Planet Bass Ė The Yves Carbonne Interview August 2004 Yves Carbonne is a session bass player of the highest caliber. He has been playing electric and upright bass since the age of 13. Since then he has played with all the top players including Michael Manring and gives Master Classes at CIAM in Bordeaux. He also helps develop multi stringed basses with bass maker Christian Noguera, the latest being the 8 string YC 8. Yves plays all over the world so catch him when you can.
Yves Carbonne's website is at- www.yvescarbonne.com What inspired you to first pick up a bass and what were your first attempts at playing it like?
I started playing the piano at seven, but it was not really my instrument. Later, as my older brother was playing the guitar, I began playing the bass to play with him. I was, and Iím still inspired by low sounds. Who were your early influences and what did you learn from them?
My early influences were Paul Mc Carney and John Entwistle because my brother was a fan of the Beatles and The Who. But as my parents were listening to other kinds of music, I was living in an eclectic musical background. My interest in jazz started with Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Weather Report; Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius were my mentors. Then I began to listen to Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker. Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?
I was firstly self-taught, then I took a few lessons in Bordeaux with a local teacher. Later Alain Caron gave me some lessons and Iím still a student of Dominique Di Piazza. I think itís important to have a teacher because I need another point of view on my playing and I need to have students too because I always learn something even if I play with less experienced bassists. Whatís the most important bit of advice you were given by another musician?
To be an autonomous player concerning the tempo. To develop the best articulation possible when playing either bass lines or melody. Whatís the most important bit of advice you could give to new bassists?
To be self confident. To hear different kinds of music and not only bass. To be open minded! To study music history and practice bass regularly. Where do you stand on the old fingers vs. plectrums debate and why?
Most of the time I play with two or three fingers. I rarely use a pick. I like the sound of the plectrum in a rock context but I prefer the feeling I have when I play with my fingers. Do you play 4, 5 or 6 string basses mainly? Fretted or unfretted?
I have my own line of instruments made in France by Christian Noguera, the YC models. Today my main instruments are 8 string fretted and fretless sub-basses tuned E(20,6hertzs)-A-D-G-C-F-Bb-Eb. I still play a couple of 6 string (fretted & fretless) and I have the 4 string versions of my sub-basses too tuned E(20,6hertzs)-A-D-G-C-F-Bb-Eb [This I admit I didn't get: 4 stringer still tuned like 8 stringer? How? Wallace
] I have the project to develop a 10 or 11 string version of my sub-bass concept [I think he did more than that: there are pics of him with a 12 stringer, as already you may know. Wallace
] How would you define your style of playing?
Iím essentially a jazz musician, but I like to play all different styles of music I can meet. Tell us a little about the artists you have worked with, and how/if you adapted to playing with each of them?
For the last 20 years Iíve played with a lot of people, mainly from the European jazz scene. I was inspired for years by players like master drummer Bernard Lubat or Michel Portal. The fact is you have to play each time differently when you play with these artists who are fond of improvisation. It was very exciting for me. Who was the most inspirational and in what way?
Dominique Di Piazza still inspires me a lot because of musical and spiritual reasons. Do you warm up before a gig and if so how?
No. I just play. Do you have any other last minute rituals or habits before a gig?
I wash my hands! What do you drink onstage?
Water and sometimes champagne! Have you ever played while drunk or under the influence of drugs?
No drugs! Even if I like champagne, I try to be as clean as possible on stage. Whatís the biggest disaster youíve ever had onstage, and how did you cope with it?
The bigger disaster for me was not to hear my own sound in front of hundreds of people. Whatís the biggest disaster youíve ever had in the studio, and how did you cope with it?
To be unable to play a good solo after 4 or 5 takes Whatís been your proudest playing moment?
Recently, I had the great privilege to play in The Bass Trio with Michael Manring and Dominique Di Piazza. Whatís been the most fun playing moment, and why?
I try to have fun every time I play! Whatís been the least fun playing moment, and why?
I have several memories of bad elementary gigs, but I must admit itís sometimes a part of a professional musical life. What equipment do you use live and in the studio and why?
I always use my Noguera basses and sub-basses. Richard Cocco is making for me my La Bella sub-bass strings. I have a Boss TU 15 tuner, witch is perfect for the sub-bass. I have an Aguilar DB 680 preamp, a DB 359 amp and DB 728 power amp. I uses mainly SWR speakers. I plan to try AccuGroove speakers. In the studio I record my bass direct or I use my preamp. Are you fairly flexible about the equipment you use or must you always play with the same gear?
Yes, I can play with any amp, but of course I prefer my own gear. What one piece of equipment would you advise all bass players to own?
Good ears!!! (lol). A good preamp. Do you read music?
Yes. Do you play any other instruments, and how well?
I can play a (very) little piano for harmonic parts. Do you write or co-write songs and if so do you write on the bass?
Yes I write music, and I try to do it without any instrument. Do you ever play cover versions, and if so how do you learn the originals note for note or do you improvise you own parts?
I sometimes play cover versions, and if Iíve the time to do it I like to first learn the originals, note for note and then find my own way to play the song. Do you sing? Do you feel it is important?
I sing in my mind but not with my voice, because itís a real and very difficult instrument! I try to make my fretless bass sound like the human voice. If you could nominate one song that youíve recorded to sum up your playing style and feel which one would it be?
I think Iíve not yet recorded this song! What have you been doing recently?
I mainly concentrate on these different projects:
- solo gig. I plan to use Max MSP with my G4 Powerbook for live performances.
- solo album Ė it take a long timeÖ
- duo gig with harmonica player Laurent Maur. A recording will be realized soonÖ
- The Bass Trio with Michael Manring and Dominique Di Piazza. A live recording will be done end 2004/beginning 2005 at Le Triton near Paris (www.letriton.com
- Dominique Di Piazzaís projects as lead bassist (I play the sub-bass). I plan to meet this year my web friend Stewart McKinsey to record and have fun with him. Do you have a personal or band website? Or would you like to recommend any other useful websites?
My personal web site is www.yvescarbonne.com
I would like to recommend: www.bassfusion.com www.bassically.net www.extendedrangebassit.com www.dipiazza.bass www.subcontrabassist.com