Keshav Dhar (Hydrodjent)

  • Interview by: Madhav R
  • Date: November 5, 2009

Hydrodjent, a one man ambient groove metal band from New Delhi has been making waves in the Indian scene for a while now. We recognized the talent and musicianship behind the layers and caught up with Keshav Dhar, the mastermind behind it all for an interview. This is how it went…

HB: Hi Keshav, it’s good to have you here. Let’s get started immediately. Tell us more about what you do by day and the superhero you are by night…

KD: Hi! First off, thanks a bunch for featuring me on Headbangers India, it’s a huge honor. Basically, I record and manage bands full time with Grey and Saurian. That’s the day job. I also play guitar for Another Vertigo Rush, an ambient/post-metal band from New Delhi. In between all this, I try and squeeze in a couple hours every now and then to lay down some brootz, haha.

HB: Hydrodjent? That’s an interesting name. Enlighten us about the band and the music.
KD: Well, the word ‘djent’ has been used and abused quite a bit of late worldwide, and it instantly suggests a particular genre of music, which is something I’m coming to regret a bit. But it’s just a name at the end of the day, and it’s catchy and unusual which is cool. There is no band per se; it’s just me, a guitar and a computer. I’m not big on genre typecasting, but I’d like to describe my songs as “ambient groove metal”. That’s pretty much the three core elements that I’m looking at. Instrument wise, there’s just a guitar and bass, and I program the drums from the computer.

HB: Any themes behind your music?
KD: Definitely. I draw a LOT of inspiration from movies, books and computer games, which I’ve made rather obvious with some of the song titles. I try and make my songs follow thematic arrangements as well, based on what’s inspired the parts. To me all music has a visual quality. I basically aim to have as vivid a visual aspect as possible in my music.

HB: Hydrodjent featured on Harmony Central’s metal compilation CD 2009 and their Top 13 DIY tracks of the year, alongside bands like Tesseract and Judgment. Your comments about that.
It was quite overwhelming to be on the same CD as Tesseract and Toxic Grind Machine, but then it wasn’t like they called me and asked if I could be on the compilation. There was a call for entries followed by a poll on the Andy Sneap forum, and I happened to be one of the final selections. It feels great to be part of the compilation, but I did happen to visit the site while they were calling for entries, and a lot of others who probably deserved the spot more missed out because they didn’t see it in time. One just has to network well and latch on to these opportunities.

HB: That’s true. Ok, what equipment have you used on the recordings? Guitars and otherwise…
KD: I use an Ibanez Prestige SZ2020 six-string guitar with a Suhr Aldrich bridge pickup for all guitar parts. That pickup is just unbelievably clear – wind the gain up and play a full chord, and you can still hear each string ring out. For bass I usually borrow a five-string from whoever can lend me one! Next I use a Line 6 Pod XT, which goes directly into my computer. From there, I program the drums, and mix and master in separate sessions. I do 2 rhythm guitar parts per riff, and about 15-20 tracks of layers/textural sounds.

HB: What does the future hold for Hydrodjent? Any live gigs scheduled?
KD: Well, given that I do so many ambient layer parts in my songs, it’s going to be a big challenge to adapt them to a live band scenario. I’ve been looking for band members for a while now, but most of the people I’m interested in working with are usually busy with their main bands. So no live scene as of now. However, I’m collaborating with Sunny (Bhayanak Maut) and Arsh (The Circus) on some of the material. More details on that shortly!

HB: We’d love to hear how that goes. Keep us posted on that. Now tell us about the part you play with Grey And Saurian.
KD: I started working with G&S in March, starting off mostly as a co-manager and helping Shashwat with the artist management side of things. After the Bhayanak Maut release, I’ve shifted over mostly to the studio, and engineer/co-produce bands with Anupam. I have a lot to learn, but I’m learning from some of the best in the business, so I see a good future for the company and for myself.

HB: The bands you’ve recorded/produced range from Them Clones to Another Vertigo Rush and include bands like Them Clones and Joint Family. Tell us about the learning curve (if any).
KD: It’s been a huge learning curve. To be honest, with recording you only ever know the tip of the iceberg; it’s a constant learning process and very fun to do. With Them Clones I was assistant engineer to Zorran Mendonsa (New Way Home) who is a phenomenal producer and musician, and that experience taught me more than anything to date, because we were working with a full-fledged setup – live drums, miked amps, an entire choir recording together, the works! With AVR and JF, it’s just been miscellaneous demos that I’ve recorded while playing for them. The only bands that I’ve really produced entirely have been Under Siege, Artillerie (one song) and Corroded Dreams.

HB: Any band you would specifically like to record in the future?
KD: There are lots, but producing an AVR or Scribe album is something I’d absolutely love to do. Both bands just love to experiment, have great music and are great people.

HB: New Delhi is a big city with a prominent metal scene. How hard has it been to hit it off, get recognized as a producer and get to where you are now? How’s the support from other bands and musicians?
As big as the Delhi metal scene may be, it’s also very receptive to new artists/producers who are putting out quality stuff. When I put out my first song ‘Trayus’, I got an overwhelming response from metal and non-metal fans alike. I remember meeting Shashwat and Anupam at NSIT in February and they heard the songs in his car and loved them, which was awesome because they listen to a LOT of killer music! I’ve gotten some good words for my production skills as well, but recording other bands is a totally different ball game where success is almost entirely dependent on your versatility with genres, and word of mouth with bands recommending you to others. So
far so good though, and I hope to build a good portfolio as I go along. The support from other bands and musicians has been nothing short of amazing.

HB: This is your space. Say anything here.
KD: Thanks a ton once again for featuring me on the site, it means a lot! I know I’ve been quiet on the Hydrodjent front for a couple of months but this is definitely my primary musical focus, and I plan to release an album later this year or early next, and hopefully form a band to tour with! Thanks to everyone who has listened to and enjoyed the music, there is a lot more coming soon. Cheers!

Thank you for your time. We wish you all the best for all your future endeavors.