08 Dec Bassist Jay Greens Interview | Best Bass Guitars
INSIDE THE MUSIC MIND OF JAY.GREENS
BY ADAM CHASE
The Music Industry is full of creative people. From the musicians on stage playing music to the artists that make the posters that the promoters use to get people to the music venues. All the different people involved in making the music industry work have skill sets to be celebrated.
At Music Minds, we are dedicated to finding talented people in the music industry and shining a light on their stories. From musicians to road crew, photographers and stage designers, we wan’t to know what draws people in to music as a passion, as a career, perhaps even a burden.
Getting “Inside the Music Minds” allows us to get to the beginning of the journey of some of the worlds best musicians and music industry professionals. In this edition of “Inside the Music Mind” we are joined by Jay.Greens.
To be honest, I do not know Jay.Greens personally which is rare for the musicians I interview. Jay has a new project called Midnight Blue which features a my friends Adam Deitch, Eric “Benny” Bloom, Lyle Divinsky and Borham Lee. With such a dope band, I was intrigued to find out more about the band leader to see what this guy is all about. Happy to share this conversation with all our Music Minds out there!
MM: SO WHAT WAS IT THAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A MUSICIAN?
JG: Well, it’s sort of a long and winding road kind of story. I’ve been playing music basically all my life, started with the piano when I was 5, and to be honest I didn’t love it at first. Neither of my parents are musicians, but they wanted me to play an instrument so I played. I took lessons for 4 years and was decent enough but it just didn’t grab me, and I wanted to quit. I was exclusively learning classical piano, and neither of my parents were really big music listeners/lovers either so no one was really showing me records or artists that excited me at the time. All I was doing on piano was like beginner exercises and like the most basic arrangements of classical pieces or movie theme songs or whatever. I decided I wanted to quit and that I wanted to play the guitar instead. I loved it, and decided to stick with it, and put the piano on hold.
I wasn’t ever under the impression I was going to do this for a living when I grew up, it was just something I did for fun and I liked it. I really wanted to be a professional snowboarder, and I was pretty damn good, but I got a couple really serious injuries, and finally one really serious concussion that left the visual processing center of my brain damaged, I was like 14 when that happened and it was crazy cause my doctor told me basically I couldn’t watch tv, couldn’t play sports, couldn’t even spend much time outside in the daylight cause I was experiencing pretty extreme sensitivity to light, the only thing I was allowed to do was to play the guitar. So for a minute there all I did all the time was sit in my house and play guitar, no staring at my phone, no time on a computer, no television, no video games, no sports, just guitar. At this same time my parents were going through a super messy divorce, and my family basically was falling apart, I don’t want to go into it much, but the guitar was the only thing keeping me sane. It became more than an instrument or a potential career path to me, but a way of connection with myself with the outside world. I couldn’t really tell anyone what was goin on in my home life, realistically you just can’t share your trauma with people outright and upfront, it takes years of friendship and comfort to really share your personal life with people, and even then often when you try to share things with people verbally its just uncomfortable, or they don’t understand. With music it’s not like that, you can cry, and scream, you can rejoice, you can preach, you can share whatever experience you are having or have had through your instrument and through song, you can share your soul and maybe not everyone always understands what you are trying to say exactly, but on some level, they do, and it feels good to know that they connect with it a little bit, and it feels good to just be able to express freely, and to get in touch with what truly is in your soul.
Once I figured that out, that’s when I decided this was going to be my career. I started playing gigs in Denver when I was like 15 about to be 16, and I was off to the races. I had bands, I played solo, I did everything I could to just be immersed in the music at all times. As life got harder, I dug deeper into the music, and that has remained true. My family dynamic got worse, I dug deeper into the music, I went through some seriously traumatic shit in my late teens early twenties that I have a hard time even talking about, but digging through crates of old jazz/funk/soul/and hip-hop records, going to shows, playing shows, doing studio sessions, and just playing and producing music was what kept me alive. I even became a talent buyer at a small club in Boulder in college to bring more live music to the town. I wrote song after song after song, I taught myself to play the bass, and the drums, and fell back in love with the piano, I’ve put 20,000 hours plus into my craft. Now I can’t turn the creative faucet off, basically music has become like oxygen, I NEED it. Without it I will go crazy. Maybe for better or worse but it’s the only thing I really understand in this world these days. As I grow older I realize this wasn’t something I decided to do, I was born to do this, it’s in my soul as deep as anything. Creativity calls to me, the songs are already in my head, my job is just to get them out onto a recording and into the world, and to help other artists do the same.
