In Janek Gwizdala’s interview with legendary jazz/fusion bassist Gary Willis this industry veteran dispenses some great wisdom for ANYONE pursuing music as a career. You MUST check this out!!!
Around the 7-minute mark Gary states “Once I started touring and playing my music with Tribal Tech (Gary Willis’ original band) I stopped looking at where I lived as a place where I tried to make a living. (‘The same way I feel about L.A.’- the interviewer Janek Gwizdala) Once you identify yourself as a local then you are compensated as a local and you’re not perceived as being… (a national or legit big-name act).”
I believe that this is a key piece of information for artists that are seeking to become nationally-recognized performers that is often not realized.
Also- around the 16-minute mark Gary talks about knowing himself as a person and an artist and pursuing the kinds of projects that he enjoys doing. I believe this is great wisdom, too because here is a great player admitting that session playing and doing cover gigs just wasn’t his thing so he pursued another creative path by having his own group and creative outlet as a professional musician.
He also pointed out the necessity of social skills to be a successful sideman and/or session player. In order to establish one’s self as someone to call for gigs one needs to be not only a musical chameleon but to also be able to have a positive attitude about playing the music whether you care for it or not.
“Eventually you start identifying yourself as being this kind of direction- this kind of creative thing. So that just led to more things and eventually you start saying “no” to things that aren’t your direction. At the same time you have to replace that with stuff that you create and stuff that you’re doing yourself. There are a few risks and involved and it’s a gradual process.”
Willis commenting on the current state of music business and his most recent musical in edeavors: “In Triaphasic (Willis’ new band in Spain)… we played a lot of gigs and blew a lot of our opportunities by not having a CD ready that we were promoting.”