BENGALURU: It was easy for me to access any form of art because I grew up in Mysuru, and my parents put me into it. It’s like cycling, most children undergo training to pick it up,” says Vasu Dixit about taking up music as a profession. So though he studied filmmaking at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and went on to intern at a production house in Mumbai, his sight remained fixed on Bengaluru.“My work needed a place like Bengaluru because I was into commercial filmmaking. I could also connect with musicians,” he says, adding, “The city had more lakes and parks then. I used to live in Malleswaram, which was typical Bengaluru.”
Vasu ended up meeting and jamming with other musicians, which led him to realise that the city has room for various genres. Recalling early days, when he would travel on his Kinetic Honda, he says, “Most of my songs happen when I am travelling. I was once riding under the Windsor Manor bridge, and I saw the signboard with English written on one side, and Kannada on the other. It made me realise how English is such a big part of our lives, and wonder about where Kannada is in all of this. My first song, Ee Bhoomi, was in Kannada, and its first four lines were inspired by that moment.”
The presence of his elder brother, Raghu Dixit, in the field, of course, gave him confidence. “I had to create my own identity and style, though we create a similar style of music. I don’t tell most people that I am Raghu Dixit’s brother, and they are surprised when they find out. As much as he has been an influence, he has also been a support to me,” says Vasu, pointing out that Bengaluru has always inspired young musicians, with venues like Palace Grounds hosting prominent international acts.
“We used to have a festival called Freedom Jam. All the bands in the city would play there to connect with the audience,” he recounts, also mentioning another festival called Fireflies, which was held on the outskirts of the city, but stopped later.
“These community music festivals were not driven by money or branding,” says Vasu, who names city groups like Thermal and Quater, Parvaaz, Galeez Gurus, Prakash Sontakke and the erstwhile band, Lounge Piranha, among his favourites. According to him, this trend is coming back. “I have started a musical gathering every month at Basava in Basavanagudi, where I ask artists to try something new. It is free of cost,” he explains. “Community bonding is needed to rebuild and promote the music scene.”