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Bassist Carter Lee – Why Is Music Important (The Panel Experiment) by Brent-Anthony Johnson

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Bassist Carter Lee – Why Is Music Important 1

Bassist Carter Lee – Why Is Music Important (The Panel Experiment) by Brent-Anthony Johnson…

 

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Carter Lee and I am a musician. Specifically I play bass, produce music and I am currently developing an outreach program in Los Angeles to teach under-served youth. You can find me online at www.carterleemusic.com

Who are your primary musical influences, and at what age did you begin pursuing music as a vocation?

My influences seem to change every couple of years! But, hearing Jaco’s first record really swayed me into a life-long musical pursuit… I was 19 at the time. I am currently really into Thundercat, Pino Palladino, Tim Lefebvre, Derrick Hodge, Chet Faker and James Blake

Can you tell us about your earliest musical listening and performance experiences? Also, what projects are you participating in most recently?

I remember the first concert I saw was Harry Connick Jr. I think I was 8-years-old and I’m fairly sure I fell asleep! I actually really dig him now… but, at the time, I was probably just out past my bedtime. I didn’t really perform at all until I got to college, and then I did all the time. I started studying music at a small school and was one of only a handful of bass players – which put me into a ton of playing situations, most of which I wasn’t ready for! This was, by far, the most progression I had in my education. Having just moved to LA, I’m still sorting out the playing side of things. Back on the East Coast I was working with Shea Rose, Moruf, Rhys Tivey and Joe Marson to name a few.

What are you listening to musically, in the past 12 months that has enhanced the way you think about music and your craft?

The past year has been incredible for records that place the onus on musicians’ performances! In particular, Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”, and David Bowies “Blackstar”, are two records that really allow the musicians to shine! It’s been really exciting to listen to and to feel that artists and producers are really coming back to experimenting, and allowing performers do what they do best!

Bassist Carter Lee – Why Is Music Important 2

How would you describe your perfect tone for the instruments your regularly record and perform on? Also, are there any particular gear choices you’ve made along the way that has enhanced your tone for the better?

My perfect tone would be mellow, dark, warm and of course first and foremost, supportive. I was extremely lucky in that the first bass I owned was a vintage Fender Jazz Bass that my father had purchased years before I was born. I haven’t found anything that comes close to the way it plays and sounds. There’s just something about the way the wood dries out over time that gives the bass some clarity that new instruments don’t have. As far as gear choices… a couple years ago I started using flat wound strings (D’Addario Chromes to be exact) on the J. They fit more of the situations I find myself in, musically – especially when I’m supporting a vocalist! There is only a subtle difference. But, there’s more soul in those flat wounds than any other string I’ve used!

If we wanted to listen to you, which recordings would you suggest? Along with that, which recordings are your proudest of, and why?

I’m very proud of the Tiger Speak material that’s out there. I wrote the majority of the songs for those records. I’m also very excited about upcoming releases by Rhys Tivey and Moruf that I played on. Rhys’ record will be out shortly, and I can say that it is some of the most challenging and exciting music I have ever played.

Bassist Carter Lee – Why Is Music Important 3

Are you involved in educating others? What is your teaching philosophy? Also, if you could change one thing about the way music students learn, what would that be?

I have always loved teaching and I am very fortunate to be on the development side of the Loud Program here in LA. In addition to teaching privately, I also developed a course on band leading that you can find at soundfly.com. My ideal as a teacher centers around putting the students on a path toward finding their own voice. It’s easy to teach by the book, and, of course, there are a lot of fundamental elements that every student needs. But if you can get a student to realize that the goal is individualism (and a sound you can call your own) they will never tire of trying to find those qualities. I would change post-secondary schools’ approach to music education. I’ve gone to small schools, and big schools, and there seems to be something very impersonal about a music education at large institutions.

How does your personal musical voice directly relate to the function of the basses? Also, what are your main instruments?

I love being able to change the harmony or rhythmic content of a tune on the fly, and the bass allows me to do that!

The ‘63 Fender is my main bass, and I also love my Micro-Korg for synth work. I also have a 1990 Fender J 62’ reissue that sees some time.

Describe your musical composition process.

It usually starts with a melody that I sing into my phone, that I will, later, sit at the piano and build around. Other times, I will start by building a groove in LOGIC and then add harmonies. I’ve been writing with just the bass more frequently, as well. Wherever I am when an idea hits me will most often dictate how I start to piece it together.

How does music affect your culture and immediate environment?

The majority of my friends are musicians, my wife is a musician, and my entire life is surrounded by music. I find that since I am so involved in music I need to try to find things that can take me out of it in order to balance my life.

