Bergantino Artist Marc Brownstein

Marc Brownstein (DJ Brownie) 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.

Marc on the Bergantino Forté HP2

“The Bergantino Forté HP2 has been a game changer for my tone and delivery of my bass lines. The second I turned it on for the first time, I could hear that I was going to be able to get the exact frequencies I was looking for without having to rely on external EQs or through pre-amp on my bass, which always seemed to take a little bit of the sparkle away. As they say at Bergantino, no need to spend your day dialing in your tone, they’ve done all the hard work for you.”

Please read this great interview we had with Marc DJ Brownstein:

https://bergantino.com/bergantino-artist-marc-brownstein/

Follow Marc Brownstein:

Instagram: @marcbrownstein

X (formerly Twitter): @marc_brownstein

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marcbrownstein4

https://www.discobiscuits.com/

 

James Tobias

Bergantino Artist James Tobias

Bassist for psychedelic, Reggae-Rock titans Audic Empire shares his history as a musician.

James Tobias, a multi-talented musician and jack-of-all-trades shares his story of coming up as a musician in Texas, his journey with his band Audic Empire, and his approach to life and music. With a busy tour schedule each year, we were fortunate to catch up with him while he was out and about touring the US.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Dallas, Texas and lived in the Dallas area most of my life with the exception of 1 year in Colorado. I moved to the Austin area at age 18.

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

I honestly started playing bass because we needed a bass player and I was the one with access to a bass amp and bass. I played rhythm guitar and sang up until I met Ronnie, who I would later start “Audic Empire” with. He also played rhythm guitar and sang and we didn’t know any bass players, so we had to figure something out. I still write most of my songs on guitar, but I’ve grown to love playing the bass.

How did you learn to play, James?

I took guitar lessons growing up and spent a lot of time just learning tabs or playing by ear and kicked around as a frontman in a handful of bands playing at the local coffee shops or rec centers. Once I transitioned to bass, I really just tried to apply what I knew about guitar and stumbled through it till it sounded right. I’m still learning every time I pick it up, honestly.

 You are also a song writer, recording engineer, and a fantastic singer, did you get formal training for this?

Thank you, that means a lot!  I had a couple voice lessons when I was in my early teens, but didn’t really like the instructor. I did however take a few lessons recently through ACC that I enjoyed and think really helped my technique (Shout out to Adam Roberts!) I was not a naturally gifted singer, which is a nice way of saying I was pretty awful, but I just kept at it.

As far as recording and producing, I just watched a lot of YouTube videos and asked people who know more than me when I had a question. Whenever I feel like I’m not progressing, I just pull up tracks from a couple years ago, cringe, and feel better about where I’m at but I’ve got a long way to go. Fortunately we’ve got some amazing producers I can pass everything over to once I get the songs as close to finalized as I can.

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

I honestly don’t know what my style would be considered. We’ve got so many styles that we play and fuse together that I just try to do what works song by song.  I don’t have too many tricks in the bag and just keep it simple and focus on what’s going to sound good in the overall mix. I think my strength lies in thinking about the song as a whole and what each instrument is doing, so I can compliment everything else that’s going on. What could be improved is absolutely everything, but that’s the great thing about music (and kind of anything really).

Who were your influencers in terms of other musicians earlier on or now that have made a difference and inspired you.

My dad exposed me to a lot of music early. I was playing a toy guitar while watching a VHS of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live at SXSW on repeat at 4 years old saying I wanted to “do that” when I grew up. I was the only kid in daycare that had his own CDs that weren’t kids songs. I was listening to Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and The Doors when I could barely talk. I would make up songs and sing them into my Panasonic slimline tape recorder and take it to my preschool to show my friends. As I got older went through a bunch of music phases. Metal, grunge, rock, punk, hip hop, reggae, ska, etc. Whatever I heard that I connected to I’d dive in and learn as much as I could about it. I was always in bands and I think I kept picking up different styles along the way and kept combining my different elements and I think that’s evident in Audic’s diverse sound.

 Tell me about Audic Empire and your new release Take Over! Can you share some of the highlights you and the band are most proud of?

Takeover was an interesting one. I basically built that song on keyboard and drum loops and wrote and tracked all my vocals in one long session in my bedroom studio kind of in a stream of consciousness type of approach. I kind of thought nothing would come of it and I’d toss it out, but we slowly went back and tracked over everything with instruments and made it our own sound. I got it as far as I could with production and handed it off to Chad Wrong to work his magic and really brought it to life. Once I got Snow Owl Media involved and we started brainstorming about a music video, it quickly turned into a considerably larger production than anything we’ve done before and it was such a cool experience. I’m really excited about the final product, especially considering I initially thought it was a throwaway track.

