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The Hot List 2017: Mohini Dey (Bassist)

She’s only 21 and has shared the stage with Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan and Marco Minnemann. Clearly, there’s no stopping this bass prodigy

David Britto Dec 18, 2017

“This year has been so crazy in terms of number of gigs, so busy, like every night is something else,” says Dey. Photo: Dushyant Raval

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Not many 21-year-olds can say that they’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with the likes of keyboard genius Jordan Rudess, three-time Grammy Award winning guitar virtuoso Steve Vai or ace drummer Marco Minnemann. But 2017 saw young bass prodigy Mohini Dey working with all three. “It’s always been lovely teaming up with different artists, but this year especially it’s been really special in terms of collaborations,” says Dey. The bassist played on Rudess’ track “Light Becomes Day” for his East Meets West collaborative project and performed with Vai at the recently concluded Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Meghalaya. She also performed with the guitarist at the Pune edition of the festival this month and toured India with Minnemann this past September.

“It was lovely touring with Marco, you know, last year I played with Guthrie [Govan] and we did a tour,” says Dey. “It was special, they come from different worlds and everybody has different tastes of music, just like he has, I come from a different background and I love different kinds of music.” She adds, “He’s a great human being, fun going guy and of course a great musician.”

Although Dey’s usual work schedule revolves between the stage and recording studios, the young musician is most comfortable working from her Mumbai home set-up. “When you’re in your own space and given your own freedom you can do whatever you want,” she says. The young musician remembers how surprised she was when she was first called to work on a Bollywood film this past year. “I don’t really get called for Bollywood movies because [the] playing is very different,” says Dey, admitting she doesn’t recall the name of the film. “I really enjoyed playing on that project because it was a different challenge. For movies, you have to be really controlled and restricted, and see whatever works for the scene.”

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Another studio session that stood out for Dey this past year was with renowned composer A.R.Rahman in Mumbai for a horror film. “I think it was for the background score of an international movie. I went really late at night after my club show,” she says. “I asked him what is the scale and he said there is no scale, just do whatever you like. We jammed together and came up with something and that was really interesting.” Dey, who is part of Rahman’s ensemble, is currently on a four-city India tour with the musician.

“As a kid I always wanted to be a versatile musician.”

Dey has been working on solo material for the last couple of years, and mentions that she’s finally putting the finishing touches on her yet-to-be-titled debut record. “I’m going to the U.S. for the whole of January and kind of just to meet people and mastering and mixing my album and getting musicians on board to kind of re-record the parts as well,” she says. Dey also freelances and keeps on switching genres at almost every show she plays at. “I’m doing corporate shows with these Carnatic musicians, club shows, and then metal and then jazz and then A.R. which is so different,” she says. “As a kid I always wanted to be a versatile musician.”

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Dey has cemented herself as the country’s most sought-after bassist this past year, and there is yet so much more to come from the talented young musician. “This year has been so crazy in terms of number of gigs, so busy, like every night is something else,” she says. “It’s really nice by God’s grace everything is good, I’m really happy.”

Watch Mohini Dey perform with Steve Vai at the Meghalaya  edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender below:

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