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.
Bassist: Nana Adjoa
Bands & Artists: Nana Adjoa
Home: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Here in The Netherlands, we have what the government calls an “intelligent lockdown,” and the regulations aren’t as strict as they were in the beginning. When you’re healthy and you can keep a 1.5 meter distance, you’re pretty free again to go about. So I’m working a lot again outside of my home―recording in my studio and other studios, rehearsing with my band, even playing some “corona–proof” shows here and there, which is awesome, and doing a lot of interviews.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I don’t study bass regularly anymore and haven’t since I graduated from conservatory. I used to play a lot, live and in rehearsals. Now I mostly practice whenever I have a studio session as a bass player. I do some warm-up exercises, and then I play the songs I will record in the session in a variety of ways; to me, it’s fun and you can really learn the song and the possibilities. Over the past few years, I’ve shifted to guitar more and more as a songwriting tool, but also because in my own band I play guitar live. My bass playing is limited to studio sessions now. But I also picked up the upright again, and when I have time, I study and practice intonation and I do some much–needed bowing exercises.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
My all–time favorite bass player would be Aston Barrett, and listening to The Wailers is always a treat. Another bass player in a completely different universe is Max Oleartchik from Big Thief. I love that band. His free role and free playing, along with his use of pedals, surpass the usual parts of a bass player. I’d recommend checking out some of their live videos on YouTube.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve been using the Tech 21 SansAmp VT Bass DI in studio sessions. In combination with my hollow body Egmond bass—a Dutch–made bass from the late-’60s—I get an amazing–sounding tone and body out of it.
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I watched this very strange, but very cool and fun Japanese movie from the 1980s: Tampopo. You follow the story of a woman who’s struggling with her ramen shop. She gets help from a group of strangers to become the best ramen shop in town. It’s been called a “Ramen Western.” It’s a long movie so I saw it in three sittings, but it was totally worth it!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
My debut album, Big Dreaming Ants, will be released on September 24th. We’re starting with a “corona–proof” tour in five cities in The Netherlands. And I’m hoping when the world gets going again we can continue playing around Europe or even Stateside.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
There is a lot of great new music being released constantly, especially in these trying times; so keep your eyes and ears open and tell and ask your friends about the latest gems. It’s okay not to feel positive all of the time; you can talk about it with your friends and people close to you—maybe while listening to some music.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D’Auria & Chris Jisi