Wonder Women: Becky Baldwin – Part 1

A sound engineer commented about how “girl” bassists “tickle the bass” when they play… and mocked me about doing the same before he even heard me play a note. But that comment has always chimed around my brain and makes me put all my energy into my playing. – Becky Baldwin

Becky Baldwin

In this edition of “Wonder Women: Stories From the Women Who Play Bass,” I caught up with rock bassist Becky Baldwin, based out of Birmingham in the UK. She is the current bassist for heavy metal bands Mercyful Fate and Fury, as well as teaching bass online and running a Patreon page.

What was the first instrument you learned how to play?

I started playing piano when I was around 8 years old. I was not very good! But I did learn some useful theory that I could bring into other things.

Who were your influences?

Cliff Burton (Metallica), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), and Lemmy (Motorhead)

Dream artist or band to collaborate with?


What are you woodshedding right now?

I’m fully in song learning, song writing, and song recording mode, so there isn’t anything crazy technical to tackle at the moment, I’m just trying to get things to sound as good as they possibly can!

What’s an average day like for you?

I get up and try to exercise in the morning, then I’ll start preparing or teaching some online lessons, or maybe I have some recording to do, or pack merch orders. In the evenings I prefer tasks that feel like less pressure like booking tour dates, designing or commissioning merch, transcribing, video editing, admin and general planning. When I can’t focus any more I go to bed. That’s a normal day at home… But I spend maybe just over a quarter of my year on the road with my band!

What’s an early experience that shaped you as an artist now?

A sound engineer commented about how “girl” bassists “tickle the bass” when they play and mocked me about doing the same before he even heard me play a note. I’ve always wanted to be heard in a band setting, and it’s important for a rock bass player to “dig in” so although I don’t use a plectrum, I have confidence with my fingerstyle playing. But that comment has always chimed around my brain and makes me put all my energy into my playing. Most of the memories I hold on to are negative, which is kind of sad, but I try to use them as motivation to get something good out of them!

What drew you to the music industry?

I always really liked music, it has so much power in my life. It’s a big part of my identity and it always helps me through difficult times. I’ve had monotonous factory jobs before, and I really struggled to keep my sanity, I didn’t get on with the idle chatter and the same songs looping on the radio every day. I also prefer to be my own boss and don’t like the power struggles that exist in most workplaces. I suppose those happen in music, too, but I feel more independent in this kind of career.

You know bassists are all about the gear. And I’m definitely a gear nerd. So I have to ask…any recent game changing acquisitions to your toolkit?

I’m not really huge on gear to be honest! I get attached to one bass, one rig set-up, and I am always reluctant to change. But the last thing I got that really blew my mind was the Quad Cortex by Neural DSP. One little box with basically a whole computer inside, some really user-friendly buttons and knobs (and a touch screen), and so many tone possibilities! I love it!

What’s your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite part? Why?

My favourite parts are the people I meet on the journey, I meet some really kind and inspiring people who are so passionate and knowledgeable about what they do!

My least favourite part is probably the negative elements of social media. The fighting, the cruel comments that try to drag you down that stick in your mind so much. The addictive feeling that you need to stay relevant and wondering why one post reaches so many people and the next one didn’t. I don’t know where I’d be without it, but sometimes I really can’t face it at all. People act so different online!

Any current projects that you can tell us about?

I previously mentioned I was in recording mode, so I’ll tell you about those projects!

In January this year, I was announced as the new bassist for legendary heavy metal band, Mercyful Fate, and work has started on writing the eighth studio album. We are still in the writing stage, but with members living the USA, Sweden, Denmark and the UK, that still involves a lot of recording parts to send each other!

My other band, Fury, is more on the hard rock end of the metal scale. We are about to start recording our 5th studio album (the 3rd one I have been a part of), but we have a handful of shows coming up in the UK and Europe this year. We are completely independent, all management, booking, merch and PR is DIY and mostly done from my house. So all of that keeps me very busy!

Other than that, my time is spent on teaching my bass students online and entertaining my Patreon supporters with behind the scenes content, bass videos, sometimes bass lessons, transcriptions and music quizzes!

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I guess I would recommend to diversity your playing – although in the last decade I have stayed quite firmly in the rock and metal genres, I have also spent a lot of my career playing all kinds of different styles. I think there’s always something to learn from any playing situation, or working partnership, or networking/social situation. You have to try everything to know your place. Following my footsteps, you might find yourself somewhere else entirely, which is great to know that everyone has their own unique way of playing and working in music, and will eventually find the right place for them.

I’ll catch up further with Becky in part 2 of this interview next month. Currently, she is on tour with Mercyful fate in Chile and Brazil. For more, check out the following links:

Brittany Frompovich is a highly regarded educator, clinician, blogger, and bassist who currently resides in the Washington DC/NOVA region. For more content from Brittany, check out her blog, her YouTube channel, and her Bandcamp site. She also offers handmade unisex music-themed jewelry through her Etsy store. Get a Wonder Woman Tee!

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