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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



A Decade In Music – The Solo Bass Years.

December 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

First Ever Solo Gig, London, December 1999

My first ever solo gig was at the Troubadour in Earls Court, London, on Dec 15th, 1999 – 10 years ago last week.

The eve of the new millennium, and a gig that started with a lie (the lovely chap who booked the gig asked me if I had a whole set of material after seeing me do one solo tune in a band-gig. I lied and said ‘yes’ 🙂 ). It wasn’t the first time I’d played solo bass in public – that was a product demo at the National Music Show for Bassist Magazine in Nov 97. I also played weird improv noise stuff for a contemporary dance company in Nov 98.
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Tags: Gig stuff · Music News · Musing on Music

A Decade In Music

December 7th, 2009 · 19 Comments

We’re rapidly approaching the end of the decade.

A decade that began just a couple of weeks after my first ever solo gig.

That gig, unknown to me at the time, marked a pretty huge turning point in my music career.

The ‘session’ work I’d be pursuing and doing up til that point was to dry up pretty damn quick when word got out that I was doing gigs on my own, but equally fast, word spread about what I was up to to the people who might like to listen to it, and I started to play more and more shows, and in August 2000 put out my first solo album. A decade later, and here we are… Where? I’m not sure. [Read more →]

Tags: music reviews · Musing on Music

NaNoWriMo – Steve Writes A Novel (possibly)

November 1st, 2009 · 11 Comments

For the last couple of Novembers I’ve been aware of friends of mine being a part of ‘National Novel Writing Month‘, more often referred to (at least, on twitter) as NaNoWriMo.

So this afternoon, on a whim, I thought ‘I wonder if I can write a novel about some musicians who in some imaginary world start a cultural revolution, accidentally’ – I realised that it would be fun to have a go at writing a long-form hypothetical case study on how the world of music might work out. After all, it’s how a lot of novels work – either romantic or dystopic visions of an imaginary future for people and planet. [Read more →]

Tags: Geek · journalism · Random Catchup

Upcoming London Gig – Oct 7th with Michael Manring

September 10th, 2009 · Comments Off on Upcoming London Gig – Oct 7th with Michael Manring

Yup, finally, about 5 years after our last one together, I’ve got a London gig with Michael Manring. For those that don’t know, Michael is, IMHO, the finest solo bassist ever to pick up the instrument. He’s been doing this stuff longer than I’ve been playing bass, has sold literally hundreds of thousands of records (how many solo bass players can you say that about??), and has even reinvented the instrument to make things possible that weren’t possible before.

The gig is at Round Midnight Jazz and Blues Bar, on Oct 7th, starting at 8.30. Tickets will be £8 on the door, £7 in advance – to reserve tickets, call 020 7837 8758 or email “ntmusic [theATsymbol] gmail [a dot] com”. (it’s highly likely to sell out – we played to about 130 people at the Troubadour last time he was here…) [Read more →]

Tags: gig dates · Music News

More Music Video – New Public Beta experiments + Duo with Theo Travis

May 12th, 2009 · Comments Off on More Music Video – New Public Beta experiments + Duo with Theo Travis

picture of some old book, by Steve LawsonHere are the latest couple of videos I’ve put up. The first is another of the experimental ideas I’m working on for the new album – this time I wanted to try something a little more solidly rhythmic, just to see how the replace functions interact with a percussive track. (the part is played by muting all the strings, and then using a ‘double thumb’ technique, more readily associated with slap bass, to get the percussive pattern).

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Tags: looping · Music News · Musing on Music

Open Letter To The UK Jazz Community Pt V – Blogging.

May 11th, 2009 · Comments Off on Open Letter To The UK Jazz Community Pt V – Blogging.

photo of Corey Mwamba at the BarbicanAt the end of Pt IV, I said that band leaders could consider not hiring musicians who don’t blog to help promote the music. A few of you didn’t like that idea, suggesting that it’s all about the music, and why should someone have to be a writer in order to play music?

To which my answer is twofold:

  • Firstly, I did say ‘it’s not a hard and fast rule – you don’t want to, you don’t have to. But…
  • Secondly, you don’t have to be a writer to have a blog. You just have to want to tell people about cool stuff that’s going on around you. Some of the best blogs are a collection of really short posts – they’re a little bit of information, and some kind of embedded media. If you feel inspired to elaborate, or to write in the kind of long form article-based way that I do, that’s great, but that’s not why musicians should be blogging.

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Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Two Contrasting New Musical Experiments (Video)

May 9th, 2009 · Comments Off on Two Contrasting New Musical Experiments (Video)

photo of a painting from the Urban Scrawl exhibition in London, April 09Here’s the two latest bits of ‘public beta test music’ that I’ve put up online.

They contrast a couple of different possible uses of the functions I’ve been exploring on the Looperlative of late – the first being using the replace functions as an ancillary bleepy effect in an otherwise mellow ballad, and the second being a full-on rhythmic bleep-fest, that veers much closer to glitch-core (though the fact that my rhythmic reference point is just a fairly slow ‘four on the floor’ kick-drum style pattern is a little less interesting than you’d expect from something more obviously IDM…) [Read more →]

Tags: looping · Music News

Two More Musical Experiments… And a Podcast.

May 6th, 2009 · Comments Off on Two More Musical Experiments… And a Podcast.

photo of an omlette - in now way connected to the contents of the blog post.It’s been another very creative day – after the video that I put up this morning, I got working again on some more musical experiments using the looperlative with the new buttons that I’ve programmed.

Each day that I experiment with these glitchy replace functions, it feels like I’m getting closer them being ‘musically transparent’ – where the music is bigger than the technique… I’m trying to get so comfortable with the tech that I can employ it while focussing on the music.

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Tags: looping · Music News

More New Music: Video of a Looperlative Glitchy Bluesy Electronica Experiment

May 6th, 2009 · Comments Off on More New Music: Video of a Looperlative Glitchy Bluesy Electronica Experiment

screen grab of the Vimeo page for the video embedded in this blog post at stevelawson.netHere’s another new ‘public beta’ video – this time, I’m experimenting with some new functions that’ve just been added to the Looperlative LP1. (that’s the looping device I use…)

The new tricks are around the idea of ‘replacing‘ bits of a loop, with other audio, giving it a chopped up, glitchy feel. The main effect I’m using is a ‘quantise replace‘ function, that replaces bits, but switches on on and off on the beat, so when I hit the button it waits for the next exact subdivision of the loop (in this case, 1/96th of the whole loop time) before doing anything, and again to switch off again. [Read more →]

Tags: looping · Music News

A Foray into Dark Ambient Improv (More New Music)

April 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on A Foray into Dark Ambient Improv (More New Music)

photo of a painting from the Urban Scrawl exhibitionI spent a lovely few hours today with David Stevens, a wonderful musician working mainly with abstract drones and soundscapes, often using bowed strips of metal to create the most amazing textures.

We met through Tuttle, and have been talking for a while about recording together, and today it finally happened, though not without an hour or so of technical faffing thanks to some problematic gear… [Read more →]

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