Female Bassist Notable: Ego Sensation

11 01 2012

While on assignment for Feast of Music, I was thrilled to have seen, heard and met Ego Sensation — the bassist for White Hills.  A powerful presence, without words, Ego also has lots of powerful things to share from her approach to life, her love of comedy, solo album, film productions and overall empowering nature.  I want you to meet her too. Read on… (also some great video of her on tour)

Ego Sensation, Bassist

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

Ego Sensation: I started playing bass about 8 years ago but had previously played guitar for many years. As an 8 year old I took piano lessons and picked it up fairly easily. I learned to read music but usually playing by ear. At 16 I was really into Led Zeppelin and decided to borrow a friend’s nylon string guitar and teach myself to play their songs. From there I branched out into writing my own songs.

Describe your rig (amp/cab/effects/axe)

Ego: I love my bass! It’s an Ampeg Dan Armstrong reissue. The fret board is perfect for a petite-handed player like myself (it’s not short-scale but it isn’t your standard long-scale either) and it’s clear plexiglass which looks dynamite on stage. I have an Acoustic b600h amp head that I play through an Acoustic 4×10 cab and also a Musicman 1×15. I use several effects: Homebrew Electronics Hematoma Overdrive/Preamp, Ibanez Tube Screamer, Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb, Boss DD3 Digital Delay, Electro Harmonix Freeze (sustain pedal), and the Moogerfooger Bass Murf.

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

EgoI’ve played in 4 different bands- one as sole guitar player/singer, another as lead guitar, the third as drummer, and my most current White Hills as bass and backing vocals. I work on my own solo material in addition to the band.

How did you become part of  White Hills?

EgoDave W. (guitar and vocals) and I have been friends/collaborators for years. About 6 years ago, he produced a solo album under the moniker White Hills using drum/bass samples. When he decided to build a band around the project I was the first to sign on. Since then we’ve put out 5 full-length albums and a slew of limited-edition cdrs and EPs.

What is life like touring with mostly men?

Ego: It’s fun most of the time! I like hanging out with men and for the most part the men I come in contact with are great. I’ve had a handful of ridiculous, sexist-type incidents (for instance, in one european country a promoter refused to pay the band’s fee to me because as he said “I don’t do business with women.”) That kind of thing pisses me off but at the same time I find it too absurd to get upset about. I do wish that there were more women out there in the stoner-rock world but there are some and they hold their own.  One thing i’ve learned from touring is that rock is still basically a boys club: I’ll never understand why because women have the same capacity and desire to play music, but that’s just how it seems to be. I don’t worry about it. I’m doing what I love and if I show up backstage and the guys feel like i’m breaking up their party- get over it! Toughen up and pass me a beer.

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

Ego: At this point in my life, I’m living it up! I work at the band (which can be full time during spring and fall touring seasons) and I also work on my films.

What inspires you?

Ego: Bands like the Flaming Lips. They started in 1983 and have been performing consistently since then. Though they only had one hit single in 1993, they have a tremendously large, loyal following. Their albums, collaborations and live shows continue to evolve and they seem to stay quite true to their principles as artists.

Comedy! Most of my favorite funny people happen to be women: Amy Sedaris, Amy Poehler, Cheri Oteri. Molly Shannon, Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Saunders, the list goes on. Comedy is a great subversive arena for women to be able to defy the usual object role in popular culture and redefine themselves as empathetic subjects.

Anyone I see working hard at what they do: other artists in NYC, the postal clerk that remains friendly with a line out the door during the holidays, Iggy Pop who at 64 still gives an amazing live show, a documentary I saw on the loggerhead turtle- the list goes on. I’ve learned to find inspiration in many places and as often as possible. You need it in NYC.

What type of advice would you offer to women that would like to follow in your footsteps?

Ego: Focus, Discipline, Strength. That’s my mantra. For anything you want in life, large or small, you must commit yourself to your goal and hold yourself accountable. There are obvious struggles for a woman going into the music business. Your skills need to be twice as good to receive any kind of notice otherwise you may find yourself the token “chick” in the band. But regardless of whether you find yourself being judged on your looks or having your abilities belittled by small minds- you must avoid a victim mentality. Stay focused on the positive: work on your musicianship, connect with other musicians/artists, and set small goals that you can diligently conquer to build your confidence. And whenever you think it can’t be done, think of all the women that have done it and are doing it like Esperanza Spalding, St Vincent, Cat Power, Joan Jett, Lady Gaga, Kim Gordon, Joni Mitchell, Madonna, Karen O, Erykah Badu, Sheila E, Tori Amos, Chrissie Hynde, Lauryn Hill, Aimee Mann, Lita Ford, etc…………..

Future plans?

Ego: White Hills has a new album being released in March 2012. We’ll be doing a lot of touring in Europe and the US around that time. I’m finishing up some songs for a solo record to release later in the Spring.

Links for Ego Sensation!

Follow her Blog Here

Ego’s Youtube 

White Hills Online

Ego on Facebook



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

Guitarists: Are Men better than Women?

27 01 2011

Why are there so few famed female guitar players in the world? Is it because men are better or more capable physically? I THINK NOT!  Or is it, generally, that their natural approach to honing skills is different and more effective?

Here, I/We shall explore the difference between male and female guitar players OR for that matter, any occupation or skill that is traditionally viewed in society as a “man’s game”. I will share about my own discoveries on my journey to acheiving my goal in a male dominated arena.

Stay tuned for my first blog entry, followed by reccomendations and links for budding guitar players.


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