By SPECIWOMEN Photography RUBY ROSE
"It’s important to have powerful, badass female musicians, producers, creators in the public eye so younger girls are inspired to start learning, creating and sharing."
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from New York City. I’m a bass player and DJ. I’m 18 and I’m in a band with my brother, Rex, called BITS.
How did you get into music?
When my older brother started playing drums, I naturally wanted to play an instrument too. I was 7 years old at the time so I’m not sure how cognizant I was of my decision but I chose bass. I thought it was “cooler” than guitar. I hadn’t seen a lot of girls playing bass and I liked being unique. Maybe I was subconsciously drawn to the lower frequencies and the groove-oriented elements of music. After I started playing everything kind of unfolded from there.
Have you performed?
Yes! My first show was at CBGB’s when I was 7 and I have been playing at venues around New York ever since. I perform a lot playing bass for other artists and I’ve also been DJing in clubs around the city.
How do you deal with nerves before a show?
I breathe and I remind myself that I love performing. Anytime I get to play music is a blessing and I just enjoy the moment. Sometimes a little nerves are good -- it just means you really care.
What genre of music do you play?
When I started playing I learned a lot of rock and roll - Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, ACDC, David Bowie, Radiohead, etc. When I was 13, I started getting into jazz and spent summers at jazz programs. There were a lot of jazz purists who didn’t want to play with me because I played electric bass so I had to prove myself on the electric and I even learned to play the upright bass too. Then I learned how to slap and fell in love with it. Funk, disco, and other music with slap grooves are so complex in a totally different way. I focused on my groove, tone, and technique. It adds a really cool dimension to my playing and it allows me to express myself more fully. A good slap-funk bass line is probably my favorite thing to play. I also love playing good pop music. When I DJ it really varies depending on the gig and the environment. I range from disco and deep house to old school funk, hip hop, and pop. But I prefer to play a poppin’ disco-ey dance set where I can pick up my bass and add my own bass lines. I think it’s always good to play every type of genre because they all inform each other. The coolest music comes from mixing or bending genres -- whether in a set or in a composition.
What are your favorite places?
The stage, the DJ booth, the mastering suite after hearing the last bounce of a song, my living room when I’m jamming with my brother. I haven’t been there yet, but I think I’d love the Grammys red carpet!
Who inspires you?
My family, Bernard Edwards, Marcus Miller, Erykah Badu, Meshell Ndegeocello, Kim Gordon, Beyonce. Whenever I’m with older, successful, passionate, badass musicians or mentors I always get inspired and motivated.
Do you have any other interests?
Ping pong, web design, fashion, French culture and language.
How has being a woman impacted your life?
Being a woman has definitely motivated me-- I’ve been in situations in the past where I’ve had to prove myself as a bass player because I was mostly surrounded by male instrumentalists. It’s important to have powerful, badass female musicians, producers, creators in the public eye so younger girls are inspired to start learning, creating and sharing. When I was younger I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who empowered me and gave me validation and support to keep doing what I love.