I sat down with the ethereal Jennifer Fraser of Zaza and Angry Diamond (her current solo project). Jennifer is a sought-after bass player touring, recording and playing live for over thirteen years. She’s shared the stage with The Warlocks, Amoureaux, Raveonettes, The Black Ryder, and Sarena Maneesh. When she’s not writing for Zaza and Angry Diamond she writes with Nicole Turley on Swahili Blonde. I asked her a few questions about her favorites when it comes to playing bass and who has influenced her as a musician.
What attracted you to the bass?
Bass felt like dancing to me, it’s a very female instrument; the curves, the rhythm, the holding it down, it’s sensuous. It makes sense to me.
Who were your main early influences, on bass, or any other instrument for that matter?
On bass were Colin Greenwood from Radiohead, Kim Gordon (of course), and Simon Gallup (the Cure), but really Mick Jagger and Stevie Nicks as musicians.
What was your first bass? What do you currently play?
It was this candy apple Ibanez long scale monster. It’s been a 4001 Rickenbacker for a very long time.
Tone-wise, what is your favorite recording setup like? Amps, pedals, guitars, mics, etc.?
I’ve played many rigs from the classic AMPEG SVT to the boutique Ashdown but, Aguilar gear has really stolen the show. It’s a beautiful and consistent sound. I’ve been touring a lot with a 1969 Gibson SG bass that just sounds so round and buttery. Pedals are functional for me, to create diversity. I’ve used many fuzz pedals, The heavy deavy skull fuzz pedal by Vintage FX is really amazing.
If you had to pick one pedal you could not live without which would that be?
Probably a transcendent Space Echo, not because I use it very much, but because it informs so much of the sound of what I love to hear.
Which players should bassists study and learn from?
Carol Kaye–my own personal Jesus–and Bootsy Collins. He’s the man!
Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?
Heartbreak and the exquisite beauty of insurmountable loss.
What are you currently working on / any new releases in the works?
I’m currently writing a new full length with my band ZAZA.
Where’s the best place people can find more information about you and your music projects?
Stephanie Nicole Smith is a visual artist and make up artist in Los Angeles, CA. You can find her work at stephanienicolesmith.com and follow her @stephanienicolesmith. She currently contributes to The Fuzz Guide via her Five Minutes series.
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