Whitinsville, Ma– Bergantino Audio Systems is proud to welcome Kevin Freeby to our family of artists.
Where were you born and raised and how did you end up in San Diego, California?
I was born and raised in San Diego, California. My original plan was to move away when I was in my early 20’s, but I started getting travel gigs and realized that although there are many beautiful places in the world, San Diego was definitely the place that I wanted to come home to. I did spend a brief period in Los Angeles but when my son was born, San Diego was the clear choice to raise a family.
What makes the bass so special to you and how did you gravitate to it?
When I was young, my dad wanted to create a family band to bring my half-siblings and I closer and he bought me a keyboard. I didn’t study piano formally, I just goofed off on it as most young kids without a teacher would do. Later, I wanted to play drums so my Dad got me drum lessons and I did that for awhile. Then one day my Dad brought home a bass, apparently somebody had owed him money and couldn’t pay so they gave him a bass instead. I picked up the bass and never put it down, so at the risk of sounding a bit cliché, the bass chose me. Lol!
How did you learn to play?
I was self-taught in the beginning and then I started getting private instruction. After a while, I stopped taking private instruction and went to a local college as a music major. I’d like to mention that I started playing in a band almost immediately after I picked up the instrument. I believe that there is no substitute for playing with other musicians, no matter what level of player you are.
Are there any other instruments you play?
I’ve dabbled on enough other instruments over the years to know that I am a bass player. Rather than spending the time on another instrument, I try to apply those concepts to the bass, in my own way. For instance, harmonic concepts that come from piano and my rhythmic concepts that come from drums.
How has your playing evolved over the years and have you made changes from your start until now?
My playing has changed drastically over time. My first band was a pop-punk band, followed by a prog-rock band and then I started studying and playing jazz in college. That’s when I became a hard-core fusion nerd. Shortly thereafter, I started playing with a ton of world music artists. A lot of music from other cultures use odd meters which was something I was familiar with from prog-rock. Even though each individual rhythm might not be approached in the exact same way, I was still comfortable playing in rhythmic structures outside of 4/4. I am still madly in love and passionate about all of the music mentioned but I have a family to feed, so I’m playing a lot more pop music than anything else. It’s really fun and has its own unique set of challenges, which I enjoy.
Prior to Covid-19, you had a lot going on with other bands. Can you share some of this with us and how the future plans look so far?
It’s funny that this question comes up, because I am actually leaving the house for my first gig since the whole COVID-19 pandemic began. First and foremost, I am a freelance musician, so I go wherever the phone calls take me and thankfully I get to work with a lot of amazing people and talented musicians. The only band that I am actually a member of is my band called, Side Hustle. That band is a group formed out of like-minded musicians and we all met playing freelance, and it just clicked. Our goal is to play and record original instrumental music as well as original arrangements of popular vocal tunes. Since all of us have similar schedules, the band really works. We write and record as much as we possibly can.
I know you started a YouTube channel and are offering fantastic complimentary lessons during this lockdown. Can you share with us what you’ve been working on to pass the time during COVID-19 and what you have learned during this time so far?
I know that this pandemic is a very, very serious situation and my heart goes out to anyone that has suffered any pain or loss. I want to make sure that nobody misinterprets or misunderstands that, especially because that seems to happen more and more these days, but the quarantine has been a very positive experience for me. I really got back in touch with my creative side musically, as well as, gone back to my roots as a music teacher. I’ve been teaching for 20 years now and I have always enjoyed helping people grow and accompanying them on their journey. A lot of my students had to take a hiatus during quarantine because they suffered a financial loss and due to social distancing. I am still teaching some students remotely and that fixed the social distancing aspect, however, the thought of a musician that still had the desire and the passion to learn but was unable to do that, really bummed me out. A lot of us have so much time on our hands and knowing that this time could be spent learning and growing, I decided to upload free lessons onto my YouTube page. I understand that it might not be not much when compared to the bigger picture but at least it’s something.
One of the things you shared with me is that this lock-down has allowed you to be more creative than ever as you are able to work on your craft and your art with the extra time on your hands. What encouragement can you offer others that are going through this pandemic to keep people motivated?
The first thing would be to understand that if you are happy and healthy then this “downtime” is a gift. I typically gig 250+ times a year, so I’ve had more time on my hands in the past 2 1/2 months than I’ve had in the past 2 1/2 years. Knowing that this all will eventually come to an end, it would be a bummer not to have anything to show for it. If you look at the positive side, this is a time for exponential growth, a time that might not happen for any of us once everything picks back up. That is definitely something that motivates me, hopefully that can helps others stay motivated as well.
How did you find Bergantino and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?
I’ve known about Bergantino and have been playing Bergantino off and on for a long time. I originally played Bergantino cabinets before you all made amplifiers…back in the day when the cabinets still had the silver mesh grills. I loved those cabinets and used the hell out of them. I remember being at a rehearsal space in L.A. before a tour and making a bet with the other band members that my 2 little 1×12 cabinets sounded better than the big 810 cabinet that was back-lined. Obviously, they called me crazy, so on one of the breaks I went and grabbed my two 112’s out of my car: Long story short, I won the bet.
In full disclosure, I did take a break from Bergantino and played another companies amplification for a while, but once I heard that Bergantino was making amp heads to go with your cabs, I immediately went and checked them out. Needless to say, I loved what I heard and now I’m back.
Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.
Anybody who knows me or has seen me play in the last 8 years would know that I play F Bass instruments exclusively. I have four of their instruments in possession: A BN 5 (fretted 5 string), a BNF 5 (fretless 5 string), a BN 6 (fretted 6 string) and a VF 5 P/J (fretted 5 string). As of right now, the VF 5 is my go to instrument.
Who are your influencers?
This is a really tough question. I feel like it would have been an easy one to answer before YouTube took over the planet. I really like hearing new voices on the instrument that I haven’t heard before, regardless of style or technique. Obviously, I had the standard, go-to legends of the instrument like James Jamerson, Jaco, Victor Wooten and, of course, Anthony Jackson but I also like players that are absolutely amazing but aren’t as well known like Carles Benavente, Matthew Garrrison and Dominqiue Dipiazza.
Can you share more about your studio work?
I’m a full time freelance musician and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to make a living doing that. This consists of playing whatever gigs come my way whether its studio work, club gigs, private events, large or small stages, crazy instrumental fusion music or backing up vocalists playing dance music or singer/songwriter stuff. Thankfully, I do work in the studio quite a bit but I have also just revamped my home studio and am currently doing a good bit of remote recording sessions from there. I love doing studio work because it forces you to be extremely versatile. It’s not a choice, it’s either be well-rounded or don’t eat, and I enjoy the challenge. Studio work also allows me to stay fairly local to southern California. I have a family that I love very much and want to make sure that I’m there for them as much as possible. This is something that can be tough as a musician, especially if traveling a lot, so doing studio work has allowed me to stay close to home and that’s very important to me.
Favorite things to do besides play bass?
I know that it’s similar to playing bass, but when I’m not playing bass or gigging, I enjoy writing music in my spare time. I also enjoy exercising and spending quality time with my family.
instagram – @kevinfreeby