By Harriet Kaplan
Bassh is a newly formed alt-rock duo featuring Matrimony alumnae Jimmy Brown and CJ Hardee. Jimmy and CJ recently signed to Antler Records and released their new single “Body.” The song offers up an “addicting, uplift-sounding, indie rock production.” “Body” was produced by GRAMMY-nominated producer Bill Reynolds of Band of Horses and he that started working with the duo in the Winter months of 2014. Bassh has created new music rooted “in synthesizers, distorted guitars and sweeping melodies.” The sound is “aggressive, moody, melodic, atmospheric and weird.” CJ of Bassh recently spoke to BoC to discuss the new project, how being a duo is different from working within a band setting, why they signed to Antler Records, incorporating electronics into their songs and more.
Why did you both formed Bassh?
C.J: We formed Bassh because we were writing songs together that had a different sound than our previous projects. It just happened naturally. It was just already something new subconsciously.
How liberated and free do you feel working as a duo now as Bassh?
C.J: It’s very freeing with the music and business aspects because only two people need to be happy.
Is Bassh a serious project? In the band bio. the word used is fun. I’m sure making music in general is definitely fun but will Bassh go on beyond this record you think? I see you signed to a new label. How did you choose that label and why?
C.J: I’ve never been more serious about any music in my life. We are working very hard to make this last as long as possible. But, were also enjoying the ride every step of the way. Antler has been great. Jimmy hit it off with them from the first conversation. It’s nice to be on a smaller label who really cares about the band and gets what we do.
Is using electronics more exciting or interesting in terms creating arrangements and writing songs? Has there always been in interest incorporating electronics in the back of your mind?
C.J: I think having electronic drums or synths incorporated does add some excitement for me, only because you are less limited with the sound you can produce. Like, you can mic up an acoustic guitar and make it sound great or terrible, but it’s going to sound like an acoustic. We’ve really enjoyed messing around and finding weird sounds through synths, pedals, guitars, etc. in a lot of these songs. I think there has always been an interest incorporating electronics from day one.
What influenced the musical direction of Bassh and the songwriting style? Can you tell me more about?
C.J: I’m not sure in the beginning. It was just Jimmy and I wanting to express ourselves in a fresh way. We wanted to just play what we thought sounded good and have complete control over that. We have been influenced by countless artists throughout our lives, but we never sat down and said what we wanted to sound like. We just wrote and played. Now I think we are primarily focused on playing off each other’s voices whether that be trading off verses or doing an answer call or harmonies or even rapping a verse.
How did Bassh connect with Bill Reynolds? What was that experience like?
C.J: We connected to Bill through mutual friends. We emailed him some demos asking if he wanted to wanted to produce it. He wrote back and said, “I love this, lets do it,” and we were in the studio two weeks later. It was a ton of fun working with Bill. He made the songs come alive and also let us to our thing.
Was it the first time performing at SXSW? What was the highlights or memories that stood out the most?
C.J: This was our first time as Bassh. We’ve both been to SX with other bands. The highlight musically was our first show at the Untapped Showcase, it just felt right. Then we went to this massive castle a few of the nights and partied/ jammed. It was crazy fun.
Photos by Alysse Gafkjen and Bill Reynolds