Sheldon D’Silva is currently one of India’s leading Bass guitarists having performed with legends like John McLaughlin, Sting, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Avishai Cohen Trilok Gurtu, Louiz Banks and at the Capetown Jazz Festival, ACC World Music Festival and 19th Ulsan Jazz Festival, South Korea recently to name a few. He also doubles up as a Composer, Music Producer, Music Programmer and Arranger. Monarose Sheila Pereira caught up with him rec and got him to share his Musical journey with us.
What does the Bass mean to you?
Bass for me is the ultimate element in the architecture that bridges and binds the rhythm and melody in a harmonious foundation that cements the structure of the music. Bass guitarists add a certain groove, swing, tone and texture that cannot be substituted by keyboard programming. The Bass Guitarist plays a very important role in an Orchestra or a Band; he brings a certain charm and form to the music.
What does Music mean to you?
Music eventually becomes a voice of everything that you are molded from, so the more knowledge and experiences you fill yourself up with, the more profound your music will be. The bigger picture is all art, is beautiful and is all connected. . Music comes from a sacred place, it will feed your body and soul, so treat it with love and respect.
‘Music comes from a sacred place, it will feed your body and soul, so treat it with love and respect.’
How did you become a Bass Guitarist?
Music is my greatest inspiration. I never dreamt it would one day be a career, as I always thought I would be a Pilot or something nerdier. I was an A+ student pursued to study Applied Art at B.D. Somani School of Art and Fashion Technology and all along, Music was my only constant, my liberation from the world. It etched at me and showed me a world far greater than the one forced upon children these days. I was warned it would be a very difficult life and not very lucrative, music was the only path that set me free. I simply surrendered to its force, leaving my life in the hands of the Almighty.
What do you like about your career?
When you choose to make a living doing something you love and that makes you happy, it doesn’t feel like work, and in turn you put more effort, heart and passion into it. That eventually serves a much higher purpose, you become a better person, you innovate and become a role model for future generations Materialistic gains can only take you a certain distance, but the respect and satisfaction you get after doing what you love, is priceless, as you get to change the world and make a difference with innate qualities that you have been uniquely designed with. It’s a superpower, don’t ignore it, implement it. God takes care of artists, so don’t be afraid.
Tell us about your training?
Music practice is something that shouldn’t stop. Discipline is mandatory and to never stop practicing. I’m constantly thinking, breathing music don’t rush and be impatient, learn the nuances, learn its history and let it play through you. Do it as much as possible, and look into a practice regime by finding constant inspiration. Listen constantly to artists and watch them and copy them before you can find your own voice. Increase your vocabulary at the instrument, so you don’t stammer on your instrument. Ear training is a must. Thinking fast is harder than playing fast. Do your homework before you reach the workplace. Broaden your mind to all kinds of music without judgment, it will benefit you. Be present at all possible music events, watch and meet musicians and learn from their experiences. Play till your hands drop! Once in a while, shut yourself off and do something entirely different other than music and then restart. Very importantly when applying the above methods, make sure you are always happy doing them!
How long does one take to become a professional Musician?
Just remember you have to be good enough, that someone will want to pay you, for what you do. The more the payment, the more you need to be able to deliver. Professionals are capable of producing art that’s packaged well, is money’s worth, is innovative, serves the requirement in a timely manner and have the morals and ethics essential for a work environment. However long it takes you to achieve this, is how long you will take to be a professional.
What do you think of the current Music scenario?
An ever growing competitive industry, that has its flaws, can be demoralizing. Today the use of technology has put tons of musicians out of work; it’s a growth and understanding that we need to evolve from to realize what is more important. We as a community need to help one another, otherwise it’s a whirlpool that will eventually pull everyone down, including the ones who think they are in power. Artists are supported by their audiences and audiences are regaled by these artists, it’s a give and take, if either side stops, it will all end. Music is not a hobby; it’s a part of human growth and sustenance, so we should fund music and other art forms. Musicians and artists are the closest form of magic, perfection, and connection to God, that stir the audience’s soul and, they have bills to pay too.
‘Musicians and Artists are the closest form of magic, perfection, and connection to God, that stirs the audience’s soul and, they have bills to pay too.’
What do you like about being a musician?
