Interviews

"Sunshine Dust", Skyharbor's Gift To Fans This New Years!

By Yatin Srivastava
December 26, 2017
"Sunshine Dust", Skyharbor's Gift To Fans This New Years!

THE NEW SKYHARBOR ALBUM 'SUNSHINE DUST" COMING THIS 2018!

 
via GIPHY Guess WHAT! Skyharbor just finished recording their brand new album “Sunshine Dust” with none other than Mr. Forrester Savell down in Australia, and it is coming your way in early 2018! I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with the main man Keshav Dhar and ask him a few questions about what’s been brewing in the Harbor camp! 

The Begining Of The Touring Cycle For Guiding Lights!

It's interesting to note that for Skyharbor, it was only after releasing Guiding Lights that they actually started touring in the extensive fashion that bands do globally - covering an entire continent over 4-5 weeks, as part of a package with other bands, everything. Before that, the only tours they had ever done were by themselves, where they were neither supporting another band nor having support bands play with them.
Let me take you through what Keshav Dhar of Skyharbor had to say to us:
Loudest: Before we get into talking about the new record, I want to get into the whole Guiding Lights touring cycle. What do you think is the highlight of the whole album leg till now (through various tours)?
There are plenty of individual highlights between the end of 2014 (when GL was released) and now - the most recent tour we did, supporting Deftones probably ranks right up there at the top - but I think what's really been the highlight of these past 3 years of touring is basically the experience of going out there and slogging it out and paying our dues. Said Keshav Dhar To Loudest.in

The Struggle, Failures, And Learnings While Touring

For Skyharbor, things were fairly green before the past three years of slogging, and like every other band starting out, this band with a global sound was under misconceptions, not least including that they thought they might be able to jump a few rungs on the ladder because of, well, the nature of everything that was to do with the band.
via GIPHY From what I gathered from my conversation with Keshav highlights the problems being faced globally for this specific genre of artists or budding artists touring. In Skyharbour it was the members involved, the considerable attention that the band got in the early years after releasing Blinding White Noise, the coincidence that this whole “Proggy” style of heavy music happened to blow up around the world and they caught the tail end of that wave. But once you get out on to the road, it's very very different, and the only place to start at is right at the bottom. The Band tried to jump some rungs like Keshav Said said, "we even did a couple of 'headline' tours in Europe and the UK, both of which I would say were failures except for the odd show or two like London where we pulled a decent number of people. But we really were in no position to do headline tours in territories we'd never played in, and it showed in the kind of losses we went into as there simply weren't enough people turning out to buy tickets or merchandise to even come close to making up the costs of getting us out there."
So for me, the highlight of that whole touring cycle has really been experiencing the realization of what it takes to be a touring band and the kind of long-term commitment and hardiness, for lack of a better word, that you need to have in order to hack it out there.

Skyharbor's Sunshine Dust! ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW!

Loudest: Getting into the new album, where did the title 'Sunshine Dust' come from? When did the writing for the record start? 
Keshav Says, "While we were writing/recording Guiding Lights, one day Krishna showed me this beautiful guitar part he'd written, and it was so different from anything I had ever considered to be in the direction of "Skyharbor music", but I immediately knew that I wanted this to become a band song. It was uplifting, pretty, and really warm and comforting, it made me think of sunlight filtering through trees and the smell of fresh grass, and I had just been watching an episode of Salad Fingers where he tells Marjorie Stewart-Baxter that she tastes like "sunshine dust" - and this riff sounded exactly like sunshine dust too! So we named that little piece Sunshine Dust and it didn't make it on to Guiding Lights because we weren't able to finish it in time, but eventually, it came to be the album title for this new one because it had such a nice ring to it. The writing for it started technically while we were still doing Guiding Lights, we had about 4 or 5 demos down by the time GL was released, but we only really started writing in earnest after Aditya and Eric joined the band, about mid-2015."

"It was really very liberating to be able to just wear your heart on your sleeve and be honest with what you're putting out, as opposed to trying to project an image for yourself that only expresses one aspect of what you want to say with your songs." 

Here's something important we must learn from Skyharbor's journey, while the band was making continuing efforts to do this record in DIY style, they realized the shortcomings, the need of the hour and their key objective which led them to sign a record deal under a label.
via GIPHY
Loudest: You mentioned that there was a continuing effort to do this record in the whole DIY style, but now you've decided to go back the label route. What made the band take that decision? 
We basically realized that we have ambitions with this band that we won't be able to achieve by ourselves at this point without help on the industry side of things. We also realized that our priority at this point of time isn't to make money, but expand the profile and visibility of the band and get the music out to new people, which then has the possibility, in turn, to translate to much more potential money down the line. We didn't make the decision to go with a label so much as we decided that we really needed management. It's simply not possible for a band at our level (not completely unknown but still very small on the world stage) to be able to put in the hours and research that it takes, by ourselves. We'd rather write music, and when you're self-managing the band it starts to feel like a chore, and that makes the music less fun."

Skyharbor's New Management & The Label

They got signed with new management at Empire Reign and it was after having many discussions with their managers that they came around to the idea of teaming up with a label partner in order to get the music out to as many new people as possible, and it definitely feels good to have a full team of people working together with your band to give you the push you need, while the artist can focus on making and playing music.
We wouldn't have been able to come down to Australia and spend a month here re-writing and recording an album with one of the best producer/mixers in the world, for example, if it weren't for the label advancing us the money to make that happen.

Forrester Savell & Skyharbor!

