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Instinct and inquiry

After graduating from Thornton Music School at USC in Los Angeles, California in 2010, Sahej Bakshi returned to India and started uploading his music for free on the Web. He was also taking part in competitions both abroad and here. It was around the same time that he created the alter ego Dualist Inquiry, which somehow also defines the main goal of his music — tracing the other side of, well, everything.

Sahej Bakshi of Dualist Inquiry
Sahej Bakshi of Dualist Inquiry. Pic/Sachin Soni

The search for the other culminated to Dualism, his first EP, released in 2011, which he soon followed with Bootleg Remix. Both albums experimented with new sounds and voices, making him a name to watch out for in Electronic Dance Music in India. He is now ready with his first LP, Doppelganger, where again, he follows on his search for the other, but where he experiments with not one but multiple genres, from Electronic and Disco to Punk and Rock.

Creative process
While those familiar with his sound would find a line of continuity and familiarity in this album too, for fresh ears, it provides a nice break from the regular. The artiste has worked for over six months on this album; layer after another (sometimes over 130 at the same time) to create what he believes culminates his old and new sounds. “The aim, always, is to find a sound that I could call my own,” says Bakshi, adding, “With music, I rely on my instincts. Sometimes, I’ll be sitting around, and an entire song will pop in my head, and at other times, I’ll have to sit and patiently chip away at an idea until it becomes something I like.”

Looking back
Bakshi says that the last three years performing around the world and opening for biggies like David Guetta, DJ Shadow and Fatboy Slim among others, helped him grow as an artiste and as a producer. “A lot of people heard about me for the first time when DJ Shadow or David Guetta happened; it’s the exact benefit of landing a great opening slot. I got to play to thousands of fans who actually came for them, and discovered my music along the way,” he says.

A business model
The new album is available for free download on the Web. With Internet piracy going up, and Bollywood music still ruling the charts, does this mean Indian listeners are not yet ready to pay for non-mainstream music like his? “No,” he replies, squarely, adding, “Selling one’s music (and opposing free or ‘illegal’ sharing) on the Internet is like trying to fight what the Internet is best at doing — sharing and dissipation of information. The Web has had a massive role in establishing my career so far. So, the idea of trading some money in the bank for less copies of my music out in the world didn’t make sense. Besides, the new business model of being a musician relies on gaining a larger fan base through free downloads, thereby playing many more sold out shows, which is how most musicians make their living nowadays anyway.”

What’s in store?
Bakshi is thrilled that his promotional gigs that will not only take him to nine other cities including biggies like Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru to smaller cities like Guwahati, Indore and Jaipur among others. “Each stop will be a very unique experience; this is also the first time I’ve toured with my own visual setup — a rig designed exclusively for these performances,” he adds, excitedly.

Doppelganger LP

— Doppelganger LP, Dualist Inquiry, Dualism Records. Download for free from www.dualismrecords.bandcamp.com/album/doppelganger

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