The U•BASS® Lowdown: Q&A with Alex Castro
Kala U•BASS® Artist Alex Castro plays upright bass with jazz project Aunt & Uncle, where he additionally serves as arranger and musical director. From there, he reimagines a variety of genres as compelling jazz covers. Alex (under the moniker JandrexBass) also displays mastery of various styles in his social media presence.
With an homage to a classic upright bass tone and its complimentary versatility, the U•BASS® is a natural fit for Alex. We had the pleasure of talking with him about his influences, current endeavors and his relationship with the U•BASS®:
Tell us about your start in music! What drew you to the bass as your primary instrument?
I started playing bass after listening to Reginald Arvizu (AKA Fieldy), Korn's bass player. I'd never heard a bass have a tone like Fieldy's, and listening to it made me fall in love with the instrument. Since I didn't have an actual bass, I took my brother's acoustic guitar and focused on playing the last four strings as if it were a bass. Six months later, I had the great fortune of receiving my first electric bass from my parents.
When did you first hear about the U•BASS® - and what was your impression when you first tried it out?
The first time I heard it was at a friend's studio, and I thought the sound was incredible with great low frequencies, considering it's such a small instrument!
Your jazz duo, Aunt & Uncle, plays beautifully arranged and wonderfully executed cover songs; it gives them a very unique and original feel. Do you also compose new material as a group?
I've only had time to focus on writing arrangements for my band, no original releases yet. But it is in my plans to compose original repertoire for Aunt & Uncle.
Are you working on any additional projects? Do you spend any time composing on your own for bass?
For the time being, I'm 100% focused on arranging and playing bass in Aunt & Uncle, and also as a session bassist - recording bass lines for clients that reach out to me. I do have plans to eventually write and record original solo bass material.
What is currently your favorite U•BASS model and string type, and why?
That's a tough one! LOL. Regarding the look, my two favorites are the Striped Ebony and The Journeyman. But as far as sound and comfort while playing, I'd have to say the Flame Maple. I'd also add that my favorite U•BASS® strings are the Silver Plated Round Wounds, because they have the best definition, better pitch and a more versatile tone.
Any tips for a player's transition to U•BASS from upright or electric bass?
Play until you feel comfortable with the instrument. I personally love that the string' tension is so light, because it allows me to practice for hours and hours without getting tired. A total opposite to what happens when I practice upright bass XD.
We've always loved your clean tone on U•BASS. What is your EQ approach?
Thanks so much! I always try to maintain a tone where you can really feel the lows, have the mids define what I'm playing, and the highs provide that shine that's so characteristic when the string hits the fret. My EQ usually goes like this: LOWS 60% - 80% / MIDS 40% - 50%. / HIGHS 40% - 80% (It depends on whether I'm slapping or not.)
Do you have any favorite effects pedals to use with a U•BASS?
I'm a bassist who's just beginning to get into the world of effects, so I've only tried very few pedals. But the Micro Q Tron from electro-harmonix is definitely one of my favorites.
What is coming up for you with music in the near future?
To keep trying to become a better musician in every aspect; a better arranger, a better bassist. I also want to go back to booking concerts with Aunt & Uncle, and hope to achieve my goals as a composer and release original music very soon.