Bergantino Artist Daniel Sing

With incredible technique and a clean style, bassist Daniel Sing is laying a lot of lowdown groove and it’s coming all the way from Down Under. Not only a bassist but he is an educator and musical director based in Sydney, Australia. Whether playing electric, upright or key bass, he keeps a regular schedule working and teaching diverse genres. We virtually sat down with Daniel and he’s what he had to say.

Daniel, what have you been up to?

I’ve been teaching music, practicing a lot and spending time with my family. COVID restrictions are easing here in Sydney. It’s been amazing to get together with old musical friends and colleagues again, as well as meet new ones, too! For all the challenges the year has presented us, it has pushed me and many around me to innovate and create new things.

Where were you born and raised and how did you end up in Sydney, Australia?

I was born and raised in Southwest Sydney and proud of it! I’m privileged to have grown up and live in a city rich in diversity and opportunities.

What makes the bass so special to you and how did you gravitate toward it?

Bass represents the perfect marriage of rhythm and harmony and I continue to learn and understand this more profoundly with every musical experience I have.

The reason I originally gravitated to the bass is probably different to why I still love and play it. I picked up the instrument relatively late, at 15 years old, after seeing a school friend play it in music class. I wasn’t a musician at all and I remember feeling awe inspired when I heard it. I naively thought to myself, “It only has 4 strings? One note at time? How hard could it be?” The rest is history.

How did you learn to play?

It took a while to convince my parents that bass was not just a fad for me. With some persistence, I was fortunate enough to get lessons from some bass teachers through high school who helped me find my voice on the instrument. Like all of us, I’m forever a student of music. Every musical experience teaches us something, even if we can’t always quantify it.

Are there any other instruments you play?

I double on upright bass and keyboard bass, which I really enjoy. I’ve also had formal lessons on guitar and I’m currently learning the trombone too.

How has your playing evolved over the years and have you made changes?

As I’ve learned to really listen more on stage and in the studio, I find myself playing less, but with more intention and conviction. Anytime I pick up the bass, my aim is to play parts with a compositional mindset from start to finish even if it’s just driving eighth notes!

More specifically, in the last few years I’ve focused on further developing my harmonic vocabulary as well as control over note lengths in my articulation.

Describe your playing style(s), tone, strengths and/or areas that can be improved on the bass.

At risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, I think I’d describe my style and sound as soulful and melodically funky.

Nowadays, I’m ok with knowing my strengths (and weaknesses) as a musician.

Where do you see the instrument 5, 10, or even 20 years from now?

As I scroll through my socials, I see the next generation of super young bassists playing at such a high level, which is both scary and exciting at the same time! I think it’s an interesting time to learn music, there are really no limits anymore to finding musical inspiration.

It’s also amazing to see companies like Bergantino continue to innovate and push the envelope for what is possible musically.

What four bass players are your influencers?   

In terms of bass players, in no order I’d say, Sharay Reed, Anthony Jackson, Marcus Miller and James Jamerson.

What are you currently working on? 

I’m co-writing some instrumental music set to be released early 2021 and I am recording bass for a Christmas album. Rehearsals are about to begin for a conference I’m directing in January. I’m also in the early stages of a new side project but can’t mention much yet.

How did you find Bergantino and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?

I’m thankful to have a Bergantino dealer thirty minutes from where I live. Even before hearing them, I’ve always thought the design of Bergantino amps and cabs are beautiful. I’ve spent over a decade messing around with various rig changes and finally, Bergantino feels like home. I’m constantly impressed by how full range the sound is. My Bergantino rig reproduces details in my playing like no other amp I’ve ever played.

Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

My number one is definitely my custom F Bass BN5. I also have a super nice Fender Custom Shop 1960 P strung with flats that I love.

What else do you like to do besides playing bass?

I love spending time with my wife and our 18-month old daughter. I’m a part of my local church community, where I am the musical director.

I also enjoy collecting LP records, automatic watches, trying new whiskies and wearing sneakers!

What have you had more time to work on or explore during the COVID pandemic?

In the past few months I’ve been trying to up my video and lighting chops and I’m realizing what a rabbit hole it is. I’m definitely enjoying the process, though.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I want to say a big thank you to the team at Bergantino Audio Systems for welcoming me into your artist family and also to Bass Gear Direct here in Sydney for all the support they’ve shown me. I’m excited to be representing Bergantino here in Australia.

Please follow Daniel:

www.instagram.com/dsing90

www.facebook.com/danielsing90

 

 

 

 

The magical and extraordinary Bergantino Artist “Ayumu” has taken time to share a bit of his background with us. Ayumu’s innovative playing coupled with his stunning videography is something we always look forward too sharing!

ayumu

 

Where are you from?

I’m from Hokkaido, Japan.

Ayumu, you have so many things going on as a creative artist, can you share with us what you have been working on?

I am an instructor and provide clinics, I work on producing videos for Instagram and FaceBook for my social media channels, and I also write columns in Japanese bass magazines.

What makes the bass so special to you particularly, and how did you gravitate to it?

I hated music class in school when I was a kid. I was really bad at the instruments we were supposed to learn, so I received nothing but failing grades. But when I was 13, a friend invited me to play in a school talent show and I tried the bass with a more playful attitude. I didn’t know that music could actually be fun up until that point, so when I managed to learn a song on the bass, it was exhilarating. We started a proper band after that, and I just got more and more into the instrument.

Describe your playing style(s)?

I want people to be able to tell that it’s me just from listening, so I play in a very unique style.

Have you taken any lessons?

I went to a music college for two years and learned the theory.

The videos you produce are stunning. Can you share your inspiration here on how your goals as an artist and objectives are established here?

Thank you. I just play whatever I want to play. In terms of style, I’ve never had a specific person who I aspired to imitate, so I just enjoy myself while searching for the style that feels most like my own.

Can you also share the amount of time and work it takes to put a video together: preproduction, filming and editing. 

It takes a long time! Transcription and performance are the easy parts for me, but I don’t know much about video editing, so that delays my process. I want to surprise people, so I’m meticulous about my performance and about the videos. I sometimes wonder if I’m the first person to shoot a bass video with a drone.

Because I’m aiming for very particular productions, the costs of photo studio space and human resources add up as well. These videos aren’t necessarily funded by the companies whose products I endorse, so I lose money on most of them.

How do you see the role of a bass player in a band?

