He can’t read musical notes, and he claims that his guitar playing technique sucks. Nevertheless, Dhruv is a natural, and a passionate singer whose music is absolutely worth listening to. His music, influenced by Steven Wilson whom he describes as ‘too good to be popular’, is quite diverse and cannot be easily placed amongst popular music genres, while his lyrics are often quite deep and heavy contrasting with his light-hearted personality.

He has written on subjects such as drug abuse and violence against women, themes that he strongly feels against. “I have experienced the pain of losing a loved one as a child due to smoking, and that’s probably what inspired me to write about the futility of smoking and doing drugs.” However, he does write light-hearted and peppy songs too, like a very flattering song about Dutch girls that he’s currently penning!

Dhruv was born in Calcutta, India, and went to a boarding school in the South when he was 5. He has lived in many parts of India. “Due to the lack of a friend-circle in my home town, summer vacations could often be boring. That’s when I started to explore with the harmonium and keyboard, trying to match the sound on their keys with the sounds in my head, and found that I could play songs intuitively. Years later I heard Hotel California on the radio; I tried to nail it on the keyboard but it didn’t feel right, and that drove me to learn to play the guitar as well!”

Dhruv chose The Netherlands as his next destination for several reasons. Apart from the immense reputation of Erasmus University, it was his desire for a new adventure that brought him here. “I wanted a new experience and so ruled out going to countries like the US, Canada, Australia or the UK, where all the Indian students usually end up. Rotterdam has an enriching cultural diversity and the people have a good command over English as well.” So far he hasn’t been disappointed in his choice. “No not at all, Holland is a wonderful country, I’m loving it here!”

“Of course, I would love to be a professional musician,” Dhruv states. “Touring the world with a band wouldn’t be too bad,” he laughs. When asked about the possibilities of being famous, he says, “Right now, I’m still a nobody but I believe that with fame comes a responsibility of being a good role model. So if it were to happen, I’d love to make myself a catalyst for positive change. Our world needs it.” Not that he will take any guitar or piano lessons to help accomplish that – “They aren’t worth the investment, since I am primarily a singer/songwriter and not a lead guitarist. Besides, I don’t need to be a technical wizard as long as I can communicate my feelings through my words.” No, what he needs more, he thinks, are like-minded people to write music with. He considers being a one-man band a limitation. “To grow and improve, one has to play with and learn from others. Only so far, I haven’t been able to find people to write songs with because most of them have different tastes.”

Still, he would easily swap a job in line with his studies for a career in music without blinking an eye. “Earning a lot of money is not my aim. Music is what makes me most happy in life. If I were to choose between finding the love of my life or being a successful musician, I would opt for the latter, no doubt about that!”

‘Not for the faint-hearted’

Dhruv Bhan (24) from India is doing a Master in Finance and Investments. He is a self-taught musician who doesn’t shy away from the heavier subjects in his songs.

text Gert van der Ende photography Michel de Groot