Photo credit: Dash Grey.
As a longtime staple of the melodic bass movement, Hotel Garuda has had quite the journey throughout his career. Formerly a two-piece group, Aseem Mangaokar had been establishing the name in the underground scene since 2014. After making it to larger stages at Electric Forest and many more large-scale gatherings over the years, he went solo with the moniker beginning with 2018’s “One Reason.” After numerous one-off releases exploring newer sounds, Hotel Garuda now releases his debut EP, titled The Tension.
“The name of the EP comes from the tension I felt between being my truest self, and also putting on the persona that listeners had come to associate with Hotel Garuda,” Mangaokar said. The EP itself represents a year-long introspection into four pieces of music.
“For a while now, I’d felt disconnected [from] the electronic music scene inasmuch as I had a hard time finding music that really stimulated me. I needed to break out of the confines that had been forced on me as a stereotypical ‘producer/DJ.’ This meant being more involved in songwriting as well as singing on every song,” continues Mangaokar on his own artistic journey as well as the one leading up to a cohesive EP.
On The Tension, feelings of eighties nostalgia mark the project with its retro-tinged tracks, a heavy reliance on synth-pop elements, and electro chords. From the vocal chops and danceable measure on the EP’s opening track, “Rush,” to the electric guitar riffs and vibrant tempos on “Olivia,” to the sultry lyrics on the closing track, “Leave You,” the thematic of tension comes through on every selection. It’s a tension that feels humble and vulnerable.
The four-track project is labor of love as much as it is an open, honest reflection of where the Hotel Garuda sound has been over the past four years. This is Hotel Garuda like fans have never heard him before. “As an artist, I feel like I’ve really come into my own with regards to what I want my music to say, and the feelings I want it to evoke,” he concludes. “I want my listeners to know that I’ve evolved, and though the music I make may not be the same as what initially drew them to me, I hope they’re entertained by the artistic journey that inspires me.”