These days 7and 8-string guitars are becoming more common, and there are some bands now that just don’t have a bass at all. So I think we bass players have to start rethinking our position. If the guitarists can cover the lower registers, then maybe bassists can switch it up as well.

What else do you like to do besides playing bass?

I used to swim before I started playing the bass, so sometimes I’ll go swimming at the gym to clear my head. I also like soccer and often go to watch games.

What are you looking for in sound and quality from your amp and how does the Bergantino B|Amp live up to that expectation?

My ideal amp is one that brings out my style. Since I’ve started using the Bergantino B|Amp, my sound has become very clean.

What is it you like about the B|Amp in terms of sound, tone, etc? 

The high resolution audio means I can hear each individual note clearly. Even when I play chords, which tend to sound muddy on the bass, they ring out very clear. I like the fact that you can fine tune the EQ settings and easily create presets. The Bluetooth foot switch is nice since it gets rid of the stress of cables.

What do you feel will change or would like to see happen with bass amplification in the next 5 years?

I think amps will change as bass performance styles become more varied. I’m sure many players with new styles will emerge in the next five years, so I imagine amps will evolve together with those trends.

What basses do you currently play and do you play any other instruments?

I’m using a custom model from Dingwall Guitars and do not play other instruments.

Let us know what you’re currently working on (studio, band, side projects, etc.)

Various productions have stopped due to the coronavirus. I have some videos and recordings already taken, but I don’t know when they will be announced.

What is your best advice to aspiring musicians trying to make their way in the music business?

There’s no right or wrong in music, so don’t worry about what other people think. Explore what you like with everything you’ve got.

Thank you Ayumu for taking the time to answer these questions for us.

Please follow Ayumu:

Instagram: @Ayumu_bassist

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/ayumubassist/

https://www.ayumubass.com/

  

 

Bergantino Artist Mitch Friedman shares his story with us!

Whitinsville, Ma– Mitch Friedman has been a Bergantino Artist for a few years now.  We’re excited and proud to offer you a glimpse into how he got to where he is today.

 

  1. Where were you born and raised, Mitch, and how did you end up in Brooklyn, NY?

I was born in New Hyde Park, NY on Feb 2, 1987, and after living in Fresh Meadows, Queens, with my parents as a baby, we eventually settled in a house in Smithtown, Long Island. In 1996, when I was 9 years old, my family relocated to Coral Springs, in south Florida, which is where I really began my musical journey. In high school, we relocated to Tamarac, the next town over, but my dream was to always return to New York to “make it” as a musician. South Florida was always a very music-heavy place, with tons of great players, but I couldn’t really envision a career for myself there. Symphony orchestras were folding, I didn’t speak Spanish and I didn’t grow up playing Latin music, so that scene seemed like an impossibility for me, and with the exception of the hardcore/punk/rock local scene, which I wasn’t into, it felt like the beach-bar scene was all that awaited me, and I wanted more. I also envisioned myself as a studio musician, and it didn’t appear like there was a lot of that kind of work happening down there. Or if there was, I didn’t know how to find it.

I auditioned at several out-of-state universities and conservatories for classical double bass performance with the hopes of getting into NYU, and they not only accepted me but gave me the largest music scholarship in the history of the school, which was crazy. So in 2005, I moved back to NYC, and lived in Greenwich Village, which was incredible. After living in a bunch of different spots around Manhattan for the next few years, I eventually moved to Brooklyn, and I’ve been there ever since! I love Brooklyn. Every neighborhood is vastly different, and all the great food and culture you can imagine is here. I now get why some people never even think of leaving!

  1. What makes the bass so special to you particularly, and how did you gravitate to it?

My dad was an amateur guitarist, and I grew up with him playing around the house all the time. He gave me one of his guitars after we moved to Florida, and I dove into music head-first. The following year, I heard the album “Traveling Without Moving” by Jamiroquai, and I had the realization that bass was one of the driving forces of all those great songs and my ears just seemed to be tuned to those bass lines. When I got to middle school, I joined the orchestra, and both the sheer size of the double bass and the fact that nobody else wanted to play it drew me in. Trying to get good at it felt like a game. It quickly seemed like I had found my “thing.” Before I knew it, I won the spot of principal bass in the all-state orchestra. Around the same time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers had released their album “Californication,” and I became obsessed with the idea of playing bass guitar. I bought a cheap fretless Carlo Robelli, assuming it would be similar to the upright, which it kinda was, and between the two instruments, I was hooked. Bass became the main focus in my life, and becoming a rock star like Flea was all I could think about. As I got deeper into different kinds of music, I realized how bass was really the foundation of everything. Tying rhythm together with roots and harmonies, I realized that pretty much every band needed a great bassist to be “good.” Eventually discovering guys like Jaco and Victor Wooten, it was clear that bass could even be its own thing, and the creative possibilities seemed almost endless. Still, it’s that locked in groove and pocket, which makes the song dance, that made me fall in love with music, and controlling it from the bass perspective just seemed like the perfect spot to be in.

  1. How did you learn to play, Mitch?

After maybe a year or so of teaching myself double bass, I was invited to audition for the Florida Youth Orchestra, which was a collection of some of the best young classical musicians in south Florida. When I got the audition music, I couldn’t even read it! I had never seen eighth rests or half rests before, and they looked like ancient hieroglyphics to me. My parents found me a private teacher, an incredible Juilliard grad named Jackie De Los Santos, and I began having weekly lessons with her. I continued to study with her until I left for college. Bass guitar was my secret passion, and I pretty much taught myself how to play, learning songs from my favorite bands by ear and applying what I was learning on double bass, since the electric felt like a toy in comparison. Every morning before school, I would sit on the couch with my fretless and play along with every music video that would come on TV. It didn’t matter the genre or the artist; I would just play along until I figured out the song. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was probably the best training I could have done on my own.

I was extremely fortunate to meet an insanely talented bass player in high school named Adam Lucas, who introduced me to Jaco, Wooten, and Herbie Hancock. Adam taught me a lot of the more intricate techniques that I probably wouldn’t have figured out easily on my own. He played guitar in a band called Way of the Groove, which featured Jaco’s sons, Felix and Julius Pastorius on bass and drums, and I got to jam with them a number of times and had Felix show me note for note how Jaco played a lot of his tunes. It was awesome, and looking back on it, I didn’t even realize how fortunate I was at the time. Sight reading was always one of my best “things,” as I always made it like a game, and that also prepared me for future work as a session player. My mantra was always “never turn down an opportunity,” which led me to all different kinds of musical experiences, and it still does to this day. I didn’t ever want to find myself in a position where I felt like I couldn’t “cut it” in any musical situation, and that thought process has allowed me to be prepared for anything with confidence.

