Interview: Joy Basu

Dan McAvinchey: Your new CD "SinErgy" is quite different in style and tone from your self-titled debut. What was the inspiration for this CD?

Joy Basu: There were a lot of different things that inspired this CD. Once I put the studio together, I just started recording what I wanted to hear. I love guitar and electronic music. I really wanted to blend the two together more than it's ever been done. That is pretty much what I achieved.

Dan McAvinchey: Who was your intended audience for the music?

Joy Basu: To tell you the truth, I did not even think of this from the standpoint of selling and a target audience. I was just having fun creating and learning the studio. I know just from a business side it is sometimes best to stay within the boundaries of traditional styles and not break the rules of any particular genre. However, I get bored easy and need variety. Now that it has been released it seems like a lot of guitar players and musicians as well as electronica headz are really diggin' the blending of styles.

For the most part the response has been great. Most of the electronic music fans are really happy that there are finally some real guitars in this type of music, while lot of guitar players are happy to hear something fresh. Now I think this CD appeals to several crowds.

Dan McAvinchey: How has your equipment evolved since you recorded your debut CD?

Joy Basu: Live I have been using a variety of gear. For most of the pop stuff I have used Fenders, Marshalls, Boogie Rectifier, and Line 6 amps. I have way more pedals than before, mostly Line 6, a few Boss, and a Guyatone. I have several Wah pedals but 99% of the time I use a Morley Bad Horsie. I added an ESP baritone guitar for the heavy stuff. I have gotten a few ESP Eclipses since the last CD as well as couple of more Strat-style ESPs. I use a Godin nylon string guitar for a lot of gigs and I have been throwing it into some of my own music.

Dan McAvinchey: How did you record the tracks for the CD?

Joy Basu: Well the studio is now is set up with a Mac G4. For the "SinErgy" CD I used Digital Performer, Re-Birth, and Peak. I started using Reason and ReCycle about a week after the CD was completed. Most of the non-guitar sounds came from ReBirth, Mo-Phatt, Supernova, Waldorf and a Juno. All guitars went through either Line 6 or Rocktron gear. The Line 6 pedals played a huge role in this CD. I used all ESP guitars for the CD. There is an ESP baritone guitar on Cyborg. Some of the guitars on "ReJonmo" (both mixes) are going through a Line 6 delay that plays back an original part backwards. Everything is set of by an 8th note so I had to play what I wanted to hear an 8th note ahead of the beat.

I ran so many pedals and filters on guitars, synths and even drums on this one. Not to hide any playing whatsoever, but to create trippy sounds and certain vibes. There are so many parts on "SinErgy" that sound like they could be a synth or some weird instrument, but It's a guitar.

The CD took way longer to do than I planned. I was learning to studio as I was doing this project. At the beginning the studio was not running smoothly. I was uninstalling and installing so much crap, dealing with crashes, etc. Now the studio runs real smoothly. I also know how to use the gear well, and proficiently. The other reason it took a while was because I was working so much doing other gigs and sessions, I barely had time to touch my stuff. There were months at a time where I would be booked into rehearsals followed by touring. Even while I was in town I could only get to my stuff once a week. So four days of recording would happen over a month's span. Now, I have completely stopped taking local gigs and cut down on the teaching so I have more time to do my own music. Things are moving quickly now, I am halfway done with my next CD.

Dan McAvinchey: You've toured quite a bit over the past few years, how important was that in the direction you've taken with your original music?

Joy Basu: I can't even put into words how fun touring and all that has been. Doing the pop gigs has helped my timing a lot, improved my funk chops, as well as learning pedals and just general understanding of music. It also reminded me how fun music is, and about how not everything about it has to be a science. Every time I jam, do a gig, record or have any musical experience I think it adds to my music. I am sure indirectly the touring did play a role in my music. However, when I was touring it was either R&B or Pop. My music has been a lot more influenced by the remixes of those pop tunes and going to the dance clubs here in LA.

There are other guitar players who have influenced me lately, such as Wah Wah Watson on Maxwell's CD. All the nylon stuff on Marc Anthony's English CD. As far as rock/metal/shred guitar goes my influences are very similar to the old days. My favorites are still Jason Becker, Yngwie, Vai, Neal Schon, and the list goes on. Those guys and others from that era were, and still are, my favorite in that style. When I want to listen to that type of guitar playing those are the ones I still listen to. I like to hear the new batch of guitar players doing something new and fresh.

Dan McAvinchey: How will you be promoting your new record?

Joy Basu: My site, Guitar9 of course. A lot of promotion on the net with various circles of people. Live shows with other electronic artists. A few stores. Hit up the radio stations. This stuff is perfect for TV and soundtracks. Parts of have already been licensed to soundtracks. Even after a lot of the pop gigs, while signing and getting pictures taken, I give out flyers or cards, which help Internet sales.

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Dan McAvinchey: How will you be spending the next year, musically speaking?

Joy Basu: Recording as much original music as possible. I also have two new artists I am producing. I am still doing shows with Jessica Simpson, and now Nick Lachey as well. There are couple of people I am putting together live electronic shows with. The gigs are meant for dance clubs. The music is very electronic with funky and heavy guitars. On top of that I teach part time at MI and home. However, the originals are top priority right now. I have been turning down quite a bit of work to get more material recorded. I have three new CDs in the works. One heavy electronic CD with way more guitars, one that is very world oriented with lot of Eastern vocals and instruments, and one pure hard trance.

Dan McAvinchey: Have you met any musicians who you would love to work with on a future project?

Joy Basu: I have had the privilege to perform with and meet a lot of great musicians in the last few years. The list can go on for a while. Shawna Basick is singing on a lot of my new stuff. David Vee (David Lee Roth, Gap Band, Jodi Watley) and I have already done some stuff together and will be creating a lot more in the future. Julie Greaux (key/vocals for Luis Miguel, Billy Idol, Berlin) and I have worked together on couple of things and I would love to have her do some more stuff for my next CD.

If I use live bass on my stuff I would call J.K. Kleutgens (J2K Records). I worked with him on some local jobs and some live instrumental gigs (from my 1st CD). He is a great bass player. Even though his main thing is fusion, he can truly feel and perform other non-conventional styles. Most importantly I like to work with friends who I have fun with and those who understand the music I am creating. It's all about capturing the right vibe.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you see yourself doing in five years time?

Joy Basu: Recording and performing way more originals and cutting back a bit on the hired gun thing. Getting more into production. Basically taking what I am doing now to a higher level. Most of all enjoying life to the fullest.

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Born in Calcutta, India, guitarist Joy Basu continues passionately pursuing the life of a world-traveling musician. He has been touring with national acts such as Jessica Simpson, as well as doing local gigs and teaching. In between all of his other activities, he managed to find time to record his second CD, "SinErgy". The tracks feature trancey, guitar tones and effects with spiral, forward, and backwards guitar lines highlighting moody, trippy melodies that take you to another reality.

Dan McAvinchey caught up with Basu in order to get the lowdown on the guitarist's latest project, and what he may have planned for the future.