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News |  28 Aug 2017 21:12 |  By Mallika Deb

Our sound is a 'Hybrid' of all the inspirations and the gear: Hybrid Protokol

MUMBAI: Founded in 2014, Kolkata based the duo of Hybrid Protokol -Soumajit Ghosh and Aneesh Basu mingle a wide variety of electronic genres from Breakbeat to Techno to even a bit of Pop mixed with Psychedelic. They carry all of this gear on stage when they play, so each instrument shapes the music they produce. Interestingly, the band spells 'Protokol with a 'K' as 'Kol' is the abbreviation of their hometown. However, they definitely don’t dwaddle around the bass, glitch hop/grime genres.

Managed by Mumbai-based agency Gently Altered, the rise to fame for Hybrid Protokol came after the release of its debut LP Deep Beyond Belief (20 March 2016), a project the duo had been keeping a close eye on ever since they performed at Border Movement Lounge in Kolkata. In addition, the band recently joined forces with soulful Vasuda Sharma and released Beyond the Light (debut collaboration) on 28 August 2017. Besides that, a three track EP collaboration with Kolkata based Cassinis Division frontman Rahul Guha Roy is also underway.

In a conversation with Radioandmusic, Aneesh and Soumajit spoke about their sound, how it all started, their musical inspirations, their life besides music, the present approach of electronic music in India and more.

Sharing the idea behind Hybrid Protokol ,Aneesh explained, "Our sound pertains to open air spaces with heavy influences from UK electronic acts like Leftfield, Chemical Brothers, Underworld, The Crystal Method and the like. As musicians inspired by genres ranging from Jazz, Rock, Noise/Avant-Garde to even Bollywood, we play all our sets live, using a variety of instruments like synthesizers, drum machines, samplers and FX machines. Our sound, therefore, is a 'Hybrid' of all the inspirations and the gears. And, as we carry all of the gears on stage when we perform, that's the ‘Protokol’ we follow.”

Initially both Aneesh and Soumajit didn't want to be musicians. Aneesh always wanted to do something out of the ordinary, and make a name out of it. "When I was a kid, my father gifted me Kraftwerk's (considered to be the father of modern Electronic Music) Man Machine and I felt an uncanny yet deep connection to that album/music. It was a short six track album which I used to listen to, over and over in a day, in repeat. I didn’t know what that music was called or what it was actually till I got to know later in life that it is called 'Electronic Music',” said Aneesh. During his college days, he got further influenced by the music on computer games. "I got a version of FL Studio from a friend who said one can make Electronic Music on a desktop computer through that. I started digging deep into it and decided to follow this with all my passion and might," added Aneesh.

The other half of the duo, Soumajit, was introduced to vocal music at the age of five. He grew up in a musical family where his mom used to play the violin and his father still sings. A skilled North Indian Classical vocalist for 14 years, Soumajit used to listen to AR. Rahman, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar. Mohamed Rafi and the likes in his earlier days, and was introduced to Rock, Death Metal, and Hard Rock during high school. "The electronic music bug hit me when I was in engineering college listening to Hey Boy, Hey Girl by The Chemical Brothers. There was no stopping me after that and I grabbed FL Studio V1.0 and started to experiment on my own to learn how to make electronic music," he revealed.

Aneesh revealed further that while structuring or conceptualising a track they mostly focus on chord progressions, hook lines, track structure and the overall sound shaping of the different elements/instruments besides the mix. Their sound mostly caters to the big stage open air/festival kind. This is the sound which can amass a large audience through layers of musical textures and melodic hooks which the crowd can instantly connect with and jive deep.

"We sometimes spend hours and hours working/tweaking on single sound patch on our machines until we get the sound that we both like," Aneesh summed up. Both work in completely different sectors for their day jobs. Discussing the creative process, they said they sit with their music machines and computers, and whenever they hear the first note from the synths, they get immediately charged up. "We leave everything behind and immerse deeply into musical creativities."

Both agree that in today’s world understanding the technology besides having knowledge about music is essential, especially for Electronic Music. Since Electronic Music is being made on electronic equipment such as synthesizers, drums machines, samplers and also on computers running Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), they believe that one has to know his/her gear thoroughly so as to execute the creativity well.

About youth who are inclined to electronic music and the approach of electronic music in India right now, the duo explained that there are two kinds of music lovers - one is top of the charts commercial loving youth and the other is the forward thinking music appreciating kind who always is there for anything which is upcoming, fresh and yet not so popular. "This is also the situation in almost every country and India is no exception. But slowly and steadily due to the advent of social media and technology, the current youth is gaining musical awareness and etiquette over time. It all depends on the packaging and how you sell it. The youth will take it," explained Aneesh.

About the difficulties involved in execution of live acts with so much of energy - Hybrid Protokol performs live on synthesizers and controllers, Aneesh said, “Its all about knowing the gears and 'practice' is the most important thing. We play like a band with our own setup of electronic gears and components. Nothing beats the joy and pleasure of playing your own sounds/tracks and seeing the crowd going berserk and we pull our energy from that," he reckoned.

However, they believe that Electronic Music has the biggest market in the Indian Music scene right now and the scene is definitely growing bigger. “Live Electronica will be the next step I strongly believe. There are so many venues cropping up across India - in Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad. Things are definitely looking in a positive shape.

Aneesh and Soumajit have had great experiences playing across India so far. But Kolkata, their hometown, sadly lags behind. "There are very few opportunities and exposure and musicians are slowly moving to Bombay for that. Even for the ones who are still here, most venues in Kolkata overlook them by booking artists from other cities and countries," Aneesh said with a heavy heart.

Talking about musical influences, both of them were on the same page as they prefer similar sounds such as Breakbeat, Acid House, Synth Pop, Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, Infected Mushroom, Ram Sampath, etc. Besides, Aneesh is exploring Victor Ruiz, Don Bhatt, Noisia, Deadmau5. Soumajit is continuing with Schulman, Infected Mushroom, Teddy Boy Kill, Hybrid among others.

Aneesh is a sound designer who works in the regional Bengali films industry in Kolkata. He used to be a part of an experimental/industrial metal band Noyze Akademi (2008-2009). Also, he likes flying kites, swimming, severe weather and thunderstorms. He has this crazy lifelong dream of going to Texas, USA and chasing tornadoes! On the other hand, Soumajit is a senior solutions architect at 'Netapp', which deals with high technology data storage solutions. Also, he has a four-year-old baby daughter with whom he loves spending time with when he is not working or doing music.