This week sees the release of Samplephonics‘ latest sample library courtesy of bass guitarist Simon Goulding who has had the privilege of playing with many top name artists including the Bee Gees, Robbie Williams and The Drifters. Live Funky Bass Guitar is perfect for anyone who produces soul, funk, funky house, french style electro-house and pop.
The loops and samples were created using a number of different bass instruments to create different styles and sounds and all sounds were recorded through valve preamps and a high end Apogee convertor to ensure a full fat, analogue sound.
We got in touch with Simon to find out about his musical experience, the instruments he used for the library, how it was recorded and the challenges he faced…
Hi Simon, Samplephonics describe you as ‘quite simply one of the funkiest mothers rocking a bass guitar in the UK right now’, so perhaps we should kick things off by asking you to tell us about your musical background.
I started playing the bass around 9 years old really by trying to pick the bass lines up from recordings and working them out. I was always intrigued by the person playing the “Big Guitar” stood at the back. Whenever the music would shift up a level and get more exciting the bass player and the drummer would somehow make this happen. I remember thinking “I want to be able to do that”. I then became obsessed with the instrument working out more bass lines and trying to figure out exactly what the players were playing.
I studied music at school and really enjoyed it even though it was more on the academic side. I found a couple of guys locally who really took me under their wings and tutored me in not only the bass but music itself. Having the right attitude, playing the right things and getting into reading, writing and improvising. I then attended music college up in Wigan for 2 years which was fantastic for me. Not only was I playing my bass all day I was learning arranging, composition and skills that are invaluable to a working musician by working/gigging musicians themselves.
After the 2 years at Wigan & Leigh I attended Middlesex University to study on the BA Jazz course. However during the end of the first year I received a phone call from an MD asking me if I wanted to do a contract on a cruise liner. I jumped at the opportunity. I spent 3 years in the house orchestras on the liners before spending time living in Havana, Cuba. Musically, an awesome experience. On coming back to the UK in 2001 I started working with various artists and producers and the work snowballed from there really. I quite like being called a “Funky Mother” too hahaha.
Performing with these artists is definitely a fantastic experience. Even though you sometimes don’t see the artist until you go on stage. Very seldom would they turn up for sound checks sometimes due to flights getting in late etc. I got into doing session for artists like these mainly by knowing the MD or the producer. It’s very much word of mouth. You work with someone and then that person recommends or books you for other projects that they have. It’s very much a snowball effect. That’s what is great about this career, You never know what’s around the corner. I’ve always been a big believer that if you’re good at what you do, believe in what you play and are a nice person then you’ll get the call.
Which gig/artist has proved the most awe inspiring for you and why?
Obviously working with the artists mentioned is a fantastic experience. Last year I played in Rick Astley’s band for the Peter Kay tour. We did a month at the MEN Arena in Manchester and the 02 Arena in London. Every night was a sell out so that was a superb gig. There have been many concerts that have been memorable. Recently I have joined the Snake Davis Band. I love this gig. It’s always a pleasure working with Snake who is one of the best sax players I’ve ever heard and one of the nicest guys too. Every gig is very inspiring for me be it for 20,000 in an arena or 50 people in a jazz club. My attitude and approach to playing remains the same.
Moving on to your new sample library ‘Live Funky Bass Guitar’, how did you get involved in recording this pack with Samplephonics?
Samplephonics and I had been in contact for a while on the LinkedIn professional network. I checked out their website and was very impressed by the sample packs and various other products they produced. I instantly emailed Dave at Samplephonics and we started talking about and planning this ‘Live Funky Bass Guitar‘ pack. It was brilliant doing this. Not only could I record the whole pack in my studio at home, Samplephonics were really open to my ideas and the instruments I used which was great for me. Basically they gave me free reign to play whatever I wanted. I got feedback from them and references etc. It was a great working experience which I hope to repeat many times with Samplephonics.
Was this the first sample library you recorded? If so, was it a different experience to what you expected?