The advantages are countless, you get to travel the world, stay in the fanciest of hotels, see places in the world you would have never dreamt of going on your own, meet people of all sects and societies, rich and poor, celebrities to heroes, enjoy plenty of luxuries, but more importantly make a difference to society and the world. You can have a voice than can change history, have the ability to help people and create awareness. Your name could be immortalized through your contribution, becoming an inspiration and guide to the youth and future. You can be the miracle and crux of evolution.
What are your plans for the future?
Honestly I’m not much of a planning type of guy. I go with the flow. If anything, I keep a few bullet points in mind. So some of them are working on my solo album and for my band Violet Chords, along with Reenie Mansata,Tubby, Gino Banks and Ravi Chary. finishing up with projects that are pending, , honing my skills as a bass player and producer and probably looking to do more production, besides recording on multipleband projects like Merkaba, FunkTub, The Mekaal Hasan Band and Nexus. I’m also producing Ad jingles and recording on Bollywood movie soundtracks.
Monarose Sheila Pereira is an author, journalist and media lecturer.She has published several books and has written for all the major newspapers andmagazines. She has worked for All India Radio and Doordarshan. She alsoconducts self improvement workshops.
DJ Aqeel Ali is a highly respected and renowned DJ. He is also a singer and composer. He speaks to Monarose Sheila Pereira about his career and foray into music.
So let's hear him spin his song.
What is the scope for DJs today?
The scope of DJs is endless as there are so many bars clubs pubs private parties also so many different genres of music also with film songs and production ghost productions music for add films and background scores live dj sets and I could go on and on and on
What is your job profile?
I specialize in DJing, Entertaining, Music Production,
What inspired you to become a DJ?
Inspiration came from my love for music and watching super DJs like Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren. They are a great source of inspiration.
What is your latest project?
I am working on my album along with that, a few film songs. A couple of them will be releasing in the next two months.
What do you like about being a DJ?
I was one of the first djs to play Bollywood music in night clubs, festivals and private parties. No one was doing all this 20 years ago. I feel really proud to start the Bollywood music movement. My career is amazing. I make music that makes people happy, dance and forget all their problems. My music also inspires people and motivates them. Basically I make people feel really good and happy.
Why did you decide to be a DJ?
I always loved music and wanted to do something related to music hence I thought of djing and then music production followed.
What do you like about it?
It is amazing. Music makes people come together. I love travelling and my DJing has taken me all over the world and across the seven seas.
Tell us about your training?
I wanted to be a DJ and so I asked a lot of people to show me and
help me but they all said I cannot be a DJ and with no YouTube back then, or any other source and no djing schools I had to just figure it out myself. That was the most challenging part of my career. However, I overcame it and rest is history. Today I am a rocking successful DJ.
What kind of investment did you make?
I have invested lots of time, time and time.
What is the remmunertion as a fresher?
My first gig got me Rupees 3000 from that I had to pay Rupees 1800 for transportation and rentals of sound and lights. I used to carry the
speakers and connect them myself and play for 8 to 9 hours. I have spent lots of long struggling hours but it is worth it.
How long does one take to become a professional?
Today, in this day and age I will say it will take about 1 year for you to be super professional.
What is the remuneration of an established professional?
As an established professional one can earn anything from 3 to 5 to 10 lakhs a month and even more.
Does a DJ have to supplement the income?
Luckily I made a career out of djing and did not need to do anything else besides this. It is very rewarding.
Name some advantages in being a DJ?
The best part of my work is that I love my work and I get to meet great people, network and travel.
Any difficulties in being a DJ?
The biggest difficulty in this field is having to sacrifice your family time specially on weekends and also late nights, and lack of sleep. Most shows are on weekends and at night.
Any plans for the future?
I plan to keep DJing and making music for films and my private songs and remixes
What advice do you have for those who want to to become a DJ?
My advice for those who want to become a DJ is - work hard, believe in yourself, make your own music and play instead of just downloading music; look sharp, dress well speak well; have a great social media following and never give up.
♦ Monarose Sheila Pereira is an author, journalist and media lecturer. She has published several books and has written for all the major newspapers and magazines. She has worked for All India Radio and Doordarshan. She also conducts self improvement workshops.
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.