“I CAN BE SO SUPPORTIVE, BUT WHEN it comes to my own stuff, I want to be more creative,” says Yossi Fine. “People have called it ‘extreme bass groove.’” The Ex-Centric Sound System co-founder has supported everyone from David Bowie to Meshell Ndegocello, but his solo material and show is All About Da Bass. In the mid 2000s, Fine was an early adopter of looping as a way to become a one-man band.
What does extreme bass groove mean to you, and how did you develop your concept?
It’s about the bass making people move, dance, and feel—especially if it’s by itself. I incorporate drum & bass, breakbeat, and dubstep influences, as well as heavy-metal guitar riffs. When you cop such an attack on bass guitar, and make a line come at you with such power—that’s extreme bass. It doesn’t have anything to do with speed. It’s about creating a sound with tons of low end that pounds you in the chest and makes you go “Whoa!” Drummer Jojo Mayer and I used to go into clubs and try to pick up exactly where the DJ left off. That’s how I developed a lot of my sounds. I’d use synth bass and distortion pedals with a wah to cop that electronic, distorted tone.
What factors into your choice of basses?
The Vigier is great in a band context, the Spector is great for layering, and the Godin sounds like a cross between an upright and a Rickenbacker.
What about your amplifier setup?
I love the SVT’s midrange, and the Eden gives me extreme highs and lows.
How might an adventurous player who wants to try out some of your extreme bass groove ideas go about doing it?
You need a good looper. I use the Boss RC-50 Loop Station because it’s got three channels. To keep my concept clear, I form an imaginary band in my head as I lay down tracks, which I improvise in the moment. I use the RC-50’s built-in rhythms for drums. I usually start with the “rhythm guitar” riff, which I play high up on my bass. Then I add keyboard-style chords. I put the bass line on last, because that allows me to think of the best line.
A cool way to manufacture unique bass ideas is to start with a full line on channel 1, overdub a few key notes of that line with a different sound on channel 2, play the line with a couple new notes on channel 3, and then erase channel 1. Now you have two lines that you would not have come up with normally.
Once you have a foundation, do you essentially become a lead guitar player?
Exactly. I use guitar effect pedals because they cut the low end, and I adapt the mindset of particular guitar inspirations while I play lead. [U2’s] The Edge is a huge infl uence. His playing is the most innovative without being too technical, and his sound has sold the most records. That echo-laden sound resonates with people, so I definitely take that into consideration.
HEAR HIM ON
Ex-Centric Sound System, Re Spect [EXS/Avila, 2011]; Vieux Farka Touré, Fondo [Six Degrees, 2009]; Yossi Fine, Live in Jerusalem [EXS, 2007]
Basses Vigier Arpege, ’80s Spector NS-2, fretless Godin A5 SA 5-string
Rig Ampeg SVT-3PRO head through Ampeg PN-410HLF 4x10 and PN-210HLF 2x10 cabinets plus an Eden WT-800 through two Eden D410XLT 4x10s
Effects Boss ME-50B Bass Multiple Effects, Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive, Piggy FX Flash Drive overdrive, Boss CS-3 Compressor, Line 6 Echo Park, laptop running Waves GTR3 Bass amp-modeling software, Boss RC-50 Loop Station
Strings DR Strings MML-45 Marcus Miller Signature “Fat Beams” (.045–.100)