Tell us who you are and what you’ve been up to these last few years?
I’m a recording artist and a composer for TV and Film. I started playing bass at the age of 15. I got my start in the business at a very young age. It’s basically all I’ve ever done. About 4 years ago my family and I decided to move to LA from New York and since that move I have begun to work on a lot of different film and tv projects. Its been quite amazing actually. I wrote the musical score for the documentary “Richard Pryor-Omit The Logic” which won an NAACP award. I co-wrote the end titles for a TV series called “Better Call Saul” which is the prequel to “Breaking Bad”. (I also play bass on all the cues for the series). I’ve recently released my 8th album as a recording artist. “Mocean Worker” is the title of this album and it features me playing bass for the first time on my own music. I never really felt like real bass playing fit on my music as it’s heavily electronic and dance oriented. I was wrong. This new album has a new life and organic feel that only a real bass can bring. This sudden confidence in my bass playing came as a result of co-writing a song with Marcus Miller for his new album “Afrodeezia”. The song “I Can’t Breath” is a co-write between Marcus.Chuck D (from Public Enemy. And Myself). There’s a breakdown section where I put a temporary bass line in thinking Marcus would replace it. When he said “I think that sounds good, keep it” I kind of said to myself “My favorite bass player ever just told me to keep my bass part on his album”. I don’t know it just gave me a confidence I hadn’t had in a while about my playing. As I finished the writing of my new album I just sort of played bass on everything. I wanted the core of the music to be centered on bass. That’s where the SIRE V7 bass comes in. I played my alder V7 on 4 tunes on the album. “Punk Disco(Jaco)” (A tribute to Jaco Pastorius) , “Clap Yo Hands(Mtume)” , “Ralph And Marcus” (A tribute to Marcus and legendary percussionist Ralph MacDonald) and “Julius,Irving,Berlin” all feature a variety of styles and sounds coming from this amazing instrument. I should note that Ive known Marcus for 30 years. When I was 16 I wrote him a letter and he answered it by calling me and invitng me to hang out in the studio with him so I could watch and learn. That turned into a 3 year apprenticeship. A very unique life changing couple of years for me. I just sat there and took notes. Watched and learned. So that’s a big part of who and what I am. When I started making music though I wanted to separate that experience and the experience I had as a bass player. I wanted to find my own voice as an artist. I think I have. Now that I have putting my bass playing into that voice is an incredible experience that I hope to continue building.
How did you get to know sire bass and what is your impression when you played a Sire for the first time?
When I was in the studio with Marcus working on “Afrodeezia” I noticed that he had 3 prototype V7 basses there. I played one of the Ash models and loved the feel of it. I didn’t get a chance at that time to plug into an amp or go direct into the computer but I could tell simply by playing the instrument that it was something special, I instantly thought the bass would be in the $2500 price range. When I finally got my hands on my V7 Alder model and plugged it in and started recording with it I was blown away. The sound, the feel , the quality. Just , top notch. I don’t remember the last time I even thought about the cost. That’s old news. Now I just think of this instrument as my instrument. Its an amazing instrument that any musician of any level could enjoy. I have been looking for a bass with this sound and feel for years. I finally found it! Im happy to report that locally where I live I was able to donate my other V7 bass to a 12 year old female student who couldn’t afford to get a bass. I made the donation just the other day in person and to see the smile on the face of a young musician getting her first instrument was worth everything to me. The fact that Sire and Marcus have a goal of getting these amazing instruments into the hands of young musicians is really what seals the deal for me. That I could take one of my own instruments and give it to someone that wanted and needed it was a great feeling. That the basses themselves are also worthy of being used in almost any professional application is just incredible. From Student to the highest level professional you’re talking about a game changing instrument here. I’ve never seen something like this in my 30+ years of playing bass. Its amazing.
I have heard that you also go with another name, the Mocean Worker. Can you tell me what does the Mocean Worker mean, and why do you use this name to define yourself?
Mocean Worker ( pronounced like the english word “Motion”) really is a play on words. I originally wanted to use the regular spelling “Motion Worker” but I soon realized there was a software company that had that name and I didnt want to copy them or risk any kind of legal action. I just had the idea that putting the letter M in front of the word “Ocean” had the same sounding result. Mocean Worker is meant to imply rhythm , and movement. Worker is used to give a sense of being in the middle of things, down in the groove so to speak. A man behind the scenes working with sound.
