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BassPlayer 2017-01

BassPlayer 2017-01

F ETIENNE MBAPPÉ The

F ETIENNE MBAPPÉ The more you play odd times, the more you get familiar with it. Sometimes it’s good to create your own internal loop instead of counting. Some odd numbers are really tough, though. The arrangements on How Near How Far are exquisite, and the trumpet/tenor/violin instrumentation is unusual. What’s your writing process? I write on bass or guitar. When I built the band, I was hearing a section that mixed horns and strings, and that’s why I got tenor sax, trumpet, and Clement Janinet on violin. His violin sounds like no other— a cross between North Africa, West Africa, and the Middle East, with Arabian, Andalusian, Indian, and Eastern European influences. He is the only one I know who sounds like that. In the middle of the horns, he gives me that tasty, colorful, spicy tone I was dreaming of. What advice do you have for composers who want to integrate many influences without sounding clinical and artificial? No special advice. I love music that surprises me, and I am blessed to travel all around the world playing music, meeting different people, tasting a lot of different food, seeing a lot of different colors, and hearing a lot of different music that sometimes blows my mind. When I’m back home, my head is full of all this beauty, and that inspires my creative process. A blowing wind could be an inspiration, as well, if it talks to you and you can hear it talking. But what works for me may not work for others. You’re well known for playing basses by Marleaux, Noguera, and F Bass. What do you look for in an instrument? Great, big, smooth, round, precise tone is what I’m looking for. Do you also play Warwick and Lairat instruments? Yes I do. Seven of the 11 tunes on How Near How Far were recorded with a Warwick StarBass II Single Cut. The sound is massive and very precise. I love it. Gloves keep your strings bright, but do you prefer the tone of gloves on strings? I’m so used to these silk gloves. They’re totally a part of my sound now. When I play without them— when I’m called for a jam, for example—it sounds to me like I’m playing with a pick. I prefer my tone with glove on strings. Are you still using DR Strings and EBS amps? Yes. DR Strings are the best in the world. I’ve been playing EBS amps forever, and they’re a big part of my sound. Do you have a regular practice routine? Not really. I just grab a bass and let my fingers go. Sometimes they do scales, sometimes they play a spontaneous line that could end up being a tune or an idea for a song. I just let them do whatever they feel like doing. What are some of the best ways to practice intonation on fretless bass? Play softly, and focus on your vibrato by playing slow melodic lines. What advice did you give your son Swaeli when he decided to get serious about bass? I taught him the basics and essentials on bass and guitar, and I told him to be himself, no matter who his dad is. That’s what he has done. He is brilliant, so talented. Definitely one of my favorite bass players today! BP 44 bassplayer.com / january2017

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