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[Artists, Discovery]

Hennessy Artistry is excited to present Dualist Inquiry as part of its weekend parties in Bangalore. Producer, DJ and instrumentalist Dualist Inquiry (Sahej Bakshi) has taken the Indian electronic music scene by storm in the past two years. His steady rise to the top of the pile of fresh live acts has been built from the ground up. Bakshi moved to India from California two years ago with the simple idea of contributing to a scene full of potential. He played gigs for free, went out a lot, made friends and also made a lot of music. “I didn’t have any self-promotion strategy,” he said, “besides setting up a Facebook fan page and Soundcloud account.” Since then, the musician has played over 150 club gigs in the past two years, discounting slots at leading festivals.
Bakshi feels that unlike artists abroad, who engage in plenty of gung-ho promotional tactics than Indian acts, venue owners and booking agents here are far more open about new artists. “People actively give new names a chance to show what they’re about,” he said.  It definitely holds true for Dualist Inquiry.

His artist moniker is derived from the “dualism that is simply about acknowledging how (my) sense of balance and normality derives itself from extremes that tug and pull in either direction”. If that sounds too abstract Bakshi has a parallel to offer in the music business. “Think about the balancing act between commercial music and fiercely independent sounds that make up the spectrum of the nightlife scene today.” On a personal level, Bakshi said he thrives on the balance between the quiet, isolated time he spends in the studio during the week, and the hectic, sometimes exhausting process of touring and playing gigs on the weekends. “I can’t be myself without either,” he said. “I need each extreme. I can’t ever claim to be only one thing; it’s always a mixture between two coexisting, counterbalancing opposites.”

As Dualist Inquiry prepares to rock Bangalore’s live music scene this weekend, he discusses playing to different audiences, opening for David Guetta and playing at the Brighton Festival in the UK, opening for Beardyman and DJ Shadow.

What would you attribute your remarkable rise to the top in such a short time?
In most ways, I feel like I’m just getting started and have a lot to do before I can sit back and feel satisfied with where I’ve reached. I feel like a variety of internal and external factors have come into play so far. People were (and still are) looking for a new entrant into the scene, and everyone appreciated that I played original music with the guitar, as opposed to DJing other people’s tunes. I’ve also worked hard, stayed focussed and tried to be as honest as possible. But it’s really being in the right place at the right time, along with the right doses of inspiration and opportunity that have helped me so far.

How different is it to play to a crowd in a nightclub compared to playing at a festival? Do you prefer one over the other?
Learning how to connect with a small club audience is a stepping stone to figuring out how to do the same at a festival. I really enjoy the size and grandeur of playing to thousands of people at a festival, but can’t do without the frenetic energy of a good club gig either. The two experiences go hand in hand, and it’s quite hard to pick one over the other.

Is there a lack of quality and diversity in terms of live electronic music acts in India right now? Who would you rate as your peers in the scene?
There is definitely a lot of room for new live electronic acts in India, outside of Techno, House or Trance. Even more so, considering how popular electronic music is in India, and the opportunities that abound for such acts. I have seen a few excellent acts that play original electronic music in India, though the only act I’ve seen which reminded me of my own ideas was Shrilectric. I saw him at the Sunburn festival in Goa last year. I can hardly call him my ‘peer’, though. Shri is well-established in the scene. But I definitely identified with the whole one-man-managing-all-his-instruments thing. It sounded amazing.

To contrast that, what was it like opening for Beardyman and DJ Shadow at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton?
The biggest difference was that I wasn’t on home turf. I was quite nervous to be taking a stage like that. I’m also personally a huge fan of Beardyman and DJ Shadow, so I was star-struck when I met them. It was in the summer last year (May), when I was still finding my feet and it was my first time playing to a big festival audience. I felt like I was swimming in uncharted territory. I just kept my head down, tried not to let nervousness get the better of me, and eventually played a set that was very well received. That was one of the most significant learning experiences of my life so far.

Tell us about the band you formed with Imaad Shah at Doon school and if you’ll have any plans of resurrecting it/collaborating again soon?
Imaad and I have been extremely close since we were 12, and we pretty much learned to play the guitar together. We loved playing punk rock and a bit of heavy alternative rock as well. Doon School was an amazing learning environment for music. We used to write our own tunes and play gigs at school events and at other schools as well. We have a great musical understanding, and still spend a lot of time discussing and learning about music. So far, we’ve only shared the stage as different acts, but we will definitely collaborate someday in the future.