black Butterfly’ which is wonderful ambient mood music, Limit Zero’s (Bangalore) full length album – kickass prog metal band! – and an ethnic folk trio called Just Ittefaq. I’m also producing singles and EPs for a lot of other bands, but these are the real ‘bulk’ projects as of now and the most notable.

Now that you have a live line up in place, will there be any more gigs in support of the album release?

Keshav: We still aren’t quite there as a live lineup yet, and we will make announcements about this in due time, but there are definitely plans – keep an eye on our facebook page for updates!

Have you started writing for the second album? What can we expect from the new material?

Keshav:There is some material left over which didn’t make it to the first album because I couldn’t finish up the songs in time, but these ideas are the basis on which I’m going to start writing for the second record. I also have a lot of ideas which I’ve yet to record or demo, and I plan to take a couple of weeks off sometime soon and start writing earnestly. It’s too early still to judge what kind of shape the second album will take, but I can say that the writing process is starting somewhat from where we’ve left off last time.

Final words?

Keshav: Thanks for having me on here, and a ton of thanks to you and all our wonderful fans for all their support and patience! Keep those awesome messages rolling in on our social networks, and look out for some more exciting news from us soon!

Stream/Buy “Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaoshere

Skyharbor – “Blinding White Noise:Illusion & Chaos” Review

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The long awaited album by progressive band  Skyharbor has finally been released. Keshav Dhar has surpassed all expectations with his debut. The last album from India that make an impression on me was “Abolishing the Obsolete System” by Amogh Symphony. Read my review of “Blinding White Noise:Illusion & Chaos below (Originally posted on Indianrockmp3) 2012 is slowly shaping up to be a great year for Indiean bands. Many of the releases that were on our lists of bands to watch out for in 2012 have released their long awaited album like Split, Kryptos, SkyRabbit, another band to add to the list is Skyaharbor. Keshav Dhar is no stranger to IRMP3 regulars. He has been featured here a few times, as “Band of the day” in 2009 and in January 2010 he was the “Chosen 1”.

For those who have been living under a rock for the past few years and are unaware of who Skyharbor is, the band was started by Keshav Dhar in 2009 as Hydrodjent. Recently he added two more members to theband Anup Sastry on Drums and Nikhil Rufus – Bass. They performed live for the first time at the Bacardi NH7 Festival in Pune in November last year.

Skyharbor has released their long-awaited debut album, “Blinding White Noise: Illusion and Chaos” through Basick Records, a progressive Metal label from UK. The album consists of 2 cds, the first cd “Illusion” has Daniel Tompkins (White Moth Black Butterfly, Piano, ex-TesseracT) on vocals and Sunneith Revankar (Bhayanak Maut/Providence) on the 2nd “Chaos”. “Dots” one of the first songs i heard by Keshav kicks off the 1st cd. I was surprised how seamlessly Dan’s vocals fit into the songs as they were initially written as instrumentals. The album hits a peak at “Catharsis”, the track which got Skyharbor a lot of attention and new listeners as it was featured on the Metal Hammer “Global Metal” compilation. Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth) plays a guitar solo on the track. “Night” offers a brief respite in the middle of the album. “Celestial” which feature guest solos by Vishal J. Singh (Amogh Symphony) is another monstrous track. The songs on the 2nd cd “Chaos” are like name suggests the more aggressive. It’s a short listen with 3 tracks clocking in just under 14 minutes. “Aphasia”, a song about anger is the stand out track on this cd especially the bridge section “And I hate…”.

Daniel and Sunnieth have delivered a great vocal performance which reflects the production skills of Keshav. A special mention goes out to Aaquib Wani for designing a great album cover. With the recent trend of bands releasing their music online for free I have noticed that the quality of artwork has been lacking. I am sure this album will end up on the “Best album” lists of many metal writers in India and Internationally at the end of the year. Delete all those Hydrodjent demoes from your hard drive and pick up a copy of “Blinding White Noise: Illusions and Chaos” from Basick Records.

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April 24, 2012 at 11:26 pm

First video interview – Keshav Dhar (Skyharbor)

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Last week, Delhi based producer Keshav Dhar was in Mumbai to record the Mumbai metal act Providence‘s EP. A guitar clinic was also held at B69, which I attended. The turnout was decent considering it was a weekday and it was not marketed a lot.

During the clinic, Keshav played 2 Skyharbor tracks, “Aphasia” and “Trayus”. He broke down each song and also explained his songwriting technique. The clinic was great learning experience for all those present.

Sunnieth (Bhayanak Maut, Amidst the Chaos) was among the audience and that resulted in an impromptu performance of “Aphasia” at the end of the clinic. The first “live performance” of Skyharbor.

I managed to do a short interview with Keshav. Check it out here.

* Apologies for the video quality.

Written by trendcrusher

August 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm