Female Bassist: Interview w/ Baassik

22 12 2011

I recently had the opportunity to jam with Pam “Baassik” Jennet, from NYC. As bassist of Lo Frequency, she has toured in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria,Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.  Here’s a glimpse of our conversation! This is golden for any new players out there.

Sky Disco: When did you start playing bass and how did your journey as a musician begin?

Baassik: My great-grandmother, who raised me, and my elementary school music teacher, Ms. Janet Dunston, encouraged me to play music.  “Mommy” got me an acoustic guitar when I was ten. Around the same time, Ms. Dunston brought a new classical music curriculum to our school. Because of them, I played the violin, viola, guitar and trumpet. By high school, I was teaching myself acoustic guitar.

But I loved the sound of bass. And since I had very small hands & fingers, I thought that it would be easier to play bass guitar. (My hands are really small. I can still wear children’s gloves.) So, I begged for the $60 for the bass. “Mommy” finally gave me the cash and I ran down to the pawnshop and got the bass.  I still have it.

Sky Disco: Describe your own personal rig (amp/cab/effects/axe)

Baassik: Right now, I’m using:

Ibanez SR 505 bass (5 string)-My main bass these days and first stab at five string.

Fender Precision (MIM/4 string). One of the standards.

Schecter Stiletto Custom 4 string-I toured overseas with this. Nice lightweight bass.

Ibanez AEB, which is a huge acoustic bass!

I own a Mark Bass CMD 1×12 400w. Love that thing. Love the sound, nice and warm.  Worse-case scenario, I go direct and I’ll use a Sans Amp Bass DI box.

Effects:  I love effects and would have more if I could.  I’m a pedal-head that could easily hang with Bootsy Collins; he has massive gear and pedals!

I use a Korg Pitch Black tuner, Boss Bass Compression, Boss Bass Chorus.

Sky Disco: Have you played in several bands? Approximately how many would you say?

Baasik: Hmmm…. I would say five or six bands or artists.

Sky Disco: How did you become part of Lo Frequency?

BaasikWell, the original bassist, eYe serene, was leaving the band for personal reasons. She remembered me from when we performed at a show with one of my old bands.  (She performed alone; I was with my band at the time.) Being a pro, she didn’t want to leave the band without a replacement, so she recommends me and suggested that I meet Chen [Chen Lo], and the band to see if we fit. That was in 2008 or 2009. I’ve been with them since.

What people don’t know about us is that we have a teaching curriculum. We teach about the history of Hip Hop and its roots. We have a program where we break up the participants into groups and at the end, the participants have a new song that we all perform on the spot.

Sky DiscoWhat has been your favorite or most exciting parts of your experience with  Lo Frequency?

BaasikWe were one of ten bands in the 2010 Jazz At Lincoln Center Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad program. We traveled and taught in six (6) different countries in North Africa & the Middle East. I had never traveled abroad before that, so I was really excited to do that.

Sky DiscoWhat are the challenges you have had to face?

BaasikAs a musician:  The music industry has changed and is still changing. So much so that the book is still being written. Finding paying gigs is another thing in NYC. It is who you know as well as how well you play and perform.

How many hats do you wear in life? (Family, career, personal projects, hobbies, school)

Baasik: I am the bass player/musician, carpenter girl, gear head.  I’m the official food test dummy in my house; my partner of almost twelve years, Des, is a great cook. And she can handle my ‘musician-ness’.

Sky DiscoWhat inspires you?

BaasikGrooves! The kind that make your head nod with some stank on it. I’m not the bassist who will do a crazy solo. I’m more into the groove.

Effects also inspire me. It opens your mind and ear to “that other stuff” sonically. I love genres such as ambient, house, hip hop…stuff like that.

Creative people and songs that make me ‘go away’ also inspire me.

Sky DiscoWhat type of advice would you offer to women that would like to do what you do?

Baasik: Learn as much as you can about the music biz. Go to expos, read and try out gear.

Talk to other musicians; most are nice and like to ‘talk shop’. Just don’t do that while they are obviously busy at a show.

If you can afford it, take music lessons, and then do your own thing.

Ask questions. And then ask more questions.

Learn about your instrument and its history; history, especially women players and about the gear.

And trust yourself. There are women out there playing bass and there have been since the beginning.

Sky Disco: Future plans?

BaasikI’m developing my sound, which is never ending, it seems. I want to have a space where I can go, safely leave some gear, and play whenever, whatever.  I also want to take some classes for music.

I want to teach women starting out on bass. I taught at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and would love to take that a step further.

I also have some bands & artists that I look forward to work with in 2012.  My next gig with is with Goddess Complex on January 15th at Littlefield in Brooklyn. This is the first time I will perform with an all-girl group.  The Lo Frequency is my main band, but I continue to work with others as well.

To see more of Baassik, CHECK THESE:

The Lo Frequency on Facebook

The Lo Frequency website

Meg Ramsey

BAASSIK on Facebook


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