Interview with Eric Haynes of Busty and the Bass – New Album “Eddie”

Earlier this month saw the release of “Eddie,” the second full length release from the neo-soul band Busty and the Bass. By way of Montreal, Busty and the Bass incorporate a mix of styles: danceable hooks and pop melodies meet with elements of soul and hip-hop in the upbeat infectious “Eddie.” WLUW’s Scott Clancy talked with keys player Eric Haynes about the new album, reflections on the COVID era, and the creative process of the band. “Eddie” is available NOW on Arts & Crafts Records!

WLUW: First and foremost, how are all of you doing? Staying healthy and sane during this time of quarantine?

Eric: I’m hanging in there! I actually broke my leg three weeks ago playing soccer in a rec league so that’s kind of sucked. I also can’t remember a time in my life since elementary school that I’ve gone this long without playing music for people and it feels very strange. After the pandemic the band spread out between Montreal, Toronto, and a few other cities, so I haven’t seen most of my bandmates since March. We’re regrouping in Montreal in a couple weeks and I’m really looking forward to that.

WLUW: “Eddie” is the band’s second full length album release – when was it put together? Were you able to get most of it down together before quarantine? Could you provide a little insight on any challenges recording, if any?

Eric: Luckily we finished the album during the before times — actually a while ago. Most of the recording happened in 2018, with some post production in 2019. It’s funny to think about now, but one of the biggest challenges was making time to work on the album as a group and recording in the midst of some heavy touring. Now it feels very lucky that those were the biggest challenges we had to deal with!

WLUW: In all this time together as Busty & the Bass, are there any examples of how you’ve noticed your writing process together evolve over that time? With more experience under your collective belt in the band and in various other projects, how have those other projects/experiences informed “Eddie?” If at all?

Eric: We’re still fine tuning our writing process — working collaboratively in a group of eight is a lofty goal, and sometimes we pull it off better than others. We’re really excited about letting everyone’s individual artistic practice have a voice in the band. As a group we’re interested in a huge range of music, and letting all those influences seep in is something we like about our sound.

WLUW: “Eddie” sees another collaboration with you and producer Neal Pogue – what can you say that teaming back up with a producer you’ve worked with before added to “Eddie” musically or otherwise? If anything notable?

Eric: Neal Pogue was a big part of this album’s process, from helping choose the songs that ultimately made the album to being a reassuring guide throughout the recording process. One thing I love about working with Neal is that his experience as a mixing engineer gives him some valuable insight into how a finished product can sound. He’s worked with some artists we really admire, from Outkast to Earth, Wind & Fire, and we feel fortunate to work with him.

WLUW: “Eddie” features collaborations with music monoliths such as Macy Gray, George Clinton, and Verdine White – did you find their contributions anything like catalysts towards the record’s development/writing or more like quick additions to a more or less completed record?

Eric: For Macy Gray and George Clinton, we thought the songs we sent them to record on were pretty much done but once they added their touches we were inspired to change some aspects! Other songs like ‘Go So Far’ (with Illa J and Jon Connor) had a more collaborative process. For all the incredible features we have on this album, they added something we never would have thought of and it was a breath of fresh air.

WLUW: The record was described by you guys as one that asks the question of advice given to your younger selves. With your experience as Busty & the Bass, the collaborations on this new record, and recent events of 2020 in mind, what do you think has been one of the most formative events/experiences/discoveries/etc that helped you answer that question in “Eddie?”

Eric: I think I’ve learned that it’s dangerous to let yourself be too defined by your work. Personally, I spent so much time travelling over the last few years that I lost sight of who I want to be when I’m in the same place for a while. I got used to rolling with the punches on the road, but it became really hard to settle into a routine when I was at home. Having to check that out over the last 6 months has been a big growing experience. Not everyone will have experienced such a drastic change, but I hope this has changed all our perspectives on who we are and what’s important to us. I know I’ll never take the freedom to assemble or travel for granted again.

WLUW: Earlier this year, you signed to the Canadian based label Arts and Crafts – are there any feelings of affinity/affection/etc towards Canadian music/ Canadian music scenes? Do you see anything specifically Canadian/Montreal in the music you make?

Eric: Yes! I’m from Calgary, and although only about half the band is Canadian we’ve all made Canada our home. Montreal played a big role in our development because of the vibrant music scene and huge number of venues to play. We’re also thrilled to be working with Arts & Crafts because a lot of us grew up listening to artists on that label like Broken Social Scene.

WLUW: Finally, what have you been listening to lately? Anything to recommend?

Eric: During the pandemic I’ve been going back to a lot of my old favorites that give me comfort. Some jazz stuff like the Esbjörn Svensson Trio and Bill Evans & Tony Bennett’s duo records, and some more recent stuff like Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’ and ‘Art Angels’ by Grimes. I’ve also listened to a lot of podcasts – for me they’re a beautiful way to connect with the world and something weekly I can count on. Some recent favorites I’d recommend are ‘Do By Friday’ ‘Sandy and Nora Talk Politics’ and ‘Cool Mules’ by Canadaland. 

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