Global Bass Online August/September 2001
Most of us at one time or another, consider tossing in the whole band concept and entertain the idea of either doing solo work or working with just one other instrument. Markus and Sabine Reimer of Germany both held the same dream and found a way to do it.
Global Bass: Could we start with letting our readers know how your idea of a predominantly bass and vocal project came about. Was it a case of setting out to do this on purpose or was it more of a situation where all the other members took off to join a convent, leaving just the two of you. It could happen!!! It did to me
r&s: It's a nice little story which is actually true. For a long time I (Markus), wanted to play in just a duet with a singer. The real motivator of this was the wish to no longer work with a whole band.
I've always had problems with guitar and piano players, because of my style of playing. I loved, as a 'normal' bass player in a band, to subscribe the chord changes but they would inevitably collide with the piano lines. So it was my idea and my dream to work with a singer all by myself. The style of bass playing I do on 'Between the Worlds' gives an example of that freedom.
Sabine: Believe it or not, my wish was also to play in a duet with a bass player. This was even a long time before I met Markus. I liked the idea of having a lot of freedom in a duet with just my singing and one musical partner. That also meant spending more time with arrangements and rehearsals, but because I love to play music on stage and not in cellars, this was not a problem!
At this time I didn't know that it is much more work to arrange songs for just two self-supporting voices (bass & vocals) and have people listening willingly for a whole evening. But as to why a bass player? I just find the deep sound of a bass to be a perfect complement to the female voice. Like the red (bass) and blue (voice) frequencies of a light wave.
back to the story! We met the first time at a birthday party for a mutual
friend. But of course because we didn't know each other at all, our first
contact was more visual than musical. When I spoke to Sabine the first time, it
was just basically "Blah, blah, blah". When music became the theme of
our conversation Sabine told me, "I am a singer." And my answer was,
"Great! For a long time I've been looking for a singer to work with ."
And so ended our first meeting.
One month later we met again. Another party, the same friend and a second chance!! We talked to each other the whole night and we had a lot of fun. Deep into the conversation, suddenly she jumps up and says, "Oh sorry, I have to go home now, I have to give a workshop tomorrow! Good-bye, Rainer."
Now that was a shot to my heart. Rainer. I drank a lot of beer that night.
Another month passes and yet a third chance!! We meet at concert and yes, it was a concert for our mutual friend. We saw each other and we just fell in love at that point. Simple as that. It was during the first coffee of the day the next morning that we played our first song. It was "Autumn Leaves". Well, it was October. This was the beginning of our relationship.
GB: Were the songs that are original on your CD written initially as a platform to showcase the talents of the two of you?
Sabine: During the composing we weren't thinking in terms of technical skills or anything like that. This came straight from our hearts. Most of the compositions are inspirations of myself or Markus'. Very often it was a case that one of us had an idea for a melody and the other one would compose the line for the bass or the voice. Sometimes it would be that songs arose during an improvisation or even in a session itself. Each of us are composers and writers gathered into one person. We always make recordings from each session and every gig so that we won't miss good ideas.
GB: What were the criterion for your choices in some of the non-original songs, for example Jimi Hendrix's " Little Wing'? Was this a mutual choice or a song one of you had just always loved and wanted to do?
Markus: We always decide things together. That's very important. We both loved this song from Jimi and I was just very curious about how he did these nice little licks that he played. So I took some time and adapted the piece to the bass guitar. I play completely different things than he does but that's just my way. I play my own way and I don't concern myself with trying to be hip. It was very important for me to make my very own version of 'Little Wing', you know? I would never be so arrogant as to play a note-by-note cover of a song from one of my heroes.
Not every song will work for us. We've tried a lot of songs but were left with a few.
GB: There is a bit of a
free form jazz scat method of singing and playing at various points in the
album. Do you find yourselves being invited to jazz shows at all?
Markus: My roots are more from rock bands like Led Zepplin, Rush and Yes. I've never played in Jazz Bands or Jam Sessions. I don't think of our music as jazz or anything like it. But many people in Germany like to pigeon hole music.
GB: Do you do much live work, either in clubs or events with just the two of you or do you sometimes bring along other musicians as well?
Sabine: We mentioned earlier that the work with other musicians is very interesting and it does open up your mind. But in our duet we wish to play only using voice and drums. I think that is the essence or mystery of our music.
GB: Do either of you come from similar experience with other bands? Is this the first time you have tried a duo situation?
Sabine: It's the first time for both of us in a duet like reimer@setzer. We both have experience in several bands with different styles but nothing was ever like what we are doing now.
Markus: For me it's also the first time I've worked with my girlfriend. Sorry, my wife! (Gonna pay big time for that buddy-Editor) Sometimes it's much more intensive to work in a situation where you know each other so well. But sometimes it can be very hard. It's very important to draw the time between your private life and the duet. For example, I don't want to discuss the washing machine 2 minutes before I go on stage. You know what I mean? It's very important that we share the work, the house and the education of Jule as so on.