  1. Are there any other instruments you play, Mitch?

So like I said, I started on guitar, but I’m not really that great. I can play chords and solo well enough for recording, but I would never feel confident playing guitar live. I can also play cello decently well, but again, I’m not that great. Bass has really been my main thing, and I never strayed too far from it. I always wanted to be great at piano, but I’m so bad, it’s not even funny. At NYU, I was required to do four semesters of it, but it was beyond embarrassing, and I even flunked two of those semesters. It was bad. But my rule is, if it has strings, I can probably figure it out! I also sang a lot of backup vocals over the years for different acts, but it’s been quite a while now since I’ve crossed into that territory.

  1. You have quite the career that began at a very young age. Can you share some of the highlights you are most proud of?

When I was 13, I got to perform at Carnegie Hall with the Florida Youth Orchestra, which was an incredible experience. That same year, a violinist friend’s mom approached my dad at a Florida Youth Orchestra rehearsal and asked him if he was interested in a gig that her son wasn’t available to play. It was a trio gig playing light classical background music for Donald Trump, at his dinner table at his famous Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach. We decided to do it, and with the help of my teacher Jackie, I was able to put together a folder of about three hours’ worth of music. I played the cello parts on bass. I hired two great violinists who were in high school, and we performed under the name The Palm Trio. We got to meet Donald, who was nothing like the man we see today on TV, and at one point, he even got up from his table of guests and asked us if we were hungry. He personally went into the kitchen and came out a moment later, awkwardly carrying a huge tray of cheese and veggies. He told us to let him know if we wanted anything else. At the end of the night, we were each handed checks for $750. I had never seen so much money at one time, and my dad and I decided to keep going with it.

The Palm Trio continued to gig around south Florida for the next five years, with my dad as our manager, performing at senior living facilities, wedding ceremonies, cocktail hours, and coffee shops. We were sort of a novelty act because of our ages, myself being the youngest and playing this huge bass, and we must have done close to 500 gigs before we disbanded when I left for college. We even got a record deal at one point for a Christmas album and sold thousands of copies. When I was 15, I became principal bass of the Florida Atlantic University orchestra, and was the only musician there still in high school. That same year, I also joined my teacher Jackie as co-principal of the Boca Ballet, doing a whole season of the Nutcracker, becoming the youngest musician ever employed by the company. I was technically too young to work at the time, since you have to be 16 to work in Florida, so they paid Jackie for me, and she gave me the money.

The following year, my high school symphony orchestra won a Grammy for a recording we did of Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet.” A Grammy showed up at school a while later, and we were told that we could get individual Grammy’s with our names on them for $2800 each. Some kids got them, but my family was way too broke to afford that, and I just forgot about it. Years later, I met a woman who worked for the Grammy’s, and I asked her if that was a real Grammy or just a scam by the Grammys to make money. She told me it was absolutely real, and even if I didn’t buy one, I was still an official Grammy winner! It was a weird way to win a Grammy, but I’ll take it!

The summer before I left for NYU, I was invited to live in Vaison La Romaigne, France, for a couple of months, at an inn for traveling musicians. I got to tour around the south of France playing chamber music at 6th and 7th century cathedrals, and it was a mind-blowing experience, having never left the country before. I realized that touring was an incredible way to see the world, and it became one of my main focuses after I got to NYC.

  1. How has your playing evolved over the years and have you made changes from the start until now? Can you tell us about those changes?

My playing has absolutely evolved over the years. In the beginning, it was about playing as hard and as raw as possible, a la Flea. As I got more into Jaco and Wooten, my focus became more on technique and solo playing. There was even a time when I felt more comfortable slapping than I did using my fingers, which seems crazy now. When I got to NYC, I learned VERY quickly that nobody wanted to hear that. Bass was all about supporting the song or the band, and it took me several years to really bang that way of thought into my head.

As I started to gig in NYC’s downtown hip-hop scene several years later, I discovered “Voodoo” by D’Angelo, and my whole world got turned upside down. I traded in my active jazz basses with round wounds for vintage P-basses with flat wounds, and I never looked back. I would never say technique isn’t important, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked to record over a reference track a random producer played bass on and I felt like their reference track was infinitely more tasteful for the song than anything I would have instinctively come up with. So, as I’ve gotten older, the whole “less is more” thing, which I used to roll my eyes at, has really become my mantra. Finding that perfect medium between what’s tasteful for the song, while still implementing my little flavor and making it unique, is the ultimate goal. Guys like Anthony Jackson really do that unbelievably well, and it’s absolutely an art form. To serve the song perfectly, yet as soon as you hear the bass part, you go, “Oh, that’s for sure AJ.” It’s so easy to overplay, and I often listen back to recordings I’ve done from years ago and just put my head in my hands. So I guess evolution-wise, that’s always my goal: to be ever more mature in my playing, while still being able to be me.

  1. What are you working on now, Mitch?

Years ago, I was doing a lot of touring, but suddenly, my main band at the time, Soulfarm, began to significantly slow down for some reason, and my main touring act, Crystal Bowersox, an American Idol runner-up whom I served as musical director for a couple of years, no longer had the label support to continue taking a band on the road. I had recently purchased a condo in Brooklyn, and now I was sitting at home all day wondering how I was going to eat and pay this mortgage. I was even flying back to Florida for months at a time in between gigs just to save some money, mooching off my mom. It sucked. You don’t realize that when you start touring all the time, people sort of forget about you in NYC, and they either assume you’re still out on the road, or other guys steal your gigs, but it’s not like most of them paid that well to begin with, anyway.

