05 May Inside the Music Mind of Female Bass Player: Julia Adamy
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.
For Brooklyn NY based female electric bass player Julia Adamy, working in the music industry has been a very fruitful endeavor. I discovered Julia at Ground Up Music Festival when she performed with Bokante. I was so impressed with her performance that I dug a little deeper and found an impressive body of work that includes performances and recording with Sara Bareilles, Ben Platt, Colbie Cailat, India Arie and many others.
It was noticeable on all of her performances, both live and recorded, that her sense of time and pocket as a bass player is phenomenal. It made sense why so many musicians hired her. To be so in demand in a city of a million musicians is beyond impressive.
When she is not touring the world, she has made her rounds performing at legendary NYC venues including Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Birdland and many others. Another perk of being a musician in New York City is that when you are as good as Julia at playing music, you can get opportunities to perform on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Live with Kelly….
We are grateful that Julia gave us the opportunity to discuss her life as a musician.
MM: SO WHAT WAS IT THAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A MUSICIAN?
JA: My father- he’s also a bass player. I started on violin and always loved music class but not the instrument. It wasn’t until I got to go to one of my dad’s gigs on ‘take your daughter to work day’ and really see what he did up close that I knew I wanted to play bass. I got him to teach me a song that night and I was hooked!
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT MUSICIAN?
JA: Feel, time, tone, the way people listen/react. That to me is what makes someone special.
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?
JA: Pino Palladino is definitely my number one. I first heard him on D’Angelo’s Voodoo and John Mayer’s Try, but his most recent work with Blake Mills – Notes With Attachments and Yebba – Dawn are incredible too. All of those artists happen to be some of my favorites as well. I also love Anthony Jackson and Greg Phillinganes’ work with Chaka Kahn on What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me and Naughty. Serious bass/key bass playing! Derrick Hodge is a favorite for his electric and upright playing, he’s extremely versatile. From playing with Robert Glasper, Common and Maxwell to his solo albums, The Second, which is my favorite. I have to include my father, Paul Adamy. He’s an incredible musician and the epitome of the role of a bass player, has been top call in the NYC session scene. You can hear him with Nite Sprite (with Dave Weckl), Loose Shoes, Cornelius Bumpus, Ed Palermo Big Band, Vaneese Thomas, Freddie Jackson, Jennifer Love Hewitt among others and countless commercial work.
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT SONG?
JA: A great song to me has interesting changes – something that is always a little unexpected and not overdone, it feels good – whether it’s a solid groove or cool sounds, and great production. I get slack from my singer friends for not listening to the lyrics first (or second…let’s be honest) but I really do care about them! It’s just not what catches my ear initially and I love instrumental music equally.
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT ALBUM?
JA: I love listening to albums. From top to bottom, in the order intended. The great ones bring you on a journey, it’s about the bigger picture, the ebb and flow of songs in and out of one another. To create a work of art that’s cohesive and full of variety is really special.
MM: WHAT WAS THE FIRST ALBUM THAT REALLY GRABBED YOU? WHAT WERE THE SPECIFIC THINGS ABOUT THE ALBUM THAT MADE IT SPECIAL FOR YOU?
JA: Definitely Voodoo by D’Angelo. I had never heard feel and time manipulated in that way before! It was so fascinating to me. I listened to it on repeat throughout High School and College.
MM: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE PEAK EXPERIENCES OF YOUR CAREER? ANY FUN STORIES YOU CAN SHARE?!
JA: I played a one night concert with Ben Platt at Radio City Music Hall for a Netflix Special. David Cook put together a really great band and Ben’s music was a lot of fun to play. It was an incredible night I will never forget and so grateful it’s documented.
I also play with Bokanté, one of Michael League’s projects (he plays baritone guitar and oud live) and I truly love playing that music. It’s challenging, beautiful and fun to play with a fellow bass player on a different instrument!
MM: WHERE DO YOU SEE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IN THE 30 YEARS?
JA: I think we need to figure out this streaming conundrum, I hope something changes with
the way musicians are compensated but I know it will be difficult. We never imagined something like Spotify 30 years ago so I’m sure it will take time to figure out. I think touring and live shows will always be here, people will never get tired of seeing music. I just hope there’s more inclusivity with age by the time I’m in my 60s! The music industry is a very young/looks driven one, I think women are finally getting their moment but let’s extend it to everyone of all ages, races and sizes.
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.?
JA: Be someone that people want to travel with. I always try and learn at least “hi” and “thank you” in whatever country I’m in. Also say yes to things that scare you and then do the work to make it happen. Still trying to live that one.
MM: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG MUSICIAN THAT WANTS TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN?
JA: It’s possible if you want it bad enough. That was the biggest lesson growing up with a musician father. Work hard, be versatile and a good person (i.e. easy, no drama, good hang!) and you will get work..
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.
My main instrument is a Fender P bass ’57 reissue. It’s a super solid instrument, plays and feels great and didn’t break the bank. I also have a Lakland 5 string, American Standard upright and Moog SubPhatty that are often in the rotation. Love my Noble preamp for recording and live shows and my JH custom in-ears.
MM: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE VENUES TO PLAY IN THE WORLD?
JA: Radio City and Carnegie Hall were incredible…gorgeous rooms, so much history. I also love Rockwood Music Hall…so many fun nights filled with friends, good vibes and great music.
MM: IN ALL YOUR TRAVELS, WHAT IS THE BEST MEAL YOU EVER HAD?
JA: It really doesn’t get better than sushi in Japan. For me, Kyubey was the best I’ve had.
MM: HAVE YOU DISCOVERED AN AWESOME RESTAURANTS WHILE ON TOUR THAT YOU WANT TO SHOUT OUT! WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL?
JA: One of my favorite things in the world is to discover new restaurants on the road. Here is my favorites list…use it well!
MM: HAVE YOU DISCOVERED AN AWESOME HOTELS WHILE ON TOUR THAT YOU WANT TO SHOUT OUT! WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL?
JA: I recently stayed very briefly at Hotel Maribor Garden in Maribor, Slovenia and it was beautiful. Big, modern rooms overlooking a little garden courtyard. Quiet. Another incredible one was Schloss Elmau in the middle of the mountains in southern Germany. One of the best things about touring is getting to stay in places you otherwise wouldn’t!
MM: COFFEE, TEA OR JUICE?
JA: Matcha and juice. I switched from coffee to matcha a couple years ago and it works with my body so much better. No jitters, no crash! I love juice too, I start every morning I can with a matcha and homemade juice.
ABOUT JULIA ADAMY:
Julia currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and has been playing and singing in North and South America, Europe and Asia and around NYC at venues like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, Birdland, Rockwood Music Hall, Bowery Ballroom, The Carlyle and Highline Ballroom. She is honored to have shared the stage and/or recorded with artists such as Cher, Ben Platt, Sara Bareilles, India Arie, Colbie Caillat, Bokanté (with members of Snarky Puppy), Grace Kelly, Antonio Sanchez, Jane Monheit, Vaneese Thomas, Shayna Steele, Lew Soloff, Peter Eldridge, Nir Felder, Shubh Saran, Melissa McMillan and The Doo Wop Project. She has done TV work with NBC’s Smash, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Today Show, ABC’s The Katie Show, Live with Kelly and Good Morning America. She has also played on Broadway shows Hamilton, Moulin Rouge, The Cher Show, Mamma Mia!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Ghost and Matilda.