LONDON: An Indian-origin doctor with the UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) decided to get musical over the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, but what started as a one-man bedroom project has been gaining popularity with booked out shows.
Gulzar (Gulz) Singh Dhanoya, 25, started the indie-rock band named Gulz during his university days as a medical student. Now the lead vocalist and songwriter of the group has a four-member group made up of fellow NHS medical professionals.
“It was a lot easier when I was at university. I had a lot more time,” Gulz told the BBC Asian Network this week.
“I decided to release some stuff I’d been working on (over the pandemic). I was really nervous and I put it out on socials, then deleted it all off my phone for a week. I was worried my mates were going to give me stick for it. Luckily, it went pretty well,” he said.
Once some of his tracks got picked up by local radio stations, Gulz started getting offers to perform gigs. He then recruited friends from University College London (UCL) who went on to perform at sold-out shows all over London and now have a tour planned for 2024.
“It’s loud. It’s pop. It’s rough-round-the-edges. But it’s sweet,” reads their website.
Describing themselves as “doctors/rockers”, the band recently released their debut EP ‘Age of Youth’ with Fierce Panda Records – a label associated with some of the UK’s biggest bands such as Coldplay and Oasis. Working around their busy medical schedules is not easy but they are committed to making it work.
“We understand that the hospital patients always come first and the need to be a bit flexible with our rehearsals. Like one week, I’ll be on the night shift and then the next week someone else will. We can support each other a bit with that. And on days off, we just focus on the music,” he said.
He admits things do get stressful amid managing hospital rotas, but the music ultimately helps.
“Every time I play a gig – and it sounds really cliched – I absolutely love it and it reminds me why I do it. There’s this buzz I get. We sacrifice a lot to do this, but it’s worth it,” he added.
He also supports the ongoing NHS junior doctors’ strike, which has been fighting for better pay and working conditions for many months now in pursuit of a better deal with the government.
“Neither industry is amazing for pay,” he notes.