The thought of returning to the club scene, playing multiple nights a week with all different artists for $100-150, for two rehearsals and a gig, just seemed daunting, and I’d be busting my ass for not enough money. Sure, there’d be some great music, but I had bills to pay! I didn’t know what to do, and for a minute, I really thought this was the end of my music career, at least doing it full time as I had been for years. Just as I was preparing to rent out my condo and move back to Florida to go into real-estate or something of the like, I got a random phone call from a Hasidic Jewish guy in Brooklyn. He told me he had seen a video of me on YouTube, and he wanted me to join his wedding band. I had done a handful of Jewish wedding gigs back in the day, but they were pretty brutal. I’d have to lug my amp, my bass guitar, and my upright for the cocktail hour, and a stand, where I’d be given a giant book of songs and have to flip through them at random via numbers being thrown up by hand. They were insanely loud, and I often couldn’t really hear anything I needed to, and I’d go home exhausted with my ears ringing. But I needed the money, and I told him I’d be there. It seemed times had changed, as I no longer needed an amp, my upright, or a stand, and everyone was now on in-ear monitors and given iPads, which were controlled by the band leader. All I needed was a bass and a good preamp/DI. I could now hear everything, and the quality of the music had gone up exponentially. I loved it. Not to mention, it paid incredibly well. Within a week or two, my phone was ringing off the hook with all kinds of contract and gig offers, and before I knew it, I was the main bassist in the scene, working five nights a week, playing with at least ten different bands. Then came the big concert gigs, as well as the studio work, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been featured on several platinum-selling Jewish records. I had become THE guy.

It’s been almost seven years now, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve met some of the best people I know, there’s virtually no egos on stage whatsoever, and everybody just wants to have a good time, sound great, and get paid. What more can a working musician ask for? Over the years, the business has gone through a bunch of changes, and the freelance thing has sort of shifted into set bands, but I’ve still maintained just about the same schedule while playing with one main band, and popping in with three or four other bands whenever my main band isn’t working. Concerts have slowed down a bit, but there’s still a decent amount of recording work, and I’ve never been busier. It’s really been a blessing, and it has allowed me to not only stay in NYC, but carve out a nice little career niche for myself.

My passion project for the last few years has been a vintage video game music big band called ConSoul with a bunch of my friends who are all incredible musicians. We don’t really make a lot of money, but we’ve done some great gigs at comic-cons and video game music festivals, as well as some incredible live-stream concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have a ton of great content on both Spotify and YouTube. I’m also attempting to design the ultimate tube/class D hybrid bass amp that doubles as a preamp/DI with a friend of mine who’s a brilliant amp tech, but it’s been extremely challenging and is going to cost me a lot of money. It’s definitely worth it, but this whole pandemic/quarantine thing definitely set me back a bit. I’m hoping 2021 will be a kinder year, and I’ll be able to make some more headway on that front.

I’m also writing a book! Definitely uncharted territory for me, but it’s shaping up to be sort of a “do’s and don’ts” of being a pro sideman in the 21st century, as well as my story of all my failures and accomplishments over the years. I’m really doing it just because I wish I had read something like it before I made the decision to be a musician professionally, not necessarily to discourage anyone, but maybe help clarify certain things, and help others avoid some mistakes I’ve made and get a better sense of what the music business is like these days.

  1. How’d you find Bergantino, and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?

I first discovered Bergantino in maybe 2002-2003 at a local south Florida music store called MAE. I had recently learned about higher-end boutique gear from reading Bass Player magazine, and I had my eye on both the Bergantino HT322 as well as the Epifani UL-310. MAE had them both, and I spent a whole day A/B-ing the two. I was blown away by both the massive low end as well as the clarity of the HT322, but ultimately, I chose to go with the Epifani, as it was much lighter in weight, and I thought it would be the better choice for gigging without a car in NYC when I eventually moved there. After arriving in NYC, I started hanging out at Rudy’s Music on 48th Street, and fell in love with the Bergantino HT115. It’s maybe the nicest-sounding single 15ʺ cab I’ve ever heard to this day. When the Bergantino NV series came out, it felt like the NV215 with that 6ʺ mid-driver rather than a tweeter was made for me. I still have mine, and it’s an incredible cab, especially with a big, fat tube amp, like my old Trace Elliot V6.

I had an endorsement with Euphonic Audio for several years when I was doing the most touring, but after getting into the Jewish wedding scene, I stopped using amps completely and sold off all of my gear. My main rig now is a collection of super high-end tube preamps/DIs. I wanted to play at home and have a rig just in case a gig came up that I’d need an actual amp, and I discovered the perfect solution. The now discontinued Bergantino IP112/EX112. With a 1000-watt power amp built into the cab, I could go XLR in from whichever preamp I wanted, and get the exact sound I was hearing in my in-ears but live through speakers. For smaller gigs, I could just bring a pre and the Bergantino IP112, and for bigger gigs, I could bring the Bergantino EX112 as well. The clarity and low end from just two Bergantino 112s was mind-blowing, and they’re my favorite cabs ever. I even almost bought a second rig just in case something happens to them! I’ve been incredibly impressed with both the new Bergantino forté and forté HP heads, and the whole upgradable features via USB is incredible. I know a lot of guys who swear by their Bergantino B|amps, but I’m honestly the worst with technology, and I just need simple stuff that I can plug and play, but I really can’t wait for some kind of Bergantino DI pedal eventually that I can use on my in-ear gigs! So, get to work, Jim! Just kidding! But seriously….