GB: Markus, to fill out your sound a bit in a live environment, do you opt for a 'wet sound' with a bit of echo and reverb and some other effects? If so, what do you use? Can you tell us a bit about your choices in basses, strings and amps. Are you presently endorsing any one particular brand?
Markus: I want to produce the musical landscape with my fingers and my bass guitar. I want to play the song with just good sounds and vital playing. An exception to that is 'Welcome to Our World'. This voicing was the result of a sound check. Our engineer was looking for a good reverb setting and found this delay. I thought it sounded pretty good and it inspired me to use that bass line.
I exclusively play using Yamaha basses and Eden electronics. I play the BB Ltd 4-string. 'He's' like a Jazz Bass but with much more tonal variety. Play him only with the neck p/u and he sounds like a Precision. He sounds very warm. When I need a six string sound, perhaps for the Latin Clave called, "My Heart is Dancing', I play the TRB 6PII with a Bubinga body (neckthrough).
Together these pieces, along with the Eden Stack form my gear. I think the Eden stack provides me with sounds that are very good for modern bass playing in every style. It let's me find the exact sound I want without adding anything. My reverbs I got from the G-Force and from TC-Electronic. The strings I use are from Cocco. I like their ruggedness and they stay 'live' much longer than any others. The nylon stringed acoustic I used was designed by a bass luthier in Germany: Mr. Magnus Krempel. He's a good guy who actually speaks to his basses. Yup.
GB: What will you be doing to promote this new CD? Will it bring you work on television in Europe or perhaps touring?
Markus: We think that the 'web' is a good place for us. In Germany it's impossible to get our music played on TV. We'll make a tour over Germany, Switzerland, Austria and maybe even the Netherlands. In those arenas I trust our manager. She does our booking as well. The web can connect you to people in just a moment anywhere. With our own website we can present our dream to the whole world. It's fantastic and a very easy form of communication. The best example is this interview with you Warren and Global Bass. It's a big opportunity for unknown musicians like we are.
GB: Are you planning for your next album at this time or holding off to see what develops from this new one?
Markus: The ideas for the next album are already there. But we don't want to play with other musicians on that next one. Don't get me wrong, it was a lot of fun working with others but it's much more expressive to work alone in the context of a duet. That also does not mean that we ONLY want to play together, we have other projects where we will meet other musicians.
"Between the Worlds' is very new and I hope through this album we can interest many people in our music. Of course, the only problem is that for us as musicians the compositions are old before the CD even hits the record store! So our development carries on and on but no one will hear that music for some time yet. We can say that on live gigs we now play songs from the next CD as well as 'Between' songs.
GB: Do you see that next album as being the same or any different than this current one? What are you long range career plans?
Sabine: Our dream is to concentrate upon only the duet. To play around the world and to make enough money with our own music to live and make more records.
Markus: Yes, that's a good goal, to play our music all around the world and to meet people. The plan is to play a complete CD with only Sabine's voice and Josef. Oh sorry, 'Josef' is my upright bass. He is more than 130 years old and he is really 'sensitive'. Sometimes he talks to me but he has to be patient. I'll have to practice a lot more before we can start the recordings for the next album with Josef as our sole 'guest'.
GB: Markus, at times you come across almost as a guitarist in this recording or even a rhythm guitarist when filling out the sound and imparting the melodic balance. How did you develop this? Were you self taught or did you train?
Markus: I've tried to study at several locations with different teachers but that was not right for me. I ended up studying by myself and I still do that today. The best teachers have so far proven to be my bass and our duet. Today I play things on my bass I would have never dreamed I was capable of. I do not think that I really play like a guitar player, actually much more like a rhythm section.
Yes, I play chords and riffs but to me as a bass player I have a very different position to rhythm than a guitar player. When I work with Sabine I think about the parameters of the music. It's not a question of technique. It's often a question of how I can cover all of the areas that need to be covered.
I was really young when I began to play piano. So my ears and my two hands and my 10 fingers were well trained with Mozart and Beethoven when I finally picked up the bass guitar. I first listened to Led Zepplin (John Paul Jones) and then Iron Maiden (Steve Harris) and I tried to adapt what they did. Everything I've learned I did by ear.
When I later heard Chick Corea's "La Fiesta" I taught myself to play it solo on the bass. As I write this now, it all seems really crazy when I think of what I have done!! To add all the percussive sounds and effects I use a little bit of the Tabla (Indian percussion) style.
Also while I use the Tapping Style I do ghost notes with the thumb of the right hand. So I can build complicated groove patterns. This is a lot of fun. The other thing I like to do very much is to play chords with bass lines combined. It's a bit like double thumbing and chord playing. I play with the thumb in up and down strokes and with my index and middle finger I can play the double stops and chord voices. That's just my way, my style.
You can listen to sound samples of
Reimer and Setzer at:
and find out more on this duo at:
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