Music saved my life time and time again, music has kept me sane time and time again, music has given me purpose, the music is a life-force of it’s own, and I am merely here to serve the music.
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT MUSICIAN?
JG: It’s all about feel really, the way you feel the beat, feel the groove, and the way it feels in your soul. That’s what separates good from great for me. Lot of cats that are good at their instrument, but to be great at music is deeper than that, sure the technical proficiency is essential, and every great musician has put in thousands and thousands of hours in the practice room, but it isn’t just that. It’s a spiritual thing man, to be able to speak ones truth, and to share what’s in your soul in a way that words alone often can’t express, that’s what makes a great musician to me. Additionally, it’s the understanding that to be great really means that you are on an endless quest for knowledge, to broaden your understanding of music, and life, and to push your own boundaries and always be a greater version of yourself than the musician and person you were the day before.
MM: WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS OF ALL TIME AND WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST OF THEIR DISCOGRAPHIES FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE BEING INTRODUCED TO THEM?
JG: As a Producer: J Dilla, Quincy Jones, Rick Rubin, Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, Prince, Flying Lotus, Nile Rodgers, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Dr. Dre, George Martin, Dj Premier, Ye, Lee Scratch Perry, Hit-Boy, DJ Harrison
As a Guitarist: Isaiah Sharkey, Spanky Alford, George Benson, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, David T Walker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Duane Allman, Grant Green, Charlie Hunter, Wes Montgomery
As a Bassist: Jaco Pastorius, Bootsy Collins, George Porter Jr., Pino Palladino, Thundercat
As a Drummer: Chris Dave, Adam Deitch, James Gadson, Questlove, Cory Fonville, Nate Smith, Bernard Purdie
As a Pianist/Keyboardist: Bill Evans, Robert Glasper, Chick Corea, Bernie Worrell, Cory Henry, Borahm Lee, Oscar Peterson, Kiefer, Herbie Hancock
As a composer/songwriter: Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, John Lennon, Prince, Sly Stone
As a vocalist/MC: D’Angelo, Prince, Nina Simone, Etta James, MF DOOM, Anderson .Paak, Erykah Badu, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Q-Tip, Jay-Z, Donny Hathaway, Musiq Soulcild, Bilal, Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT SONG?
JG: I mean there are so many things that make a song great, and all different styles of music have different ingredients to make the song great, I don’t think you can boil it down into a list… but the basic foundations are obviously Groove/Feel & Rhythm, and harmony, melody and creativity, and honesty and soul.
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT ALBUM?
JG: There’s no answer to this question for me, I think so many different things can create a good album, and that all albums have something different that makes them great so this is sort of a strange question to me.
MM: WHAT WAS THE FIRST ALBUM THAT REALLY GRABBED YOU? WHAT WERE THE SPECIFIC THINGS ABOUT THE ALBUM THAT MADE IT SPECIAL FOR YOU?
JG: Man I don’t really remember for certain but I think it was like Late Registration by Kanye or something, somebody gave me that CD, it was before I had an iPod, I remember my dad had like a walkman or whatever that shit was called and I used to listen to Late Registration on it, also I think someone gave me Confessions by Usher too so I was digging on that also. My parents weren’t really music lovers so I was always getting different music from all these random places, blogs, friends, teachers, I didn’t really have any implicit bias to the music my parents liked cause they just weren’t really that into music so I always just liked all different genres. I definitely got into The Beatles and the Stones early on so maybe like Abbey Road was probably one of the first also Sticky Fingers, and even like American Idiot by Green Day definitely grabbed me early on.
I’ve listened to so many different styles all my life it’s hard to pinpoint just one. I definitely remember the first time I listened to Dark Side of The Moon by Pink Floyd and The Mothership Connection by P Funk – both blew my mind in totally different ways and have stuck with me forever.
Honestly I was really all about live music when I was in high school, I used to go to shows at Red Rocks all the time and then I’d try to find live recordings of the shows on archive or on nugs or wherever and listen to live recordings. It wasn’t until I got a little older and started working in the studio and creating albums that I really like began to appreciate the art of crafting an album. I fell in love with that art around 17 and thats when I got hip to cats like D’Angelo, and The Roots, Black Messiah (D’Angelo) came out when I was a senior in high school and I remember one of my guitar player friends who I always looked up to showed me it and I was like absolutely mind blown.
MM: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE PEAK EXPERIENCES OF YOUR CAREER? ANY FUN STORIES YOU CAN SHARE?!
JG: There have been so many cool moments, the peak for me lately has been working with so many artists, producers, and musicians that I used to go see play live as a kid. Working hand in hand with guys like Adam Deitch (Lettuce, Break Science, etc), Josh Fairman (Sunsquabi), and Borahm Lee (Pretty Lights Live, Break Science) in the studio and on stage has been super fulfilling and like full circle for me. When I was a kid Pretty Lights with the full live band was like my favorite shit on earth, Deitch, Borahm, Krasno, Benny, man that shit was like next level to see as like a young budding musician and to go from seeing those guys at red rocks and at major festivals to like now calling them my close friends and mentors and to make music together and play shows has been just epic and like wild.
I’m also blessed that Deitch and Josh and Borahm and all those guys have really taken me under their wing and they’ve been like introducing me to all my heroes and people I look up to and want to work with which has been amazing, I got to hang with George Porter Jr. and Ivan Neville and Isaiah Sharkey last week and it’s like I’m sitting there and just in shock that I get to be in the presence of these people who have inspired me for so long and have done so much for music and for the culture so it’s just really cool to get to have those experiences.
Just really seeing my vision with Perception Records come to life as a haven and resource and community for artists and creatives that strive to do things on the highest level has been really remarkable and just like inspiring and amazing.
Also getting to produce records for other artists is just generally super fulfilling, I’ve worked on a lot of projects for myself, or my bands or shit that I wrote which is amazing and fulfilling but lately with Perception Records I’ve had the opportunity to work with artists and hear their songs or their demo of a song and help bring it to life, finding the right cats for the gig, arranging, re-writing, adding and just helping level up peoples songs with my experience and with my team here at Perception has been super
fulfilling. To see a demo come to life as a full composed piece and to like have an artists come up to me and thank me and be like yo I never thought my song could sound this good, or like yo that new bass part you wrote just brought this to the next level or something like that is insanely fulfilling.
Also definitely have to mention I got to open for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic for the first stop of his farewell tour at The Boulder Theater in 2019 with one of my old bands, show was sold out, it was epic, but the coolest part was I got to have a brief moment one on one with George and got to thank him for the inspiration and for the music and for his impact on the culture and that was epic.
Honestly the list could go on forever, I’m blessed. I have had so many special experiences, and I feel like I’m really just getting started. still just finding my footing and figuring out how to best contribute to the culture and just following the music.
MM: WHERE DO YOU SEE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IN THE 30 YEARS?
JG: I find it counterproductive to think so macro… I’m more focused on the present, on doing the best I can to have the greatest impact on the music and the musicians that I can right now, and to be a part of the greater goal of making the music industry a more equitable, safe, and loving environment for all people.
In my own world, I have a vision for what I see Perception Records being in the future, and that is a hub for creatives, and artists that want to create their art at the highest level, and providing them the needed resources to create masterpieces one after another for as long and as often as possible.
MM: FOR THE SERIOUS MUSICIANS OF THE WORLD, IS THERE A REAL PRO TIP YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE, BE IT AN EXERCISE, A LICK, A PRACTICE HABIT, LIFE ADVICE, ETC.?
JG: Live musically, live creatively to the best of your ability. Find the rhythm of life and stay in that pocket as best as you can. Also… PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
MM: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG MUSICIAN THAT WANTS TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN?
JG: You have to really love it, like really really love it. You have to love it so much that you can’t imagine life without it, because to really do this requires a lot of sacrifice, time, and energy, and it is a different way of life than a normal path, it’s not easy, but the music is its own reward.
