Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Entries Tagged as 'Music News'

New Solo Video!

December 10th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Another new video of me has just gone up on the BassTheWorld YouTube channel.

It’s called Same Time Next Year, and is another improvised piece from the Warwick Bass Camp this September.

It features the Quneo (my new lil’ MIDI controller that I’ve been using for drums and synth stuff on the last couple of albums) a little more than some of the other videos I’ve put up recently, so you can see a little more of how I use it… will be doing more videos with it as soon as possible…

And just for the reminder, here’s the other video filmed about 45 seconds after this one ended, that was released last month, called Better Than The Plan:

Both these tracks will be available for subscribers very shortly as a little pre-Christmas solo EP. Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss out…

Tags: Music News

Solo Bass, Looping and the importance of hip-hop – a masterclass (video)

October 23rd, 2015 · Comments Off on Solo Bass, Looping and the importance of hip-hop – a masterclass (video)

I’ve done a couple of masterclasses recently, talking about the evolution of my approach to live playing, sampling, improvising and recording. One was for which you can get if you’re  a subscriber over there, and the other was at Kidderminster College. The Kiddy College one is here in two parts.

Part 1, I introduce the Quneo and explain a little about the influence of two of my recent collaborators, Divinity and Daniel Berkman, and deal with a Looperlative fail (a fault I’ve now fixed! yay!) and end up with a lovely wonky hip-hop thing that’s a good example of where a lot of my music is going (comes in around 8:30) – if you can, listen on headphones, or Chromecast this to your TV 🙂 :

In Part 2, I explain some of where the rhythmic stuff comes from historically, via turntablism and the influence of J Dilla, talk a little about the way it has influenced my playing with other musicians, then play another piece, that starts with a Quneo piano solo before evolving into a groove thing with a Posies/David Torn influenced solo and a lovely change of gear just before the end…

Note: Both the tracks here will be available as an EP for my subscribers soon. Today my subscription is a year old! Check out the subscription here and get LOADS of music for just £20 a year: – it’s by far the best way to support what I do 🙂

[UPDATE!] – There’s a third part to the video! It was, I think, still uploading when I posted this first time round 🙂

Here’s Part 3, which has a lot more talking, exploring a lot of ideas around improvisation and performance:

Tags: Music News

Question Time! – The Solobasssteve AMA

October 9th, 2015 · 4 Comments

So my lil’ tour with Jonas Hellborg is over – we did just three dates to test the water, with a view to doing lots more soon. And we had a great time. More of that soon – there are photos and video to be shared, and stories to tell, but for now, something else…

Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to see the cover story in Bass Guitar Magazine this month. If you’ve not been able to find it in a shop, the digital edition can be bought from Pocket Mags.

So, the big question is, what did we not get to in the interview that you’re most interested to know? Any burning questions about basses, tech, approach, business, my career, my philosophy, improv, teaching.. anything really… This is where to ask them.

Post those questions in the comments here, and I’ll then compile a second interview to sit alongside the already-very-comprehensive one in the magazine (it really is one of the best interviews I’ve ever had – Joel asked a whole lot of questions that I’ve never explored in that way before at all).

This is the solobasssteve AMA. Sound good? Off you go 🙂

Tags: Music News

Atmospherics? Listen To The Radio…

September 24th, 2015 · Comments Off on Atmospherics? Listen To The Radio…

My week of rather lovely media exposure rolls on – last night a track from A Crack Where The Light Gets In was played on my favourite radio show ever. It’s not my favourite radio show because they played the tracks, it’s been that since before they started occasionally playing my music about 14 years ago.

Listen to last night’s Late Junction here.

Late Junction is, not to get too hyperbolic, an amazing example of what the BBC license fee does/did best… eclectic, joyous, and exploratory with none of the demographic limitations that commercial radio’s need to appeal to advertisers demand.

I’ve discovered SO much music through Fiona, and earlier on through Verity Sharp. To have my music played in that context is an amazing validation of what I’m up to. The technical side of it is never discussed, there’s no ‘ooh, it’s so clever for a bass player to do this!’ – just my music alongside a whole load of the most beautiful, wide-ranging wonderfulness from around the world. As a validation of purpose, it’s about as good as it gets.

The track that Fiona played last night was ‘Praxis’ from A Crack Where The Light Gets In – have a listen to the whole album below, but do listen to the show linked above – the new context for the track, between all the other amazing stuff, gives a different perspective on it… and you get to hear Fiona say it’s one of her favourite tracks of the year 😉

…and a free download to the first person to Tweet me and tell me the name of the album that the track referenced in the title of this blog-post is from 😉

Tags: Music News

New Albums, New Magazine Cover…. New Magazine Cover??

September 18th, 2015 · Comments Off on New Albums, New Magazine Cover…. New Magazine Cover??

So, as promised, my long-awaited new solo albums are released now
! There are two of them because I recorded WAY too much material for one, but after Sue Edwards (my trusty co-producer) compiled the first one, there was still at least one coherent album there. But they didn’t feel like a double. Two distinct experiences, telling different stories. So here they are.

