Dhruva Krishna is a multi-instrumentalist who mixes country, folk, pop and classical Indian music elements to create an eclectic mix of songs. He performs as a solo musician, and also collaborates with a variety of artists as a songwriter and a performing musician. Krishna moved to Pittsburgh about a year ago for school, from New York. He recently opened up for the talented Steve Gunn at Spirit in Lawrenceville and we were intrigued by his work. We were lucky enough to get an interview with this busy musician, who also performs in Eastend Mile, The Wild Huckleberries and Miist. Check out the interview below.
Photos by Josh Reardon
Sound Scene Express: Do you perform solo all the time or do you have a full live band?
Dhruva Krishna: In terms of my solo music, I primarily work solo within the studio. I’ve been performing as a musician since I was a teenager, and played in a bunch of different bands playing a bunch of different instruments. My primary instruments are guitar, piano, and drums. This thaws out well in the studio and is mostly a process of heavy overdubbing and layering. My live setup really varies depending on the show. I love to perform solo as well, and I’m starting to incorporate more effects and looping live which has really opened things up sonically. However, I’m now getting more interested in forming a live band. At the Steve Gunn show I performed with my good friend Shane McLaughlin, who is a great vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter.
SSE: When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
DK: In terms of my live band, I brought Shane onboard because we really meshed well musically. Shane’s blues background complements my country fusion style, and he’s just a great guy to work with! Other members of my live band that are working with Shane and myself are Victor and Colin Cherubim, playing bass and drum respectively. I formed this band pretty recently this year, and I was really inspired to make music with these guys because of their expertise in their respective instruments and fields. As I said before, Shane is a fantastic blues and funk guitar player, and Victor and Colin are two of the best hard-rock musicians I’ve met. I was inspired to make music with these guys because I wanted to expand my sound live. I love to collaborate with other musicians, and really fusing their backgrounds with my own sound gives all of us even more opportunity to experiment.
SSE: How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
DK: I’ve known these guys since I moved out to Pittsburgh last year for college. I met Vic and Colin by opening for their band, Memphis Hill, and have played with them on bills a bunch. Shane performs with my housemate, Roger Romero, in a funk band called Bergman, and I met him through that connection.
SSE: Have you been in any other bands?
DK: Yes! I’m actually involved in a lot of bands right now. On top of my solo work, I play drums in a jazz-fusion band called Eastend Mile which is getting a good amount of attention right now, guitar in a folk band called The Wild Huckleberries, and guitar in an experimental grunge band called MIIST. I’m also working on a collaboration project with another great Pittsburgh rapper and artist, Kai Roberts.
SSE: Who writes your song lyrics? What is your inspiration?
DK: Since most of my solo music is instrumental, I don’t really make a lot of music with lyrics. A lot of times most of my collaborators write lyrics. However, I really love constructing melodies for lyrics. I’m really inspired by artists like The Beatles and The Beach Boys, and their ability to create these flowing, deceivingly complex melodies over these lush backgrounds. When I do write lyrics, my inspiration is really a lot of country and Americana writers,such as Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes.
SSE: What are your day jobs, if any?
DK: Being a college student, I would love to support myself through music but the reality is I have to work a few day jobs to support my passion. At my college, I work as a desk attendant as well as a Peer Health Advocate. Over the summer I’m working in our Fine Arts College and also interning at Opus One Productions as a Social Media intern.
SSE: What band would you love to open a show for?
DK: I would love to open a show for Dr. Dog.
SSE: Where have you performed? What are your favorite venues?
DK: I’ve performed in a bunch of venues around Pittsburgh, such as Cattivo, Mr. Smalls, Thunderbird Café, Howler’s, The Roboto Project, The Squirrel Hill Sports Bar, Dobra Café, Club Café, Carnegie Mellon University and Pitt’s campuses, and various DIY venues. In terms of a favorite venue, I love performing at really all the venues- each has their own feel and atmosphere, so it’s really hard to single one out as the best.
SSE: Do you perform outside of Pittsburgh?
DK: Yes! I’m just coming back from being on the road with Eastend Mile, and we played in five cities over a course of six days. We played in cities like Philadelphia, New York City, New Brunswick, and Washington D.C. Before college, I would play in the New York City area with my high school bands as well. I’ve also played in other cities outside Pittsburgh within Pennsylvania.
SSE: What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week, in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
DK: The way the rehearsals work really vary from band to band. With my solo music, I usually mess around until I hit something that I think could work. Once I have a basic idea in motion, I work at establishing a thematic movement within the song. From there its just outlining the basic structure, and then adding the layers. The Wild Huckleberries and MIIST work a bit differently, as different members will come with different parts of songs at various stages of completion. Usually in these bands I work a lot with chordaalstructure, and the lead voice player handles the melody. Eastend probably has the most structured rehearsals. We meet twice weekly at set times and often set band agendas for each practice. In these agendas we allot time for jamming and thawing out fresh ideas, but are constantly revisiting old material to keep it sounding tight.
SSE: What do you think of the Pittsburgh Music Scene?
DK: Coming from such a diverse city as New York, I was a bit scared about what the Pittsburgh Music Scene would be like. However in the two years I’vebeen involved in the scene, I honestly love the scene. On top of having reallycool bands and such a wide range of acts, it’s evident that people involved inthe scene care a lot. Promoters like Dave Romano from Opus One or Josh Baikitus from Drusky Entertainment all the way to the DIY promoters treat the artists with an incredible amount of respect. The scene isn’t competitive, but is really focused on having artists work at pushing each other and supporting each other to succeed. Being a musician in the Pittsburgh Music Scene has really made me feel part of an opening and nurturing community more than anything else.
SSE: Who is your favorite Pittsburgh band/musician?
DK: My favorite Pittsburgh band is Beauty Slap. If anyone hasn’t heard of them, they are a crazy electronic brass band and the next big thing that will get Pittsburgh on the map. They just released their EP and it’s fucking amazing so everyone should check it out.
SSE: How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a websitewith sample songs or a demo CD?
DK: Fans can gain access to my music primarily online! Here are a bunch oflinks to all my projects: Dhruva Krishna (solo): https://www.facebook.com/dhruvakrishnamusic?fref=ts Eastend Mile: https://www.facebook.com/eastendmile?fref=ts The Wild Huckleberries: https://www.facebook.com/TheWildHuckleberries?fref=ts MIIST: https://www.facebook.com/MiistMusic?fref=ts
SSE: When is your next concert?
DK: My next concert is in about two weeks at the Three Rivers Arts Festival.I’ll be playing downtown at the Bluegrass Stage, and it’s going to be my first time playing with my Family Band, which includes Shane McLaughlin and Victor and Colin Cherubim.
SSE: Is there anything else you would like to add?
DK: If you guys like what you hear, please like my Facebook page, and you can follow me at dkmusicofficial on twitter. If anyone is interested in collaborating or booking a show, you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org It’s your kind of support that keeps local music thriving and the scene alive, so make sure to go out to some shows and support local artists!