 Describe the music style of Audic Empire for us.

It’s all over the place… we advertise it as “blues, rock, reggae.” Blues because of our lead guitarist, Travis Brown’s playing style, rock because I think at the heart we’re a rock band, and reggae because we flavor everything with a little (or a lot) of reggae or ska.

How did you find Bergantino Audio Systems?

Well, my Ampeg SVT7 caught fire at a show… We were playing Stubbs in Austin and everyone kept saying they smelled something burning, and I looked back in time to see my head, perched on top of its 8×10 cab, begin billowing smoke. We had a tour coming up, so I started researching and pricing everything to try and find a new amp. I was also fronting a metal band at the time, and my bass player’s dad was a big time country bass player and said he had this really high end bass amp just sitting in a closet he’d sell me. I was apprehensive since I really didn’t know much about it and “just a little 4×10” probably wasn’t going to cut it compared to my previous setup. He said I could come over and give it a test drive, but he said he knew I was going to buy it. He was right. I immediately fell in love. I couldn’t believe the power it put out compared to this heavy head and cumbersome cab I had been breaking my back hauling all over the country and up countless staircases.

Tell us about your experience with the forte D amp and the AE 410 Speaker cabinet.

It’s been a game changer in every sense. It’s lightweight and compact. Amazing tone. And LOUD. It’s just a fantastic amp. Not to mention the customer service being top notch! You’ll be hard pressed to find another product that, if you have an issue, you can get in touch with the owner, himself. How cool is that?

 Tell us about some of your favorite basses.

I was always broke and usually working part time delivering pizzas, so I just played what I could get my hands on. I went through a few pawn shop basses, swapped in new pickups, and fought with the action on them constantly. I played them through an Ampeg be115 combo amp. All the electronics in it had fried at some point, so I gutted it out and turned into a cab that I powered with a rusted up little head I bought off someone for a hundred bucks. My gear was often DIY’d and held together by electrical tape and usually had a few coats of spray paint to attempt to hide the wear and tear. I never really fell in love with any piece of gear I had till I had a supporter of our band give me an Ibanez Premium Series SDGR. I absolutely love that bass and still travel with it. I’ve since gotten another Ibanez Premium Series, but went with the 5 string BTB.  It’s a fantastic sounding bass, my only complaint is it’s pretty heavy.

 Love your new video Take Over! Let us know what you’re currently working on (studio, tour, side projects, etc.)

Thank you!! We’ve got a LOT of stuff we’re working on right now actually. Having 2 writers in the band means we never have a shortage of material. It’s more about getting everything tracked and ready for release and all that goes into that. We just got through filming videos for 2 new unreleased tracks with Snow Owl Media, who did the videos for both Love Hate and Pain and Takeover. Both of these songs have surprise features which I’m really excited about since these will be the first singles since our last album we have other artists on. We’ve also got a lot of shows coming up and I’ve also just launched my solo project as well. The debut single, “Raisin’ Hell” is available now everywhere. You can go here to find all the links https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/jamestobias/raisin-hell

What else do you do besides music?

For work, I own a handyman service here in Austin doing a lot of drywall, painting, etc. I have a lot of hobbies and side hustles as well. I make custom guitar straps and other leather work. I do a lot of artwork and have done most of our merch designs and a lot of our cover art. I’m really into (and borderline obsessed) with health, fitness, and sober living.  I have a hard time sitting still, but fortunately there’s always a lot to do when you’re self-employed and running a band!

Follow James Tobias:

jamestobiasmusic.com

Facebook.com/james.tobias1

Instagram.com/ru4badfish2

TikTok.com/@jamestobiasmusic

 audicempire.com

 

Bergantino Artist Karina Rykman

Bergantino Welcomes Karina Rykman! 

A lifelong Manhattanite diehard New Yorker, Bergantino welcomes new Artist Karina Rykman. Jim and Holly had the privilege of meeting Karina and her band in Boston to see her perform. She lights up a stage with her charismatic passion as a bass player and singer – a true powerhouse of joy and energy. On stage, she smiles from ear to ear, hopping, jumping, and dancing; the entire room overflowing with positivity! If you don’t know this titan-of-bass yet, you will soon enough. Karina’s JOYRIDE 2024 tour picks up this month with the debut her new album. We had the opportunity to ask Karina some questions about her career so far.

 

You have quite the career that began at a very young age. You have so much going on!! Can you share some of your musical path highlights you are most proud of?