What would you be, if not a professional musician?

I’d probably be involved in golf in some way.

What is the greatest sacrifice you’ve ever made while in the practice of being a musician, and how did that sacrifice affect you?

Moving away from my family and friends. I am, originally, from Canada and miss it for sure. Being in California has allowed me to meet and work with some incredible musicians.

Bassist Carter Lee – Why Is Music Important 4

Describe your standing practice regimen. Also, what technical (and musical) aspects of your playing are you currently working on?

This changes a lot, depending on the time I have… But, I try to read a lot! I read the Bach cello suites or James Jamerson transcriptions, and I definitely transcribe as a regular practice element. Then, of course, there is the practice of playing along to records! I’m always just trying to refine my sound and trying to develop my own identity in that respect.

What does music, and being a musician, mean to you – at the deepest level of your being?

It means everything to me! It’s given me almost everything I have in my life over the past ten plus years.

How important is it to understand the Language of music?

If you want to be a musician, reading is huge! It goes so much deeper than just being able to read music… A musician needs to have a wealth of knowledge of albums, grooves, and musical textures that you can access at any time. I think that anyone trying to better understand the language of music should try to produce more. That will get you thinking about music in a way you never thought you could and as bass players it will allow you play in a way that serves the song.

How do you collect the series of seemingly random influences and articulate them through music?

I don’t actively think about what is influencing me. I know I’m aware of what I want to put into my music, but I try to let it happen as naturally as possible.

Can music ever truly become commercial? Why, or why not?

I think we’re always going to have musicians who make music primarily for commercial gain, and those who make music only because they want to share their art. Then, there are those who are fortunate enough to be some form of both musician types. The Internet really fractured the ability of some musicians to make money, while it also gave a huge platform for those that just want to create and present their music to the world. I’m holding out hope that we will find more stability for selling music in the future. As always, no matter what the landscape is, there will be room for those musicians making great music.

Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

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Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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Gear News: Bergantino Welcomes Marc Brownstein to Their Family of Artists

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bassist marc browstein

Bergantino Welcomes Marc Brownstein to Their Family of Artists

Bergantino Shares: The innovative bassist/sonic explorer/DJ Marc Brownstein discusses his life of touring with Disco Biscuits, the current tour with the new album “Revolution in Motion, and more!

By Holly Bergantino

Marc Brownstein is the king of “Trance-Fusion” – a subgenre that his band Disco Biscuits has been in the center of for the past two decades. As a founding member of the band from their days at UPenn, Marc has quite the experience under his belt, and each tour has gotten more and more exciting. Disco Biscuits is currently on tour with their new album Revolution in Motion, a full multimedia experience accompanied by a 25-minute animated film that tells a story of intergalactic travelers finding their way on Earth. 

D. J. Brownie! What made you want to be a musician and start playing bass and who drew you to it? 

I was drawn to music after John Lennon was assassinated. I was raised in NYC and the city was just going crazy. I was 7 years old at the time and my thought was, wow why is everyone freaking out so much, this guy must be really special. And so I started to check the Beatles out and that was the beginning of my journey with music.  

A question from one of your fans and fellow bass players Karina Rykman: “How do you keep your bubble of positivity intact and thriving”?

Well it’s funny she should ask. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the run of positivity we are experiencing now began right at the beginning of tour at the beginning of January 2023 when we had Karina opening for us for a week. I can say that her positive energy on tour definitely left its mark on the rest of our tour. Some people are so naturally happy and positive that it leaves you feeling that way, sometimes permanently! 

Besides the bass guitar, what other instruments do you play? 

I dabble with piano, guitar, and I can make my way around a drum kit if I get into it for a few weeks. I’ve played flute and saxophone as well at different times. I also play the double bass. But I would say Piano is my second instrument at this point. I play everyday. 

What is your favorite (and least favorite) thing about touring? 

The best part of touring is the 4 hours on stage with the band. But also getting to visit so many great places all of the time. That’s the silver lining.  The only thing I don’t love about touring is missing my family. 

Tell us about your first music teacher. What lesson did you learn from this person and still use today? 

My first music teacher, Mrs. Koslov, 2nd grade, I just was at her funeral a few weeks ago. I eventually became best friends with Mrs Koslov’s son and we stayed in touch for my whole life. She taught me a lot but really she was the one who gave me the courage to perform. My first public performance ever was a piano version of Eleanor Rigby. 

What was the first bass you had? 

This is tough. I think I had a standard Ibanez jazz style bass first. Within a year or two I got an American Fender Jazz bass. 

What are the basses you have and use now? 

