“The bass chose me—I didn’t really choose it. I was seven years old,” says Lauren “LT” Taneil, currently holding down the bottom in Beyoncé’s Mrs. Carter Show world tour. Encouraged by her producer/musician father to play music, LT and her two sisters formed the GG’s, a band that started out playing churches and graduated to a major-label record deal. Fortune favored LT in 2010, when Beyoncé’s musical director witnessed a GG’s show and scooped her up, initially for the Black Girls Rock Awards. Following that gig, she backed Beyoncé at the Michael Jackson Tribute and went on to replace Divinity Roxx as the band’s permanent bass player. While Beyoncé belts out show-stopping ballads like “Halo” and “Irreplaceable” in the current show, the musician-minded folk in the audience might be just as thrilled by the booming bass vibrations LT leaves in their chest. Not only does Taneil deliver sonically, but with her distinctive Neon-strung Music Man 5-string bass and a lipstick color to match any outfit, the part-time fashion designer has also slotted seamlessly into Beyoncé’s style-focused aesthetic.
How much of your own playing style have you incorporated into Beyoncé’s band?
I am able to incorporate my roots and also many other styles. I grew up on a lot of old-school funk, gospel, and R&B music. I appreciate all genres, and this helps me be ready for any music environment I decide to put myself in. When on any gig, I make adjustments accordingly, but I can only play like myself and be me. In my band the GG’s, I’m free to play whatever and however I like. It’s a positive-energy-only zone! We all have great ideas, like to be creative, have fun, and laugh, which is very important.
Would you say that being part of this 11-piece band has changed the way you play?
Yes, for the better. Anytime I’m playing with other musicians, I like to grow and take whatever I can from them. I think that’s what we’re supposed to do as musicians. When you get to another level of playing, it changes the way you play, the way you think.
Had you tried different ways of playing before arriving at your own style?
I have not yet felt that feeling of arrival. I’m self-taught—never been to school for music. I am always constantly learning something new. Learning is addictive; you never stop! I started playing when I was seven, so I believe that I’m just a product of my environment. My dad would sit me down and teach me grooves, how to slap, and scales; I guess that was my music school. It’s still the base of my playing today. I love to groove! It’s all about the groove and whatever I do, it’s got to be funky.
In the dense mix of a Beyoncé show, what discussions have you had with your tech Sean O’Brien regarding tone?
If you can’t hear me, then for sure you can feel me. In this music environment, sometimes the bass is meant to be felt, not heard—especially playing in huge stadiums and arenas. I can hear and feel myself because I’m using in-ear monitors and also have a ButtKicker so that I can feel myself playing. I go for a really warm, clear, clean tone. People comment on the bass vibrations that they feel. I have discussions all the time with Sean, the front-of-house engineer, the in-ear monitor engineer, etc., to see how I can have the best tone in this environment. It was a process, and I’m still not 100 percent satisfied, but it’s the best for this situation.
Basses Two Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay 5 HH 5-strings, Little Phatty Keybass
Strings DR Strings Neon
Rig Line 6 HD Pro
Accessories ButtKicker low-frequency transducer, Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate 9 for the bass synth