  1. Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

I’ve had so many basses over the years, it’s insane. I even started a little business when I was 19, buying and selling vintage Fenders around the world. That enabled me to own and play some of the most incredible basses on the planet. My first unforgettable bass that I loved for years was an all-original ’69 Fender P-bass that I toured around the world with. It was just perfect. Not even sure why I sold that one. For a few years I was an Alleva-Coppolo artist, and had some incredible basses, including one made for Jerry Barnes of Chic. Eventually, I became a Fodera artist, and went through maybe six or seven incredible Foderas. The holy grail was Anthony Jackson’s personal Presentation 6 #9. I had never even played a 6 before, let alone a 36” scale bass, but it just felt and sounded so incredible, I knew I had to make it my main axe. I toured with it for several years before it had an untimely accident, and I had to sell it, broken, to a collector. Still a tough one to think about. I went through an incredible Hofner phase and had some really rare ones, but eventually, I got back into the vintage Fender world, and have owned some of the most incredible pre-CBS P-basses ever made. I’ve sold most of them now, with the exception of Shoshana, my prized all-original ’61, which is one of the greatest basses I’ve ever put my hands on, and I still do most of my recording with. I also got to own an incredible ’52 P-bass (serial #0038) for a couple years, with that infamous Tadeo Gomez neck, and just owning a piece of history like that was incredibly cool. These days, I mostly play my Olinto basses, which are handmade in Brooklyn by my good friends, Mas Hino, Isaac Baird, and Jimmy Carbonetti under the La Bella strings brand name, and they’re the closest feeling and sounding boutique P-basses to pre-CBS basses I’ve ever experienced. They’ve made me a ’55 copy, a ’59 copy (which is my main gigging bass), a 5-string copy of THAT bass, and a copy of Shoshana, my ’61, that’s about to be finished. About a year ago, Jimmy made me a “signature model” bass under his Carbonetti brand name that we call the Constantine. It’s a 30” scale hollow body 4 string featuring a roasted alder body, mahogany back, roasted ash heel block, flamed maple top, roasted maple neck, and a roasted Birdseye maple fingerboard that morphs into a floating pickguard design, which I’ve never seen before. Three custom wound humbuckers, a 5-way switch, giant turquoise inlays, and a super unique, never-before-seen string-through method, where the strings come up through an open hole on the top of the body, allowing the use of standard length strings despite it’s short scale size, really make the Constantine a one-a-kind instrument. The coolest part was right after it was finished, we were visited by the one and only, Willie Weeks, who fell in love with the bass and asked to have one made for him! I couldn’t think of a better way to validate it!  To know that a legend like Willie Weeks, one of my all-time bass heroes, will be using MY signature bass is just mind blowing!

  1. Who are your influences?

Originally, I was obsessed with Flea, but I can’t say Stu Zender from Jamiroquai and Rocco Prestia from Tower of Power weren’t also tremendous influences. My dad was a huge TOP fan, and I was raised listening to cassettes of them in his car. They were even my first live concert at 3 years old! By high school, it was Jaco and Wooten, as I fell in love with both Weather Report and the Flecktones. I still think Jaco’s work with Joni Mitchell might be his best, especially the album “Mingus.” Stanley Clarke soon followed with Return to Forever as did Paul Jackson with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters. I even wrote two music theory papers in college dissecting RTF’s record, “Musicmagic” and Herbie’s record, “Sunlight.” The Headhunters’ records WITHOUT Herbie are incredible as well. Nathaniel Phillips from the band Pleasure was also a tremendous influence on me throughout college, but after I dropped out and got more into hip-hop and neo-soul, I became obsessed with players like Pino Palladino and Meshell Ndegeocello, and I eventually fell in love with James Jamerson, who I consider the greatest bass player of all time.

The busier I became as a working bassist, I admit that I kind of stopped listening to music like I had done in the past, which I sometimes regret. I really stopped caring about what other famous bass players were doing, and trying to come up with my own stuff and style became more fun to me. Several years ago, I got really into Steely Dan and their songwriting, and after hearing Anthony Jackson on “Glamour Profession,” I went down the AJ rabbit hole. I never quite understood his soloing, to be honest, but his groove work and bass line writing on all those Chaka records is holy ground, in my opinion. Most recently, I discovered an old defunct band from the late 70’s/early 80’s called Pages, and both the bass playing and songwriting of Richard Paige really blew my mind, not to mention his singing! At this point, I’m really open to what anybody is doing. After a certain point in skill, pretty much anybody can get the job done. It really becomes a matter of taste and personal style, so I feel like I can always learn something new from watching and listening to others! Sometimes, I’m so sick of hearing myself and my “bag of tricks” that it’s super refreshing to hear somebody else’s take on something, even if they’re not super famous.

  1. I know you also work with La Bella Strings as director of Artist Relations for their Olinto basses. Can you tell us more about that?

About 12 years ago, I got my first string endorsement with Black Diamond strings, a small mom-and-pop string company out of my home state of Florida. They make GREAT stuff and gave me basically a 50% off deal on whatever I wanted. A couple years later, my good friend Tim came to visit from Hong Kong, and he brought me a set of La Bella’s new Rx nickel rounds to try. I fell in love with them. When I started playing my 36” scale 6 string Fodera, I needed custom length strings, and Tim told me to reach out to La Bella to see if I could get the Rx nickels in 38ʺ winding. That’s how I met Eric Cocco, who is the VP of La Bella strings. He not only offered to make me custom sets of strings, but he offered me an incredible endorsement deal. I signed the contract and went to go meet him at the Guitar Shop NYC, which was on Orchard Street at the time. I had met Mas Hino once before at a party, but I didn’t realize he was the head luthier at Eric’s shop. We all hung out and instantly hit it off.

A few years later, I had a really scary incident while flying with my beloved ’61 P-bass, and I decided it was time to find another bass for my fly dates. I remembered that La Bella was making these Olinto basses, but I had never played one before. I asked Eric if Mas could make an exact copy of my bass, and he told me he could, but I should come down to the shop, which was now located in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, and try out this red Olinto bass they had just finished. It was so incredible, I bought it on the spot, and it quickly replaced my ’61 as my main bass. It sounded just as great, and the neck was unreal. After buying another few used Olintos, I decided to put in an order for a custom one, and it was the first one they had made with roasted body and neck woods as well as Brazilian rosewood for the fingerboard. To this day, it’s maybe the nicest Olinto I think they’ve made, and it’s been my main bass for 4 years now and counting. Eventually, I pushed Mas to make me their first 5-string, and now it’s a production model.

I was convincing so many friends and players to get Olintos, that it just seemed to make sense that I start working for the shop in some capacity. I now manage the Olinto Instagram account, as well as take and process orders, and deal with new customers as well as those on our artist roster. It was always a dream of mine to work with an incredible bass gear company who made stuff I truly believed in, and to work with such magical people like Mas, Eric, Jimmy, and Isaac is a dream come true. How many people get to say their co-workers are some of their best friends? We’re still an incredibly small company, and I think a lot of people don’t actually realize that, or even how small of a company La Bella strings is, but we’re constantly coming up with new ideas, new models, and I hope to continue with these guys to watch it grow. They’re really making the best pre-CBS spec P-basses on the planet, and if anybody would know by now, it’s me! What’s really special is just how much passion these guys have for what they do. It’s truly inspiring.