They’re both live in the studio, none of it is pre-recorded loops, just me and my usual toys plus a Quneo for playing percussion and synth sounds – no overdubs and very little editing at all. Listen here:

I was going to be releasing them next week, but actually brought it forward a couple of days because Bass Guitar Magazine have just announced that I’m on the cover of their October issue, out next week!!

This is by far the highest profile bit of media I’ve ever had – it’s a really bold move for the magazine, in a world where the musician press are often pulled towards putting the members of famous pop bands on the cover in the hope of getting noticed in WH Smiths. To put someone on the cover who’s highest profile gig is playing completely solo is pretty bold. It’s also a fantastic validation of what I’ve been up to for the last 15 years. I’ve spent less time over the last few years courting the world of musicians, and more connecting with the people who want to listen to what I do, whatever their relationship with musical things is outside of that. So to be featured in the biggest bass publication in the UK would be great anyway. To be on the cover is amazing. Huge thanks to Joel and the team for choosing to do this.

So, feel free to reserve the mag at your local newsagent. We’ll have some competition fun with it once it hits the shops.

And go hear the new albums. If you like ’em, you can buy them, or subscribe and them both plus 12 other albums for just £20 a year…

Tags: Music News

Big News: Two New Albums, October Tour with Jonas Hellborg

August 24th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Right, It’s shaping up to be a very active autumn and winter in Steve-World. The new album I’ve been working on for a while has turned into two new albums! I recorded about 3 hours of new music for it, intending to put out one album of it. Having asked producer/promoter/manager/music maven Sue Edwards to help sequence the album, she came up with a beautifully coherent record, that only had two tracks overlapping with my shortlist of eight for my version… So we’ll release both. The second album took some rejigging to tell the right story, but it’s there, and I love them both.

The titles are A Crack Where The Light Gets In and The Way Home. You’ll recognise The Way Home, as the title track was released as a single last week. listen to/download it here:

News Part Two is VERY exciting – in October, I have three live dates with one of my favourite bassists in the world, Jonas Hellborg. Jonas’ music has been a constant source of inspiration throughout my solo career, both as a solo bassist and a collaborative improviser looking to stretch the role of the bass guitar beyond the expected confines. We’ve been friends for years, but this’ll be the first time we’ve played shows together.

The dates are:

Sunday Oct 4th: Birmingham, Tower Of Song (ticket link)
Monday Oct 5th: London, The Vortex
Tuesday Oct 6th: Leeds, Left Bank (ticket link)

Here’s the press bit: 

Two of the world’s leading solo bass guitarists together on one stage.

Crossing musical boundaries and blowing listeners’ minds for over 30 years, Jonas Hellborg is one of the great innovators of the bass guitar. From the pyrotechnic flamboyance of his early solo electric albums, to his unique exploration of the richness and depth of the acoustic bass guitar, Jonas has changed the way people think about – and play – the bass.

Whether as a solo artist, or collaborating with many of the most respected names in music, from John McLaughlin to PiL, Ginger Baker to Shawn Lane, Jonas’ signature sound and uncompromising creative philosophy have produced an unparalleled body of work, mostly on his own Bardo label. Lauded by press and public alike, this is a rare opportunity to hear Jonas up close in the UK.

Steve Lawson is one of the most celebrated solo bassists in British music history – early in his career, he opened for Level 42 on their first Greatest Hits comeback tour, placing his unique take on melodic looping-based live performance in front of tens of thousands of bass aficionados. 15 years of regular gigging across the UK, Europe and the US solidified his place as a leading exponent of solo bass. Steve’s sound-world borrows liberally from electronica, jazz, pop, rock, ambient and experimental music, to form a sonic fingerprint as compelling as it is unique.

Following on from two years of wide-ranging collaboration, playing alongside musicians as diverse as Reeves Gabrels and Beardyman, Andy Gangadeen and Divinity, Steve is back with a fresh exploration of what the bass can be in the 21st Century.  With the imminent release of his 12th and 13th all-solo albums (on the same day!) Steve is set to push the notion of what the bass guitar can be in 21st Century further still.

Tags: gig dates · Gig stuff · Music News · Uncategorized

The Way Home – New Single Out Today

August 14th, 2015 · 2 Comments

So this is how magical things can happen in Internet-world, I guess.

I was recording yesterday for the new album, finally remembered to film what I was up to, and recorded this straight away. It coincided with getting the new download of Reaper 5.0, which makes video sync to audio WAY easy, so I was able to pretty quickly sync up the audio to the video, put together the artwork while the video was uploading, put it on Bandcamp too and sent out the links on Twitter and Facebook. Simple as.

