[INTERVIEW] Freekbass Reveals His Musical Journey And Inspirations

In this exclusive interview, we enter into the fascinating world of Freekbass, a renowned bass player with a rich history in Funk and Electronic Dance music. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Freekbass’s musical journey began at an early age, inspired by the mesmerizing tones of the bass that he first encountered as a child; renowned funk icon Bootsy Collins played a pivotal role in Freekbass’s career, giving him his iconic nickname and guiding him into the world of music Production. Throughout his career, Freekbass has collaborated with a multitude of notable musicians and artists, pushing the boundaries of his own music and incorporating elements of Electronic music and DJ culture into his unique style. In this interview, Freekbass shares insights into his inspirations, the story behind his name, his transition to a solo artist, and his exciting projects for the future. 

Hi, Freekbass, pleasure to meet you! How’s it going?  

Hello! It’s great to be here, and thanks for reaching out. 

What or who inspired you to become a bass player?  

It was always the sound & tones of the bass. I remember being a really little kid in Cincinnati, OH and being at a hardware store with my Dad. A guy walked past the window blasting ‘More Bounce To The Ounce’ by Zapp on a boombox and I was mesmerized by the sound I was hearing. I didn’t even know it was bass, but those frequencies spoke to me in a way I had not experienced up to that point. A couple years later in grade school a Jazz band from Oberlin Conservatory of Music came to my school to perform and they sat me right in front of the bass player, and I heard those tones again up close, and now knew where they could be made. It was then I knew I had to play that instrument.  

Is there a story or meaning behind the formation of the name, ‘Freekbass’? How did you arrive at the name ‘Freekbass’?  

Funk legend Bootsy Collins gave me the name. I was invited to play bass on a session by Mudbone Cooper (George Clinton & P-Funk/Bootsy’s Rubberband) for an album for a label in Japan. Bootsy was the engineer & producer on the track and it was being recorded at his studio. When I started recording I plugged my bass into a bunch of Bootsy’s effect pedals that were there, and he said “you got that Freek bass thing goin’ on!”. That led to “do that Freeky bass thing”, and eventually led to him and folks around the studio that day calling me Freekbass. I think part of it too was he just met me and it was a way to remember my name, lol. A couple of weeks later he invited me back to the studio to work on some of my stuff and teach me the ways of the studio. He said to me around then that I should just go with that name, and here we are! 

What was the ‘major moment’ that led you to transition from playing bass in Funk bands and starting to experiment as a solo project – incorporating live loops with instruments in your shows? We would love to hear more about that journey!  

I’ve always been so inspired by Electronic music and DJ culture. I even put out a very EDM-centric album about 10 years ago, Concentrate, that was with different DJ’s and producers in that area. Plus I toured with DJ Logic and DJ Spooky in a side-project called Headtronics which I added basslines to the beats they would come up with. When I started working with Bootsy I thought it would be lots of cool bass guitar stuff I would learn (which there was a lot of), but the main thing he showed me was how to produce and create beats & grooves on the AKAI MPC-2000. The MPC, along with my loopers have been the staples to my bass playing and beat creation. When Roland came out with the RC-505 a few years ago, it was a game changer for me. It is similar to a DJ controller because you are able to mix and beat create with your hands in real time, while still incorporating my bass guitar playing into it. I’m now able to play a lot of similar venues and late night stages that DJs and producers do because my setup and soundscapes are similar. 

Do you feel your background as an avid bass player, made an impact on developing your tracks and current style? If so, could you share more about your process?  

The bass is such a powerful instrument for songwriting and beat creation because you are creating both the rhythmic and the harmonic structure of a song. For instance, if I stay on one note the groove will have one feeling, but if I move around to different notes and keys, it can create a whole new feeling even with the other instruments staying where they are. Plus with the addition of effects and new tones, the bass lends itself so much to creating new sonic landscapes. When I create a new groove, I generally start with the drums and either create the beat with my AKAI MPC, or manipulate a recording or a sample of live drums. Because bass is my go-to, I usually write a bassline next, or sometimes a vocal hook. From there, I enhance the rhythm and the harmony with keys, strings and guitar, which I also play. 

Who was your favorite artist growing up? And what would be one of your favorite shows you’ve ever attended?  

There are so many, but it would be a close tie between David Bowie & Sly Stone. Bowie & Sly both always pushed the boundaries of what you can do musically and sonically, while always keeping a strong groove. One of my favorite shows I got to attend was composer Philip Glass. He was doing a live interpretation of his film “Koyaanisqatsi” with multiple keyboard and synth players playing each line…almost like live looping! 

Any motto you live your life by while pursuing your path in music? 

Always be creating and pushing yourself to new places. Whether that be musically, visually, or anywhere else in life. 

Were there setbacks and challenges you faced, to get to where you are now? How did you overcome them?  

The music business has so many ups and downs, so you have to never get too high on the “highs” or too low on the “lows”. Be like a robot…ha. As far as challenges, I think it’s hard not to get pigeonholed or stereotyped in music as a particular type of player. I’ve always tried to push my own musical boundaries both in and out of my comfort zone to help me keep expanding my musical landscape. I do this by listening and learning about production techniques from other genres both in the funk & dance world, and also outside of that too.  

Where do you see Freekbass in the next 5 years?  

I want to continue to expand my catalogue of recorded music and beats, and play more festivals & clubs around the world. I have so many fans overseas and have not done too much touring outside of the USA yet. Plus, I would love to collaborate with other DJs and music producers and bring some of my style of bass playing into some of their creations. And I would like to be a bassist playing on the stage at  
Tomorrowland and Ultra! 

Any new projects you’re working on at the moment that we’ll see released in the coming months?  

I’ve been releasing a new single every month, a collection which is always available wherever you listen or stream music. Plus, I’m going to be doing many extended remix/ DJ-Bass mixes that will be available everywhere. I livestream 6 nights a week at 10pm ET/7pm PT on TikTok at @freekbass. Also, the amazing folks at Ernie Ball/MusicMan are getting ready to make me a custom Freekbass StingRay bass which I’m very excited about. 

We wrap up this interview by thanking Freekbass for his time talking with us and sharing more details about his story and background. As he keeps producing groovy new music and preparing to share it with the world, there is no doubt that this talented artist will keep putting the bar high, so make sure to follow him across social media to remain updated on his latest releases, projects and live shows, as he promises more music on the way. 

Freekbass Online 

Website | Spotify | Instagram