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Keep an Eye On With B.A. Johnson: Anthony Crawford

BAJ: One of the most difficult aspects of interviewing (in my opinion) is getting to the subjects soul. Then again, one of the benefits is being able to talk about whatever I’d like (Laughter). With that, tell us about your compositional approach to the tune, “Next Phase”? You got a great feel on that particular tune, and I’d love to hear more about your head-space as you tracked it. Nice nod to “Giant Steps” in that tune, also!

AC: “Next Phase” was originally just a track produced by one of my good friends, drummer Armond Brown. He came up with an idea to use the first few chords in “Giant Steps” and produce a hip-hop track out of it. I was feeling the concept and we collaborated and came up with “Next Phase”.

The melody has Eddie Van Halen and Doug Wimbish written all over it, and I used a lot of Eddie Van Halen-style tapping in the melody. Also I used a detuned whammy approach to the song – which is something Doug Wimbish is known for!

BAJ: Who are some of the players on the CD? Also, I noticed you have a “bass player” in your live ensemble. Did you also track with a second bassist? Finally, what’s in store for the next release?

AC: I have two really good friends who produce in Memphis who helped me with this project. Jonathan Richmond is a great producer and keyboardist. He has played with a lot of people and has produced hits for Angie Stone. Marque Walker is also s slamming producer. He has produced and played for a lot of artists. I also have the Regiment Horn Section on the album. They have played and toured with Nelly, Nas, Fantasia, Mary J Blidge, Akon, Brandy and they played the horns on Boondocks. The keyboardist on “Giant Steps” is Austin Peralta. That guy is only 18-years-old!! I did not track with a second bassist on “Urban Jazz”. But, the bassist who plays in the live band is Nate Holleman. I am currently producing his bass album, by the way! I don’t have any plans right now for a follow-up release at this time. But, I am always open to work with different producers with different musical backgrounds.

BAJ: What’s in your iPod today? Also, how often do you find yourself “switching gears” in your listening habits? I mean, do you go through phases of listening to a particular genre over another… and then finding yourself making a conscious fluctuation? Or, does the music you create live in a harmonious fusion within yourself?

AC: I have a wide spectrum of music in my iPod… Mostly rock! I also listen to Al Di Meola, Bela Fleck, Brandy, Lost Tribe, and the late Wayman Tisdale just to name a few. I don’t really go through genre phases. If the song is good… then I will listen to it! I listen to music from a songwriter point of view and a producer point of view. I guess that is why I listen to so many different types of music. Everything I create musically comes from my listening habits.

BAJ: What are those aspects of your playing that your seeing the greatest change in? Also, what compositional style are you yet to attempt? Finally, how do you compose most often?

AC: The aspect of my playing that I see the greatest change in would probably be my melodic approach. Playing melodically has been more of a challenge than just shredding. I try to use 2-hand tapping in a way it makes sense and tells a story, and I see that getting better the more I practice it! When I compose, I tend to first play chords on the bass. I may have a certain chord structure or just a line, and I take that and create a story behind it. Sometimes I may hear a groove in my head and I will produce a track based on that groove and then play around with the groove until it makes sense. Sometimes I may just use tapping to create a song.

BAJ: In addition to your musical tools, what software and non-bass oriented gear are you using most often these days?

AC: I am using Pro Tools and Reason. I use Reason for the midi stuff and Pro Tools for the audio stuff.

BAJ: How are you managing your career at this juncture? Also, Which websites and online features have you found most beneficial to your career? What advice could you share with our readers who are hoping to establish their own career in this wide world of music?

AC: Right now I have a wonderful new manager named April Simmons. She is working really hard for me to this album off of the ground. FaceBook has been a very beneficial network for me! I meet a lot of industry people though FaceBook. I also have a MySpace page. But, for some reason, everyone seems to be on Facebook. (Laughter)

As far as advice goes… I would say to know what you want to do in the music industry. Write down your goals and make a plan of how to get to them. Read them before you start your day so that your goals can be in your everyday life. The more goals we put in our subconscious… the more (probability) we will act on them. Research your potential audience and find out what websites they visit; what social web sites are they members of, which magazines they read, where they hang out, etc. Spend time networking in those places where you could be most productive. Always market and promote yourself.

BAJ: What are your greatest influences outside of music? How important is being a “good person” to your career? Finally, is there anything you’d like to share that we haven’t covered in our brief time together?

AC: My greatest influence outside of music is surrounding myself with positive people. If I am around good people, that energy affects me in a positive way. Also, being a good person is very important to me! No one wants to work with someone they don’t get along with. If we’re easy to get along with, and have a good head on your shoulders, we will go far. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. If you have a vision, you should work towards it. Research everything you need to know because you are doing it for your self. A really close friend of mine named Liane Schmidt, is the author of “Make The Most Of Your Time” said, “For anyone working toward making their dreams and goals come true, it is crucially important to find, create and utilize self-motivating tools that will ensure your success. Without them, the arduous journey can oftentimes become more difficult than necessary or even feel close to impossible to achieve”. Thanks for the interview Brent!

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