Busty and the Bass: “With The Amount Of Tools That You Have As A Musician…It’s Foolish To Limit Yourself”

Name: Milo

Age: 23

Band: Busty and the Bass

Can you introduce yourself and what you play in Busty and the Bass.

My name is Milo I am 23 years old from Washington D.C and I’m the bass player, tour manager and accountant for Busty and the Bass.

“Up Top” is the first release from the upcoming album, why was this the chosen song to be released?

We we worked with a producer on this most recent album – Neal Pogue. He was a great influence on the whole project, and he really took our songwriting and recording material to a next level, in terms of production, the quality of the work that was coming to him. So for us “Up Top” was very fun, it was the one we did last and it seemed like a nice step in the direction that we are moving without [shifting] too far away from what we had done already – it was a fun dance track. It was a definite step up from what we had done but not a complete creative departure.

What was it like working with Neal who has worked with Outkast, Solange and Snoop Dog?

Being a father he’s had to adapt to different range of personalities, understand each person and I think the more we work with him the more he has gotten to understand each individual person and how they contribute to the group. With Neal the biggest thing I attribute to is he was able to think ‘not the flavour of the month’. He has been around so long and is so established and not necessarily trying to chase what is popular at all. He came in and we butted heads on the first couple of tracks just because it was very different from how we had worked before and he basically sat us down and said he was not trying to make ‘flavour of the month’, we are making timeless music.

“That’s something very powerful that you can’t really say as a 23-year-old, but a guy like him can say it and the more he says it the more you believe it. He has been around long enough to be confident in what we’re making.”

With us, we are doing something very original and it’s not initially hip, you wouldn’t look at it and think ‘these guys are going to go viral’. It’s not what you would think of as the stereotypical trendy track that’s out right now. We had to slowly build up and put that trust in him and that’s a very  powerful thing to have, especially with a nine person group, no one of us is leading the charge on that, so he really was able to come in and be that figure.

Forming at McGill University and winning the TD Rock Your Campus competition , did you guys ever find it hard to transition from being a student band to just a band? 

Not really, it really depends on how you were looking at it, but for us – the line I use is ‘graduation was just another date in the calendar’.  The summer before our fourth year we were [performing] pretty regularly and that continued through all of fourth year. We had shows booked through September, by the time it was February or March. So we knew what our summer was going to look like, so the transition was only really evident in the fact we didn’t have to go to class anymore. Realistically people still called us a student band, because that’s how we were known, it takes a long time to shed that association. For the actual transition itself, it was super easy because we were essentially a professional band with the amount we were touring and recording.

Do you feel any pressures working in the music industry when it comes to what you ‘should’ sound like?

Not at all, I think that is the best part about how many instruments we have and the range of skills we have in just being able to play different types of music, and make it one cohesive live show. We have talked about this inside the band, we sort of felt like we’ve been trying to catch-up our recording material to our live show. We have so much experience and put so much work into our live shows over the years, and have constantly been playing catch-up with the recorded stuff because we didn’t focus as much energy to that. But the live show, when you’re there you can talk to people and you give them a list of seven different genres that you can say you’re drawing from, but realistically they experienced one cohesive show they thought was great.

@bustyandthebass/Instagram
@bustyandthebass/Instagram

I find a lot of musicians believe the term ‘genre’ is dying out, no one is classified as just one kind of genre, what do you think?

Yeah it’s just because if you look at the origins of those genres – the funny example I use is if you look on SoundCloud, everybody is making up genres. Everything is ‘future bass’, everyone is trying to push a new sound, but it’s just a hashtag. For us, you can’t put one thing on it because then you would not be doing anything new. If you are adamant about considering yourself as a rock band, or a funk band or jazz band, you’re not going to be pushing – you never meet anybody who is hyped up about being one specific genre.

“With the amount of tools that you have as a musician, and the world of music that is out there it’s foolish to limit yourself.”

What’s the process of making a song in such a large band – using “Up Top” as an example.

