Exclusive Interview: Five Minutes with Busty and the Bass

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Busty and the Bass are a neo-soul & funk octet that consists of Nick Ferraro [vocals, alto sax] Evan Crofton a.k.a. Alistair Blu [vocals, keys, synths], Scott Bevins [trumpet], Chris Vincent [trombone], Louis Stein [guitar], Milo Johnson [bass], Eric Haynes [keys, piano], and Julian Trivers [drums]. Becoming acquainted with each other after attending the jazz program at McGill University back in 2011, Busty and the Bass was realized soon after that. To date, they have released the EP “GLAM “(2015) & “LIFT”(2016). Their debut album “Uncommon” Good was released in 2017, and now they have dropped a new funky song collab with world-acclaimed songstress Macy Gray titled ‘Out Of Love’. 

We find out more about this dynamic collaboration in this exclusive. 

Set the tone for us. Why the arts? 

I feel very lucky to get to do what I do. My favourite thing about my job is getting to share with our fans the joy that I feel when I play music, and when I create music with my fellow band members. Especially in a live setting, that’s a powerful thing, and I hope it makes a small difference in people’s lives.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea? 

Good question! With the band, it’s usually the idea first then finding a sound that works best with everything else going on. But sometimes a sound I love can be super inspiring, and lead to cool musical ideas. So I like working that way too.

Does your material feature any collaborations? 

Yes! We’ve had some collaborations lately that I’ve really loved. We’ve already chatted about Macy Gray but it was an honour to get George Clinton on a track recently as well. We’ve also worked with Amber Navran from the band Moonchild, which I love and would recommend that everyone check out.

Tell us about your experience of working with Macy Gray.

Macy’s an iconic artist that all of us in the band look up to. We’ve actually been covering her song ‘I Try’ in our live show for a few years. We thought she’d be an amazing voice to get on our song ‘Out of Love’, and we were lucky that our incredible producer Neal Pogue has worked with her before. Collaborating on this song was a funny thing because we never actually got to go in the studio with her. But she’s the kind of artist that you can send a verse and trust that she’ll kill it, which is exactly what happened.

What’s on your current playlist? 

I’m a big fan of Grimes, and I’ve been listening to her last album Miss Anthropocene a bunch. I just listened to Lianne LaHavas’ cover of ‘Weird Fishes’, which is fantastic. I’ve enjoyed hearing her play that song since I found the YouTube video of her playing it at Glastonbury. I also love Kiasmos, an Icelandic techno group. And when I’m looking for something more old school I love the Earth Wind & Fire album Live at Velfarre.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage. 

That energy exchange and mutual appreciation is a huge part of our show, and one of the things I’ve missed most since the pandemic started. We love our fans and I can’t wait until we can hit the road again with our new songs.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 

As far as keys and synths in the band, I love granular delay plugins like Soundtoys’ ‘Crystallizer’ to get more depth and intricacy into my sounds.

Many modern musicians shy away from using brass instruments within their music. However, you’ve managed to make this a part of your signature sound. If you could take this one step further and collaborate with another musician with a unique sound, who would your first choice be and why?

Probably Andre 3000. He has such a unique voice and great musical ideas. Also he’s killed every guest verse he’s done in the last 10 years! ‘Solo’ (Frank Ocean), ‘Party’ (Beyonce), ‘Hello’ (Erykah Badu), ‘Where’s the Catch’ (James Blake), and so many more. Damn.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

We often get together outside the studio to jam or work on tunes in a relaxed setting, but when we’re in the studio it’s all business. In the past we’ve worked on tunes in small batches, with the rhythm section laying down beds, followed by horns and vocals.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment. In High School I thought it’d be really cool to go on tour someday, but I would never have guessed that at some point in my 20s there would be more weeks where I was on the road than not. Touring is a grind sometimes, and it’s not for everyone. Being stuck at home because of Covid has made me think a lot about what I did and didn’t like about that lifestyle. That being said, I’m excited to get back to it for a bit and play some shows again.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set? *

Water and Jameson, my setlist, mint blistex (best flavor by far).

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Last year I saw an excellent set in LA by an artist named Gibbz. It was heavy on live looping, kind of Jack Garrett-esque. I really enjoyed it. Busty has also had the good fortune of touring with S.T.S. (we call him Slim), an American rapper, poet, and very special human who has worked with artists like RJD2.

What gets your creative juices flowing? *

Making music with other humans, especially the humans in my band, all of whom I am very close with.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression. 

I produce with Ableton Live, and I recently got a Push which I’ve been very stoked on. I’m a big fan of all the Soundtoys and FabFilter plugins as well.

Any side projects you’re working on? 

Yeah! Lately, I’ve been working on a techno album where all the sounds are sourced from field recordings I took on a backpacking trip in 2019. It’s been a great way to expand my sound design chops. Keep an eye out!

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

Coming out of college I was very focused on the technical aspects of playing piano. Since then I’ve really expanded my abilities as a producer, and gained an understanding of all the different components that need to come together to make a successful song.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year? 

Even more music! I can’t spoil anything, but we have some more tracks we’re really excited about coming soon.

Famous last words?

Not just my words, but Black Lives Matter! And Black Trans Lives Matter.

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