Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Keshav Dhar can easily be named one of the pioneers of modern metal in India. Taking his solo project 'Hydrodjent' out of the bedroom and staging one very sought-after modern progressive outfit 'Skyharbor', this man is more than just a guitar player. Having aboard Dan Tompkins (ex-TesseracT), and also drummer Anup Sastry (Jeff Loomis, Intervals) Skyharbor's lineup is now across three continents!

The interview is with the genius behind 'Dots' and 'Celestial', brought to you by the very own me! (ikr?!) Here's an interview many of you might be eager to read. Go ahead, have a look, I'm sure there's something new and unique with every guitar player, especially when it comes to composing music!

Don't forget to vote for Skyharbor at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods in the 'Global Metal' category right HERE.

Photo credits: Pixel Matrix

Full name and age
Keshav Anand Dhar, 27

What is your favourite dish/cuisine?
Indian: Prawn Chettinad curry, Non-Indian: Sushi or Pho

Kindly tell us about all your precious gear! (guitars, processors, software)
I currently have four guitars. My main writing guitar is a gorgeous Mayones Regius custom 6 string. I also have my trusty old Ibanez SZ2020, which still sees a fair bit of use and I absolutely love writing on it. I also have a PRS Custom 24 7 String which I use live. I rarely write songs with it though as I’ve always been a 6 string player at heart. In addition to this I have an Ovation acoustic which I don’t play very often but it’s recently seen a fair bit of use.

My 'rig' at the moment is quite simple, I've never been into pedals and endless knob tweaking, I just like to dial in sounds quickly and jam, and my Fractal Axe-FX II does this job perfectly! The amp modelling is second to none, it's incredibly versatile and responsive to my playing, and the effects are gorgeous. It's also completely midi controllable, so when playing live all my patch changes happen automatically in sync with the click tracks, which is really cool. All I need to do literally is play!

In the studio, I record, edit and mix between Cubase 7 and Pro Tools 10. I've been a Cubase user pretty much ever since I started recording many years ago, and I know it like the back of my hand now. I've started using Pro Tools a little more of late just because it's industry standard and clients send me a lot of PT session files for mixing, but I mostly just consolidate the files in there and bounce them out into Cubase again haha.

How long have you been playing guitar?
About 11 years or so now.

What got you into playing guitar?
Well I started playing guitar casually because I wanted to be able to play Metallica songs. Haha.
But I really got serious about it after watching Joint Family play live in Delhi at the 'Numero Uno Rock Out' festival in 2005. That show really fired me up. It was like, fuck! THIS is what I want to do!

Have you learned to read music as well, or do you just play by ear?
I had 10 years of piano lessons so I can read sheet music, but ever since I started playing guitar I have never ever looked at sheet music. I actually got so fed up of the bullshit that piano lessons involved – reading music, zero room for self expression, so regimented and boring – that when I started playing guitar, I sort of swore to myself that I would only ever play by instinct and only do what sounded good to me, theory be damned.

Electric vs. acoustic. What do you prefer?
I am a terrible acoustic player, and a great many of the songs I write depend heavily on effects, delays/reverbs/choruses/wahs/phasers etc, so electric for sure haha.

Skyharbor live at Moscow (2013)

What thought goes into riff construction/is there any particular pattern you follow to make riffs?
I have a really weird approach to writing riffs. I’m not really that good of a guitar player from a technical standpoint, so when ideas come to mind I immediately record myself bullshitting through it – basically whatever my fingers are able to interpret of the idea in my head. Then I pick apart the notes, phrases, licks etc, and keep what I like and discard little bits in the middle.
Then I fill in those gaps in the middle one by one. Often, I come up with a bunch of different riffs which I have no idea what to do with. Then just for fuck’s sake, I chop them up and paste parts of different riffs together to form new riffs. Hahaha. It’s really weird, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do this unless it feels natural to them. It’s just that I started recording and mixing before I started seriously playing guitar, so the computer and the DAW has always been an integral part of my process. It works for me.

What music projects are you currently a part of, besides Skyharbor?
I’m part of White Moth Black Butterfly which is an experimental sort of proggy rock project I have with Dan (Skyharbor singer). I also write music with my old buddies in Another Vertigo Rush, in the background. Apart from that, not much really – Skyharbor keeps me really busy most of the time when I’m not producing.

Do you have a day job? What is it that you do? 
Yes! I have my studio Illusion Audio, where I record, produce and mix bands and also generally do any and all music production related projects that come my way. Apart from working with bands which forms the bulk of my work, I also score for documentary films and ad films from time to time, although I always come back to working with bands. It’s what connects the most with me.

Your favourite musicians (Indian)
I’m guessing it wouldn’t be fair to name my own band members…

Guitar: Vishal J. Singh/Prashant Shah
Bass: Nikhil Rufus
Drums: Jivraj Singh/Jai Row Kavi
Vocals: Sunneith Revankar/Siddharth Basrur

Your favourite musicians (international)

Guitar: Ben Sharp
Bass: Jon Stockman
Drums: Steve Judd
Vocals: Ian Kenny/Devin Townsend

Can we expect a release from your band(s) any time soon?
Yes definitely – Skyharbor is wrapping up recording our second album and it’s off to mixing soon. There’s a pretty big PR campaign that will surround this release, so it won’t be before this fall, but it will definitely be this year. Probably around October or November.

Whom do you look up to, as a musician and a band?
Ben Sharp and Devin Townsend are my heroes!

A message to all your fans (hello ladies!)
Thank you all for the love and support through the years – we’ve got a lot of new music coming your way and we can't wait for you to hear the new album!

Visit Skyharbor on Facebook and Soundcloud
White Moth Black Butterfly on Facebook

Photo credits: NAD Visual Art

No comments:

Post a Comment