Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Bassist Jermaine Hall and I have been playing for a grand total of 24 years to date! (Laughs) It’s been a blast and I’m looking forward to many more great years going forward!!
Who are your primary musical influences?
My influences are: Mike Pope, Tony Grey, Tom Kennedy and Janek Gwizdala. These bassists (and great people) are also my music mentors, and I have grown beyond imagination because of their wealth of wisdom and knowledge. These guys have shared a lot of music with me as well as sharing with the world, and each one of them means a lot to me.
What are you listening to musically, in the past 12 months that has enhanced the way you think about music and your craft?
Actually, I listen to a ton of World music and Middle Eastern music. While in high school, I was part of the school chorale and I began to get exposure to a wide variety of music. So, I have always been drawn to world music, and especially Middle Eastern music. Listening to that music, among other styles, has opened me up beyond words as it relates to music, and also how I compose music. I’m also a huge fan of electronica and that stuff is insane, man!
How does your personal musical voice directly relate to the function of the basses? Also, what are your main instruments?
I have always loved natural bass tone without any coloration from pedals or effects! Well… until I found out about guys like Matt Garrison and Tony Grey a few years ago. Immediately upon hearing them, I began to experiment with different effect pedals and software. But, I still try and stay true to the natural bass tone I’ve developed over the years… especially the bridge pickup tone!
My main bass is the custom Marleaux “Mbass” 6-string fretted bass guitar. It is, by far, the best bass guitar that I have ever owned and/or played. Gerald Marleaux took an idea I had envisioned for a bass to look, feel and sound, and turned it into a reality! It’s totally amazing!!! I’m also using Tecamp amplification’s Puma 500 and M2x12 cabinet. I have played through lots of rigs but this one really “takes the cake”. Thomas Eich and Glen Kawamoto are also great guys to work with! So, in short, Tecamp ROCKS!
Describe your musical composition process.
I do a lot of writing with my bass, and I keep a recorder near me at all times. I may hear a melody in my head and have to sing it into the recorder until I’m able to sit down and create something around it. I may also go into a studio and press the record button and just start playing until I hear something that stands out. It’s a really fun process and it never gets old to me.
How does music affect your culture and immediate environment?
It has a great effect on my environment. I’m a church musician from my beginnings. So, of course, 90 percent of my time while at church is filled with playing music. I can’t tell you how much people love to just sit and listen to everything musical we play in the course of our set. My pastor (Bishop Paul S. Morton) is a Gospel artist, as are many individuals involved in the music department of the church.
I couldn’t imagine life without music. There is absolutely nothing like seeing people listening to and enjoying the music that we play! That doesn’t go for just church, though, it also goes for any genre that I may play! I enjoy playing so much, and it’s just awesome to be able to do it as a vocation.
What would you be, if not a professional musician?
(Laughs) I get that question a lot, and the answer may leave some people in shock! I would, without a doubt, be a pro wrestler!
I was an amateur wrestler in High School, actually! I would regularly skip classes and go to the wrestling room. I’ve still got it, and I still train and work out, honestly. I was City Champion in my weight class, and I also competed in a few matches outside of school. Needless to say, my parents weren’t having that: at all. (Laughs)
I didn’t completely understand exactly why my parents didn’t want me to wrestle, because wrestling was a big deal in our family. We watched wrestling in our home for hours. Anyway, I think I would’ve made it… but my folks begged to differ.
What is the greatest sacrifice you’ve ever made while in the practice of being a musician, and how did that sacrifice affect you?
The sacrifice was the process of needing to pull away from everything (and everyone) while devoting myself to music. Needless to say, family and friends chose not to be in my life because of my choice. But… I’m a living, breathing product of hard work and it’s paid off! I wouldn’t change anything about most of the choices I’ve made! I believe that nothing should come between you and your passion – especially, if it’s a true and honest passion you hope to build into a career! Give life your all and stick with your goals! Stay with it, even if things get a bit interesting in life – and we all know life can get interesting! (Laughs) If music is your genuine calling, and you are determined to become great at what you’re trying to do, don’t ever give up!
Describe your standing practice regimen. Also, what technical (and musical) aspects of your playing are you currently working on?
I’m a night owl, which means I’m usually up late at night. So, I use that time to shed (3 hours or so) while the world sleeps. Once you start digging into what you’re doing, time flies! I usually work on playing through changes, dexterity, phrasing and focusing in on being very crisp and clean.
What does music, and being a musician, mean to you – at the deepest level of your being?
Being a musician means (literally) everything to me! The fact that I have been given the gift to create music, that can tap into people’s lives and bring joy, bring peace, and give them inspiration, means everything and I don’t take it lightly. It makes me happy beyond belief! Music is a powerful thing, man! I must admit that music has made me who I am, and I have devoted my life to be the best at bringing great music to people all over the world.
How important is it to understand the Language of music?
The Language of music is just as important as knowing how to walk, speak, listen and (in musician’s case), how to work as a unit with your peers and have a mature musical conversation – either in rehearsal or when shedding without yelling or shouting over each other. Who would want to sit and listen to someone yell in an attempt to get his or her point across – particularly in a musical conversation? So, knowing when to speak, or when not to speak, is important as it relates to understanding the Language of music. Knowing what to play, and what not to play, is as important as knowing what to say… or what not to say.
Can music ever truly become commercial?
Yes… it can. But, that means that the artists will have to completely embrace more of what the consumer wants, musically. However, that’s not always a musically positive process. No true musician wants to give-in to being so commercial to the point of losing who we are as creative artists… Or losing the music that makes you happy to be a part of.