In the last 5 years or so, the rise of solo projects has been abundant in India. The rise of genres outside Metal has seen various monikers arise, and musicians breaking away from the quintessential 4-5 person group. Another addition to this has been Mumbai-based Guitar Extraordinaire and Producer Prateek Rajagopal. Although he also plays and writes for Gutslit and The Minerva Conduct, he has come up with a solo project called HOIA and is about to release a debut full length titled ‘Scavenger’ due to be released April 19, 2019. We sat down with him to talk about the change to a solo project and why it is becoming such a growing practice in the Independent Music Scene in India.

WHY GO SOLO?

So why go Solo if you already have stable bands? The biggest reason for Prateek was the aspect of emotional, mental, physical and ideological compromises that have to be made in a band that consists of people with a varied pool of ideas and moralities. Although its not just that, it’s also the fact that looking at it business wise, it’s a group of people diving into the deep end together. He says that he has to meld himself to become someone different in order to fit into the Wenn Diagram of that band. The camaraderie seems to be apparent, but all the stuff under closed curtains certainly takes a toll on every single member.

On the other hand, going Solo retains all of those musical endeavours – you are your own master. But at the same time, the risk is higher. Prateek says,

It’s definitely and always a bigger risk going solo. Here’s an example, from my own experience – My progressive metal band, The Minerva Conduct, crowdfunded our debut album successfully, sold out all the merch, and we still get enquiries for shows and more merch even though the band is on a hiatus. Although my roles in HOIA and The Minerva Conduct respectively were exactly the same – composer, producer and handling most of the management/business (which makes up a huge chunk of a band’s work) – people perceived The Minerva Conduct differently, enough to trust their money with it. The influence of other members (irrespective of actual contribution) isn’t something people care about or want to believe is true, since they like the ‘image’ associated with a band.
With HOIA, Prateek says that it’s much harder to get people to even listen to the music, forget buying merch. There are other factors like HOIA‘s music being less flashy or pushing through the internet in 2019 – but the biggest factors are that a band is viewed as less risky, more ambitious, more creative and more relatable.

REPETITION BECOMES BORING

One of the most poignant points that most solo artists explain and Prateek shares as well is the fact that a lot of musicians do not want to keep making the same music again and again. He says,

One of the biggest things was that I get bored (very) quickly doing the same things – so to keep my creative juices nourished, it’s very important for me to dabble between different genres, writing styles & creative techniques. Hence, despite my involvement with multiple projects from death/grind & prog metal (on the personal projects front) to writing music for ads, reading sheet music & turning to orchestra & synthesis; I felt the need to diversify even further with another project, mainly to say something more and combine all these tools & ideas into a single place.

Considering Prateek has released a handful of albums with Gutslit, a full length with The Minerva Conduct and has been constantly touring for the last 3-4 years, it only makes sense that he wanted to step out of his comfort zone and create something new.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

When you decide to go from a band to a solo project, there are definitely bigger risks involved when it comes to the business side of things. First of all, you’re going to be spending all the money that goes into the recording, production and release of the album. Not only that, you would possibly have to pay for the session musicians that play for you. Given that, it is very important to manage your expectations and further, know your market. In this aspect, Prateek has been very clear. He explains that because of the music genre and the general practices followed by people in India, he has no expectations and further says that for Avant-Garde music, there should be none. He is also very aware of the fact that because it is a new project, it will certainly take time to pick up. But at the same time, he has focused all his marketing to crowds Internationally – in the UK, America and Europe.

Internationally, I’m obviously nervous because those are the opinions that matter the most for this style of music. It’ll come from an unbiased perspective and from a certain taste and experience associated with the style, so I’m curious to know how it’ll all turn out.

COLLABORATING WITH OTHER ARTISTS

Given all the issues that arise with going solo, another aspect that a lot of solo artists are considering is collaborating with other artists! On the record, Prateek has got the legendary Bass player Colin Edwin from Porcupine Tree to play on all the songs, along with the Polish Drum Machine Wojtek Deregowski. Not only do they make the record sound like a brick wall that lays the entire foundation of the sound, Prateek also realises the economic benefits from this excursion,

It helps make the record and music sound professional, very analogue, and to bring a common rhythm section to the album adds a certain consistency and a glue to the songs that holds the album together beautifully. Of course, this helps with press too. To have the words “Porcupine Tree” on my album does turn heads and hopefully increases my chances of getting the album heard outside India.

Prateek has been in the Independent Music Scene for a very long time now and it seems like he’s taking his new adventure with all precautions and information. It’ll be interesting to see how people receive the album when its out in April, but for now – you can listen to the single he has released from the album, which has already garnered some wonderful press and positive reviews.

Follow his solo project and pre-order the album below:

HOIA Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hoiatv/

Pre-order: https://hoiatv.bandcamp.com/album/scavenger

 

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