How does it feel to be the anchor behind a project like Skyharbor that has reached an amazing level of popularity within a short span of time? how does it feel to work some of the best names in the metal industry? Keshav Dhar answers these questions and talks about a lot more in this interview with Arjun Rajkishore.
Arjun Rajkishore: Firstly, how did it feel to be called by Marty Friedman and Daniel Tompkins and asked to do a song with them? What was the idea behind ‘Catharsis’?
Keshav Dhar: It felt amazing. It definitely put a lot of my insecurities to rest. I feel a lot more confident about my writing now, and from working with them (particularly with Marty on his solo album Tokyo Jukebox 2), it gave me lots of insights on how to approach song writing and arrangements, melodies, and most importantly the “space” in music. It’s important to let every note ‘breathe’, if you know what I mean. I find myself not overcrowding my music now like I used to.
‘Catharsis’ was just a song that I had been trying to complete writing for the better part of two years. I happened to nail the arrangement right around the time that I was contacted by Dan and Marty, and it just happened to be a song which had lots of big chord progressions and lots of space for some epic vocal melodies. I couldn’t think of anyone better than Dan to sing on it, and Marty’s solo just added a completely new flavour to the track which I would never have envisioned by myself.
AR: Like all genres of music, being a musician in India is highly different from being a musician anywhere else in the world. What is that like for metal?
KD: I don’t really believe we’re ‘different’. A band anywhere in the world has to slog its butt off for years before it can get anywhere. We are as unique as bands from any other country in the world.
AR: Tell me about Skyharbor. What brought about the entire solo act, and how did the entire thing fall into place? Was it difficult establishing your name?
KD: It was, and still is, all about the music. I just wanted to experiment with sounds and write songs which I would enjoy listening to; so I started recording in my bedroom with cheap gear and as I kept working on it my skills kept improving, both song writing and production wise. You may have noticed that I never go out of my way to promote Skyharbor. No posting of links everywhere on Facebook, no gimmicks, nothing. I simply make music and put it out. Whatever promotion and publicity has been done has solely been done by the fans. Establishing our name has never been on my to-do list, and ironically, I think that is why we have gotten whatever recognition we have. Focus solely on your craft, and everything else will fall into place.
AR: What’s up with the delay of your album? When can we expect the release?
KD: Like I said via our Facebook page, we have recently been offered an opportunity that will enable us to have this album packaged and distributed in a far better way than we could do by ourselves. A release date will be announced very shortly after we announce the actual nature of the aforementioned development.
AR: Moving on to something else, do you think what happened with Metallica is going to affect bands coming down in the future? I mean, Lamb Of God said they wouldn’t come again. And then security reasons caused Metallica to go down. With an organizer like DNA failing so badly, what do you think is going to happen?
KD: It will obviously have a negative effect, but I don’t really care about events like Metallica. They are geared more towards the teen hipster crowd who have just pirated the Black Album or something like that and want to be all badass at a gig. Actual concerts organized for actual fans have always been a success. Look at the Meshuggah, TesseracT, Textures, Decapitated and Freak Kitchen shows and most recently the incredible Imogen Heap show at the NH7 Weekender. I’m sure all those bands have loved their experiences in India and I’m sure they would love to come again. Organizers who are all about the music and a quality concert experience will never let us down.
AR: Personally, what do you feel needs to be done? What do we need to have in India to improve the quality of International gigs?
KD: We need more people like Vijay Nair, who have the vision and superb business sense to pull off massive festivals and events without needing to resort to scamming audiences and artists.
AR: Finally, what plans for Skyharbor after the album is released? Any tours planned? A new album in the works? What is happening?
KD: Hopefully all of the above, but I don’t really know at this point – taking things one at a time!
Skyharbor poster design and photograph by Sukrit Nagaraj
Keshav Dhar at the Nh 7 Weekender, photographed by Prateek Biswas