Four months ago, economics major Aseem Mangaokar (junior) was simply DJing off-campus house parties at Occidental. He now flies around the country with co-DJ and finance major Chris Gavino (junior) —a student at George Mason University— playing shows in front of hundreds of people as part of the duo Hotel Garuda.
Though Mangaokar and Gavino met as classmates in Singapore eight years ago, they didn’t start collaborating until January. Gavino had produced electronic music under the moniker Manila Killa for years, but when Mangaokar asked him over winter break about starting a genre-bending side project, he couldn’t refuse.
“It works really well for us. Even though we live on opposite coasts, we work over Dropbox and Skype,” Mangaokar said.
The pair reunited in person for the first time in eight years when they opened a show together at the National Hotel in Miami. The show was a part of Miami Music Week, a series of concerts that leads up to Ultra Music Festival, which is the largest EDM music festival in the world.
“The fourth guy [on the lineup] actually had a mix-up with his schedule, so we ended up getting to play an extra half-hour in front of a really cool crowd. It was nuts.,” Mangaokar said.
Hotel Garuda’s online presence indicates its meteoric success. At press time, the Hotel Garuda Facebook page has over 8,500 likes, with 1,500 of those coming just within the last week. The three remixes posted on their Soundcloud have been played over 300,000 times.
Since Gavino and Mangaokar attend college full-time on different sides of the country, they often perform live shows separately, uniting only for the big gigs. This past weekend was one of those times: along with closing out SpringFest, the two were asked to DJ a party at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity chapter at Ohio State University last Friday. Mangaokar got a taste of the jet-set life trying to play both shows, making it back from Ohio less than an hour before his soundcheck at SpringFest.
The rapid change from making beats in his dorm room to playing shows all over the country has both surprised and humbled Mangaokar.
“I really did not expect to do two songs and then have people approach us for official remixes” Mangaokar said.
Hotel Garuda just released their first official remix this past week for Grammy award-winning DJ Sharam.
Although both members of Hotel Garuda intend to finish their academic studies, they have big plans for their music project. After both members complete their junior years, the duo is set to open for DJ Thomas Jack next month and is currently in talks to join his new record label. In addition to a couple other official remixes currently in the works, they are hoping to release their first original track within the next month or so, tentatively titled, “Chloe.”