Feature Interview: Craig Schoedler

Discussion in 'Features' started by TalkBass, Mar 23, 2004.

  1. TalkBass

    TalkBass News Poster

    Mar 12, 2004
    This feature was published on TalkBass.com in June 2002

    A 20+ year veteran of the bass, Craig Schoedler has astounded other musicians
    and music listeners with not only his playing dexterity but with his compositional
    skills as well. His love of music knows no bounds and the thought he puts into
    every note he plays and composes reflects this....
  2. TalkBass

    TalkBass News Poster

    Mar 12, 2004
    ........................................... <br><br><br> <p align="center"><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/schoedler/home_small.jpg" width="200" height="190" align="left"><font size="+3"><strong>Craig Schoedler </strong></font></p> <p align="center"><em><strong>Interview for TalkBass.com by Jason J. Bundy </strong></em></p> <p>A 20+ year veteran of the bass, Craig Schoedler has astounded other musicians and music listeners with not only his playing dexterity but with his compositional skills as well. His love of music knows no bounds and the thought he puts into every note he plays and composes reflects this. This highly talented professional recently discussed all things bass with TalkBass.com. </p> <p><strong>What made you decide to become a jazz bass player and musician? </strong></p> <p>When I was younger, I wanted to be a basketball player. From the time that I was 15, I was sold on becoming a bassist. My wife, Helen-Mary was the person who really turned me on to jazz. I think that I like jazz because it is an art form that allows a bassist room to play at a high level. I find myself listening to two styles of music: rap and jazz. My compositions reflect that. I like the combination of the two styles. I can really appreciate any style of music that is done well. </p> <p><strong>What is your musical education? </strong></p> <p>When I started playing bass, I studied with a guitarist/composer/teacher named Chuck Anderson. I studied with him from the ages of 14 to 19. He is a fantastic teacher and a great player. He gave me a strong foundation in terms of everything musical, including technique. I also played anywhere from 2-5 hours a day for the last 24 years which also helped. </p> <p>In addition to Chuck Anderson, I have studied with Chris Hetrick, Vince Fay, Mike Richmond, Jeff Andrews, Lincoln Goines, Adam Nussbaum (drummer), and Jim McNeely (pianist/composer). I went to Temple University for a degree in music. I attended New York University for a Masters degree and part of a doctorate degree. </p> <p>Also, I have learned a great deal from playing in a wide range of musical situations. </p> <p><strong>Are you strictly a finger style player or do you trade off with a pick? </strong></p> <p>I am strictly a finger style player. I used to use a pick when I was playing different styles of music. I don’t really have the urge to get that kind of sound lately. </p> <p><strong>How do arrive at a bass tone that you are satisfied with? </strong></p> <p>In terms of bass tone, I just arrive at a sound that has a good combination of bottom, mid, high, clarity and balls. I don’t have it down to a science. It’s kind of like adding ingredients to a recipe while cooking. There is a real art to getting the right sound in different situations. </p> <p>I think a good place to start would be to envision what a soloist would want to hear under them while soloing. They would want to hear bottom end with clarity. I usually write tunes using a keyboard with drum loops. I often write bass lines later, although occasionally I do write tunes around a bass line. An example of this is the song, By The Water, from my CD of the same name. </p> <p><strong>Are there certain modes you gravitate towards when you are composing?</strong> <img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/schoedler/image2.jpg" width="240" height="225" align="right"></p> <p>I don’t think in terms of modes when I’m composing. I do find myself leaning towards darker harmony though. Maybe it’s because I live on the East Coast. I remember when I studied with Jeff Andrews back in the early 90’s; he used to say that it was an East Coast/West Coast thing. </p> <p>The writers from the West Coast were always writing the happy major key stuff, while we on the East Coast were always hearing things darker. It is a perfect example of how your environment affects you, and then it eventually comes out in your music. Can you imagine what they’re writing up in Alaska when it is dark for a few months in a row? I bet they are hearing a lot of minor keys up there, maybe even diminished clusters. </p> <p><strong>In the numerous years you have been playing, has carpal tunnel syndrome affected you?</strong> </p> <p>I’ve been very lucky on the carpal tunnel front. I know a lot of musicians that struggle with that. I was doing a show where the drummer, Jay Nichols-a great drummer, would put his hands in a bucket of ice after he was done playing. </p> <p>I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened to me with the music style I play. I don’t worry about it though, I would adjust my playing style. Who knows? It might force me to play simple melodies. That has it’s definite advantages. </p> <p><strong>Are there any other musical instruments that you know? </strong></p> <p>Electric bass is the only instrument that I play on a professional level. I compose on a keyboard, but I don’t play it like a real pianist. However, I did play an event a few years ago as a solo pianist. It was really funny. I urge every musician to accept a job playing an instrument that they don’t play. You just go in and pretend like you know what you’re doing. It’s the first step toward taking yourself less seriously.</p> <p> I wouldn’t suggest doing that at a gig where people are actually listening to you though. </p> <p><strong>What gear are you currently using?</strong></p> <p> <img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/schoedler/cover2.jpg" width="200" height="191" align="left">I am currently playing a Ken Smith 5 string bass with a Sadowsky outboard preamp.I use a volume pedal and various speaker cabinets. I am looking for companies that stand behind their artists in terms of endorsements. </p> <p><strong>What are you future plans? </strong></p> <p>I spent much of the past year promoting my debut CD, By The Water, on my website: <a href="http://www.craigschoedler.com">www.craigschoedler.com</a>. I have recently returned to playing and practicing hours a day. I have a renewed determination to improve. I am pursuing the jazz festivals as well. While I have composed some tunes for the next CD, I think that I would like to spend a few years improving my playing. I would like to grow as a player before I record again.. Also, I am teaching privately in the South Jersey area. </p>