  1. Favorite thing to do besides play bass and eat sushi?

Ha! Well, anyone who knows me knows how serious I am about sushi. I even jokingly told a friend recently that at this point, I really only play music to support my sushi habit! The quality of some of these omakase places we have here in NYC is staggering, and I’m kind of happy more people aren’t hip to it or don’t want to spend that kind of money so I can always make reservations! I even took a trip to Japan this past year and blew an ungodly amount of money just eating my way across some of Tokyo’s most famous spots to see how it compared. As incredible as it was, I was happy to learn that some of my favorite spots in NYC are right up there with the best! If you love sushi and you haven’t tried places like Omakase Room by Tatsu or Sushi Noz in the city, you’re really missing out! But great food of all kinds has always been a huge hobby of mine, and NYC is one of the greatest places to eat in the world, hands down. We have the best of everything! I’m also a tremendous nerd when it comes to gaming, anime, and comics, so whenever I’m not gigging somewhere or eating sushi, that’s most likely what I’m doing. Many people don’t know I was a sponsored long boarder at one time, but unfortunately, I gave it up in fear that I would injure myself and ruin my career playing bass. I still miss it sometimes. I’m also a classic Florida beach bum at heart, so anytime I’m not working during the summer, you can most definitely find me at the beach or in the water!

Follow Mitch Friedman on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mitchthebassplayer/

About Bergantino Audio Systems:

Bergantino Audio Systems has been dedicated to developing and building the highest quality audio products and bass guitar amplification systems since 2001.

We have received numerous accolades within the musical instrument industry and continue to look forward with our designs and our unique approach to developing products.

https://bergantino.com/

Bergantino Artist Jacob Smith has become very well-known in the music scene with his bass playing skills and lessons on Instagram but he is far more than just a social media sensation.

Jacob Smith has become very well-known in the music scene with his bass playing skills and lessons on Instagram but he is far more than just a social media sensation. Jacob is a smooth operator who is composed well beyond his years. Born, raised and currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Jacob Smith is a bass player, composer, producer, instructor and session player. We had a chance to sit down with the modest master of musicianship to get a glimpse into his upbringing and why he loves the instrument so much. 

What makes the bass so special to you and how did you gravitate to it?

The bass is something that feels like it has always been there with me, and it just about has. I’ve been playing since I was nine years old and from around age of fourteen, I knew I wanted to play bass for the rest of my life.I originally wanted to play drums and like so many other musicians, so did the rest of the students in my class. I gravitated to an instrument on the sign-up page with no names beside it: The electric bass. I came home the next day and my dad had a Squier bass waiting for me and I instantly fell in love. 

Who were your influencers and how did you even decide to get involved with music? 

My family has an intense passion for music. My dad played guitar and sang at church and at home a lot. He always had a guitar in his hands it was a part of everyday life when I was younger and my sister played some guitar and clarinet as well. This was a big part of why I gravitated towards playing an instrument. The first day I had a bass in my hands I played for a few hours and couldn’t put it down.

What genres of music do you like? 

I love just about all styles, especially when done well. The music I perform the most would be Gospel, R&B, Funk, Soul, Rock and Pop. My own personal music ends up falling more Into the Jazz Fusion category.

Describe your style of playing, tone, strengths and weaknesses, that can be improved on the bass. 

I would definitely say I have some strengths in the JacoPastorius style of playing.  That is what I am best known for on Instagram. What I am not as well known for is that I love just playing traditional bass like James Jamerson on the P-bass with flat wounds.  Playing strictly the groove and the bass line has helped me get some of my various gigs. I definitely would like to continue to improve gospel music. I look up to and admire the bass players in this genre who are so talented and I try to woodshed that a lot. I always also want to work on my flat-style bass playing as well.

Who were your influencers in terms of other musicians earlier on or now that have made a difference to you?  Who have learned from or inspired you early on?

When I was in the fifth grade at Saint Paul’s, I was thrust into the top bands in the school program as the bass player. They had an outside band program called Learning Music Band. The Saxophone Director, Bruce Bohnstengel, would sit next to me and play the EWI which is like an electronic saxophone. I am thankful for his knowledge he had of the bass players roll and how solid you have to be, as well as how you have to know where you are in a song and cannot rely on other people when you are playing. I actually still work for him a lot which is very cool. 

In addition to my high school mentors, another large influence was JacoPastorious. I managed to get my hands on a copy of his first CD from a drummer when I was eleven and thought that was pretty cool. Charles Mingus – Big Band, is the best of both worlds with the upright was a big influence. Marcus Miller and also Victor Wooten are huge influences on me, also.  I went to Victors Bass Nature Camp when I was 17 years old. I’m from the city so it was good for me to get out of my element. Victor during an exercise on having good tempo said, “Your time feel is very good.” That seemingly small comment from him meant so much to me.

We see you studied at the University of North Texas.  Can you tell us what influence your studies had on your career? 

I went to UNT for Jazz Studies from 2007-2011 and it was great because of the relationships I made.  I also played in the prestigious One O’Clock Lab Band from 2011-2013 and as a result was able to able to travel the world. Those relationships help me in my career on a daily basis. They also helped me learn to adapt and stay ready to play whatever a gig throws my way. I was playing majority upright bass during those years.

What are you working on during this lockdown period? 

I am very fortunate to be a part of a church group that has a TV broadcast set up and has the info-structure for daily broadcasts.  In addition, I also have Zoom Lessons, producing tracks and creating play-along tracks for churches as well.

I have also had the great opportunity to work with Daric Bennett, who I met at NAMM this year. We are working on Instagram, with 15 minute lessons and techniques and teaching moments, together. We meet fairly often and Daric recently posted an interview with me on his website. Lessons can be found on his site where you will find some great insights on my playing. It has been really great working with him! We hope to do some in-person stuff in the future.

Currently, I’m working on a YouTube channel that will showcase lessons, gear, gigs and playing. I’m going to start with “Ask me a Question”.

What advice would you give to others during this lockdown to stay positive? 

Press into your instrument. Try things you have wanted to do but just haven’t had the time. Turn toward music and try to get into new elements of it; Try to practice more than you have had time to before, try new ways to play that you haven’t before.  When I am working on my craft as a musician, it does bring my mental well-being to a better place. A book that I like a lot is called The Dip, by Seth Godin.  It talks about the moment before you really start to take off and see improvement in something is where it’s going to be extremely difficult or feel that way for most people. You have to know if you should keep going or know when to quit as well. Eat healthy and workout, as it can help fight off the lower points a little better! Being a chocoholic, this isn’t always easy to do. I feel people’s pain out there, just try and take care of yourself and your family as best you can. 

