Bradley D’Souza: Carrying on the legacy
Second-generation Pakistani bassist Bradley D’Souza talks sharing the stage with his father, music influences, and his latest 60-second instrumental for Red Bull.
Born to renowned Pakistani musician Russell D’Souza, Bradley D’Souza is a second-generation bassist who has made quite a name for himself in the short career he’s had so far. Calling his career short doesn’t even do justice as the now 27-year-old has already been playing for over a decade.
His journey though started even earlier. The Karachi-based bassist and composer picked up his first guitar at the age of five.
“I started playing bass for fun when I was five years old. My father was my inspiration. I was always astonished whenever I saw him play. Who knew what started as fun will turn into my profession? At the age of 10, I started learning about bass and by the age of 12, I played my first gig.”
By the age of 16, Bradley started playing professionally with renowned bands like Mizmaar and Shiraz Uppal. “Now, here I am. A lot of people ask me how I started at such a young age and honestly, I have no answer to this. Maybe it was built in.”
One may debate whether it was nature or nurture that led Bradley to his calling, but his father’s influence cannot be understated. Russell would take the young prodigy to concerts and rehearsals where he’d fool around with guitars. That gradual assimilation from a very young age would eventually draw Bradley to a career in music.
“I remember I was at Gumby’s place once where he told me to play a show and I believe that it was the start of my career,” he said.
11 years later, and he has played with some of the biggest names in Pakistani music industry. Thought his most cherished memory is sharing the stage with his father two years ago in Dubai.
“My dad was also playing on the same stage with Shafqat Amanat Ali and Strings. It was the first ever international show where we both shared the stage. It was wonderful,” he said.
Starting out young and being surrounded by the big guns comes with its side-effects. Often the youngest in the room, Bradley developed performance anxiety.
“I think performance anxiety is something natural that can never go away. Initially, it was a lot because I was very young and I was playing with senior artists. I love performing at concerts but every time I go on the stage, the anxiety I feel is exactly like I felt for the very first time.”
A case could be made that the very same anxiety makes one a better artist. For Bradley, it’s all in the mind, be it juggling with the pressure or putting on different hats for different projects.
“The creative process comes from your mind. I am a bass player and I am also a music producer, which requires a lot of work and brain storming. There are a lot of factors to consider. You have to think not just as a bassist but also as a producer and be attuned to what the audience would be like.”
As a child, absorbing the tunes of his father and even his father’s influences opened the door to music for Bradley. Now as a music producer himself, he has continued to be open to all influences. He reminisces how his father used to play rock and funk for him.
“I listen to all kinds of genres. Music is very diverse. Every genre offers something to learn from, even the ones that we don’t like.”
He does however religiously follow John Mayer and Coldplay. Other than that, to keep up with the contemporary scene and discover new music, he listens to current local musicians, be it new or established. “Rather than putting on my playlist, I just play the trending list.”
The 27-year-old believes the music industry is evolving in Pakistan because “new artists are joining the industry and bringing their own flavors. Everyone gets a chance to put on their music and share their own styles. Now it’s on the musicians if they want to stick to one genre or delve into multiple genres.”
Bradley likes to collaborate with artists from all genres because “they give you something in return, to learn and evolve.”
“You get to feed off from other people so it’s a give-and-take. There are a lot of people I have collaborated with - Saad Hayat, Sara Haider, Quratulain Baloch, Noori, Fuzon and many more. I have also recorded an album for Shuja Haider,” he said. “While collaborating, everyone has to be on the same page. So, we all intend to read each other’s minds and once you begin playing, everything automatically finds its own place.”
Bradley has also played for branded shows for several years. Currently, he plays with the legendary band Strings and dedicates some of his time to individual projects.
“Recently, I did a 60-second instrumental for Red Bull. It is one of my originals and I am thankful to Red Bull for giving me this opportunity and the creative room to showcase my ability to the fullest.” https://ww.instagram.com/p/CK9AIWVHv3U/ here>
Besides that, he is working an instrumental bass symphony. He has also written three to four songs. “I just have to record them and maybe I would release one or two of them by the end of the year.”