Photography by Emily Irani
We sat down with Hotel Garuda right before their set this past Friday at Coda. An up-and-coming EDM project consisting of Manila Killa (Chris Gavino) and Candle Weather (Aseem Mangaokar), the pair has generated a ton of buzz in just two short years, whether it’s having millions of SoundCloud streams or collaborating with some of the biggest EDM producers in the music industry (they recently just finished a short tour with Big Gigantic). They released two singles last year (“Fixed On You” and “Smoke Signals”) and they ooze of dancable melodies that keep you grooving all night long. We are psyched to see what the future looks like for this amazing duo.
They are currently on their debut tour called Eternal Sun with openers Aire Atlantica and Wingtip. The variety of genres incorporated in their sets mixed with their evident passion and connection with the audience makes this show one to remember.
ROP: Chris and Aseem, so good to meet you guys. Welcome to Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love! Have you guys visited before?
Aseem: I have twice. Once for college visits and then once to play last year on our tour with Amtrac.
Chris: I played here, but not with Amtrac. I played here as Manila Killa at Coda actually.
ROP: You guys have played sets all across the country. Do you guys have a dream venue at which you’d love to play?
Aseem: I’ve never played in Atlanta; that would be a fun city to do a set in. I’d also love to go home to India to play there.
Chris: I’d love to play in Paris because, I mean common, it’s Paris.
ROP: What is the meaning behind the name Hotel Garuda?
Chris: Garuda is the national symbol of Indonesia and we met in Indonesia in seventh grade.
Aseem: Both of our families used to live there because both of our dads were there for work. So, I guess just being an expatriate just lead both of our families to being there at the same time. Chris was only there for a year and a half; I was there for five years. We were in the same Little League basketball team and we lost every game.
Chris: We weren’t even that close back then, yeah not even.
Aseem: Yeah, we had a couple of casual acquaintances. We also had a couple of playdates. Chris was the one kid I knew that could breakdance very well and could do standing backflips.
Chris (laughing): Yeah, I did them on his bed!
Aseem: He came over to my house one time and I was like “Mom, come here, you got to see this kid he can do backflips!”
ROP: Where did you draw inspiration from when creating the Eternal Sun tour?
Aseem: The movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It is literally a direct quote from that movie.
Chris: We both love that movie and we agreed that we should name this tour something that we are both passionate about. We both love movies, so it was easy to us to name it after that.
Aseem: For me, it was the meaning behind the words “eternal sunshine.” I feel like, no matter how much eternal sunshine there is, there are always going to be patches of good and bad and patches of light and dark. It’s all about weathering those patches and weathering those different seasons. As Chris and I grow into this weird relationship/project, it’s just going about learning about ourselves and learning about how we perceive music and how we go about creating it.
ROP: How does the tour’s inspiration relate back to your music style/production?
Chris: If you look at the tour posters, there are two people on a paper airplane flying in the sky. They are on a journey and I feel like a lot of our sets on this tour are about making a journey. It’s not necessarily playing the same type of music over and over, but sort of just bringing you on this weird journey. I don’t know if you are going to like it or not, but this is what we like. We aren’t going to stick to one type of music. We might play house then go into something weird like trap.
Aseem: For a long time, people thought we were only making and playing one kind of music. We actually like to make and play all kinds of stuff. This is kind of an introduction to show people that, hey, we can make deep house, but we can also make some crazy bangers and party rock anthems.
ROP: I was listening to your collaborative mixtape all day and I definitely got that vibe that you guys love to mix different genres. I’m a fan of its complexity and variety in genres. How long did it take you to make the mix?
Chris: The mixtape was made between 4 different artists, so it was like 20 minutes each. We just said “play whatever you want.” That is the meaning behind the eternal sun. We picked artists who don’t necessarily make the same type of music we do. We picked artists that we really enjoy listening to, whether it’s house music or not.
Aseem: I don’t think any of our openers play house music. Aire Atlantica plays hip hop and Wingtip plays some really cool futre disco beats.
ROP: How did you pick the openers for the Eternal Sun tour?
Aseem: Aire Atlantica did a remix of our last single “Fixed on You.” When we were looking for support on the tour, we thought it would be great to get this guy on tour. He’s never really toured a bunch and he has a lot of talent and potential. I really like where he is going with his music, so we wanted to get involved with him early and see what happens from there.
ROP: Are there any artists that you like to mix with a lot during your sets?
Aseem: Hans Zimmer as well is a big inspiration to us and we use him a lot.
Chris: M83 too.
Aseem: There is a lot. We cover a lot of genres and artists. We feel like we can play whatever in our sets and our fans are going to enjoy it.
Chris: We also like Jai Wolf a lot.
ROP: What has been your favorite part about the tour so far?
Aseem: Meeting all of these people who are literally spending money to see me play live music that I like to listen to. It’s ridiculous, so crazy!
Chris: Once upon a time, we were the same way. We were paying money to see artists that we like. And now to see that people are doing the same for us is incredible.
