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SBL Student Spotlight – Caleb Wilson

For this week’s Student Spotlight, we catch up with Caleb Wilson.

Throughout the year, we’ll be touching base with a diverse set of breaking and established talent to air their thoughts and experiences about bass playing, tunes and music in general from their own vantage point (the only thing that anyone can do, really). Want to join them? If you're studying with SBL and would like to share your experiences, then please don't hesitate to Contact Us as we'd love to share your story and promote your music to the SBL audience!

Caleb Wilson - (Fender) Jazz Master

Caleb Wilson started out as a guitarist before making the switch to bass while he was still at school. Currently enjoying life at the Academy of Contemporary Music in the UK, there’s no doubt Caleb is geared for bigger stages, but what’s the key to maintaining a happy mindset when you’re spending so much time studying, we ask? “I’ve met so many people at ACM who’ve all got the same passion as me,” says Caleb. “More importantly, there are people here who’ve already done it including one of my personal mentors, Paul Geary (Dire Straits, Paul Young, Nik Kershaw). So it’s great to see what’s actually possible. That’s helped me begin to build up my own reputation.”

Drawing inspiration from Sharay Reed, Hadrien Feraud and Michael League, Caleb is currently in the final year of his music degree course at ACM. His love of the bass was rewarded when he was recently asked to play with R&B artist Tyrell Trey. “Tyrell Trey is getting prepared to launch his debut EP and is definitely one to watch!” You can check him out here

When did you start playing bass?

I didn't pick up the bass guitar until Year 9 at school! I actually started on guitar, but the school band didn't have a bassist, so I filled in the position and guess what? I’ve never looked back!

What first encouraged you to pursue a career as a bass player?

It's funny because I got straight A’s at school, so when I left at 16 to study music, I’m sure you can all imagine the things people said! My family were supportive of me, which was a big help, but deep down I don't think they actually saw a career in music as a real possibility.

Who are your favourite players?

I'm a gospel guy at heart so I listened to a ton of Sharay Reed (if you know the name then you will have seen THE VIDEO), Andrew Gouche and Joe Cleveland. I later discovered Pino Palladino, Jamerson and a band called Snarky Puppy! Man, I’m not a fusion guy, but they opened a new window for me. I then found out about Hadrien Feraud and Janek Gwizdala. Insane players!

How do you practice?

With a metronome using loops and backing tracks! I really like to use things in context and break down ideas that I’ve heard to work on my vocabulary and then apply it. I'm currently working on arpeggios and linking progressions smoothly, going through some jazz standards using a great app called iReal Pro. It has backing tracks and charts that you can change the key, tempo and feel - it makes my practice feel a lot more human!

Tell us about your gear…

I love Jazz Basses! I have a Fender Jazz Deluxe V and I go through an Aguilar Tone Hammer DI, which was the best £200 I've ever spent! I know I have a great tone going to the PA regardless of the backline. I recently picked up a Sire v7 5-string in natural and this thing just looks and sounds amazing! In fact, I use it more than the Deluxe 5 at the moment! I'm not a massive pedal guy, but I'll occasionally run an octave pedal. I also run synth bass using a Novation Launchkey into Logic or Ableton (I run the Bass Station plugin). I may just have to get the Novation Bass Station II though.

What's your best gigging tip?

Be good to be around! From my limited experience so far it seems that being a great person to be around gives you an advantage over other musicians.

Any career highlights?

I actually don't finish my degree until this summer 2017, but highlights so far would include playing for 2014 Britain's Got Talent semi-finalist Henrietta Adewole. I also recorded for Incognito's Chris Ballin.

What would you be if you weren’t a bass player?

I love sales and that's probably where I would have ended up. I actually used to work for Ralph Lauren, but quit when I realised I could make music work for me and I’d be able to impact more people!

What’s been the best thing about 2017 so far?

I actually had a new door open to me into the TV/Film/Commercial industry after doing a photo shoot for the Trinity Rock and Pop grades. I’ve just signed a contract to be booked for TV, Film and Commercial appearances.

And the worst?

Cancelled tour dates are always a pain, especially when you block off a portion of your diary for it! But the powers that be would have it that the new door opened just as this one closed!

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