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Linda Cushma, Bass Musician Magazine Q&A


Linda Cushma, Bass Musician Magazine Q&A

Photograph by Ryan Nicholson/The Roadway Studio Project

Bass Musician Magazine Q&A with Bassist Linda Cushma

Linda Cushma

Current Band(s) I Play With:

CD’s I’ve Released/ Been a Part Of:
Oxygene8 loop1; Oxygene8 Freak of Chance; Oxygene8 Poetica; CCA (Cushma/Cides/Alexander) Not Different But Not the Same; The Brides Dalmatian Car 

Describe The Way You Play Bass:
Simple, edgy, percussive.  I watch and listen to the drummer breathe; when I can feel that and can connect with that breathing… that’s when I feel like I’m really making music.

What Made Me Decide to Play Bass:
I have a background in dance and when I began to make music, I think I gravitated naturally to the instruments that are significant in giving the music its pulse, its heartbeat.

Musical Influences:
I just love listening to the jazz standards and all the vocalists and players that to me are such great artistic interpreters.  I work out with a jazz combo in the U.s.; we’re all students that are just breaking ground with all the technical skill and information necessary to play that music well. I’m more from an industrial/art rock and experimental background and my flight into jazz has me terrorized, but I love it and realize there are many years of study ahead before I even begin to understand its complexities.

Favorite Musical Styles:
Industrial/Experimental Art Rock, Jazz, Jazz Fusion

My Bass(es):
I play a Schecter (Diamond Series).  It is small, light-weight, a beautiful metallic cobalt blue; it is passive, no active electronics.  It was affordable at a time when I was looking for simplicity, sound quality and manageable size and weight.  It is the only one I have at this time, but I am always looking forward to the day I might find another perfect fit.

My Amps and Other Gear:
Right now I am playing both Chapman Stick and Schecter bass through the Line6 Pod HD-500.  The Pod is a multi-effects pedal with amp modelling, looping capabilities and XLR out-put which allows you to plug right into a PA system and/or amplifier; the looping capabilities suit my needs both live and in the studio. I will soon do a European tour and travel with only my instrument and the Pod HD-500.  I have this wonderful flight case by Swanflight that keeps the Pod safe for travel; on-stage I keep the Pod resting on the bottom part of the case while playing; it provides professional set-up and makes tear-down very quick and easy.

Best Bass Advice You Ever Received:
Keep the beat!

Photograph by Ryan Nicholson/The Roadway Studio Project

One Piece Of Advice For Other Bassists:
I am very much a student of the bass, of music, of life and don’t have advice as much as observations.  As much fun as I have when I play, I still think that being the bassist in a band is a huge responsibility.  In my experience, the stronger the rhythm section, the stronger the band.  If the rhythm section has your back, you know you can let go and really fly.

Favorite Quote or Life Philosophy:
“Everything you can imagine is real.” ? Pablo Picasso
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” — Marilyn Monroe

Most Amazing Gig so Far:
Opening concert for the Allan Holdsworth Trio.  The band was simply amazing and their musicianship and dedication to their craft inspired me so much that I still think about that concert; it reminds me of how music can really touch others deeply.

Virgil Donati is literally a stunner on drums and with incredible Jimmy Haslip on bass, Allan Holdsworth has a profoundly indelible rhythm section that allows him to be his positively brilliant and delightful self.

Dream Gig:
Performing internationally doing what I love to do has always been my dream, so I guess you could say I am living the dream as we speak.

Best NAMM Moment:
Performing a Chapman Stick solo at Emmett Chapman’s Stick booth at NAMM and looking up to see bass/Stick virtuoso Tony Levin in the audience!  Tony is one of my all time bass heroes and he is also one of the most gracious individuals I have encountered in my musical life. When I saw Tony, my face and especially my ears felt so hot and red that I thought they would blow off my head!  Of course, I couldn’t remember what I was playing I was so startled, so I guess I can also put this answer toward your next question.

Most Embarrassing Moment on Stage:
When a lead singer yelled at me during a concert for making a mistake, right in front of the audience and right into the microphone while we were still playing the song.  But it happens — and hopefully after the dust settles, everyone involved learns a little something from an experience such as that.

Favorite Tip to Share on Traveling With Your Bass:
A favorite tip would be to find a trusted tour manager that deals with these issues all the time — if it is within your budget.  If that is not possible, I have found that preparation and early arrival to the airport guarantees you a little time to troubleshoot for the safe flight of your instruments. I feel a little more secure when I call ahead to the airline and speak to someone personally about my concerns.  I’m also finding it is worth the investment in sturdy flightcases. My Line6 Pod HD-500 has the excellent Swanflight flightcase that I can confidently take on the flight as one of my permitted carry-ons.

What Would You Be Doing If You Weren’t A Musician:
The short answer is that I am also considered a professional dancer, choreographer, print-model and actress.  It is all connected and a huge part of who I am, so I think if I ever lost my passion to perform and to make music, I would perhaps do a total flip and find a small cottage, perhaps in France or Italy, near the ocean and pursue a quiet, reclusive life, painting and sculpting; I’d leave behind the internet, cell-phones and the traffic and I’d catch up on my reading, run on the beach, listen to the waves and sit under the stars.

The Question No One Ever Asks Me, But I Have Been Dying to Share:
I often wonder which takes more courage… pursuing one’s dreams to their fullest, or being available, solid and consistent for loved ones, friends and family?  I know some people who can do it all, and I admire them greatly for it.  Being of kind but independent nature, there is an impossible streak of gypsy blood that has proven hard on my relationships, including family and friends.  On an even more personal note, the incorrigible romantic in me still feels there is a special man out there that is strong enough in his own character and passions that will not feel diminished by mine. Returning to the question, perhaps courage has many interpretations and expressions.

What You Can Look Forward to From Me this Year:
I’d like to announce that the brand new Oxygene8 CD, loop1 has just been released; also, I’ll be in Europe in May and June, sharing the stage with reknown Argentinian musicians, Stickist Guillermo Cides and drummer Alex Leys; our tour begins at Prog’Sud Festival in France; the tour includes ProgNite Festival in Italy and EnjoyStick Meeting, where we’ll be playing nightly in venues throughout Sicily, Italy.

I have also been invited to record tracks for an album being recorded in San Francisco, California in the US and work will also begin on loop2, the second in a series of musical movements by Oxygene8 with producer Steve Parrish and fun and talented guest artists.  Please visit Oxygene8 web-site for loop1 cd details and for current tour itinerary.

Wishing you much love and peace.

Peace to our world, Linda

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