Interview: Johann Berby, Metisse Maloya

johann berby

I have played with the Trilok Gurtu Band, Yaël Naïm, Fatoumata Diawara, Vieux Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Blick Bassy and others. My bass style has a warm touch and is groove-oriented, with influences of maloya – a blues-like popular music from my native land, Reunion Island – and African, Indian and Latin music, with elements of funk and rock. I haven’t gotten to the five-string yet, there’s so much to do on the four-string. After all, there have been so many great bass players who were so creative on four strings, such as Jamerson, Jaco, Louis Johnson, to name but a few. I mostly like to use slap to add some spice and groove to my bass-lines: I don’t use it so much for soloing. I guess I love the slap sound because it reminds me of the sound of gumbri, a traditional instrument of the Bambara tribes in west Africa, which is like an ancestor of bass. My first bass was a Jim Harley four-string Jazz, which was cheap but it got me started, and I played it to death for a year. Literally, I played so much on it that it broke: I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I was a teenager and was working hard on my bass to audition for a music school, and I had no idea how I could afford another one. I felt really panicked because I realised that my life would be a mess without music. I thank my mom to this day, because somehow she managed to get enough money to buy me a Fender fretless Jazz. My favourite bass ever to date is my Warwick Corvette $$ NT (bubinga, maple, ash): I love its warm sound, you can really hear the heavy woody tone of this bass. After the release of my first album Metisse Maloya, I’ve been invited to quite a few radio shows, so I’m busy with interviews and some live music sessions for my project, and concerts are being booked for this year. I will be touring with a few different bands starting with Rumania, Cameroun, Gabon, Poland and Morocco.
www.johannberby.com
Basses Warwick Corvette $$ NT, Warwick Corvette DB
Effects Ravish Sitar, Cathedral reverb, EHX Micro Pog, BBE Opto Comp compressor, Xotic SP compressor, Boss CEB-3 chorus
Amps Tecamp Puma 500, Puma 1000

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