My main bass is an Elrick 5 string by Rob Elrick. I also have a Q5 Modulus and an Alembic 5 as well. Oteil (Burbridge) sent me a Roscoe custom 6 during the Pandemic that I like to play. I also have a Sire Marcus Miller, a newer American Fender Jazz bass, a custom Ibanez SDGR, an Ibanez BTB and an Elrick 5 string Fretless bass which is my main bass at home. 

Who were the musicians who inspired you and what qualities do you admire about them? 

I was deeply influenced by Phish when I discovered them in college. I admired their ability to mesh jazz, classical and rock Improvisational styles. I was very inspired by classic jazz musicians. Miles. Monk. Coltrane. Dexter Gordon. Cannonball Adderly. Mingus. This is the generation of musicians that laid the groundwork for what we do now. 

You studied and started the band Disco Biscuits at UPenn. Tell us more about the origins. 

The band just sort of linked up in the quad (dormitory) and we started to set up our gear and jam for fun. Within a short time I realized the guys I was playing with were really talented and so I applied to the New School for jazz and went and spent a year crash coursing music at a high level so I could return to Penn and start a band with them. 

You have a new album “Revolution in Motion,” that you’re currently touring on. How is it going? 

The tour has been amazing. It’s one of the best tours we ever had in our career. We sold out more than half of the shows and are receiving really great feedback across the country. 

I watched the video on YT for Revolution in Motion. The Choreography, production, color, cartoon characters, and theme were so much fun. Space aliens and psychedelic art, pop ups like a comic book, and you in your alien jump suit with your baseball cap were amazing. Loved! How was this collaborated?  

We have a co-writer on this project named Joey friedman. He conceived of the concept for the album and he had a very specific vision for what the visuals would look like. He spent hours and hours with the animators (Blunt Action) and the AI animator (Todd Kushnir) working through each iteration to make it come to life in the way that it was conceived. 

How would you describe the music you create for Disco Biscuits? 

We always hoped that the music we created would be the weirdest and craziest music of all time but we describe it as Trance-Fusion, which was a name that was drawn from jazz-fusion, the mixing of jazz with rock and roll instruments. We found our own sound by mixing trance music with rock and roll instruments, hence the genre title. It was renamed jamtronica many years later by the folks over at SiriusXM who started a radio show called the Jamtronica show to highlight acts from our scene. I was the host of that show for the first 3 years. 

Describe the creative process when you write new music. 

These days the creative process is a team effort. Usually we start by combing through improvisational sections of music from the tours to see if we can find any melodies or chord structures that are song worthy. When we find it we bring it into our DAW (ableton) and creating a grid. This is easy for us because we often play to a time clock on stage. From there we start building out the structures of the new piece of music while Joey and maybe me or Aron or Jon will start working on some lyrical concepts. Within an hour or two we start to record some of these initial lyrics and melodies and Jon usually starts to adapt them and tweak them to make them comfortable for him to sing. Usually within a few hours we are able to walk away with a very advanced demo of a new song. It’s been an extremely fruitful experience that has left us with albums worth of the best material we’ve had in decades. 

The lighting for your shows is amazing. Who does the lighting design work and choreography for the tours? 

Our new LD is known as Herm, but his name is Alex. We know him as Herm though. He came to us from the band Twiddle at the beginning of this year and has totally revitalized the visual elements of the stage show. He’s a really great fit and we feel grateful to have been linked up with such a massive talent. It was luck and timing and some might call it fate. 

How would your bandmates describe you? 

My bandmates would probably describe me as energetic and talkative and headstrong but also they might notice that I’ve become really good at going with the flow and backing their creative instincts. They may further describe me as anxious and nervous but may also notice that these elements have been remediated of recent. Mostly I think they would describe me as loyal and dedicated. 

How did you find Bergantino Audio systems? 

I was first introduced to it by Ed Grasmeyer who I know as Mike Gordon’s tech in Burlington. I was playing a show at Nectars and needed a backline and Ed came and set me up with the ForteHP2 and I was blown away by the tone. I then noticed Karina Rykman was using Bergantino as well and that’s when I started to think I needed to get in contact with the company. Karina was opening for the Biscuits on Boston and that’s where I had the chance to demo the forte hp2 in the context of the biscuits stage show. I haven’t looked back since that night. 

Tell us about your experience with the Forté HP2 on the tour? 

There are so many things that I can say about it but the most notable is that I’m not struggling to hear the frequencies that I want to hear on stage anymore. I used to have to boost the bass everywhere. In an EQ pedal, on the preamp on the actual bass. But every time you add a little of those low frequencies in those other places you risk degrading the tone of the signal. With the Forte HP2 there is a punch button that gives me exactly the frequency I’m looking for. 100 hz. 4 db. It’s perfect. 