MM: WHAT GEAR ARE YOU USING THESE DAYS? FEEL FREE TO SHOUT OUT SPONSORS, DISCUSS NEW ADDITIONS OR FAVORITE OLD GEAR. CAN BE YOUR MAIN INSTRUMENT, ACCESSORIES ETC.
JG: I am a bit of a gear nerd! Being an Engineer, Producer, and Multi-Instrumentalist this list is long.
My go to daily guitar right now is the Fender American Stratocaster, but I also play a 1966 Gibson ES-335, a PRS Custom 24, a Fender Select Series Telecaster, and occasionally a D’Angelico Deluxe Brighton.
I play a Fender Jazz bass primarily, but also have a Sandberg California PJ that I love, and Also a Fender P Bass, and a Fretless J Bass I love to play as well.
For piano lately I’ve been having a lot of fun playing on my Wurlitzer 200A, and my Prophet 12, but I also am blessed to have a Yamaha Baby Grand in my home studio that is just a really special instrument.
My home kit is a Pearl Masters kit with Zildjian K series cymbals and an Istanbul agop Clap stack. I rotate between a Tama SLP snare and a Ludwig Raw Brass snare depending on the sound I’m going for.
I’m super into recording with analog gear, I love my AMS Neve 1073 DPX Pre/EQ and use it to record Piano/Keys, Guitars, Vocals, Drums, it’s my favorite EQ and I just love the color it gives the recording, I also am a big fan of the API 3124 Pre I usually use it when I’m recording bass, or synths or anything like that. As far as compression goes I have a pair of Chandler Germanium Compressors that are so killin’ that I love and then
also the LA-2A, the 1176, and the EL8 Distressor.
MM: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE VENUES TO PLAY IN THE WORLD? FEEL FREE TO SHARE AN EXPERIENCE THAT MADE IT SPECIAL
JG: I have less touring experience than most being that I just turned 25 and had just begun touring when the world shut down for covid, and I’ve spent the greater part of my time since then as a studio musician, producer and engineer. That being said I just started playing shows again and am really looking forward to getting back on the road soon! Some of my favorite venues I’ve played are Rockwood Music Hall, The Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theater, and I just played The Bluebird Theater for the first time which was super cool.
MM: IN ALL YOUR TRAVELS, WHAT IS THE BEST MEAL YOU EVER HAD?
JG: Man, I have been blessed to travel to some amazing places, I was just in Italy on vacation with my girlfriend recently and had a cut of like red snapper or something that was pulled out of the water that morning, the only way to get to the restaurant was by boat, and we went with a friend who has lived in Sorrento his whole life, it’s like a secret local beach and it was literally mind blowing how fresh the fish was. So delicious.
MM: HAVE YOU DISCOVERED AN AWESOME RESTAURANTS WHILE ON TOUR THAT YOU WANT TO SHOUT OUT! WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL?
JG: I’m a big fan of diners and deli’s, when I was last on tour I always tried to make it a point to find a good diner or good deli whenever I could.
MM: HAVE YOU DISCOVERED AN AWESOME HOTELS WHILE ON TOUR THAT YOU WANT TO SHOUT OUT! WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL?
JG: I bought a ford bus when I was 19 and ripped all the seats out and converted it into a tour bus with bunk beds and a little kitchen and couch and fridge and sink and shit so I actually always just sleep in my bus.
MM: COFFEE, TEA OR JUICE?
JG: Coffee, like most musicians, I’m a bit overextended, and rely on coffee to keep me going 90% of the time although I do love a good class of fresh squeezed OJ.
Jay.Greens is a Denver based Producer, Multi-Instrumentalist and MC. As one of Perception Records primary producers, and original founders; Jay.Greens is involved in the production, performance, and creative direction of a variety of different projects all under the Perception Records umbrella. He seeks to craft high quality, honest and genuine art that inspires artists and fans alike in any genre. Jake has spent his entire life, and over a decade professionally pursuing his purpose and life mission through music; creating art that inspires, and helping other artists find their creative direction, and inspiration in order to help them fulfill their own purposes and bring their unique visions to life.
—> Want to read more directly from musicians? Check out the Carrtoons interview and from bassist, George Porter Jr.