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When Sahej Bakshi hears the word ‘wax’, vinyl is not the first thing that comes to his mind. “At the age of nine, I was slotted into the candle-making class as part of our ‘creative activity’ options,” he said. As boring as the exercise was, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The room next to Bakshi and his candle-making buddies was where the ‘guitar activity’ kids gathered. “I peeped in and saw 20 kids create mayhem with out-of-tune guitars,” said Bakshi. “I was excited by what I saw and switched over soon.” The guitar sessions weren’t as interesting as he’d expected. But befriending senior students and mimicking them play as well jamming with other students more than made up for the professor’s bland lectures.
The 25-year-old musicians early years were also sound-tracked by his father’s penchant for classic rock with artists like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Def Leppard and Creedence Clearwater Revival. By the time Bakshi moved into his teens, he was gripped by the desire to emulate guitar-crazy legends like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. “You would mostly find me head banging in the bedroom to Rage Against the Machine or System of a Down, too,” he said.
Bakshi also credits his music professor, Gursharan Singh, from school as one of his most important mentors. An Indian Classical musician with a world-view, Singh’s vision exposed Bakshi to music beyond the confines of a classroom. Another tutor who played an equally important role in developing the guitarist’s sound was Andrew Garver, at the Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles. Bakshi said that Garver was an incredibly passionate man who had worked with bands such as Black Sabbath, Soundgarden and U2 “Plus, the way he explained things to us was amazing, and all of it has stuck in my head till this day,” he said.
Electronic music appeared on Bakshi’s horizon only when he stepped out of his teens. “I stumbled into this rave party at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in 2007 when I was 20,” he said. “After that concert, I took it upon myself to learn how to produce electronic music.” Since then an array of artists have influenced Bakshi, some more than others, like Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Jonny Buckland (Coldplay), Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie), The Edge (U2), Daft Punk, Justice and Soulwax.