Did you think Jim talked too much when you met him in Boston? 

I will never notice when someone talks too much because chances are I’m out talking them. 

What’s your process for dealing with performance anxiety? 

I used to self-medicate for this purpose but I was recently in touch with a psychiatrist who has helped me regulate my own chemical imbalances and I have found that my performance anxiety isn’t really an issue when I have the proper amount of dopamine in the system! 

Imagine that you’re at a party and it’s a little stale. What’s the “party trick” (or hidden talent) that you’d bust out to liven the place up? 

Before the app existed I was known as a real life fruit ninja. I take a big knife and people throw fruit from across the room and I chop it in half in mid-air. It’s not the safest party trick anymore because I lost vision in my right eye a few years ago and I’m not as accurate as I used to be! 

What hobbies do you have outside of music? 

I love sports. I love reading. I love word games. I love gardening. I love hiking/running/moving. My biggest hobby was snowboarding for many years but I’ve grown injury prone and stay off the mountain these days. 

What is the most trouble you ever got into? 

Well, I managed to stay out of trouble until college. But before weed was legalized I had a series of run-ins with the law and spent a night in the clink in Amherst Mass during my freshman year fraternity pledge trip. Luckily this isn’t an issue anymore for those of us who don’t drink or smoke cigarettes but prefer a little of the wacky tabacky to cool down. 

What is the message you would give to your fans? 

Well I give them so many messages all the time but the most important one that I try to remember to keep constant is a message of gratitude. Thank you so much for sticking with us through thick and thin, through ups and downs, for decades now you have allowed us to live our dreams and have the most blessed lives possible. 

How do you feel social media has impacted your music? 

Social media is a double edged sword. It has allowed us to create a strong community where everyone feels like a family but for someone like me who gets addicted to things easily, I really have to be vigilant with practice and writing and other aspects of my life not to spend the whole day scrolling and wasting the time away. 

What is your favorite song of all time? 

Right now my favorite song of all time is probably a short and beautiful little ditty by Labi Siffre called Bless the Telephone. I would suggest everyone take the 1:29 to listen to it and feel the bliss. 

What did I miss for a question that you would like to share? 

Bass players don’t really get to play solo shows, at least not my style of bass, so I’ve had to learn how to DJ in order to perform by myself at times and I would suggest coming out to see a DJ Brownie show at some point. 

Last one! Describe your perfect meal! 

I love to eat great meals. I’m partial to Asian foods but the perfect meal to me is one slice of pizza from Freddie and Peppers on 72nd and Amsterdam in NYC. PERFECTION. 

Follow Marc Brownstein:
Instagram: @marcbrownstein
X (formerly Twitter): @marc_brownstein
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marcbrownstein4
www.discobiscuits.com

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Interview With Bassist Curly Hendo

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Interview Wity Bassist Curly Hendo

Bassist Curly Hendo…

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, bassist Curly Hendo has been super busy. Starting with dance from a young age, Curly took up bass shortly after and has been going strong ever since. She has collaborated with numerous acts worldwide and is an in-demand session/touring bassist and musical director.

Join me as we learn about Curly’s musical journey, how she gets her sound, and her plans for a very bright future.

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Artist Update With Bassist Derek Frank

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Artist Update With Bassist Derek Frank

Bassist Derek Frank…

Many of you will remember the last time I chatted with Derek Frank was back in 2017. The main thing that impressed me was how busy Derek was and how he juggled playing with many huge acts.

Now, I am happy to hear that Derek launched a new album last March titled “Origin Story” where he digs deep into his roots and pays homage to Pittsburg.

Join me as we get caught up after all these years and hear the details about the new album, how Derek gets his sound, and his plans for the future.

Photo, Stephen Bradley

Visit Online:

www.derekfrank.com
www.instagram.com/derekfrankbass
www.youtube.com/derekfrankbass
www.facebook.com/derekfrankbass

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Interview With Bassist Graham Stanush

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Interview With Bassist Graham Stanush

Bassist Graham Stanush…

Return to Dust is keeping Grunge alive and well! They have a new self-titled album that went out on May 3rd, 2024 and will be super busy promoting this project in the near future.

Graham Stanush is the bass powerhouse driving their sound and adding vocals to the mix. Join me as we hear all about Graham’s musical journey, details about the new album, how he gets his sound and their plans for the future.

Visit Online:

linktr.ee/returntodust
instagram.com/returntodustband/
twitter.com/Returntodustbnd
youtube.com/@returntodustband
tiktok.com/@returntodustband

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