The general pattern is a small group will start a track – one, two or three people generally who will develop it to a point and bring it to a large group and then sort of test the assumptions about the track. Play it, figure out what works and what doesn’t, take those lessons and bring it back to a small group, and oscillate between those two things.

For “Up Top” it started with Nick (the singer) and I hanging out at his parents’ place in Toronto and we wrote a version of it that was okay, the general construction of the song was there. It went through so many changes over the course of many many months – over a year actually, and then we were playing for Neal when he was in town and we changed up the grooves more than any other track – normally you have a pretty good idea about what the grooves are going to be and we didn’t so we basically just looped what was supposed to be the pre-chorus and Neal technically wasn’t suppose to work on that track but he couldn’t help it. He made a couple of suggestions and just looped these four bars and we were looking at each other like ‘is this the whole track, this part is so good’. We were trying to figure out how to make the pre-chorus better and in playing that we made it the dopest thing ever and that ended up being the track. We completely scraped the original hook and kept the first pre-chorus lyrics and melody that we had, wrote a new hook and a new bridge and Neal came back and finished it in three days.

@bustyandthebass/Instagram
@bustyandthebass/Instagram

 

In recent interviews, artists have said that when doing covers and renditions of other songs they have learnt so much about their own voice, does this apply to you when playing an instrument?

We talk about it a lot because it’s the purest arrangement method, our work flow and conversational dynamic is the best when we have lots of little inputs by different people. We sit down and say ‘okay, what energy flow do we want for this, what do we want to make that’s us, and what do we want to keep’. The process of making an arrangement and not necessarily writing a song is the purest arrangement – that’s when Busty is at its best in terms of working together on an arrangement. We’ve seen that in a number of different covers that we’ve done because the song is written [making] it so much easier for us to get into that sort of pristine work mode. Everybody will know the track, Nick will know the song, we know what exists already, we will talk about what makes it us and then that process of everyone contributing [different ideas] is a really good skill to have.

Were you ever nervous to pursue music?

Yeah, I think you have to be a little crazy to go to music school, but I think for the program that we were in I was always battling with it because they don’t teach you how to be a professional musician, they teach you their style of music and that was something I was struggling with – the energy of creating and building something is very intoxicating and that’s what I love about what were doing. The music side of it…they have to have each other. Both sides have to be there for what you’re doing to be powerful, important and inspirational. For awhile I had no idea what we were going to do, I didn’t know anything about the music industry – I was a hopeless jazz bass player at McGill.

“Through the process of doing this group and really seeing what else is out there – because it’s not that there’s no money in it, it’s that it’s in specific places and you have to create something for yourself.  As we have grown, we get less scared and more strategic.”

What is at the back of your head pushing you?

For me, and I think for a lot of us, it’s getting real musicianship back in the industry, in the public eye. For me, I grew up on Ray Charles, Motown, Earth Wind & Fire, Ohio Players – bands. I use to always wish I was born early enough – when I first started playing bass I wished I could have been born in the seventies just because of the vibe of the music I was listening to and I was getting into. Just the concept of bands and being in a band and consuming albums and going to concerts and being aware of catalogues rather than liking one song on a playlist on Spotify.

“I think a lot of people nowadays consume music very passively so it’s very much like background.”

[They] put headphones on while at work, or while at a cafe and that type of music is great and serves a purpose but it doesn’t translate to live very well. For us, making music that does value musicianship and gets instruments back in the public eye, really pushes the comfortability levels of people so they’re not passively consuming music, [they’re] more active about it – pushing that trend and driving that forward.

Who would you consider to be an underrated artist right now?

For me, I think of it like a five point star – song writing, production, performance, branding and business. I’m really into this artist called Son Little – Aaron Livingston, he has a project called Son Little. Incredible songwriter, my favourite song writer who is producing right now. He’s got a couple of tracks that are big on Spotify and I saw him at a 250 person room in Vermont a couple of days ago. Some people are good at certain parts of the star. I think people should [get into] him.

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