Yes. This was the first time I’d done anything like this. I have played on many albums/singles/EP’s for artists but never recorded a loops/sample pack before. It was just great to be given the opportunity to record exactly what I wanted to. I tried to stay away from the obvious cliches phrasing wise and record unique lines which I think will be perfect for many styles of music. It was just great to record the pack in my own studio using nice tube preamps and an array of basses and send the WAVs over to Samplephonics where they would weave their magic over them regarding mastering, formatting etc. I simply recorded each loop 24 bit unprocessed WAV.
I think the most challenging aspect of recording ‘Live Funky Bass Guitar’ was coming up with over 480 unique loops. It was difficult trying NOT to repeat yourself. The plan that Samplephonics and I came up with was to choose 5 popular tempos. We chose 110, 115, 120, 125 & 130 BPM. Then 5 popular keys. I then played 10 finger style, 10 slap style, 10 fretless & 5 longer loops per folder for each tempo. The loops range from 4 bars to 8 bars long. Some minimal feels and some busier feels. There is also a bonus folder of bass effects. Slides, finger and fret noise etc. Coming up with unique loops recorded cleanly was possibly the most challenging aspect but a thoroughly fantastic process nonetheless.
Tell us about the bass instruments used in the library and why these particular ones were chosen to be recorded.
Choosing the right basses to record ‘Live Funky Bass Guitar’ was something I thought a lot about. I wanted to give the loops different character and by using an extensive range of instruments I managed to achieve this. The basses I used were The Lākland 55-10, Yamaha TRB5, Ernie Ball MusicMan Stingray 5 Fretless and the Barker B1 Five Fretless. Each bass gave the loops a real nice clean sound plus providing the user with different characteristics. I used many different hand positions and techniques during recording too. Finger style, Palm muting, Thumb slap style, picking with the finger nails to name a few. Also switching pick ups on the bass. Playing nearer the neck on the fretless to get a more rounded tone kind of like an upright bass and playing closer to the bridge to get more of a growl from the bass.
The Barker B1 was interesting because it is a unique instrument made for me by Lee Barker in Oregon USA of which I’m a proud endorsee. This bass is played in a vertical position so you get a very different feel and groove when playing lines on this bass. Most of the loops were recorded using the Lākland and the MusicMan which are great basses both Live and in the studio.
What are the highlights of the library for you?
I think the highlight of the pack for me are the fretless loops. There has been some great feedback about these from Samplephonics. Not saying that the fretted bass loops are not great but the fretless ones really stand out for me because they bring a very nice feel and character to the pack and will really lift whatever tracks they are used for. I am really happy about the cleanness, clarity and sound of each bass too. They are each recorded very well indeed. This will give whoever is using them a lot of scope to use effects, compression etc.
Do you produce much music yourself with plug-ins/virtual instruments?
My first solo studio album ‘Familia’ was released in 2010. During production I used many VST instruments namely the Lounge Lizard Rhodes, BFD2, M Audio Premium Studio Drums & Afro Cuban Percussion (both Kontakt plug ins), The Waves mastering plug ins, East West Colossus, Spectrasonics Atmosphere, Novation Bass Station plug in, Korg Wavestation. All of the sessions for the album (Sax, Trumpet, Guitar) were done over the internet. The album has received some great reviews in Bass Guitar magazine UK, JazzTimes USA, Musician Magazine UK, Bass Professor (Germany) plus been regularly played on the Radio. BBC Radio 3, Rumba y Son on Radio Planicie in Lima, Peru, Fiesta Jazz on PBS FM in Melbourne Australia where it featured in the best of 2010, Gala Jazz VID 90.3 FM in Puerto Rico. The album is available from CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and the official Simon Goulding Music store on ReverbNation.
Finally, what have you got planned musically for the rest of 2012?
Later this year I am going on tour with ‘The Temptations’ throughout September and October. The tour starts in Germany and ends in Sweden so I’m really looking forward to that. Continuing touring with The Snake Davis Band and am starting a brand new trio with a good friend of mine and keyboard player/Producer Paul Birchall. We have an hour long special later in the year to be aired on BBC radio. In-between these projects I am continuing to work on my second album ‘Open Window’ featuring many guest artists. You can check out some rough mixes on ReverbNation. Possibly doing some new projects with Samplephonics too. Watch this space.