It’s all about the bass in Steve Lawson’s ACM masterclass

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) were pleased to welcome solo bass player extraordinaire Steve Lawson for an exclusive masterclass at their Guildford campus to share his tips and tricks to the talented study body of bassists. 

As a regular visitor Steve said “A lot of my former students come here and a lot of people I work with have studied here, so there’s an amazing track record of musicians that come out of here which is great.”

Hosted by Ace, the Academy’s Head of Creative Industry Development (and the guitarist from Skunk Anansie) Steve took time out to speak to students ahead of his performance at local music venue The Boileroom.

Starting off his career as a session musician back in the 80s, Steve talked himself into his first solo gig. Once he performed his first solo set he was hooked and that became his career going forward. 

The class ran in an informal format with a lot of discussion and several performances. One student asked Steve about the extended range of his six-string bass. Steve replied that it’s not actually about having higher and lower notes and the reason he chose the instrument was to play chords.

Showing students his extensive bass rig, Steve shared that he likes to make irregular beats on his drum machine as he loves the sound of the tension and it enables him to jam with himself. When speaking about live performance preparation, Steve revealed that he would never re-learn a song for a live performance because he prefers improvisation. 

Students listened eagerly as Steve told them about his current show which sees his collaboration with an artist who has synesthesia and therefore sees sound. The artist draws what she hears and Steve then looks at the art - drawing inspiration from it in his performance thus creating a creative feedback loop.

When speaking about the process of releasing music, Steve told students that he chooses to release his music instantly on Band Camp and in the physical form of USB sticks at gigs. He went on to explain that streaming services require a lot of streams to generate revenue so rather than change his music which appeals to a particular niche, he’d rather use different avenues of distribution.

The masterclass wrapped up with a final performance and questions leaving students very excited to try out some solo bass material.

If you want to learn from industry pros who live music, book onto an ACM open day now:

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