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Reader Spotlight: Carson Ouellette

Carson Ouellette
Photo by Amanda Wooley

Meet Carson Ouellette, a bassist who has taken to the double bass in recent years (after a longer run on the electric) to anchor Black Lady Soul. The band offers up a unique blend of genres, but with their own spin.

Carson is No Treble’s reader in the spotlight for the week of September 8, 2014. Here’s his story.

Bio:

I started electric bass when I was 17 and have been in love with the power it has over a whole band ever since. I discovered my love of the upright bass at 19, though I had to stop for three years (as my teacher wanted his upright back, and I couldn’t afford one). I’ve picked it up again and found an outlet for it’s rich tone in my main band Black Lady Soul, an alternative rock outfit.

Location:

Toronto, Ontario ,Canada

Day gig:

I work at a bank…

Years experience:

Bass as an instrument all together: 8 years. Upright bass: 3.

Bands & Gigs:

Black Lady Soul is my main project as it’s definitely the most sonically fulfilling venture I’ve ever been in. It’s an alternative rock band that draws heavily on genres such as hip-hop, jazz, electronica and indie rock. These influences are not shown in a literal sense, but more like feeling and mood, we’ve used our love of these genres to create our own unique sound.

The bass has a lot of presence in the group and the upright bass lends itself well to the natural jazzy inflections our lead singer tends to have. We dropped our album on August 16th (which also happens to be my birthday) and reviews from the U.K. and the States have been really good, so it’s a very exciting time for me musically. Our music video just dropped for our first single! (See videos, below).

Gear:

  • Lakland US Custom Bass
  • Gewa Upright Bass
  • Mesa Boogie Walkabout Scout Combo
  • Mesa 4×12 Cabinet
  • Radial Switcher
  • Sans Amp Para Driver
  • BOSS OC-3
  • Malekko Diabolik Fuzz (gas)
  • Moogerfooer low pass filter (gas)
  • Way Huge Aqua-Puss Analog Delay

Why I play the bass:

I have the very typical bass player answer to this: I moved to a suburb when I started high school and everyone seemed to play either guitar or drums. I knew I’d never catch up to the guitar players my age, so I took up bass and assumed it was easier. I could not have been more wrong. I love the power it has though over music – it guides rhythm and is completely in charge of the harmony. I once heard Miles Mosley say that people tend to subconsciously dissect music from bottom up, so the bass note really gives the feel of the song (major, minor etc.), and I could not agree more.

My bass superpower/claim to fame:

I’ve been told it’s my “sub-hooks.” I guess I have a very melodic approach to my lines – I rarely just stick to the root notes as my band leaves so much space for me to add a thing or two. I liked this one interview with Chris from the band Muse, where he thought of the interaction between guitar and bass as more like between violin and cello. Both always moving, but never in each others way. I just find that melody, match those important bits to the kick drum and voila!!

Also people tend to find the whole “upright bass in a rock band” thing interesting.

My influences:

Oh soooo many. First off, James Jamerson is god. Bernard Edwards, John Paul Jones, Duck Dunn, Bob Glaub, Joe Osborn, Justin Meldal Johnsten, Payam Doostzadeh, Ben Kenney, Mikey Shoes, Miles Mosley, Sting, Flea, Nathan East, Marcus Miller, Chris “Fatty” Hargreaves and a bunch of others. And of course, PINO PALLADINO!!!

Video:

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Steve Carriere

Steve Carriere

I like it. Wish I could do something like that around here.