I will freely admit that when I first met Jasmine Cain at the GHS Strings booth at NAMM, I thought she’d be taller. Her larger-than-life personality precedes her, commands any stage she sets her foot upon and demands the attention of everyone around her; no surprise that she has a loyal army of followers online and off. She’s also a genuine person, full of wit and humor, always willing to spend time with fans.
Name: Jasmine Cain
Band(s) I Play With: Jasmine Cain
Gear I Use: Warwick Basses, Ampeg Amplification, GHS Strings, Line 6 Wireless, Telefunken Microphones, Epiphone Acoustic Guitars/Mandolin.
What made you decide to play bass? I actually learned how to play bass guitar out of necessity. I had been in 3 different groups where the bass player either left suddenly or just didn’t show up. Because I was a rhythm guitar player, I could step in and play the bass lines well enough to get us through the shows, but after the 3rd time it happened, I saw it as a sign that I was meant to play the instrument permanently. Before I really fully understood the instrument, I saw it as boring. I saw it as the job that was given to the least talented member of the band just to include them, but the more I played, I realized that it was one of the most important…if not THE most important part of the band. The drummers could lay down a straight beat and get through a song, and the guitarist could noodle around the melodies, but the bass player always has to be on. The bass could single-handedly carry the band when necessary. I grew to have an incredible respect for bass guitar and good bass players. You come to find that they are quite few and far between.
How/Where did you learn to play? I’m self-taught, but I’ve taken lessons from some of the best. They may not know they were teaching, but I was taking notes the entire time. I am a lead vocalist as well as the bass player, so I paid attention to those that were doing the same thing and doing it well. Players like Doug Pinnick from Kings X and Geddy Lee from Rush were always fascinating to me. Ultimately, I got my first actual “lesson” from Russell Jackson, a blues cat from Vancouver, BC who after 10 years of playing with the master of blues (BB King) decided to break off and start his own project. He always claimed to be a player and not a teacher and had no interest in teaching anyone anything about technique, but after seeing me perform, he took a special interest in my ability and told me “If any of these knuckleheads have a chance of making it in this business, it’s you and I want to help you achieve that”. He told me I had the worst technique of anyone he’s ever met and I doubt I’ve changed a lot since then, but many of the things he taught me, I still use to this day. When I feel myself getting sloppy, I resort to what he taught me and it keeps me in check.
Who are your musical inspirations, both male and female? I grew up on country music and was fascinated with Wynonna Judd’s voice. All female country singers had pretty voices, crystal clear like bluegrass angels, and she was raw and sounded like a female Elvis to me. Joan Jett was the reason that I became a player and why I chose to have a career in rock n roll instead of county music. Pat Benatar set the bar for vocal abilities and I trained myself to sing as much like her as possible from the beginning. Chris Cornell was my songwriting inspiration. His lyrics were poetry in the most abstract ways. I’m inspired by all styles of music. I love anything that is pure emotion.
As a bassist AND a front-woman, do you feel that gives you an advantage (doing both) or is it a challenge? I absolutely see it as an advantage and a challenge. The advantage is that not many females fronting a band are playing an instrument and especially and essential instrument. It sets me apart. But it’s also an incredible challenge to lock down that groove and pay attention to the music side of it without sacrificing the performance. You have to completely split your brain and feel the music with one side and read the audience with the other. It’s a good thing I’m ADD.In an industry dominated by male musicians, do you find that this hinders or helps your opportunities? That is a constant question mark. Some male counterparts are more than welcoming of me and my talents whereas others have a real problem with me being there at all. I hear comments about how I only play the top 2 strings (hahahaha) so I don’t qualify as a true bass player. Ultimately, I think they’re just intimidated or jealous of the attention I’m getting. REAL players with REAL talent have always been really welcoming. They are too confident in their own abilities to be intimidated by anyone else. Those guys can play circles around me, but they’re more interested in sharing the love for the music rather than beating anyone down…and I’m down with that. I’ve had great opportunities by being female and I’ve been shut out because of it as well.
What is your advice on how to be taken professionally in the music industry? Be consistent. Be professional. On occasion, someone will challenge me and it’s nice to have an army of people behind me that will have my back saying “She would never do something like that”. They know that and can say it without question because I’m consistent. Take pride in your integrity. It still counts for something…I promise.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were first getting started? I studied. I read books about the music industry and I listened to people that had done it for years. I took notes. I learned a lot. But what I absolutely could not grasp for many years was that people would just blatantly lie to you. Sometimes they have a motive, and sometimes they have no reason at all, but they will lead you on wild goose chases forever just for the attention. I wish someone had taught me about how to be a better judge of character. I see the best in people and it still blows my mind to this day why anyone would want to waste their time and energy just to ruin your day or career, but they do and they always will. I just wish I wouldn’t have been so trusting of some people.With the landscape of promotion going more and more toward online interaction, how do you keep current with social media? Anybody that does it knows, it’s a full time job! I have the option of hiring an intern to keep up with posts and managing my 10 sites, but I love the interaction with everyone. I like being able to respond to everything. I don’t see it as a bother, but a privilege to be able to speak directly with the people that are supporting you and your music. It’s the ultimate gift. Basically, how I keep up with it is I just don’t sleep and I’m a fast typist….so I’ve got that going for me. I try to keep my posts fun and light and humorous. I think my fans enjoy chatting with each other as much as they do with me, so it turns into like a giant cyber living room of friends and whoever shows up joins the party and the first one to crash gets their eyebrow shaved off. It’s just like college.
Any advice for other females interested in getting started on the bass? Do it! Women have a natural rhythm. We were made for this! Besides, it looks totally bitchin’ when you’re holding a giant axe and commanding the stage. I like to joke about how I have the longest stick in the band.
What can we look forward to from you in the coming year? I’m releasing a new single called “Nightingale”. It’s basically about the misconception of love based on what you’re taught through fairy tale storybooks as a child and what you actually come to find out about love. We are going a big radio push in August and releasing a new music video for it as well. It’s an amazing song and it rocks! I can’t wait to present it to the world.