As the world continues to recover from the Coronavirus, we're all finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory given the subsequent lockdown that is keeping us off of stages and confined to our homes. Luckily, there's comfort in the fact that we're all in this together, and that there are still many outlets for us musicians to keep us active and sane throughout this quarantine. We're checking in with bass players from all over the world to see what they're doing to stay entertained, healthy, productive, and safe during this trying time.
Bass Player: Miles Mosley
Bands & Artists: Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Chris Cornell, West Coast Get Down , Solo artist
Home: Los Angeles, CA
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been recording a new album, and composing a bunch of film and television scores. I’ve always maintained a pretty firm work ethic. There has been a shift since the protests have begun, and I’ve spent more time studying history and equipping myself with knowledge that I can use moving forward. Words are powerful, and to that end, I remind myself that I am not “locked down” at all.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Lots of 7th position arco, and false harmonics. Mostly diving in and cleaning up my accuracy shifting around the instrument. I’m looking for new fingerings that can help me relax once I hit upper positions, instead of bailing of an improvisational idea too soon because of position uncertainties.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I designate a day of the week to listen to as much new music as possible. I like what Moses Sumney just released called grae. Thundercat dropped It Is What It Is, he’s really pushing hard on electric; its always fun to hear friends outdo themselves. On a comfort level I have always enjoyed Marvin Gaye, and the messages in his music are relevant everyday. Recently I heard Labrinth’s “Oblivion,” and I think it has incredible production and arrangement. I heard Nina Simones version of “My Way” for the first time and it sparked a wave of joy. I’m fascinated and inspired by how successful artists were with activisim through their music. Great songs comprised of great ideas.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been experimenting with the Eventide H9 Harmonizer Effects Processor as a source for modulation effects. I’m hoping it’ll help me cut down the size of my pedalboard for whenever live shows are allowed again. I made a few adjustments to my Blast Cult One4Five upright to try and get a better balance between arco height and pizzicato height in 7th position. I’ve also been switching around the position of where I place compressors in my chain to see if it helps the tracking of octave pedals to extend the dynamic pre or post. There is so much new gear I want to try out, but I keep reminding myself to be financially frugal at the moment, at least until the industry revs back up.
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
For reading: Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations, edited by Retha Powers, Siddartha and Mary, by Ijia Woolf, The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. For viewing: Schitts Creek, Dave Chappelle’s Sticks and Stones, The Wire, and Reconstruction: America After the Civil War, on PBS. As for working out, I’ve been a bit negligent, to be honest, but whenever I want to put my head in a positive space I take a two-mile walk and do a handful of pushups to get the blood flowing and let go of tension. I’m always stretching arms and hands pre and post practice time. Diet and exercise is inextricably tied to mental health, so I stay mindful.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’ve got a lot of recorded music chomping at the bit. I have an album I finished with the help of Tony Austin on production duties that is super action-packed and filled with prophetic lyrics that suit the fog of war we’re all walking through mentally and physically. Luckily I have the resources to record at a pretty high level from home, so who knows, I might have a quadruple album done by the time we’re all on our feet again! I’ve been getting a lot of songs in my inbox that people want me to play on remotely and I’ve always enjoyed that process. I like the surprise I hear in the artist’s voice when they listen to what I’ve contributed to their song. I tend to be an overachieving maximalist, so when someone asks “Hey, can you play bass on this?” I usually end up sending back a bass track, some string parts, another electric part just in case, and two different upright tones. I get excited bring peoples’ projects to life and honoring their creativity with my best effort. There’s been a lot of composing for film and TV, so I’m sure those projects will start to see the light as the year unfolds. I hope to contribute compositions to more films and programming that address, examines, and seeks solutions to the concerns of African Americans and Women.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I make a conscious decision to moderate my social media intake. It is a powerful tool, and does a lot of good, but there’s plenty of work that I need to do inward instead of outward—spiritual, physical, mental. I attempt to address each of these a little every day. Lucky for me, bass, art, and music are all benefited by this work. My advice would be that the more you improve your body, your mind, and your spirit, the more you can understand and improve your surroundings.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi