Featured Reggae Artist K-Bass is on the Dubb Spot!
We Have Featured A Reggae Artist Before But None Like K-Bass!
Although Titled Reggae Artist, K-Bass Adds A Little Twist To His Sound.
DSR: How old were you when you developed an interest in music?
K-Bass: I was exposed to the traditional Senoufo music of the Ivory Coast from birth as my father and mother where both traditional singers and dancers. By age 14, I knew all the songs that my mother and father used to play and I also knew some of my mother’s dance moves. She was a “Korodjouba” or “dancer-peace maker” in the Senoufo Tribe.
DSR: What was your earliest musical memory? What formed your love of music in your head?
K-Bass: It’s hard to put a finger on just one memory. Music has been a major part of my life and my culture since birth. My brain automatically connects to a good melody no matter in what language. As a kid I remember singing to the tunes of a reggae artist like Salif Keita, Alpha Blondy, Group Kassav, BonnyM, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, AJah Man, Yroy, Julio Iglisias, Mireille Mathieu, and a lot of West African music such as Zouglou and Mandingo music. As I grew up, people would ask me to sing all the time in my home country and I began to learn as much of the contemporary music of my country as possible so I would be prepared. Now original music comes into my head complete with a distinct melody and well-defined lyrics and I just cannot stop singing what comes to me. So I was taught by my parents first and then by being exposed to so many great artists. I eat, breathe, and sleep music.
DSR: Let’s get to know a little more about you and how you grew up. What was it like in your hometown? What kind of kid were you?
K-Bass: I was born and raised into a traditional musical Family in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast in West Africa. I grew up in poverty. Poverty in Africa is not like poverty in the United States or most of Europe. As a child we didn’t own a TV or any appliances. Our source of light at night was a petroleum lamp or candle. My mother fetched water from a well in the ground and later on from a public water station for us to drink. We would bathe in a bucket using the water my mother gathered from the well every day. In many African Nations either you are poor or you are rich. There is no middle class. I always tried to be a good kid and tried to be very polite and disciplined. Of course I couldn’t get away with any wrong doing even if I wanted to. My mother and father would correct me right away. So my parents and I had to work very hard to get anything that we needed. I knew when we had money for food and when we didn’t and I learned how to be patient. I Love my parents very much and promised myself that I would get my family out of poverty. My parents sacrificed a lot to get me into school. School was miles and miles away from home and you absolutely had to be on time every day. You were expected to go home for lunch, go back at 2Pm, and come back home again before 6Pm. The only vehicle that I had was my two legs and I ran from home to school every day. Eventually, I joined the Ivory Coast National Army where I served for 9 years. As a result I had the opportunity to run formal races and I become one of the Ivory Coast’s top long distance runners. I represented the Ivory Coast in many international athletic races and won many of them. During all that time, music was bursting out of me but I had no way to develop it.
DSR: So let’s talk about your music. How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?
K-Bass: The melodies of my music are based on traditional West African tones from Mali and the Ivory Coast. It is a combination of African style reggae music and the very distinct rhythms of Zouglou music and (an Ivory Coast style of African Pop music) and Zouk music from the Caribbean Islands. I sing in French, Bambara, and English. Sometimes as a reggae artist I play straight reggae, but I really like the combination of these styles. It’s a big sound so I have a big band, K-Bass and Farafina Musiki. We have a wonderful keyboardist, a horn section, congas, kick drum, guitars, base guitar, etc., all arranged in collaboration with our music director Joe Townend and assistant music director Scott Anderson. We have an amazing group of beautiful dancers who work with us also, led by Uzo Nwankpa. Eventually, we’ll add more traditional African instruments. The band and my music is always evolving. The vocals drive the music, so I have several backup singers to support me led by Lyn Fritts and Tabitha Danloe. They are the backbone of my music. My goal is to make you dance to the point you can’t stop. My lyrics are uplifting. We want to make you feel really good when you listen to our music but we also address important issues. We just do it in a positive way that makes you want to listen. That, after all, was my mother’s job. Healing and understanding through music and dance.
DSR: What is the significance of your name?
K-Bass: K stands for Karaba, the village my parents came from and Bass is a shortened version of my first name “Bassirima”
DSR: There’s a part of the industry that irks me the most, where great music gets overlooked because it doesn’t fit a mold. How frustrating is that for you, if people seem to think that you don’t have that sound for radio?
K-Bass: You know, so far people really seem to like my music. The bigger challenge is that radio stations tend to favor music that’s promoted by a major studio and there are more radio stations playing to a rock and roll, hip hop or American pop audience at least in the US. Those stations are just following what they believe to be the demand. I have had some radio play and I think that will expand as my fan base grows. I believe in destiny. God has a plan for each of us and he does for me. I have no doubt that the right people in the industry will eventually hear my music and they’ll like it. I love live shows because that is where I connect the most with people who have never heard my music. Once exposed to my music they fall in love with it. I must admit that I listen to the radio and I hear the same songs over and over all day long. The listeners deserved to be exposed to something new something that will expand their horizons and I hope that more radio stations, even those who may not normally play my style of music will take a chance on something different. Based on the audience feedback we have so far, they won’t be sorry.
DSR: What do you think needs to be brought to music in this decade and how do you plan to add to that as a reggae artist?
K-Bass: I want to bring more substance to the music. Love songs make up the huge majority of the popular music you hear every day. I understand that there is an audience for love songs all over the world and I have one or two myself, but we need to make sure as musicians we lay out other world concerns such as poverty, and peace, and that we sing about the beauty of the universe and what we can do to preserve it. Music should really move someone and give them a meaningful experience while entertaining. My number one goal is to bring people together through my songs. Unity is my main goal. I hate the way people find ways to divide. Division brings war and all of the pain that goes with war.
DSR: What do you think of the music that came out in the last decade?
K-Bass: There is a lot of new music that I like out there but I’ve noticed that 100% electronic music is being used in lot of songs. Computer enhanced vocal performances are being use more and more. That concerns me. It undermines natural vocal talent. How can you compete against a computer and how does an audience connect with something that doesn’t come from the soul but is just mechanical? Someone with true vocal skill can really pour a performance out from their hearts and give the audience something they can really connect with and something to aspire to. I would like to see more of live performances instead of lip synching and auto tune.
DSR: How would you rate the music that your music competes against any other reggae artist in your local area?
K-Bass: We hear from audiences all the time who really fall in Love with our sound and just Love our band. Feedback has been more than positive at each show and our online presence is starting to grow pretty quickly as we find new ways to connect with fans and get the music out there. That’s a wonderful, humbling feeling. I’m not going to compare my music to specific other bands however. There are a lot of musicians out there who I really respect, some of whom we work with when we play concerts. I’ll leave it for the fans to decide who they really connect with.
DSR: Have you learned any lessons so far and if so, what are they?
K-Bass: Capital is the key to this business. Money. It’s really challenging to build a management team and to build and maintain a strong band and to reach fans (you need to advertise so that people can find you) with no budget at all and having a strong team behind you is absolutely essential. So very much work and dedication goes into building a career in the business and you must have a lot of patience and be willing to make a lot of sacrifices and have a team behind you that sees the vision. I’ve also learned that you have to be very conscious of what the audience wants to see. A balance between your artistic vision as a reggae artist and the needs of your audience and your target market. You must always maintain your artistic integrity while being aware of what fans really want to hear and see.
DSR: Do you write all of your own material? And if so, are you working on any new projects or have any projects that you are promoting right now?
K-Bass: I am currently promoting my second solo album “La Liberte” which I am very proud of. The album has 17 tracks in three languages. I’m finishing two more albums right now to be released this year and next. I write all of my own lyrics and work with my producer to create the melodies and music. That part is a team effort but I am personally and deeply involved in every aspect of the songwriting. As a reggae artist, I really care about the message in my music and I have a lot to say.
DSR: Where can the people find you performing or attend the events you are involved in?
K-Bass: Stay tuned to my website: www.kbassmusic.com for notices of events and other exciting things. You can also connect with us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Bass-Music/397093760326013 and twitter https://twitter.com/BassirimaSoro
DSR: Where can we find your music online and offline?
DSR: We ask all Artists that we interview, what’s the best piece of advice that someone has ever given to you?
K-Bass: Be original and stay original.
DSR: Is there anything else that you would like to include in closing of this interview?
K-Bass: I would like to say this to all the fans and for those who have not heard my music yet. As a reggae artist, song writer, singer, and stage performer I LOVE to share my music with people. My fans are my biggest inspiration. I love to connect with my fans and to see everyone really enjoying my music. That’s my greatest joy. We work really hard to make every detail just right during our shows and to create excellent music that you will be singing for weeks. Please listen to my songs and let the symphony of each song get into your mind. The melodies are made to please you and bring you joy to and make you DANCE.
Thanks K-Bass for stopping through the Dubb Spot. What an experienced Reggae Artist to interview.