Black and white image of the band GULZ.

GULZ: Meet the medics making music

Most people would consider being an NHS doctor more than enough to keep them busy, and wouldn’t even fathom balancing a burgeoning music career with it. 

But those people haven’t met GULZ. 

The four-piece Camden band is made up of medical students and junior doctors whose music has already received recognition from BBC Introducing and Amazing Radio UK and US. 

Freshly signed to Fierce Panda, an independent label with previous releases credited to Coldplay and Keane, GULZ describe their sound as: “rough-round-the-edges, but sweet.”

With further NHS strikes this week and an ever-increasing number of UK doctors moving to work abroad, GULZ’s unique story is particularly pertinent.

GULZ began as the solo-project of frontman Gulz Dhanoya, during the pandemic when he was a third year medical student at University College London. 

He bought a cheap home studio set, recorded some songs he had already written and released them on Bandcamp.

The EP quickly gained traction with regional press, and soon he was getting gig offers when venues reopened after the pandemic.

Though excited by the success, Dhanoya, 25, realised he couldn’t do it by himself and needed a band to play with.

He joked: “I’m not as proficient as Tame Impala to be able to do all that alone.”

He managed to convince some fellow medics and friends to join him, and the current outfit of Dhanoya, Jordan Theodoropoulos, 24, Andreas Brown, 25, and Charles Harris, 22, was born. 

Two guitarists from GULZ on
DOC ‘N’ ROLL: GULZ taking the stage at a sold-out show
Photo credit: Kasia Kwasniewska/Psychedelly

Ever since then, the band have been juggling music alongside their demanding duties as medical students and doctors. 

Regarding the balancing of the two time-consuming disciplines, Dhanoya explains that it is merely a matter of good time management. 

As a Foundation Year 2 doctor, he often opts for longer hospital shifts of 12-13 hours so that he has the next day completely off to focus on music; rather than having just a few hours at the end of each day.

Having previously considered dropping out of medicine to pursue music full-time before his parents stepped in, Dhanoya says that once he finishes as a junior doctor next year, he hopes to take a breather and fully invest himself in GULZ. 

Despite the large levels of industrial action that the NHS has seen this year, Dhanoya is emphatic that it has not impacted his decision.

He said: “The conditions of the NHS haven’t made me more swayed towards music. 

“I think that that is its own problem – it’s a separate thing.”

A mirror selfie of Dhanoya at work in medical scrubs
SCRUBS UP NICELY: Dhanoya on duty

These conditions relate primarily with the British Medical Association’s campaign of pay restoration for junior doctors and consultants. 

Since 2008, junior doctors’ pay has been cut by 26% and consultants’ by 35%. 

The joint strikes this week will mark the longest period of industrial action so far by consultants, and will be the seventh junior doctor walk-out this year. 

Aside from these broader issues, Dhanoya also noted the lack of accountability in the NHS as a frustrating part of a medical career.

He gave a common example of a printer in the ward malfunctioning and nobody being bothered to fix it because nobody considers it their job even though it massively impacts everybody on shift. 

Dhanoya said: “Nobody is anybody’s employer in the NHS, because the government is your ultimate employer and they’re not physically there.

“But when you’re a musician you’re working for yourself. The NHS doesn’t breed creativity, so having your own creative freedom is a big thing.”

GULZ currently have two singles out and their EP is expected to be released at the end of October. 

Featured image credit: Sam Prescott

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