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



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