GilliArd took some time out of his whirlwind schedule to share his insights on what makes for a good musician as well as what keeps him grounded.
A. I've been playing bass for over 20 years now. It's my most authentic voice of expression. When used correctly bass serves as the "glue" that holds music together. The instrument has the perfect blend of melodic and percussive capabilities.
Q2. Like many artists, you got your start in the church. How did you know that you wanted a career in music and when?
A. I began playing bass in church at 8 years old. I didn't realize that I wanted a career in music until 16 when I picked a college major. That was the point when I realized that I could make a living doing what I love.
Q3. You went to Anderson University. Why Anderson and how has a college education helped your career?
A. I chose Anderson University because of its' strong Traditional Classical Music Department. I had already been a musician for almost 10 years when I entered college.
I needed a school that would challenge me and therefore cause me to develop as a versatile, multi genre musician. My Music Degree gives me an advantage in the field that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I get calls for all types of gigs. Because of my ability to sight read, familiarity with multiple genres and knowledge of theory I'm able to do them well.
Q4. You've worked with a variety of Grammy-winning artists and orchestras. How have you been able to adapt your musical stylings so easily? What are the challenges and benefits of doing this?
A. My method for recording bass lines for artists is always the same. I keep my first take simple and tasteful. That is usually the take that ends up being used on the final version of a song. I also keep in mind that the bass line is there to complement the artist. These concepts work in almost every genre. I credit this ability to years of experience working with artists of several genres and constantly listening to music.
A. I see myself as always working in the music industry. I plan to continue adding to my resume. I already do some work as a music director and producer. I'm a flexible guy. You have
to be that way to work in this field. Who knows where the path may lead? Whatever it is, I'm ready for it.
Q6. I understand that you enjoy country music. How important is it for parents to expose their kids to different music genres and why?
A. I love country music. It's one of my favorite genres to play. I spent a lot of time playing shows in Nashville a few years back. I think it's important to expose young people to a variety of
musical genres because it gives them the ability to work more if they choose music as a career.
Q7. For parents who have kids interested in becoming a musician, what specific advice would you give?
A. I would advise those parents to help their children to make informed decisions about music as a career. Take them to concerts and let them talk to people with real experience working full time in the field. Music is more than the spot light and glam. It takes hard work and a lot of hours, but it can be worth it.
A. Yes. I'm am still the staff bassist at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. I'm glad to work for a church that values music as ministry and that also allows me time away to travel and work with artists. My personal relationship with God has kept me sane through the years. Professional musicians work in many high stress situations. We have to have something to lean on. I choose God.
Q9. What bassists do you admire and why?
A. My favorite bass players are the old school guys. James Jamerson, Rocco Prestia, Pino Palladino and my good friend Verdine White (Earth, Wind & Fire). I love their playing because they understand the role of bass in a band setting.
For further information on Brandon GilliArd, be sure to visit his website at http://www.btgill.com or visit him at Twitter and Instagram at: @btgillbass. He's also on Facebook at Brandon GilliArd. SUPPORT GOOD MUSIC!
UPDATE AS OF JANUARY 2014:
After an incredibly successful two years of touring with Janelle Monae, Brandon GilliArd has decided to resign as her full-time bassist and move forward to pursue other musical endeavors.
Brandon GilliArd's current projects include recording bass on "What is Love" on the soundtrack for the upcoming movie "Rio 2," which releases in April 2014. The film features celebrities such as Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan, Will-i-Am, Bruno Mars and many others.
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