Here’s the video: [

Tags: Music News

Words And Music – Two New Things To Hear

August 7th, 2015 · Comments Off on Words And Music – Two New Things To Hear

Right, the new album is coming along nicely – I’ve started sorting through what I’ve recorded so far, just so the editing and selection process doesn’t get overwhelming later on! I’ve just put up a new track on Soundcloud – a slice of glitchy instrumental hip-hop, all recorded live and solo, with me playing bass and Quneo – I’m loving the expanded range of sounds that this has brought into my music world! The album’s going to be quite different from my earlier work!

Here the track. There’s a full description over on Soundcloud. More like this to come:

And in the middle of all the recording mayhem, I found time to record an episode of the No Treble podcast, in conversation with their resident host, Mitch Joel. Getting an hour to chat with Joel, and respond to his rather brilliant questions and conversational direction, was a huge treat. I hope you enjoy it:

Also, a big thanks to everyone who came to the Manchester Jazz Festival gig with Jon Thorne and Rob Turner. It was the first live outing for the Quneo, which was all kinds of fun!

We’re planning more gigs ASAP!

Tags: Music News

New album update…

August 1st, 2015 · 2 Comments

So, as you may know by now, I’m in the middle (at the beginning? near the end? There’s no way of knowing!) of recording a new solo album at the moment. Hours and hours of playing, recording, experimenting, listening happening every day. Which is all sorts of wonderous fun. It’s not an exercise I’ve indulged in to this degree since I recorded 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything back in 2011.

So what’s new? The biggest new thing is the addition of the Keith McMillen Quneo to my set-up. What on earth is that? you ask… Well, the Quneo is a MIDI controller, that can be used for pretty much anything that can be controlled via MIDI. In my case, that’s drums and synth sounds. I’m not – at all – interested in triggering loops, in having pre-recorded stuff that I bring in, but I am having a great time experimenting with playing parts in on it, and looping them in the Looperlative along with all the layers of bass.

Naturally, with there now being a straight up percussive element to what I’m doing, rhythm is occupying a very different part of the music that it usually does in my solo work. But I’m also digging really deep into some really broken, screwed up rhythmic ideas, so am fascinated – and a little trepidacious – how people will react… We’ll see I guess.

What’s REALLY exciting is that in the process of getting ideas together, I inadvertently finished a solo album. Closing In was started as a way to feed new tracks to my Subscribers as the project went along, but ended up being a complete solo album. It’s not THE solo album that’s going to be launched/released/whatever in September, but it IS one that I’m really proud of. I’ve been listening to it a lot, and have had really positive feedback from the subscribers about it. If you want it, you’ll need to subscribe (and get the other 14 releases that you get for your £20)more subscription details here.

The rhythmic side of things does feel really natural, given the nature of so many of my recent collaborations – starting with Daniel Berkman and progressing through the duos and trios with Andy Edwards, through the nascent projects with Beardyman (including the quartet with Andy Gangadeen on drums) on up to the duo with Divinity, I’ve been blessed by the deep grooves and rhythmic wisdom of so many of my collaborators of late. Daniel was the first person I heard play music on the Quneo – though his main percussive instrument is the Roland Handsonic. Andy and I have spent the last 2 or so years exploring how both his electronic and acoustic kits interface with my looping set up, and have built quite an amazing musical language between us. And Divinity was the one that tipped me over the edge – in the week we spent working on duo ideas, she was playing electronic drums on an M-Audio keyboard, AND beatboxing into her Roland RC300, and it worked so well. She’s such a fearless experimenter, and has an approach to throwing ideas together and letting them find their own space that really fits well with my own experimental, exploratory approach. Three musical soul mates all bringing a new rhythmic focus and – crucially – new *processes* into my musical world.

So the experiments continue, hopefully some of the drummy-stuff will be up on Soundcloud soon for y’all to hear (and maybe another little preliminary EP for subscribers – I need to watch out that I don’t become SO prolific it just gets confusing 😉 ) and I’m really hoping to get a day in the studio with Andy Edwards soon – that could easily end up just being THE album, such is the consistency of the ideas we seem to be generating together of late.

Til then, the single best thing you can do to make sure you don’t miss any of the new music, is join the subscribers over on Bandcamp – you’ll get every new thing I do immediately available in the Bandcamp app, and downloadable from your Bandcamp collection, plus everything I release in the coming 12 months (which includes the impending release of the first two duo tracks with Divinity!)

Here’s one of the tracks from Closing In, that’s also on Soundcloud. Enjoy!

Tags: Music News

New Interview Up at

July 21st, 2015 · Comments Off on New Interview Up at

There’s a lovely new interview with me up at

[click here to read the interview]

Given that KeithMcMillen are a music tech gear company, it’s deeply refreshing that the interview features such fascinating and deep questions (many of the questions were inspired by this blog post about Smallness ) – all credit to Tom Ferguson for instigating a conversation about something other than just music toys. (KMI make the Softstep controller that I’ve used pretty much every day for the last few years, and the Quneo which is my favourite new music-making toy, and may well feature pretty heavily on the new album. I love what they do 🙂 )

Anyway, have a read, and tweet them to say thanks if you thought it was useful 🙂

Tags: Music News