Despite popular belief, being a successful musician isn’t all about “living the dream.” In reality, the life of a musician is a life of sacrifice. Musicians usually have to prioritize their music before friends, family, a beautiful IKEA-furnished condo and a standard nine-to-five office job. Life for most musicians involves a lot of time being on the road, living in hotels, unpacking equipment and doing it all over again in a new city. The Vancouver-based global mashup group Delhi 2 Dublin knows this life all too well. Currently on a cross-Canada tour, the Celtic/Punjabi fusion band plays, on average, 150 to 200 shows a year, performing in the United Kingdom, North America and the Pacific Rim.
“My band is my reality,” says Tarun Nayer. “There is no escape, but at the same time I find it so awesome because four people know me better than anyone else in the world.”
Nayer plays the tabla in Delhi 2 Dublin, an Indian percussion instrument, and also provides electronic sounds for the band. He explains that being in a band causes people to be more genuine, since they always have to be around their colleagues.
“If you are just living your own little nuclear existence in the world, going to your cubicle every day, [then] nobody is with you all the time. There is always an escape,” says Nayer. “But with a band, that is who you are. We know each other.”
Delhi 2 Dublin started as the musical equivalent of a one-night stand and turned into a six-year relationship. The group got together for an artist collaboration event in Vancouver in 2006, where their unique, genre-bending sound garnered a lot of attention. Their fourth album, Turn Up The Stereo, was released this summer.
“We like how punk challenged music. That is what we are doing,” says Nayer.
Delhi 2 Dublin’s style sits somewhere between electronic and fusion and, despite being influenced by Celtic and Punjabi music, it never truly imitates. Their fan base is evidence that their music targets multiple demographics. Concert-goers range from dancing grandmas, hardcore ravers and friends getting dragged out for the night.
The band’s fan base isn’t the only thing that is constantly changing, however — Delhi 2 Dublin’s five members have been growing and progressing through their shared experiences. The band itself is a product of five diverse musical backgrounds, which contribute to its sound and vibe. The musicians constantly challenge one another through performances, writing, experimenting and touring.
“You’ve really stepped into a Power Ranger version of yourself,” says Nayer to fiddle player Sara Fitzpatrick, who, according to Nayer, used to be “weird and mousy as shit.”
“You found this onstage persona that you can inhabit. I think in some ways, you are more comfortable in that persona than you ever were — like you’ve found this goddess you can tap into and inhabit.”
Nayer shares that electric sitar and guitar player Andrew Kim also came out of his shell over time. When the band first started performing, he was overweight and used to hide at the back of the stage. But one day Kim appeared onstage in a kilt with his shirt off and never looked back.
“Now he’s a fucking sitar hero,” says Nayer.
Memorable moments like this might not happen every night on tour — in fact, touring can get more than a little repetitive. But for Delhi 2 Dublin, it’s worth it because they have all made the choice to live for their music, despite the difficulties that presents. For them, the life of a successful musical group is far from just being about the attention and popularity.
“It is about a little bit of luck, a whole lot of grace and a shit-ton of hard work,” says Nayer.