Sahej Bakshi a.k.a Dualist Inquiry has carved a niche for himself in the Indian music industry. 

His music carries a refreshing sound of its own and that is what makes Dualist Inquiry one of the most sought-after artists in the country right now. From the looks of it, things are only going to get better for his unique sound.

Credits: nocturnal Networks

The Sherp: How does it feel to have played at the Taj – Circle Series Live Nights at Vivanta by Taj – President, Mumbai?

Dualist Inquiry: Every once in a while we get an inquiry for a gig that’s not at antiSOCIAL or Bonobo and quite often I just decide that it’s time to do something new and play something at different venues and play stuff to some new people, hopefully. I played stuff from my album which basically comprises of club remixes that I’ve done on my own songs from the album; stuff exactly for an environment like Wink! But yes, overall I’ve played a club set which is quite different from a festival set, you know.

The Sherp: You have opened for big names like David Guetta and Fat Boy Slim. What is the thrill of doing your own show?

Dualist Inquiry: You really get to see how far you’ve come in a sense. Obviously every show doesn’t necessarily go great, but when people do show up for your gig and they want to hear your music more than they want to hear other people’s music, you really feel great. And it gives meaning to everything and reminds you why you do all of this. That’s the thrill of doing you own show. And you get to invite your own people and hope that they come. It’s a direct connection.


The Sherp: You spend a lot of time in the studio. We’re curious to know how you name your albums. It would be great if you could elaborate on ‘Dreamcatcher’.

Dualist Inquiry: A lot of my music has pretty much been instrumental. This album features some vocals but historically I have been doing a lot of instrumental stuff. So the title is really important because it’s the one word that I get to say. My criteria for titles for my music as Dualist, and for the music that I release, has pretty much been trying to find that word that encompasses a set of feelings that the whole song stands for. So for ‘Dreamcatcher’, I pretty much chose the name because, as I was looking for a name for the album and working on the album, I realised that the process is what I should name the album after. That’s why the word ‘Dreamcatcher’ came to mind because I was referring to me actually chasing my dreams. Not my goals in life, but the dreams I wake up from in the middle of the night. Sometimes I wake up with a full song in my head. Maybe half of the album was born while I was asleep and I would wake up and, at that moment, it was like ”Wow, I just heard this song”. Then, I would run to the studio and record it on my iPhone and make sure the idea doesn’t get lost. That’s how I named the album Dreamcatcher because that’s where the music came about from.

The Sherp: Who or what are your inspirations for the music that you make?

Dualist Inquiry: A lot of emotions are always the end objective. So, in a sense, you would say that great food inspired you to travel or that people inspire you. But for me it’s basically just being subjected to intense emotions, even if it’s the most shitty emotions; it’s inspiring always. Feeling nothing or being too comfortable or feeling too numb are the absolute enemies of creativity for me. I have nothing to say when I’m really comfortable, hence the tormented artist cliché is quite true. That’s why you’re making great music and doing great. That’s just how it is.


The Sherp: We just got to know that you went to Australia and you attended the EMC as a speaker there. Tell us about your experience there.

Dualist Inquiry: I got invited to Sydney through some people who came down to India a few years ago and they ended up coming to my gigs. So I got invited there to collaborate with some Australian musicians and it’s a program that Australian musicians apply for and they got us three full days in some of the best studios available in Australia and the world. It was very well thought of by whoever was curating it. Every day I found myself in a group with a really great producer, singer and instrumentalist and we were all left there like kids in a candy store to just make music. So, I came away from three days with three brand new songs with a whole bunch of new producers. I released an episode of my blog about the songs in the episode where you can see the making and everything is just there. It was an amazing experience and they were also curious about what’s going on in India. So, for me, it was amazing to find a whole country with whom my sound really fits. Out here, in India, I’m kind of in my own territory a little bit.

The Sherp: Do we see a future Australian tour?

Dualist Inquiry: Yes, for sure.

The Sherp: What’s your dream artist collaboration, both Indian and international?

Dualist Inquiry: At this point, I’m going to say David August and Sid Vashi. They’re both really fresh; they are playing instruments really well and are also highly trained individuals.

The Sherp: You’ve performed at international music festivals like Ultra. Tell us about your experience there as opposed to festivals here.

Dualist Inquiry: It’s a totally different ball game and a totally different experience. Because, over here we’ll very often be closer to the headlining slot and that’s where you really see a lot of supporters come out. It’s a different ball game abroad because I got invited to Ultra Korea and the headliners there were Afrojack and Martin Garrix, so I got a slot on this beach-themed stage just after sunset at 7.30 or 8.30. But the festival is on till 12 and, in that sense, I had to work for my crowd. But I also feel that it’s a valuable opportunity to get on stage at a big festival like that and have people crossing by saying “Is that guy really playing the guitar? What in the world is going on?” So I’ll always make it a point to go “My name is Dualist Inquiry” at least four times in a set cause people keep moving in and out. I always see some activity on my social media from the country when I leave, so it’s a lot about introducing yourself and putting forward you best show. If I have to play all my best music from the last five years in one gig then I’ll do that for the first time I play in a new country. In India, I’ve been playing so much in the past five years, I keep putting in new material and throwing out old material.


The Sherp: Can you tell us about your label Dualism Records?

Dualist Inquiry: The label was conceived initially as a way for me to release my own music first because there were no options for that in this country. So, it’s kind of a non-profit venture for me. So far I have only been releasing my music on it and I did a compilation. We have another compilation in the works and there are things that are constantly happening, but it’s not really a business. It’s something that’s necessary as a place where we plan to open up our doors, not too far in the future, where we’re going to put out a call for demos and start releasing other artists. But we haven’t done that yet because frankly I’ve been so overloaded with Dualist Inquiry. Unless I approach it in a very serious manner and make some time for it, it doesn’t make sense to run something half-heartedly. Hopefully the label can give a shortcut to musicians who need to reach a wider audience.

The Sherp: Talking about newer musicians, what advice would you put out for budding producers and DJs?

Dualist Inquiry: Firstly, I would say don’t try and copy what’s already big right now. Two years ago it was dubstep, now it’s trap and next year it can be something else. So I don’t try to copy a sound that’s already on the main stage. I think it’s a better, smarter and more satisfying move to find your own sound; even if it seems like nobody would get it. That’s not called being ahead of you time. Just make the kind of music you want to hear. Don’t think about who will book you or who will pay for this or who will want that. The idea is to make music and trust that people will appreciate its originality.


The Sherp: What are your plans for 2017?

Dualist Inquiry: 2016 has been so full on but there are a lot of things lined up. A year is such a calendar thing and there is so much momentum right now which is just going to wade into 2017 with everything that I have going on right now. There’s obviously new music; I have a lot of new material that I’m going to put out really soon, either as singles or EPs or an album, maybe in the summer. I’ve been getting into producing videos for myself as well, so I’ve been shooting and editing and colour correcting all the video content for myself as well as the blogs. I plan on taking Dualist Inquiry in the direction of a one-man audio visual project next year, which is kind of extending the range of my territory. It’s been a one-man thing so far when I write, compose, perform, mix, produce and master by myself, but now I want to add, shoot, edit and do all that plus gigs and travel.

The Sherp: If you had to spend the rest of your life playing just one song, what would it be?

Dualist Inquiry: 4’33 by John Cage, which is silence. I’m patting myself on the back right now!