Back to the Bass-ics: A Q&A with Busty & The Bass On Musical Influence & That Funky Tube They Sing Into

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Hot on the music scene since since their debut album, Uncommon Good, Busty and the Bass is the lovechild of rap, hip hop, jazz, funk, electronic, classic rock, and gospel. In fact, name any genre and they've probably found a way to incorporate it into their sound. The Montreal-based eight-piece group is most recognized for their electric stage presence, signature horn section and seamless blending of music genres. 

That being said, it's no surprise that they have a vast array of musical influences. They started off playing college house parties and have toured the world since, recently playing The Troubadour in Los Angeles as they wind down their current set of shows. We met up with frontmen Nick Ferraro and Alistair Blu to get back to the bassics (get it?) in terms of musical influence and inspiration.

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OTW: Let's go all the way back to the beginning. What kind of music was playing in your households growing up?

Nick: Mine was pretty whitebread and basic honestly. My mom listened to Top 40 Radio and my dad listened to talk radio. They're super unmusical. Like ridiculously unmusical. But they had one dope record, which was Stevie Wonder's Christmas album.

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Alistair Blu: For me, it was The Beatles. I think my parents were pretty hip in terms of what they were listening to. I remember The Talking Heads was always playing, and Leonard Cohen was a big one. And they played jazz a lot. I think it was really nice that they always let me listen to what I wanted to. Like listening to Eminem when i was 11 probably wasn't the best message but I wouldn't be here without him.

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OTW: Who are your influences within rap specifically?

AB: I really love West Coast hip-hop, that was big growing up. And not just rap, people like Nate Dogg who sing and kind of blend the two things. Kendrick Lamar, 213, Outkast. Yeah.

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OTW: Are you self taught or did you take lessons?

AB: I was not self taught. I went to the conservatory for piano when I was like 8, and I did not want to do that. I played classical music for like a year before getting into jazz. I fell out of love with it and eventually got back into it, which involved a lot of self-teaching. But I needed to have the next level of discipline so I started studying with people in my hometown until I went to Montreal, where I met these guys.

OTW: So you never took vocal lessons?

AB: Nope! Probably something I should still do. (Laughs)

OTW: I'd say you're in the clear at this point.

AB: I mean you can always improve. For rap especially, you just need to practice.

OTW: Songwriting has to be collaborative in a group with 8 people, but how do you personally prefer to write?

AB: We've kind of realized that it's best to start alone, unless you start a song jamming in a small environment where you're pushing ideas off of each other. For me it's definitely been alone, and I think Nick's found that too.

N: Yeah I think I'm still finding my process as far as starting points go. Sometimes it'll be the music, sometimes it'll be a lyric, sometimes melody, and at times harmony. But I almost don't want to settle on something because then you put yourself in a box. If you're a person who always starts with harmony and then for a month you're not feeling any harmony then you're not going to write a single song.

OTW: When you listen back to to your first album, Uncommon Good, do you hear it differently than you did before? Would you change anything?

N: With our past work I'm always in a state of dissatisfaction, but I think it's in a healthy way. I wouldn't go change anything, but I'm always excited to do something new because I know how much better we can do.

AB: We do a lot of live arranging so the way we play it now is quite different. It is what it is and it's a cool piece of art and now we're looking forward to work on the next project.

OTW: For your fans wondering about that tube you sing into during your performances - what is that?

N: The Talk Box! It's a little speaker on the ground and the tube is just an extension of the speaker. So the tube channels the sound into your mouth from whatever note you play on the keyboard and makes an "ERRRRRR" sound and then you mouth the words. It's pretty cool.

OTW: How did you guys find out about that?

N: YouTube! Zapp and Roger. You gotta check them out, they were like the pioneers of that stuff.

OTW: If you could collab with one artist from the past, who would it be and why?

N: Mine's always Donny Hathaway. He's just amazing. He's the best singer I've ever heard in my life.

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AB: John Lennon. I feel like if he was alive now he'd be doing some really crazy shit. He'd probably be working with hip-hop artists.

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OTW: Who are your Ones to Watch?

You should definitely check out our openers, STS.

OTW: What's next for you guys?

When we finish up the tour we'll be back in the studio a week or two after we're done.

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