After seven years, Busty and the Bass are only just getting started

Vancouver Weekly speaks with Montreal-bred Busty and the Bass

Montreal-born Busty and the Bass started 2018 with a bang. The singular jazz-pop-electro-soul-hip hop shape-shifters have brought their spectacle of sound — a fusion of electrifying keys, guitars, horns, and smooth vocals — to a host of new cities across North America. Their spring tour comes on the heels of a stint in Europe and a string of other dates in the fall.

“We call it on the grind,” said singer and alto sax player Nick Ferraro. “From the early shows, we just wanted to play anywhere. We took any gig… that’s how we learned to do what we do.”

The grind of touring has paid off. It’s landed the nine-piece collective on big stages, including opening for Anderson .Paak at Montreal’s Jazz fest last July. Two weeks later, the band announced the September release of Uncommon Good, their first full-length album after a series of singles and two EPs.

“We tour so much and that’s been our bread and butter from such a young age… recording has been a newer thing,” Ferraro said. “We can’t necessarily think of it as capturing the energy of the live show, because no one can really do that… for us, a big thing is putting in the hours that we’ve clocked live into the studio.”

Spending long stretches of time travelling and playing with a group of at least eight other individuals would faze a lot of people. But for Busty and the Bass, friendship and collaboration are nourishing.

“I don’t know how solo artists do it,” mused Ferraro. “I just can’t imagine playing and you look back at the drummer and they’re some hired gun… as opposed to my friend who I want to be there. We’re sort of in this era in pop music [centred on] solo artists. I’m hopeful we’ll maybe see a little era of bands coming back.”

With band members hailing from nine different North American cities, comradery and social networks have helped the band find success on the road.

Evan Crofton lends his vocals, keyboard, and synth to the band, performing under the moniker Alistair Blu. “With networks and different groups of friends we kind of conquered the whole continent, from Victoria down to LA, up to Toronto, to New York,” Crofton said.

Live shows aren’t the only gig the band is taking on while touring. They’ve also made stops at local schools to engage with students through music, a commitment the band hopes to make during all their tours now.

“We were talking in the summer and realizing in a lot of ways… it’s kind of a responsibility, and it’s also pretty easy,” said Ferraro. “It just seems like something that should be more common. You know, get to the city early… show up, create a spark, or if one kid there says ‘Wow! Music!’ then we’ve done our job.”

Crofton hopes it’s something the kids can remember and take home. “At least what I remember was anything that takes you out of the laborious routines of elementary school,” he joked.

As March break approaches for students, Busty and the Bass are also looking forward to some time off from the road. But they won’t be putting their instruments down for long. While they were coy about details, Ferraro and Crofton hinted at new collaborations and music on the horizon.

“2018 is going to be huge for us,” said Ferraro.

Busty and the Bass play the Imperial in Vancouver on Wednesday, March 7th – three days before wrapping up their spring tour.