In the beginning, there was the funk. I have read this on your website, could you share more about the funk and your music?
“In the beginning there was funk” is my way of saying the very first music I was drawn to and wanted to learn was Funk and R&B music. I’ve always been drawn to funk and jazz. This new album “Mocean Worker” is a rediscovery of a lot of things for me musically. The fact that I play the kind of style of bass on it is for me new ground. This style of music mixed with this style of bass playing is sort of not done a lot. I hope it inspires younger players to mix things up.
I know that you have made a lot of songs, could you tell us about your eighth album, and what is your inspiration in making your album?
I’ve been very fortunate since starting my career as a recording artist. This current album (“Mocean Worker”) is my 8th (I had a 7th album come out exclusively in Japan in 2014 called “It’s Pronounced Motion” a kind of Greatest hits). The style of music that I do has settled into a kind of mixture of 1930’s swing and 1970’s funk. My two original albums were strictly done in the style of Drum and Bass music. My third album is a very breakbeat kind of house combination. When I started using the nickname “MOWO!” ( which is just a short easier way of saying MOcean WOrker ) the music changed a lot. Albums 4 through 7 are very much centered and focused on one sound. Folks in Europe call it Electro-Swing. I was one of the first producers to actually make music in this style. Mr. C and I were probably the first producers to really do this. Since then artists like Parov Stellar and Caravan Palace have become very popular ( especially in Europe ). The United States doesn’t have a scene like this. Jazz was invented in the US and yet it seems to be far more successful in Japan, Korea, France and Germany. I take pride in being a U.S. based electronic musician that really infused jazz into my sound. My music has appeared in films like “Devil Wears Prada” and “The Bourne Supremacy” and tv shows like “CSI” and “Six Feet Under” and “Better Call Saul”. I’ve been very fortunate for sure to have a career that has me producing, remixing, composing and also being a recording artist. These are different times now in music. If you have a skill. Use it!
You are obviously very talented, as you are a dj, jazz bass player, composer, remix artist and also you have produced music for movies. Do you still focus on these things or you are focusing on one thing more than others?
It’s all part of a journey in a way. I don’t think one thing is more important than any other in terms of skills. I love DJ’ing. I think it helps that Im a musician when I DJ for example. As an arranger I think Im greatly helped when I do remixes as arranging skills are key in putting together a remix of someone else’s song. Your essentially making a new record so you need to also know how to produce. Its all very connected. Im constantly trying to learn new things and develop new skills. If I don’t I think I will find myself not working.
What is your goal, and what would you like to focus on as you go forward?
I really want to start DJ’ing more. I find this to be a lot of fun. I want to incorporate my bass playing into my DJ sets too as to make the DJ’ing more musical. I’ve never seen it done or rather I’ve never seen it done the way I would like it to be done!
I want to continue to make albums as Mocean Worker. They’re a lot of fun to do. While this latest album of mine features no guests in the past I have been fortunate to have Marcus Miller, Bill Frisell, Charlie Hunter, Bono, David Fathead Newman , Les McCann , Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Houston Person among many many others appear as guests. Its a lot of fun to bring other musicians into my own music. I love that sense of community. Ultimately I’d love to have a live band again. Its just not feasible right now.
In your opinion, what does music mean to you and to the world?
This is a very difficult question for me to answer. Music means everything to me. Its the center of my being. Currently music is something that I think is a little misunderstood around the world. People think music is something that is just there, that its free. The internet has created a confusing situation for music and music makers. The general world population thinks that music is just all around them and free to consume. This makes life very very hard for people that want to pursue a career making music. Music isn’t something that’s free per se but it is something that is in everybody’s life. I hope that as music subscription services grow people understand that paying $9.99 a month ( or whatever their local currency is) as a subscription price will hopefully guarantee that great music will continue to get made. If people cannot making a living making music they will no longer produce music. Sure they might make music for the fun of it but not on a level where it will be heard world wide and inspire other people to create their own music and pursue their musical dreams. I think these are confusing times in the short term. Hopefully some things will become more stable for music creators. I have a lot of hope for this scenario.