Kolkata band Hybrid Protokol speak about their latest EP and new projects
Kolkata-based live electronica duo Hybrid Protokol blend the old, the new and the unknown in their wildly experimental soundscape
Apart from their love for 1970s German novelty synth-pop outfits, Hybrid Protokol’s Aneesh Basu and Soumajit Ghosh share a passion for experimenting across genres, to create a sound that’s impossible to cubbyhole into a single definition. The music producers met at a house party back in 2013, but it was only in 2015 that they got together to work on a project. “Soumajit had recently purchased a drum machine, the Elektron Analog RYTM. We hung out for an entire day, messing with it, creating soundscapes and drum patterns — and Hybrid Protokol was born!” recounts Aneesh Basu, one-half of the two-man group, which is set to make the most relevant genre-defying electronica in the scene today, hovering around dub-techno, acid-techno and prog rhythms tinged with psychedelia.
“Being a ’90s kid, I’ve been heavily inspired by electronic music from that era. With a strong affinity for the UK sound, I also drew influences from acid house, Goa trance, progressive house and breakbeat, which is apparent in our music! Some of our listeners say that they associate our high-energy sets with rave culture, also dating to that era,” adds Aneesh, whose intense synth riffs are an integral part of Hybrid Protokol’s sonic energy. As it turns out, the pioneering German Avante-Garde electronic band Kraftwerk brought Aneesh and Soumajit together, way before their paths actually crossed. While Aneesh was exposed to the band’s six-track 1978 album Man Machine when he was seven, Soumajit was busy working out Kraftwerk’s methodology as a teen; both of them now realise how crucial synth and electro sounds have become — to them, and for the sake of a global musical narrative in the coming decade.
“I would unknowingly practice drills to Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder at school, oblivious to the world of electronic music, much like Aneesh. In 1999, I got hooked on to Hey Boy Hey Girl by The Chemical Brothers, intrigued by their synthesizer riff, and I never looked back,” says Soumajit, who pursued classical vocals in the North Indian gharana for 16 years, but is also inspired intensely by some iconic influences from the Western world including Simon Posford, Vangelis, Shpongle, Leftfield, The Prodigy and Paul Van Dyk. The band’s six-track debut EP, Deep Beyond Belief, which they released in 2016, was an ode to ’90s and 2000s electronica, edging on big beats and psychedelic techno. Their later releases like the 2018 EP, Sounds in Place Vol I and their newest release KolSlaw find a distinct progression in sound texture.
“Our latest outing is a techno EP titled KolSlaw, which has received wide support from many patrons in the electronic music industry, namely Laurent Garnier, Timothy Clerkin, Patrice Vidal among others. Our Sounds in Place EP started with the random creation of sequences and experimentation on our Roland TB-03 (a boutique series bass synthesizer), and the Moog Mother 32 (expandable semi-modular synth that adds analog sounds). The track Prosthaan was an experimentation of creating a distinct pattern on the TB-03 and once that happened, we thought of creating an atmospheric texture around that sequence,” Soumajit reveals. Hybrid Protokol is garnering a lot of acclaim for being one of the few live electronic sets in India.
Aneesh reveals that the duo has nothing against DJ sets, and they might just pick up on such acts someday, but he does believe that electronic music is in a very interesting space right now. “Clubs are now more open to programming electronic music as opposed to Bollywood or commercial tunes. While these are great for electronic music and club culture in general, we must take the responsibility of setting up a proper system to ensure that artiste’s get paid fairly, and on time. Supporting budding artistes and producers will go a long way to maintain the sanctity of the scene,” urges Aneesh.
Besides a three-track EP and Sounds in Place Vol II, the duo is also focusing on a compilation titled, Quiet Someone, an Indo-Spanish exchange focusing on Bengal’s take on electronic music; another compilation titled, Peninsula, featuring ambient electronica, along with new releases on Madhav Shorey aka Kohra’s record label, Qilla Records.