Mohini Dey on her upcoming Dubai concert
Bassist Mohini Dey, who is a part of an all-women ensemble featuring diverse musicians from around the world, is performing at the Queens of Melody fusion concert in Dubai this Saturday
Mohini Dey is perhaps one of the finest female bass players that India has produced until now. Even as a youngster in school, she performed alongside some of the country's topmost musicians like AR Rahman, Zakir Hussain, Niadri Kumar, Ranjit Barot and Nitin Sawhney, besides a number of jazz and fusion music greats.
A child prodigy, she is the first call for international artistes visiting India and has played alongside notables such as Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Dave Weckl, Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater, Mike Stern, pro guitarist Plini and drummers Marco Minnemann and Narada Michael Walden. She is also a regular feature at NAMM (an annual American event said to be 'the world's largest trade-only event for anything music').
Daughter of veteran Bollywood and fusion bassist Sujoy Dey, the Mumbai-based Mohini has also shared stage with bass legends like John Patitucci and Abraham Laboriel.
Dey is coming to Dubai this Saturday to perform at Queens of Melody, a East-West fusion concert featuring an all-women ensemble that includes a diverse group of female musicians from around the world.
These global artistes with their unique genres, styles and distinct instruments are performing together for the first time at what promises to be an evening to remember.
Taking place at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel this Saturday, the band line-up features Emirati Kanoon player Taif Ali Obeid; Kala Ramnath (violin), Mohini Dey (bass) and Savani Talwalkar (tabla) from India; Anne Sajdera (piano) from the US; Sahba Motallebi (Tar) from Iran; Mexican drummer Karina Colis; Sri Lankan Hasini Melegama on percussion; Suzy Eises from Namibia (saxophone) and Carolina Rosales from Chile performing Kalbeliya Dance.
Ahead of the concert, Mohini tells City Times about her music. Excerpts from the interview.
You are a child prodigy, but what does it take to be up with the best?
Firstly, one needs to have a strong musical foundation. Then there are other factors like musical knowledge, experience, mindset, confidence and a positive attitude.
Why did you decide to make the bass guitar your main instrument, why not something else?
My dad is a bass player and there used to be several bass guitars around the house all the time. When I was young, they (bass guitars) looked like toys to me and I used it pick them up and play, that's how I got hooked to the instrument.
How does it feel when you are the only female member in a band?
I feel special and powerful. Being up on stage with the best l've always enjoyed the attention. To be honest, I enjoy being in the spotlight.
You have performed with some of the best musicians in the world like AR Rahman, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan and Zakir Hussain to name a few, how do you adapt yourself to the demands of different genres and artists?
I have always been very open to the need of other artistes. Being open-minded allows me to understand everyone better. For me, I don't differentiate between genres or artistes, it's all about the music. The expression, tone and character may change, but the voice remains the same.
What has been your most memorable concert to date?
It would have to be the one with American guitar virtuoso Steve Vai. I discovered different kinds of strengths and energy that existed within me when I performed with him.
What does fusion music mean to you?
For me, it's all about music, at the end of the day, as long as it sounds good to you, it's good for me.
How does it feel being described as the best female bass guitarist in India?
I leave that to the audience to judge. I have always had great admiration for my fans and followers, and that's what matters to me most.
What are some of the challenges you've faced as a musician?
Insecurity. I used to feel it a lot when I was younger. I would always think that I was not good enough. Even today, I get that feeling. It may sound shocking, but I have to admit that there are days I feel really low, but I've found a way to override it and switch my moods, so that kind of helps me keep my personal and professional lives intact.
How do you handle concert anxiety?
I don't. It's always there, before I get on stage. But once I'm on stage, I'm a different person all together, I turn into a lioness.
What other interests do you have besides music?
I love anything creative, like interior designing, fashion, beauty and clothes.
What advice would you want to share with budding talent on how to hone their skills?
Practise good stuff, but not continuously for 8 hours.
What's next for you?
I will be doing shows with Prasanna Ramaswamy (a pioneer in Carnatic guitar style) before heading off to Malaysia and Poland to perform with my band featuring Indian jazz legend Louiz Banks, Gino Banks, Giridhar Uddupa, U. Rajesh and my younger sister Esani Dey on guitar.
Quick take with Dey
What makes you happy?
What do you hate most in others?
What would you do if you lost your instrument on the way to a concert?
I would never lose my instrument.
Your favourite pastime?
Designing my clothes.
If not a musician what would you have been?
A fashion designer.