Aseem: It’s really eye-opening. Everyday, I wake up with a smile and I’m like “I did this for the right reasons.” What I’m doing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights is making someone else really happy.
Chris: Everyday, I wake up tired, but happy. I just graduated from school in December, so I was never doing music full-time until January, which is literally two months ago. It’s been really amazing. I was so ready for it and now I’m absolutely loving every moment of it.
ROP: What does your creative process look like? How do you imagine a song and then make it into reality?
Aseem: Both of us have super different processes. For starters, both of us don’t live in the same city or even the same part of the country. We are forced to do everything remotely and, for better or worse, to flesh out our ideas individually before sending them to each other. I think that one of the blessings/curses of being a duo that both people contribute 50/50 to is that we both get to see where we are at with musical ideas/inspirations. While Chris may draw inspiration from different mediums than I would, both of us relate very heavily to each other’s processes.
Chris: We both have very different processes, but we are at the point where we understand each other and are willing to make compromises. Even if we don’t agree on something, we are willing to go the extra step to try something new. We have been able to do that very well, while working on different coasts.
Aseem: I feel like if we lived in the same area or lived close to each other, we would probably have killed each other by now. Even when he comes to LA, he will stay with me for a couple days. By the end of it, I’m like “Chris, can you get out of my house please.”
Chris (laughing): I’m just sitting on his couch all day not wanting to do anything.
Aseem (laughing): I’m like “Chris, let’s make music; Chris, let’s do this; Chris, let’s just order food and watch Chef’s Table on Netflix instead.”
Chris: Yeah, that happens a lot when I come to LA.
Chris: But, I mean we are getting it done.
Aseem: We’re wrapping up our new singly now and it’s almost done. We’re super close!
Chris: We can’t say when it’ll be released, but it’s super different that when we’ve been putting out.
Aseem: We’ve been hinting at our open-mindedness with as far as what we make musically, so I think our fans will appreciate it.
ROP: What do you both like to do outside of music that contributes to your musicality?
Chris: I love watching interviews of rappers. I love Lil Uzi, Tyler the Creator, Migos. It’s weird because I don’t listen to their music, but I’m really inspired by their personas and what they strive to be. Aside from making music, I enjoy watching interviews. I’d say Tyler the Creator is my favorite.
Aseem: We are really into food and cooking shows. Chef’s Table is a constant source of inspiration for me because, if I’m feeling bored, I’ll take a break, make food and watch Chef’s Table. I’ll think about how someone who does something totally different is also having a creative process where they have an idea and see it come to fruition. I apply that thought process to what I do. So, I’d say learning about other artists maintain and pursue their creative process.
ROP: What’s the best compliment you’ve received on your music?
Chris: When people say that your music has gotten me through rough times, nothing will ever top that. That has happened to me before. I’ve listened to artists when I’ve gone through rough patches and I automatically feel better. To have someone say that about our music, that’s the top. You can’t get any higher than that. That’s it.
Aseem: We don’t necessarily think about making this song for this one person that is sitting alone in their basement sad.
Chris: We make music because it’s fun. We make music because it sounds good. It is incredible that people feel that way.
ROP: How do you want to be remembered by your fans?
Chris: As a person, someone who spreads happiness.
Aseem: Woke as hell!
Chris: I just want to be remembered as someone who spreads joy, that’s it.
Aseem: I want my ambition to be something that people remember because I made a difference.
ROP: You guys have such dedicated fans and have met thousands of people on tour. What makes someone memorable to you?
Aseem: This past weekend, we were playing in some secondary markets for us with Big Gigantic.
Chris: We played in Indianapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis. Not really mainstream cities.
Aseem: We were playing in St. Louis and these four kids in the front literally threw their phones at us to snapchat for them from our perspectives. It’s a very curious way to get our attention.
Chris: There were phones being thrown at us! I literally had to get on the mic and say “please stop throwing your phones!” It happens.
Aseem: That was pretty crazy. We snap chatted with the phones, but we also had to DJ at the same time.
Chris: Good times.
ROP: What projects are you currently working on? Any future plans on releasing an EP?
Chris: We got remixes.
Aseem: Ooohhhhhh yeah we got remixes. We can’t really talk about it though. We are both doing our own solo stuff as well. I’ve been pretty quiet about my solo project for a long time because I started making music when Hotel Garuda started. For a long time, it was about self discovery and literally learning how to make music. Now, I feel like I’m at a stage where I can approach other people to work on music with me. I’m working on it in the background, but there isn’t a specific timeline for it.
Chris: You’ll just have to wait and see.
ROP: What’s your spirit animal?
Chris: Oh my god.
Aseem: My dog! He’s a cocker spaniel. He’s super mellow and such a mama’s boy. I am very much a mama’s boy.
Chris: My spirit animal is a dog, but it is a specific breed. It’s a French bulldog. They are so cute! I’ve wanted one for so long.