Steve Lawson – new-age, post-rock, ambient-jazz, solo-bass… thus reads the strapline on his website. It’s a little tricky to pin down what he does, given that, as those hyphenated descriptions begin to tell us,
- he’s a solo bassist who spends a lot of his time making very unbasslike noises.
- He’s an ambient experimenter who likes pop tunes too much to go strictly soundscape, but is way too atmospheric to sit comfortably in the ‘instrumental rock’ category.
- His electronica leanings produce some amazing hi-tech sounds, but even the beats are played live, and owe more to hip-hop than the usual sources,
- making the eventual hybrid of jazz, electronica, ambient, new age and ‘new acoustic’ influences infuriatingly hard to pigeonhole.
It may be a deeply uncommercial move to be so diffuse, but Steve’s entire career has been an ongoing experiment at making the music that means something to him, and then using the internet to make that available to like-minded listeners. With 13 solo albums and 24 collaborative albums under his belt, there’s a definite ‘Steve Lawson’ sound to just about everything he plays on. Playful yet melancholic, possessed of a naive melodic quality whilst flirting extensively with dissonance and darker timbres to create this soundtrack to the inside of his head.
This ‘music first, marketing later’ approach has lead to him being greatly in demand as a writer, thinker and consultant on the present and possible future of the music industries, splitting his teaching time between University and College lectures on looping, improvising and bass techniques and further lecture tours on the sustainability of making the music you love. He also occasionally writes biographies about himself in the third person.
With the fifteen year success of his on-going project to keep making the music that matters to him – and considerable acclaim by press and peers alike – the future looks just fine. In 2015, he released 3 solo albums, 3 solo EPs and 3 collaborative albums, was featured on the cover of the October edition of Bass Guitar Magazine, played shows with Jon Thorne, Rob Turner (GoGoPenguin), Jonas Hellborg, Reeves Gabrels & Jason Cooper, Divinity, and Thomas Leeb, maintained a monthly column for Bass Guitar Magazine, and started a PhD looking at his audience’s experience of improvisation. And it only gets busier from here… Enjoy the ride.
I’m happy for this page to be a collaborative effort, so if you wish to add some biographical detail that seems relevant, or a quote of your own to supplement the ones in the box, you can do so in the comments below:by