You have quite a presence on Instagram (@jacobsmithbass). Can you share how this all came to be? 

I started an Instagram channel as a way to get my music to a large audience. I had released an album and I was really thankful for the people that checked it out. That said, I realized I needed a platform for a release that would have a larger amount of people to see it after all the hard work and effort I had put in. It was a better way to market my craft.  The first year I was hoping to maybe hit 30,000 followers.  I never thought it would blow up the way it has and I’m very thankful for where I am at now.

This inspired me to give my music and Instagram more interest, so I started to post every day for 6 months, and to see what would come of it. It’s been very cool to meet some of my bass heroes, thanks to the IG platform.  The effort I put in led me to try other things and see what would work for me and my process because it involves sitting down, getting the camera going, and trying to be as professional as I can. I wanted to bring my style in and get my voice out there and I did this every day. Sticking to it is what really helped me out.

What advice would you give to others for the social media success you have had with Instagram? 

What I love about Instagram is that it is uniquely me and my own voice. What I say to others is, ‘be yourself and have your own voice to bring out on Instagram’. Your content should be uniquely yours. If you try to do something that you are really not about, you will pigeonhole yourself and not be happy creating your content. I genuinely love what I am doing and enjoy creating the content. Figure out how often you should post and when you should post.  For strategy, look at other channels that you like. I find in most parts of life, if you put your full attention and effort into something you will get better at it and you will reap the benefits.  There is no secret to music, there is no shortcut, the real part of it is putting the work in.

Also look to other channels for inspiration. I looked at pages like Scotts Bass Lessons, Daric Bennet, The Real Free (Darrell Freeman) and Bubby Lewis, just to name a few. You’ll inevitably put your own spin on things and find a way that suits you best. 

You just released a book of online lessons, “Ghost Notes”. Can you share a little more about this and how you came up with this name? 

Ghost Notes is a book of exercises and grooves with detailed tutorial videos for each chapter. I want it to be a book that people of any skill level will read and then walk away feeling inspired to practice more. 

Ghost notes, in bass context, is a muted note.  When you pluck the string but your left hand is just laying across the string so it makes a percussive-type tone and Jaco used them a ton!  It is a technique that is used and is frequently called “dead notes” or “muted notes”. In trying to appeal to everyone, I didn’t want to use “dead” in the title. Some people can get superstitious about things. The drumming term is ghost notes. It’s to help you implement those types of techniques into your playing and it’s something I had not found any practice method on.  A student asked me during a lesson, “How do I get better at playing ghost notes?”  I came up with this idea in a lesson. It’s a great book for beginners as well as advanced players.

There is far more going on with you outside of Instagram. Can you share more with us about your session work? 

I’ve been working at Modern Electric Studios in Dallas a lot more, recently. My friend, Jason Burt, is a seriously talented producer who’s helped get me on some exciting projects there and beyond. One in particular is an album by David Ramirez. That, along with a few live performance videos, is something I’m very proud of.

Over the past five months, I have started working with Leon Bridges. I’ve done a few gigs with him and spent time with him in the studio. I hope to do a lot more when COVID-19 is over. Leon is from Texas, which is very cool and he’s a Grammy Award winner.  It’s inspiring working with him. He is an incredible writer and singer. We recently did a live stream video to raise money for part of Fort Worth.  We raised 70,000 dollars in an hour. It was great to give back to an area of Texas I love so much. 

Can you share more with us regarding your teaching? 

Currently because of COVID-19 and the quarantine, I teach online lessons. The younger students are very talented individuals who come in prepared and with a ton of questions. They inspire me and remind me why I love the bass. I am now giving lessons via Zoom online, as well.

Please share any of your accomplishments and achievements.

I’m proud to have toured with the late Bob Belden and his fusion group, Animation.  Also, performing with Leon Bridges, Jimi Tunnell and George Colligan. 

Can you provide us feedback on your Bergantino gear. 

I first found Bergantino about 8 years ago. I was in the market for a new cabinet and looking for the best. After reading countless reviews and information, I decided on a CN212, which resulted in some of the best tone I’ve been able to get from a rig. Then, just last year after rediscovering my love for the 212 cabinet, I started talking with Holly and Jim. They were kind enough to add me to their artist roster. I love the clarity the products bring, especially at high volumes. It packs a huge punch without sacrificing tone, which I love. Then, add to that the EQ tools needed to successfully adapt a less than friendly room acoustically and you can’t go wrong!

What do you like about the B|Amp and how are you currently using it? 

I use the B|Amp in the studio a lot as a preamp, direct to the board.  Also, I use it in my rehearsal space and with the church band.  What I love about it is how valuable it is to my craft and how you can get downright surgicalbut it is really easy and intuitive to use. You can get in there and tweak frequencies, which I love, because sometimes you get into a weird room and you really need that flexibility. I love the variable high and low pass filter. That is just amazing and been so useful!

What do you like about the forté HP and how are you currently using it? 

I’m crazy about the forté HP. First and foremost, I just love the 1200 watts of headroom.  The EQ is very useful and you turn it and it does what you are looking for it to do. You have endless headroom and well-made circuitry…you can get it to do anything you want. I even played an upright bass with it and the HG410, it sounded amazing!  I was in this giant glass room and I’m able to lower high and low pass filters to clear up the mess of the room.  The sound tech still gets the full signal which is just genius on Jim’s part.

Tell us your thoughts on the HG 410 cab. 

I use this cab all of the time. I have the 212 as well and bring it out if I am concerned about a weird room or if I need two cabinets. The back firing driver works out very well. The cabinet packs a serious low end punch and it looks amazing, too.

Which basses are you currently using? 

Right now, my main two basses I’m playing are my MTD 535 and a Fender AVRI 63 P bass. I also have Moog Sub 37 I use for synth bass. I recently got a new Fender Ultra that I am loving. 

What would your followers find surprising to know about you that they have not read about yet?  

I’ve been working on producing Pop and Trap music when I’m not playing bass.

I love playing basketball. I’m not an amazing player but I am a good shooter and like to play with my son outside in the driveway with a hoop we have. Riding bikes is another passion I have. Mountain and BMX bikes…I am getting my son into this, as well.  I adore spending time with my family, my wife Lisa and my five year old son, Haden.

