She’s performed with legends like A R Rahman and Zakir Hussain. She is part of ten bands and has legendary guitarist Steve Vai writing fan mail to her. Mohini Dey is all that and more at 19!
But the pretty young bass guitarist, by her own admission, doesn’t act or talk like a 19-year-old. She feels disconnected from others her age — then again, that’s how she’s felt since school. “I started playing with older musicians at a very young age. I was around them most of the time and used to hear them talk, so my thinking also kind of transformed. I’m more advanced compared to my peers. Even today, many teens don’t think like me, so I find them weird and they find me weird,” she says.
Her recent collaboration with American guitar legend Steve Vai is another feather in her cap. The excitement in her voice as she talks about this is palpable. And what got her really kicked was Vai’s eloquently-worded email to her (see box), in response to two audio recordings she had sent him at his request.
Mohini’s love affair with the Bass Guitar began at the scarcely believable age of three, when she heard her father, a bass guitar player himself, during a jamming session. “In reaction to that, I began tapping on my lap and I was keeping the right tempo. My dad was stunned by that,” she says. Thrilled by this, her dad started imparting formal training to Mohini. “I used to bunk school and go to the studios with dad,” she adds.
A R Rahman, whom she has worked with and holds in high regard, is clearly a big influence on her. Talking about her tour to North America, earlier this year with AR, as she calls him, she says, “It was amazing. Every place was a delight. I saw people singing Tamil tunes in LA and Vegas, which was really stunning, I mean Las Vegas? Come on! It’s unbelievable the level of fame he (Rahman) has. Sometimes AR would treat the whole band to a restaurant for dinner. After the tour was over, we did not feel like parting.” So is there anything bad about being more mature than your age? Apparently there is. “Sometimes you like a guy in a band,” she says, “but he’ll also treat you like some kid, and that’s not good,” she laughs.
Here’s what Steve Vai’s e-mail said:
“My goodness young lady, I just listened to the track, both versions. Where on Gods beautiful blue Earth did you come from. Wait, perhaps it’s not Earth? Wow. I am so impressed with what you did. You are truly gifted. I guess it happens now and then where someone comes along and just raises the bar. I hope we get to play together some day. Outstanding Work! I played the track to some of my frnds and It is Amazing to See the Look on their Faces ;) Also, I am going to send u More tracks from My upcoming Project that I would love to have u on .”