[caption id="attachment_3036" align="alignright" width="381"] Forrester Sevell[/caption]
Loudest:  You guys went down to Australia to record the record with none other than the legend, Forrester Savell. What is it about Forrester that you guys decided to go all the way down under and work with him on the record?
[caption id="attachment_3033" align="alignleft" width="377"] Photo Credit: Argon Photography[/caption] Keshav Replies, "His work speaks for itself really. We're a weird kind of band, we're not full-tilt Proggy to the point that the music won't make sense to non-musicians or prog fans only, but neither are we a vanilla radio rock band that has nothing interesting going on. There are very very few people I can think of in the world that would really understand the sounds we're trying to go for, as opposed to forcing us to mold our sound into what they know 'works' and what they're used to. I think it's stupid and very shortsighted to dumb your music down because you think that'll make it "radio friendly" or sell more records - we've done very well for ourselves so far considering all the circumstances, and all we really needed, in my opinion, is the right people behind us to help shape and solidify our direction with their expertise, without changing the core of what we do.
Forrester just 'gets' what we like and what we want - it's easy enough for him I suppose because some of our favourite albums of all time have had him behind the desk! So it really was a no-brainer to work with him. We actually thought at first that he would be way out of our budget to actually do a full-fledged project with him masterminding every step of the way from the arrangement of the songs to capturing the source sounds to the final mix, but he just came in clutch like the champion he is and cut us a deal that worked out beautifully. He's a legend.
 
Loudest: You've just started pre-producing with Forrester and Luke (from Dead Letter Circus). How has that process been so far? What's it like recording and working on the songs with all the members performing together? 
Keshav Says, As of writing this, recording is officially complete! It's been unreal, so inspiring and an incredible learning experience. It was stressful for sure in parts, particularly for me as a guitar player as I've never till date had anyone but myself produce & record my guitars, and when you have someone else with their finger on the red button it can give you red light fever which definitely happened with me - but I powered through it and everything just sounds amazing. I'm used to a certain way of working by myself, I track parts bit by bit and punch in bits till the whole section is ultra tight etc, but these guys do things a different way, Now we had to do full takes of entire sections and get them all tight in the performance and not from chopping or editing things around, and do 8-10 top notch takes and then they'd comp all of them and choose the best of the best, and put it all together like that. It's a little rougher around the edges as a result, but it just feels human and vibey, and that's something that I've always found missing in our albums. The music has always sounded like it's been written in a jam fashion, but the production always felt a bit too gridlocked and perfect, and I think it's a very relieving experience to let go of that insecurity and enjoy the humanness and vibe from the performance. No one is going to say "I don't like this song" because one 16th note in a layer is 2 milliseconds out of time.
Loudest: Could you tell us more about the record and it's vision? What was the approach towards writing this time? Further, how has Eric's involvement finally on a full record influenced the sound? 
Keshav,  "I feel like with Guiding Lights we were starting to pigeonhole ourselves based on arbitrary notions of what we thought the band should sound like. There were songs that didn't make it to Guiding Lights because there was this vibe going on that we needed to sound atmospheric and emotional and epic all the time, like this weird narrow zone that we can't stray out of, and songs that were more of an angry/happy/catchy/riffy nature were junked because they didn't 'fit'. It was actually one of the things about Guiding Lights that bothered me the most, that it always felt a little too zoned in on one particular vibe, and over the course of 70 minutes of music that can get tiring. And all this was at a time when our communication within the band was very broken and sporadic and mostly over lengthy email threads talking about what we 'should' sound like, that resulted in us unconsciously just shrugging a bunch of things off and saying okay. But this time with the new record, we went the other extreme and basically said that the one rule is that there are no rules. If we want to have a section that's metal as fuck with screams and stuff, we just go on and fucking lay the heavies down. If we want to have a section that's incredibly pretty and catchy to the point of being poppy, lay it down. They can both live side by side on the same album and what's more, that's what makes the album great and dynamic and fun to listen to. It obviously required a lot more work on the production side of things to make it all work together and sound cohesive, but was really very liberating to be able to just wear your heart on your sleeve and be honest with what you're putting out, as opposed to trying to project an image for yourself that only expresses one aspect of what you want to say with your songs."
Eric's involvement has influenced the sound for sure because we all write keeping each other's sensibilities and vibes in mind, and he actually did more than just vocals. One of the hardest guitar riffs to play on the album was written by him, so it's been awesome haha.
Loudest: It looks like for the first time, you're letting fans into a lot of what happens behind the scenes through Instagram Stories and other means of social media. How important do you think that is? 
 We've kept a lot of people waiting for a lot of time with this record. We really wanted people to experience a little bit of what we're experiencing here, without giving too much away. Said Keshav Dhar [caption id="attachment_3032" align="aligncenter" width="470"] Photo Credit: Argon Photography[/caption]
Loudest: Lastly, the question everyone would like to know the answer to - When can the brand new Skyharbor record be expected? 
Well, our job is done (wow that feels great to say). It's over to Foz now to mix the record and from there it's up to the label and management to decide when it should be out - but we can finally say with absolute certainty that it will be in the first half of 2018. 
So what are you waiting for? Get your ears ready because the new Skyharbor record is coming real soon! Go follow all their social media handles for updates and further information. Also, if you’re around in the US and Canada, go catch their tour with none other than the Prog giants The Contortionist, Silent Planet and Strawberry Girls on the following dates: Get your tickets here: https://www.songkick.com/artists/5485433-skyharbor

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