Oh man, thank you! What a long, strange trip it’s been. I’m proud of still being so absolutely enthralled by music after playing in a million bands and finally ending up at this current juncture: being able to make my own music and tour under my own name. It just seems completely surreal – every gig, every recording…I’m on cloud 9 being able to continue to do this, and we’re just getting started. I’m extremely proud of being so young and being able to learn so much from Marco Benevento, without whom I’d be absolutely nowhere. Being put up to a large task with enormous shoes to fill, and stepping in even though I barely knew what I was doing at the time. Every gig with Marco is extremely special to me.

 

Tell us about your new album release Joyride and your 2024 tour.

Joyride is my debut record! It came out in August 2023, and we’ve been touring behind it nonstop ever since. You only make your first record once, and I’m so proud of this one – it’s fun, searing, lush, with chantable choruses and, of course, incredibly thick bass and infectious grooves. It was produced by Phish’s Trey Anastasio, who also contributes guitar parts to 5 of the 9 tunes.

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

There’s nothing quite like feeling the subs rumbling under your feet in a venue, and being responsible for those sounds is thrilling. I played guitar first, at age 12, but essentially completely switched over to bass when I was 22 and got the gig playing bass with Marco Benevento. I haven’t looked back since, except for a few gigs on guitar here and there (notably in the house band on Late Night with Seth Meyers and on The Today Show backing up Julia Michaels).

 

People hate this question, but: If you were constructing your personal Bass Mt. Rushmore, who are the four players that would make the cut and why?

Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton, Bootsy Collins, Les Claypool. The list goes on and on, of course, but those four have imprinted their unique styles upon my brain since I was so young, and I’m perpetually learning from them – even in the case of the deceased Cliff (RIP), going back and watching Cliff ‘Em All videos is something I do all the time. Endlessly compelled by these four players and their original takes on the instrument.

 

How did you learn to play?

I never took lessons, but in middle school and high school I just surrounded myself with equally music-obsessed people. All we did was play music and go and see live music, which is wildly accessible when you grow up in New York City. I had a really tight-knit crew of amazing players as my friends, and everyone would teach each other riffs and licks. I was fearless – playing with people much better than me and saying “yes” to every cool opportunity that came my way. I essentially learned from playing in a million bands and playing along to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin records.

 

Karina is using the new NXT410-C speaker cabinet and the Bergantino forte HP2

Karina

Are there any other instruments you play?

I started on guitar, and still love to write on guitar. I can get around on keyboards a bit, but you’d never hire me as a keyboardist. Same goes for drums – I LOVE playing drums but you’d never hire me as a drummer.

 

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

I play both with a pick and my fingers, depending on the specific needs of / vibe of the tune. I love playing fuzz bass and writing bombastic “lead bass” moments, which are a staple of my live show. I’d say I’m about the least “traditional” bassist in just about every way – which is both a strength and a weakness depending on how you frame it. I play what I hear, what I like, and I adhere to very few rules. I’ve always hated rules, and I didn’t start playing rock n roll to follow them.

 

How did you find Bergantino Audio Systems?

I’m pals with Mike Gordon, bassist of Phish, and his tech is named Ed Grasmeyer. Ed suggested he bring Mike’s Bergantino for me to try out at a show I was playing in Vermont, and I fell instantly in love.

 

You have been using the Bergantino Forté HP2 head. How have you been setting the controls on this and what changes to those settings might you make as you plug into your other individual instruments?

I love my Forté HP2! The versatility and headroom are incredible, and I’ve been having a lot of fun dialing it in at home. The real fun will begin this weekend, when I take it out for 2.5 weeks of tour – dialing something in an apartment just isn’t the same as on a big stage with a PA and subs and all that good stuff. I like to roll my highs a bit and I keep “punch” on all the time. So far, it’s been a dream.

 

You are the inspiration behind Bergantino cab the new NXT410-C. Can you tell us more about this cab and your experience so far?

Firstly, I’m beyond touched to be the inspiration behind, well…anything! But this is truly insane, and such an honor. I love this cab. Not only is it light and extremely good looking, it can handle all my loudest, most abrasive and obnoxious effects. My old amp didn’t come close, and could just fart out or I’d ​have to turn down to appease it. I’m a big fan of playing at earth-shattering volumes, so this is going to be a match made in heaven. 

 

We all love your custom- made Goldie Hawn bass guitar! Can you share more with us about this bass design and why it is so special to you?

