Mohini Dey, the youngest female bassist in the country has worked with legends like AR Rahman, Zakir Hussain, and has been working in the music industry for 16 years!

Mishkaat Imrani
Apr 16, 2021 07:33 IST
Mohini Dey, the youngest female bassist in the country has worked with legends like AR Rahman, Zakir Hussain, and has been working in the music industry for 16 years!

Mohini Dey has been described as the “Most Successful Musician Under 30” by Forbes India. She has worked in the music industry for 16 years. She currently is a member of one of the biggest rock bands in Japan, B’z, and was recently featured in the French Magazine, 'Bassiste' for her work.

Mohini Dey is only 24, but she has played on over 60 movies and albums worldwide. She has worked with international artists Zakir Hussain, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Mike Stern, Salim-Sulaiman, S. Thaman, Hariharan, Arijit Singh, Neeti Mohan, Amit Trivedi, Benny Dayal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal, and more. She has been a part of AR Rehman's band for the last 8 and a half years, and her work includes multiple seasons of both Coke Studio and MTV Unplugged. This boss bassist oozes energy, and if you haven't watched her yet, you should do it probably!

Mohini was featured in the french music magazine 'Basssiste' along with some global names like Lee Sklar, Nathan East, and more. Talking about this surprise appreciation, she said, " I was recently recorded on a project curated by Alberto Rigoni, and there were several other Bassists like Nathan East, Stuart Hamm. We all worked together on different songs. Alberto bought us all together. It was a very interesting project. I had a lot of fun, but we had no idea that we were going to be there on the Bassiste! It was special, and fun waking up to that magazine. I was happy and excited that they recognized my work."

Bass runs in Mohini's DNA. Her father Sujoy Dey doesn't need an introduction too. He is also a Bassist and was the first one who identified Mohini's raw talent and then trained her.

"Every time my dad would practice at home, he would put headphones on my ears. When I was 3 he noticed that I was tapping the right tempo to what he was playing. So, my dad decided to teach me. He believes it only gives you more happiness, and that's how it started. I started taking lessons when I was probably 6 or 7. By the age of 10, I was already gigging, and at 13 I played with Zakir Ji (Zakir Hussain), and that opened a lot of doors for me.", she said.

Mohini Dey

Mohini then started working with Luise Banks, and Niladri Kumar. Ranjit Barot who she lovingly calls 'Uncle' was the first one to introduce her to the music industry. "All different people would come to our club gigs, and would see me play, and that opened many new doors for me. I was 15 when my Journey with AR Rahman started! I have been playing with him, and it's been a bliss.", she told Local Samosa.

Mohini has a part of AR Rahman's band for 8 and a half years now. Talking about the music maestro AR Rahman she said, " He is a mastermind. He has a unique way to approach everything. I enjoy his outlook on music, life, and the way he writes. It feels like a new project every time I work with him. It's always exciting because he does things differently. He makes spots for every musician. He loves making feature spots, improvisation spots, and he changes the arrangements. I love it that he is very experimental."

Watching her rock that guitar is inspiring and fascinating. Her grip, her speed, and her skills are well polished. Hailing from a family that is in the Bass business for so long, who would have thought Mohini wanted to be a Fashion Designer at first!

"After my 10th board exam, I had applied for a Fashion college and they even selected me. It was also a time when I received a full-rime scholarship from Berklee College of Music. It was also a time when AR and his team offered me to be in his team band. I had three different opportunities to choose from. I always wanted to become a Fashion Designer. But since I had spent many years working on myself musically, I decided to give it a shot and chose AR." However, her love for designing did not stop there. Mohini designs all her stage outfits. " I even stitched some of them. So, it will always be there.", she added.

Mohini Dey is a huge admirer of Victor Wooten, an American bassist, and songwriter. Her love for Bass, and then how she poured herself in it was inspired by him. "I think one very special memory I have is watching Victor Wooten's video. In my mind, I would be like Woah, I wanna be like him. That constant thought made me push myself harder, and I would just lock myself in the room. I used to practice for hours and hours working on myself. I always wanted to be better.", she said.

