A musician grows in his/her art with experience — playing directly for the audience in small gigs, recording in a studio, collaborating with other artists and what not — even fiddling with one’s voice or instrument is a learning experience because the creative genius inside is always looking for a special note or sound.
Yet, in the age of changing dynamics of how the audience receives your music, it is important to learn from the experienced musicians and artists who have done it and succeeded in various genres, perfecting their art as they pleased their audience and also their own souls.
We talked to Erik Scott, a bassist from LA who has done it all! Let’s get into some details…
Q1. What as a bassist, you feel is essential to make a career in music?
ES: This question really has three answers: EARS (1) Initially, unless you sing and/or come out if the box composing and producing with high-end skill, the first thing you must perfect as a sought-after professional bassist is a great feel, which means total awareness of time and tempo, and the ability to maintain the best tempo for the piece you are playing, which will involve locking with the drummer and his kick drum especially. (2) Have a great sound immediately, either by the amp or directly from your instrument. By ‘immediately’ I mean when you hand the engineer the cord coming from your bass, he plugs it in, and he and the producer go ‘perfect’, and they have to waste NO time ‘getting a sound”. (3) Make the other players sound great by listening to what is absent and needed in the music. Remember, you will not normally be the “star” in an ensemble looking for a bassist, but rather a guy who contributes a great feel, low-end sound, and provides a great playground for the others to play in. Only in some ensembles will they be looking for a capable soloist, and as you become a better and better player, you will develop the ears to hear where you need to play, by listening to the others. (4… I lied when I said three) (4) be a great “hang”, a positive vibe to be around, not a moody sulkster. Did I mention you need to have EARS, and listen?
Later, as you navigate the music business landscape, you may develop writing, composing, or production skills, and you can play more of the melodic leads yourself…IF the music wants it, and you are listening.
Q2. You played with bands, collaborated with other musicians, and also have gone solo — which one sells most and is popular with the audience?
ES: Well, so far, the audience was greatest for the theatrical eye- and ear-catching Alice Cooper, and to a lesser degree and more regional, Sonia Dada.
Musical artists making music for the masses will by definition have more chance for mass appeal, and a greater popularity…by one definition.
But as a creative artist, without doubt, that music which you have had the greatest influence on creating will come back and provide the most satisfaction when it earns praise and appreciation from listeners. I am the creative force most responsible for my ‘solo’ albums, therefore when they earn heartfelt praise from listeners, and I know in my heart and head that I have made good music, it means the most.
And here I must make a distinction between ‘artists’ and ‘artisans’. ‘Artists’ create original art and provide music with original qualities, which resonate in the hearts and minds of listeners. “Artisans” merely mimic what they have heard others create. But before I sound too ‘elitist’ and all ‘artsy’, please understand that there are plenty of both with successful careers in music, and before I ever thought about creating original music myself, I tried to copy and learn from my betters, and gradually I developed my own style, along with a desire and some ability to create my own compositions.
PLUG ALERT: In my solo work, as in my new album coming out this August 2018, “A trick of the Wind”, as well as my last “In The Company of Clouds” I try to infuse an original approach with some fresh ingredients. Using the fretless or even fretted bass as a major melodic voice in unusual combinations with steel guitar and gospel voices provides some fresh and unusual sounds …check it out.
Q3. What do you think is most crucial for a musician in the age of streams and downloads?
ES: What is first and foremost for a musician in any age is an original quality, performing music with a nuance that bespeaks total command of your instrument.