Thanks! That’s made by “Zeke Guitars” – it’s the second custom bass he’s made for me! He reached out in the summer of 2019 and asked what my dream bass would be, and I said it was basically my 1978 Fender P-Bass, but lighter, whiter, with Lindy Fralins, gold hardware, and shorter scale. And, well… he did exactly that! I love that bass so much. And the gold, which is refer to as Goldie Hawn, was born in December of 2022, and has the same specs. I just love it, it sounds amazing and looks, arguably, even better.

 

Jim and I were lucky to get to meet you in person when you came to Boston with the band. The members of the band are such a great group of people! Can you share more with all about the band and crew.

I’m so lucky to keep such incredible company. My bandmates, Adam November and Chris Corsico, are not only unbelievable musicians but also incredible humans. We just laugh and laugh, and we’re there for each other when the road gets tough or we’re exhausted or whatever life throws at us. It’s the joy of my life to get to tour the world with these guys. And the crew! That night was Connor Milton on sound and Nick Koski on lights – we have a rotating cast of people who fill those roles based on availability, and everyone who works for us are absolute consummate professionals and the sweetest humans. They are my team of experts and I just adore them so much. Shout out to Zach Rosenberg, Jeff Volckhausen, Dylan Hinds, Dom Chang, for being the best rotating crew a gal could ask for!

 

What else do you do besides music?

Not much! I love going to the beach! I love eating dinner!

 

Because I am a foodie, I always ask people what their favorite food is!

Oysters, caviar, sushi. I’m a raw bar fanatic.

At a very young age, Karina is a diligent hard worker. She juggles many balls managing her business and is savvy beyond her years. We are very happy to be working with Karina and are excited for her continued successes!

 

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. Founder Jim Bergantino has worked in a number of fields in his career, from high-tech electrical engineering to the high-end professional audio world. After designing custom bass cabinets for many other leading brands, he started his own Bergantino Audio Systems. BAS has received numerous accolades within the musical instrument industry and continues to look forward via their designs and unique approach to developing products. https://bergantino.com

Follow Karina Rykman:

Website: https://www.karinarykman.com/

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

X (formerly Twitter): https://twitter.com/KarinaRykman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karinarykman/

Bergantino Artist Jon D’Auria 

Bergantino Artist Jon D’Auria 

“The clarity and articulation of Bergantino amps is unprecedented. They truly allow the fingers of the player and the distinct characteristics of the bass come through with remarkable transparency. And the power and headroom that they give you will make the walls rumble in any sized venue. No matter what style I’m playing, this gear allows me to be both heard and felt in the best way possible.”

Jon D’Auria has been playing and writing about bass for over two decades. As a performing bassist he covers a lot of ground stylistically, hitting the stage and recording with artists spanning a large range of genres. Both an electric and upright player, he relies on his Bergantino amps to deliver the sound that he loves. When he’s not gigging or in the studio, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Bass Magazine.  

Location: Arizona

Gear: Forté, NXTSE 212, Super Pre 

Follow Jon Here: https://www.instagram.com/jondauria/

Bassmagazine.com

Bergantino Audio Artist Mike Gordon

Mike Gordon is an American bass guitarist and vocalist most recognized as a founding member of the band Phish. In addition to bass, Gordon is an accomplished banjo player, and is proficient at piano and guitar.

Bergantino Audio is proud to share that Mike Gordon’s Solo tour where he announced his New Solo Album ‘Flying Games’ that his amp choice for all solo tours is the new Bergantino Forte HP2.

Mike on the Forte HP2:

“Firstly, there is a clarity and immediacy that I sense, and on top of that there is a lot of punch. It’s almost a cliche, but that’s what we bassists seek a lot of the time – punch – and this has it. Moreover, there is a lot of control. It’s a good situation because there are a bunch of extra knobs to add things, and every knob I turn up makes it sound even better. Win win.” 

Please read this great interview we had with Mike: https://bergantino.com/bergantino-artist-mike-gordon/

Please follow Mike here:

https://www.instagram.com/mike_gordon/

https://www.facebook.com/mikehyphengordon

https://www.facebook.com/phish

Bergantino Artist Jeff Matz

Jeff Matz is proof there is still a place for nice guys in rock and roll. Don’t let his easy-going demeanor fool you, inside his body is a steady-state of simmering riffs and grooves just dying to get out. Jeff has been in the music industry for quite some time and we were lucky enough to virtually sit down with him, ask a few questions and hear what he and the band have been up to lately.

Click here for: Jeff Matz interview with Bergantino’s Lee Presgrave 

Jeff uses the new NXT 212 (Neo X-Treme) speaker cabinet