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: Nicole Row
Bands & Artists: Panic! At The Disco, Fat Joe, Ty Dollar Sign, Dallas Austin
Home: Los Angeles, CA
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been trying to stay as productive as possible. Lots of cooking, cleaning, organizing, connecting with family and friends through video chats, teaching online lessons, practicing, and writing. Having all this time has really opened up a new level of creativity for me. I also put a post on Instagram a few weeks ago offering one-time-only bass lessons and I ended up accidentally meeting a lot of amazing and inspiring people. I now have several regular new students, and having goals set with them has actually helped me.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’m focusing on my technique, theory, and transcribing bass lines and solos that I love. I’m trying to develop a routine that focuses more on attention to personal creativity. I’ve been spending lots of time diving into more solo writing and recording bass for collaborations.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I’ve really been all over the place musically during the quarantine. One artist that makes me feel positive, funky, and calm at the same time is Labi Siffre. His music feels very unique and eclectic to me, and his voice is so soothing and classic sounding. Other albums or artists that have been bringing me comfort during the quarantine include Allen Stone, August Greene, motivational words of Common, Black Radio, various Bob Dylan, anything Hiatus Kaiyote, anything Erykah Badu, Who is Jill Scott?, Gumbo, Collagically Speaking, sleeping at last, Ctrl. I’m sure there’s more but this is a solid combo of my long time faves and some stuff I’ve recently been addicted to.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
My friend Marco of Marco Bass Guitars sent me a temporary bass while I wait for my custom to be finished. Its body is similar to my usual favorite Jazz body style. It has a slightly longer scale and bigger fret spacing than what I’m used to, and the neck is a bit thicker than my tiny Marcus Miller Jazz bass neck, but its forcing me to get more limber. It has a seriously rad funk tone. Great old school bass sound for palm muting, too. Who knows maybe I’ll end up asking if I can keep that one!
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I know how crazy this sounds since there is so much amazing new stuff out there, but I’ve been watching reruns of The Office, and ’90s romcoms with my roommate, who I’m quarantined with. Keeping it light over here. I personally love horror though, so I did watch The Platform on Netflix, which Brendon [Urie, Panic at The Disco] recommended. It’s so incredibly twisted. I’m also a huge exercise fan so I’ve been following my favorite trainer Elle Young (@ellezfit). She’s giving daily live workout videos and ideas. It’s keeping me sane. Besides music, exercise, and movies, I ride my bike around with my tiny arthritic dog in the basket, to get some sun. I try my hand at cooking vegan meals and I drink a lot of whiskey with my roomie. Pretty much doing all of my favorite things!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
As of now it’s hard to say for sure. Stuff that was postponed for “a month or two” now seems so unknown. All the in-house session work that most musicians are turning to now seems to be creating some lasting musical relationships and interesting collaborations that I’m sure will last and produce some amazing stuff. I do have an interesting project I have in the works that is not so much musical, but more charitable. I can’t give it all away but it has to do with my drum key necklace and the ten-year anniversary of the death of my brother Josh. Stay tuned for that.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I was just having this conversation with some musician friends the other day. Ther only real way to get through it is to stay positive. Use your time wisely, don’t mope, practice, grow, and don’t feel guilty to chill a little bit. We’re all in this together.
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