Finding your passion in life can be difficult for some people to discover. But life has a way of taking us down paths that we might not have expected before. Such is the story of Dulan Thathsara, a young bassist who has consistently been gaining a following thanks to his funky grooves and smooth bass lines.

How it all started

Not from a family with a musical background, Dulan was inspired to learn music from the influence of his friends. He began learning music at a young age, but it was much later before he would pick up the bass guitar. “I was a pianist before all this,” Dulan explained. “I had no idea about the bass. It was probably late into my O Levels. I was in the school band and there was this good friend of mine who used to play the bass.”

Dulan was fascinated almost immediately, and “I just wanted to try out the bass. I didn’t initially get the hang of it, but down the line, it was just so easy to play, it was the instrument for me,” he gushed.

It wasn’t before long that he was playing at school events and other gigs, which led him to start playing with a friend who plays in a band.  In time subsequently, Dulan began his career as a freelance bassist, playing with a number of bands across many genres, from baila, to funk, jazz and beyond.

Piano to bass

With a background in piano, Dulan already had a grasp on the concepts of musical theory, which helped him in evolving as a bassist. But he agrees that it was through playing live gigs that helped him the most in mastering the bass as an instrument. “There have been a number of wonderful musicians who taught me as well, and now here I am,” he shared with a chuckle.

What speaks to you

Although capable in playing around multiple genres of music, jazz music is what he admits to be most proficient at. However, his passion remains for funk and R&B music. “I’m a guy who listens to a lot of funk music, especially in the ‘70s and ‘80s, those were the golden era for funk music. I love to play funk. It’s something that’s close to my heart.”

Growing on Instagram

“I’ve been playing live, but I wanted to reach a bigger audience, I wanted to expand and grow, but playing live wasn’t going to be the only way, and I decided why not Instagram or YouTube. I just uploaded a random video on Instagram and somehow it kind of blew up. It did give me a lot of exposure and I figured this could be something powerful; social media.”

Dulan uploads cover songs he plays with his bass on the two popular social media platforms as regularly as he can. “I try my best to make them pop out and stand out, and it just took off, and that got me a lot of opportunities to work with a lot more artists.”

“All of them have different styles to them, and it’s just very nice to try something different. You learn a lot in the process and that can be very influential to an artist.”

When the guitar is on the rack

We wanted to know what Dulan occupies himself with when not playing the bass guitar. “Nothing basically,” he laughed in reply. “I’m actually a mechatronics engineering student so I study all the time, but apart from that, I like to read, and I’m really into movies.”

He shared that engineering is something that he has always enjoyed and was a part of his life, part of it thanks to his family. And while he is enthusiastic to complete his education and become qualified, he doesn’t aim to end his musical journey anytime soon either.

Future trajectory

“I haven’t really laid down my plans per se. But I did recently start a band of my own, together with some of my friends and colleagues. I do want to expand this band and build a solo career as well. I am very much aim to be known as a solo bass player,” he shared. Dulan added that he looks forward to working with a lot of different and out-of-the-box thinkers in the world of music, those who experiment and continue to explore unconventional ideas and concepts.

Never give up

As for a message to readers who may be dreaming of picking up the bass guitar, he said, “A big misconception that many have is that the gear you use is important,” he advised. “I would say don’t give priority to your gear. It’s about your touch, your feel, it’s how you channel your musicality. Don’t get too entangled in the whole gear rabbit hole.”

“I know a lot of excellent bass players who play a very cheap bass, but bring out an amazing tone out of them. Also, do practice a lot. I know it can be boring, just don’t give up. Practice and listen to a lot of good music. If you listen to a lot of good players, you’ll start to build that language in you, and you can express it while you play as well.”

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage