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Interviews : “We’re really looking forward to coming down” – An interview with Keshav Dhar (Skyharbor)

By on January 26, 2019

Skyharbor is one of those bands that everyone has to listen to; whether you are a fan of progressive music or not – the music they create definitely speaks to you in some way. I had the pleasure of catching up with Keshav Dhar, founder of the band and guitarist, who was an absolute delight to talk to.

“We’ve got our hands full after finally releasing this album which we’re very happy about” began Keshav when I brought up the band’s latest album ‘Sunshine Dust’, “So congratulations to everyone involved and a massive thank you to everyone who has patiently waited for the release. In addition to this we’re doing our own things so it has been pretty busy but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The band has worked tirelessly over the last few years to bring their new album ‘Sunshine Dust’ to life and it has been quite a journey for them; “We actually had a version of it ready to go in 2016, however, we decided to, not scrap the whole thing but we pretty much did it all over again. The reason being, when you try to DIY something, especially when you’re an artist, you end up doing everything – writing, editing, demoing, mixing, and then marketing, promotion etc. It gets to be way too much. Eric and I consider ourselves to be fairly competent studio producers and professionals, but when we listened to it, we felt it lacked that objectivity it needed – it wasn’t anywhere close to what we wanted it to be.” This is where the hard work of a band and their dedication to their art becomes visible. The band travelled all the way to Australia and spent a month recording the album with Forrester “and it was the best decision we’ve ever made” Keshav said gleefully.

“The response to the new music has been nothing short of what we hoped and expected and we’re tremendously happy with the results. But we were pretty careful to keep it realistic – we knew what we were getting into when we took a lot of the risks that we did” he recalls. “Keeping our expectations sensible but at the same time making sure we made things exciting for ourselves.” Digging deeper, and out of sheer curiosity, I wondered out aloud to Keshav, asking him about the journey towards the release of ‘Sunshine Dust’ and it seems to be had been quite a big one! “ It certainly was. After you’re two albums down, you’ve kind of said a lot of what you’ve had to say and then we have to look further to really convey what we want while at the same time, staying true to ourselves as artists. That’s also another reason we took as much time as we did – you can’t force something that will happen when it’s meant to. I mean, It wouldn’t be difficult for us to be put parts together, write songs – we have the technical ability and that’s what a lot of us do for a living as well. But that’s not what we wanted for this album that was never what this band was about – focus was on the artistry – it’s not the responsibility.”

In addition to this the band did see a few line up changes on the way which undoubtedly had an effect on their progress as well. “It took is a while till we got back on our feet again so to speak; not long but at the same time we weren’t in any rush. Nor did we want to put anyone (new members) under any kind of pressure to perform right after they joined the band so it was good that we took our time with it all.” It’s actually fascinating and inspiring to say the least how a band operates intercontinentally, which is how Skyharbor began in the first place. With all of these changes and being in different cities, Keshav also shed light on how the band didn’t allow borders and distance to get in the way of making music. “It was difficult, I won’t lie. Earlier, Eric, sometimes Devesh or even Krishna to a smaller extent would initiate the song-writing process with different ideas but this time around I wanted all of us to be equally invested and involved. That was a very important thing for me. So that’s why we made sure it was a super collaborative process and yes being spread across different time zones didn’t really help but we made it work. We also had the luxury of not being bound to a label and that turned out to be perfect for the time as we needed to find our footing. Everything worked out well!”

Delving into the music itself, ‘Sunshine Dust’ certainly has a much more airy and atmospheric yet darker vibe to it; it’s actually very thought-provoking music. “ I think we knew how we wanted this album to sound – most of us we do have a very clear idea of what we like sonically, that’s why we picked Forrester – we’re a massive fan of his work and of the Australian scene in general as well, that sound is something special and that’s why we decided to spend so much money, go down there and live there for a few weeks. We did that because we wanted that flavour of so many fantastic records that have come from the country.” What’s more interesting are the elements that inspired the creation of Skyharbor’s latest release, “It is quite an interesting aspect; at first, it’s a very pretty-sounding name and has that underlying tinge of hope to it but the album overall, is a little darker musically than the last one. ‘Guiding Lights’ was super personal as far as Dan was concerned – he was writing about his own life and all the changes that were taking place – that was a very celebratory album. However now, we’re all at different stages of our lives, and the political climate all over the world especially in the countries we’re from (India, U.S) is as bad as it’s ever been. It’s impossible for it to not affect you. That’s usually where Eric draws his ideas from – the lyrics aren’t always a reflection of him directly but he feeds off of things he sees around him and gives his perspective. Krishna is the same.

The turning point in this part of the conversation was what got me the most. “Do you know Salad Fingers?” Keshav asked me to which my response was an immediate mixture of cringing and curiousity. When I replied in the affirmative, “That’s where sunshine dust essentially comes from. He looks at Margery Stuart, one of those little finger puppets like sunshine dust.” Blown away, I asked him to elaborate. “That dichotomy if you will of how we’re living in messed up times but we’re very privileged and very aware of it too – that’s what we’re pointing out. I’m glad to be in a position we’re able to take steps back and sort of look at it objectively, too many people are dealing with being oppressed, claw out their lives, we acknowledge that we have the privileges we have, and we’re able to write about it and be a voice, we’re doing it to express ourselves. Trying to find the light in a crappy world – it’s always going be hopeful, our music but it will have that underlying message.”

Keshav had one last message to fans ahead of Skyharbor’s tour in Australia where they will be playing. “We’re really looking forward to coming down there soon! We’ve been wanting to come for a long time. Also, a massive thank you everyone for waiting so patiently and for dealing with us through all the ups and downs. We’re extremely grateful, we’re here because of the fans today, we wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for all the love. We hope everyone’s enjoying the album. See you at a show!”

Catch Skyharbor touring the east coast of Australia for the annual Progfest featuring; The Ocean, Monuments, Circles, Chaos Divine, Toehider and loads more amazing bands!

PROGFEST TOUR DATES 2019

Saturday, January 26: The Croxton, Melbourne
Sunday, January 27: The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Monday, January 28: The Valley Drive In / The Brightside, Brisbane (Public Holiday)

Tickets and Presale Info from
wildthingpresents.com

About

Prarthana is a vegan, Indo-Aussie, heavy music addict, fluent in sarcasm and metal. Traveling is an obsession as she enjoys taking in the history of various countries and following her favorite bands. She's either eating, teaching grammar or learning an instrument, when not occupied with windmilling in the faces of other humans.