Collaborating in A Virtual World

Hi, I’m Aseem and I’m an Indian musician.

I was born in Mumbai, but I grew up in Indonesia and Singapore before moving to the United States for college. I always liked listening to music and being around instruments in my youth, and even took guitar lessons for a few years in high school before getting into photography. My journey with the camera led to a brief phase of concert photography before music came back into my life firsthand. Through my experience shooting at EDM shows, I grew infatuated with the idea of DJing, and got my first DJ controller to beat the hell out of at college parties. It wasn’t for another year of playing “Turn Down For What” eight times a weekend that I reconnected with an old friend from middle school, found out about Ableton Live, and started learning to produce music.

“Our shared taste and love for music brought us together when we started Hotel Garuda, with no idea how dramatically our lives were about to change”

 

The friend from middle school I’m referring to is Chris, also known as Manila Killa. We played on a basketball team together in 8th grade, and back then we were only really acquainted through the sport. We lost every game that year, but Chris and I stayed in touch on Facebook after he moved away. Chris started out making progressive house mashups and I distinctly remember clicking “Like” on the Manila Killa Facebook page when he had about 300 followers.

Fast forward seven years and we’re both in our third year of college on opposite coasts of the US, sharing music with each other every couple of weeks. Chris had a big influence on my taste in music when I first got into electronic music. We both were heavily into Justice and the rest of the Ed Banger crew, and I’m sure there are pages on pages of text conversations between me and Chris, both of us nerding out and wishing we were in their shoes. To make a long story shorter, our shared taste and love for music brought us together when we started Hotel Garuda, with no idea how dramatically our lives were to change.

Garuda 1
Photo Credit: Caleb Lau

You may notice herein a lack of advice on how to produce “better” music and it’s totally intentional. The inception of Hotel Garuda almost four years ago threw me right in the deep end of making the music I wanted to hear. Except for a basic understanding of chords I had no idea what I was doing, let alone how long to set attack and release times for a compressor.

Now, imagine a jigsaw puzzle, except every piece is a different shape. Though you have an idea of what the final puzzle looks like, you don’t really know where each piece goes or why the pieces fit the way they do. In this way, I saw Ableton Live (and producing music with it) as a puzzle board, and working with Chris from the beginning gave me valuable insight into how it all fit together. Our songs – my puzzles – were often more than half-finished by the time I started working on them. The jump-start I got from Chris inspired me to begin producing using lots of parts from his workflow, and slowly but surely I began to fall into the workflow I now reach for.

“With these inconveniences, however, came a certain sense of freedom and mutual respect for one another to express our creativity as we wished.”


I went to Occidental College in California, while Chris attended George Mason University in Virginia. Our remoteness made it such that only one of us could work on a given project at a time. We’d have to send the files back and forth (which would create numerous sample redundancies…classic 20/20 hindsight) over WeTransfer or edit synchronized folders in a shared Dropbox. Splice hadn’t started at the time, unfortunately, so working out sample inconsistencies and plugin compatibility was a nightmare to begin with. With these inconveniences, however, came a certain sense of freedom and mutual respect for one another to express our creativity as we wished. While Chris would work on something, I’d trust him to do what was best for the song, and vice versa. In that sense, collaborating over the internet set in stone a dynamic that we still uphold whenever we share demos with one another.

Garuda 2
Photo Credit: Jordan Calvano

I loved being part of duo with my one of my best friends because every show, every song release, every achievement, I got to share with my mentor. His early support was incredibly formative in my music production workflow to this day. It afforded me the freedom to pursue my own artistic journey and behooved me to pull my weight with the production end of our music then as a duo, and now my own as an individual.

I’ve always enjoyed being alone with music, but it remains something I enjoy most when it’s shared with others. As such, being in a duo didn’t distract me from making what I wanted to most; rather, it made me want to make everything I could imagine, for I long to share it with anyone who might be imagining it too.

Header Photo Credit: Dash Grey

Hotel Garuda

If you enjoyed this article, add your email to receive more like it!

Close