Mohini took the bass at 3, started gigging at 10, and it's almost 16 years that she has been in the music industry professionally." It's been great. I can't wait to see what's ahead. I have never had plans for my life. It all happened, and I took everything as a challenge. It kept opening doors for me.", she mentioned.

Mohini believes that decisions are always important. Especially when you are in the earlier stage of your journey, it's important to experience everything. "Later in life, you become wiser about what you want to do. If you won't experience things, you won't know what you like, and what you don't like. ", she added.

Mohini Dey

Taking up music as a full-time career is something that most people find difficult. But to our surprise, it wasn't the case for Mohini Dey. "I am very selective about the work I do, and I have lots of fun doing it. It was not at all daunting. It was pretty exciting. My life has always been very adventurous, and I like it that way. I don't know what lies in the future, and I just love this fact. All I want is to flow like a river. I want to keep flowing.", she said.

Her most memorable project is when she was playing for one of AR Rahman's movies. " It was 4 am in the morning, and it happened during my board exams. I literally flew to Chennai to record with him. My mum was lying on the couch all the time. I had to fly back to Mumbai to give my exam, and after that, I came back and recorded for him again. It was very memorable because he was there, and because I got to see how he thinks. I think I can read his mind very well, he loves the western approach towards his fusion melodies, and he loves the bass to be very fat. Also, he loves giving freedom to all his musicians", she explained.

Reminiscing about one of her most challenging projects she said, " It was a metal project. It was fast, really really fast! I know it sounds crazy when I say fast. But, trust me it was very quick and pretty different. I had to train myself to be able to play those lines with a slap approach. It was the most challenging one."

Mohini's loves the fact the bass is the backbone of the whole band. " It keeps the band together. It's not just a part of the rhythm section but also the melody section. so, it has a lot of responsibilities, and I like being in charge.', she added.

Talking about the skills a bass player must have she said, " First is definately time. The second would be soul or feel. Third, I think the harmonic theory is a big thing. If you don't have that you won't know how t improvise things."

Her bass skills are definitely an outcome of a lot of creativity, and there's a lot that goes behind the camera, and her performances. " My creative process depends on different situations. If I am in my studio, I like to take my time and explore possibilities. On the other hand, if I am in somebody else's studio, and recording for a music director, I make sure I give what they want. I have to deliver it at the second go or the third go at max. However, live gigs are more impromptu where everything goes according to the script, so in different places, my creative process is different.", she said.

Mohini Dey

When we say it takes a lot to be an artist, and there's a lot happening in their lives, it's true. Along with lessons, and inspirations, it is also packed with fun incidents, and anecdotes. Sharing one of hers, Mohini Dey finds the following the funniest.

" It was 4 years ago. I was performing at one of AR Rahman's gigs. The whole show was being shot. I had a go-pro attached to my head, and there was a camera in front of me. So, I have really long curly hair and I had this habit of chewing gum. While I was playing, my hair got in my mouth, and the gum stuck to my hair. It was hanging throughout the whole song. When the show was over, the camera guy came and said, that it was very hilarious, and I was like yep, I know! When I took the chewing gum out of my head, a lot of hair also came out. I was on the screen, so I am sure the audience must have been wondering what is in her hair.", she laughed.

Other than Funk, Mohini is a huge fan of Orchestra. " Oh, I love orchestra music, and I have grown to love metal music. However, I used to hate it back then, but now I really love it!", she added.

Mohini Dey is certainly a 'Bass Gem' we have in the country. We love her for her energy, enthusiasm, and her work history. It was one memorable conversation with her and threw lights on various sides, and likes of Mohini. If you think the bass is all about fast music and quick strings, then check Mohini's Instagram here to listen to some of the fast tracks, and also some of the most soothing ones!

Also Read: Meet Natasha Ghosh, a fingerstyle ukulele player, singer, and songwriter hailing from Kolkata!

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