Sense of Groove: An Interview with Juliaplaysgroove
Juliaplaysgroove’s video play-alongs have been extremely popular, clocking up nearly 17 million views so far. It would be doing her a disservice to describe her work as merely “covers,” as they are far more than that; Julia brings her own inventive slant, adding flowing melodic fills and flurries to the bass lines. However, it is pleasing that the most praised aspect of her work has been her outstanding sense of groove – something to which we should all aspire.
How has the recent lock-down been for you?
It was tough in the beginning, but I got used to the situation – I finally had time to practice walking bass lines and sight-reading. I wanted to do these things for so long, but I never had enough time to do it.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m just preparing some next songs to cover.
I understand you’ve only been playing since 2014 – what inspired you to play the bass?
My brother played me one of [Polish bass virtuoso] Wojtek Pilichowski’s albums and instantly fell in love with his music. I’ve listened to his whole discography. That’s the moment when I began to interest in the bass, and I thought to myself “Why won’t I try to learn how to play?”
Apart from Wojtek, who are your musical heroes?
I’ve been inspired by many great bass players, but the ones who influenced me the most are Stuart Zender, Flea, Pino Palladino, Sharay Reed, and James Jamerson.
Can you remember the first song you learned?
It was Nirvana’s “Come as You Are”. I remember that the main riff was really hard for me to play and I was super happy when I finally got it down.
Your first video was of “Hysteria” by Muse, but a lot of your videos feature more funky music – is that your favorite style?
Funk is really fun to play, so it’s one of my favorites. I also love playing R&B and Hip-Hop.
Some of your videos have had millions of views – the one for “Don’t Start Now” is close to 3 million – has that been a surprise?
“Don’t Start Now” is a great song with a great bass line, and I kind of expected that this cover would be popular, but I never thought it would get over 1 million views in two weeks!
You’ve certainly made an impact in the bass playing world – you have great technique, tone and feel – how did you reach such a high level of skill so quickly?
Bass playing came naturally to me. Music runs in my family. My mom went to music school and she plays the piano. I have two older brothers, one of them is an excellent drummer, while the oldest one plays guitar as a hobby. I simply believe I have some sort of talent, but of course, I wouldn’t play like I do right now if I didn’t practice and push myself forward.
Stuart Zender, Thundercat and Joe Dart have praised your playing – how does that feel?
I remember I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Stuart Zender’s comment on my cover. Similar with Thundercat and Vulfpeck. I feel very honored to be noticed by such incredible musicians.
You get a great bass sound on your videos – what is your set-up?
My gear is nothing special. I use Zoom B3, it’s a multi-effects pedal that can also be used as an audio interface. I record the bass through the Zoom into Audacity and I add some compression and EQ to recorded bass track, but I just believe that tone is in the fingers.
In one of your videos there is a guitar in the background – do you play guitar or any other instruments?
That’s my oldest brother’s guitar but I can play some chords as well. I would love to learn how to play the piano, so I can also provide some synth bass playing.
You mainly play a MusicMan SUB, which sounds great. What made you choose that bass?
I always loved the MusicMan sound, and luckily for me one of my brothers had noticed that, and he bought me MusicMan SUB which I currently play on. Besides that, the SUB has good tone and build quality for its price.
What would be your dream bass?
I guess it would be a 5-string Lakland. I really like the sounds that Lakland can offer and I dream of having a 5-string bass.
Do you play in a band, and do you play live shows?
Yes, but it’s nothing serious, we usually only meet to play music just for fun, but we’ve played at some summer festivals. We mostly play alternative rock, but we like to throw in some reggae vibes too.
I was part of some other music projects too – for example, I’ve had the honor to play in The Stanislaw Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdansk – my friend used to study there, and he asked me to play in his band.
What is the music scene like in Poland?
Music is awesome here. We’ve got many amazing artists and diverse styles. Mikromusic is one of my favorite Polish bands, their music is a mix of jazz, trip-hop, and folk.
What can we look forward to seeing on your YouTube channel?
I think I will stick with bass covers for now, but I hope to upload some videos of live playing in the future!
What are your future plans as a bass player?
I would like to go to music college, and I’d love to work as a session bassist. Pursuing bass playing as a career would be a dream come true.
If you’d like to check out Julia’s videos, check out her YouTube channel.