Follow Jacob on:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jacob_smith_bass/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNtphpdS4Ip5H5jQTemkljw

Website: JacobSmithBass.com

Music: JacobSmithBass.Bandcamp.com

 

 

Bergantino Artist Kevin Freeby shares his bass story with us!

 

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.

 

Follow Kevin:

 

www.kevinfreeby.com

instagram – @kevinfreeby

https://www.facebook.com/kevin.freeby.1

 

 

Ricky Bonazza

Bergantino Welcomes New Artist Ricky Bonazza

Ricky Bonazza has been living the dream, growing up in Italy and now living in Los Angeles. A bassist, producer and songwriter, he’s the embodiment of the hard working, never-say-die rock and roll spirit. He has an interesting story that goes well beyond his bling.

Where were you born and raised, Ricky, and how did you end up in Los Angeles, California?

I am from Italy. I relocated to LA when I decided to pursue my dream in music to become a professional musician and artist. I knew it had to be a city like Los Angeles where there’s a scene. For the person I am, LA just seemed to give me the best chances to succeed.

What makes the bass so special to you particularly, and how did you gravitate to it?

To me, it’s just the rhythm and the groove, the low end, the vibration, the backbone of every band, but enough to still be able to shred, if you will. I always wanted to be a drummer, but we lived in an apartment, so it wasn’t very convenient, so I picked the instrument that was closest to the drums.

How did you learn to play?

Pretty much by playing Iron Maiden songs all day. I took lessons and played in high school bands. I remember sitting down with just a metronome and practicing.

Are there any other instruments you play?

Yes, I play drums. I didn’t give up on them! With my first paycheck and some help from my parents, I bought a kit and put it in my friend‘s room. I play guitar as well and a little bit of piano.

Can you share some of the highlights of your career that you are most proud of?

There are a few, actually. The biggest one for sure is joining the Butcher Babies and playing Dimebash 2020 with them, one of the biggest events during NAMM. Then there’s my first US tour, which had always been a dream. I toured with a band called Dead by Wednesday, and we opened up for metal legends Flotsam and Jetsam. My second US tour with the band Zero Theorem was a highlight as well. We opened for Nonpoint and Hyro the Hero, one of my favorite artists. Performing at the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame during NAMM with former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland and Phil Demmel was huge. I was playing with David Ellefson’s solo band Sleeping Giants.

How has your playing evolved over the years, and have you made changes from your start until now? If so, can you describe the changes?

Yes, it has. I started by just hitting the root note to incorporate fills, then I started to incorporate slap and tapping techniques. The biggest evolution happened here in LA, playing all kinds of different genres and styles at these jam nights every week has definitely made me a better player.

What are you working on now during the pandemic?

On many things. I am writing a lot of music for my own stuff. Obviously, I’m always trying to create interesting content for my social platforms; the videos I’m doing right now seem to have a good reaction on people. We have been jamming/writing with the Butcher Babies, and next to that, I am mixing/producing different artists.

I am also working hard on my bass skills and videos and on improving my mixing and studio skills. I also started to write songs for a solo project, which I plan to submit for licensing in film and TV with a producer I work with.

What advice do you offer to the bass community at this time?

I would say just keep working hard if not harder; create something of you own. If you always relied on playing shows, it might be the time to learn something new or to improve a skill. To me, it really helps to see all the great reactions to my videos and my playing. It seems to resonate with a lot of people, and this gives me faith.

Can you share with us a little bit about the bands you are working with, including Butcher Babies?

We have a busy year of touring with the Butcher Babies, including some huge festivals. We just shot a new video for the upcoming single. As mentioned before, we have been jamming and putting together some ideas for new material. I am working with an incredible artist, an award-winning guitarist from Berkley, AM Dandy. I just completed mixing his upcoming EP, and I co-produced and played on the lead single that just came out. I am working with another killer guitar player from Switzerland called Clode Savage. I co produced, mixed and played bass on his last two singles.

Unfortunately, like pretty much for everybody, our tours and shows have been postponed because of COVID-19. We are still confirmed for a couple of festivals later this year in Europe and in the US, but who knows if it’s going to happen at this point really.

How did you find Bergantino, and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?

My friend Matt Denis, who also uses Bergantino gear, introduced me to it. It was right before NAMM. I was just blown away by the forté HP: the sound, the features, everything. It has pretty much everything I want from a bass amp. It is very versatile and powerful.

Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.

Fender and Fender. I have been playing Fender all my life! At the moment, there’s really nothing else for me. I have tried all kinds of basses. I dig the Dingwall stuff a lot, but at the end of the day, Fender just does it for me.

Who are your influencers?

Steve Harris is definitely my biggest. Also Jason Newsted, Geezer Butler, Frank Bello, Geddy Lee and Duff McKagan.

Can you share more about your studio work and experience here?

My studio work, as mentioned before, includes a lot of mixing and recording. I am constantly writing music as well for Music Libraries for film and TV licensing. I completed sound school and then freelanced in studios in the LA area as an assistant engineer. I was a Pro Tools operator, etc. That’s why I came to Los Angeles, because bass is not my only skill, and I feel this is the town where I can put all my musical skills to action, from playing to writing to mixing and producing. That was the goal.

The experience has been great but extremely hard. It’s been a grind ever since. I literally came to this town with a suitcase and a bass. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know the U.S system, how everything works, and on top of that, dealing with all the immigration stuff was challenging. I have no family here. It hasn’t been easy. It still isn’t, but I am very grateful for this time and to be able to be here.

Favorite thing to do besides play bass?

I’m an audio nerd! Everything from mixing, recording, engineering, and sound designing. Other than that, I just love to travel. For real, touring is my favorite thing in the world.

Social Links:

https://www.facebook.com/ricky.bonazza
https://www.instagram.com/rickybonazza/

Band Link: https://www.facebook.com/butcherbabies/

Bergantino Audio Systems

Bergantino Audio Systems has been dedicated to developing and building the highest quality audio products and bass guitar amplification systems since 2001. Founder Jim Bergantino has worked in a number of fields in his career – from hi-tech electrical engineering to high-end hi-fi and the professional audio world. After designing custom bass cab-inets for many other leading brands, he went out on his own to start Bergantino Audio Systems. We have received numerous accolades within the musical instrument industry and continue to look forward with our designs and our unique approach to developing products.

https://bergantino.com/