Bombay Showcase

A dual life

SOUND OF CHANGE: Beats and compositions are now gaining importance in Sahej Bakshi’s music.  

A mainstay at some of the country’s biggest music events and one of the Indian faces for international brand Levi Strauss: that’s 29-year-old Sahej Bakshi, better known by his stage name, Dualist Inquiry.

Bakshi is back from a fun photoshoot in Ladakh for a men’s magazine, and is now ready for his gig in the city tonight. “I see it as a fun, extra-curricular activity,” Bakshi says about dabbling in fashion. “I’m definitely more preoccupied with music on a day-to-day basis, but once in a while something like fashion pops up into my life, I jump into it for a bit and enjoy the experience.”

Though a resident of Delhi, Bakshi performs regularly in different cities. In his own words, his life is just ‘airports and gigs’. “It’s my dream job, but it is physically exhausting,” he says with a laugh.

The musician, who performed recently at Ultra Korea, a hallmark event for EDM, recounts how he created a space for his music: “I was playing for a smaller audience, and in the beginning I got a few raised eyebrows. And that happens because the act is visually different: I have a guitar. So, I worked harder and in the end managed to convert those raised eyebrows into supporters. That’s really cool for me.” He says he’s been getting more calls from Southeast Asia since his Korea gig.

Tonight’s show follows his gig last week, where he was besieged with requests. “I genuinely want to make those individuals truly happy, like it was worth it for them to make the trip and come out and support my music.”

Known as one of the nicer musicians in the indie scene today, Bakshi says it makes a huge difference to be a good guy. “I am nervous when I meet some of my favourite artistes. When I met Deadmau5 for the first time — I had been a fan for such a long time — I would’ve been heartbroken if he was a jerk to me. But I had a really positive interaction and I left quickly because that’s the experience I want to live with.”

He feels grateful when he talks about his fans or ‘supporters’ as he calls them. Once when he was in Guwahati, Bakshi put up a Facebook post asking people to suggest places that serve good Naga curry. When he arrived at the restaurant that was recommended, Bakshi found a group of fans waiting there. “We all ate together and later they came for the gig. That was nice.”

As for the female adulation, “It’s really not that hard to deal with,” he says with a laugh, before adding that the following is a bit surprising, even after all these years. “I never saw myself as that. When I started out I wanted to be under a silhouette. But to be honest, guys come up and ask questions too.”

A spot of bother

However, there’s one thing that bothers Bakshi. “If the music stops at peak hour,” he says. “I already know: the police are here.” This is a recurring problem at live performances, even though India’s music festivals are no longer “silly little things”. But there is little support from the authorities.

In store for the future are gigs, fashion engagements and the recently initiated Facebook Live jamming, where he can be seen chilling in his studio with his two cats, and assorted friends and collaborators. But Bakshi hasn’t committed to any schedule yet as he doesn’t know where he might be on a given day. “But if I have time off, I don’t want to be on the most beautiful island, I’d rather be home.”

Shuffling between cooking, sketching, killing some zombies, hitting the gym and of course making music, Bakshi says he just wants to enjoy his free-flowing days at home. “I’m always making music, so that doesn’t count as work.” His music, which is still technically ‘electronica with influences of guitar’, is moving towards a more well-rounded sound. “Beats and compositions have gained importance in my recent music. While the guitar is still as important, there are now other elements too.”

Dualist Inquiry will perform tonight at the Budweiser Made Stage at Todi Mills Social. Kohra and Madboy Mink will also be performing.

The author is a freelance writer

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 7:44:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/A-dual-life/article14468974.ece

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