Canadian Musician - March / April 2018 - Page 54

Brandi Disterheft is a Juno Award-winning jazz bassist. Her lat- est album, Blue Canvas, is available now. CM: How did you come to play bass? BD: I grew up playing piano and come from a musical family. My mom is from Chicago, plays B3 organ, and my dad was in the music business for years with Ya- maha. It was actually my father’s idea. He thought it would be comical seeing this little girl playing this massive instrument. I started on upright and then electric in high school. CM: When did vocals come into the picture? CM: How do you tackle the challenge of singing and playing at the same time? BD: Yeah, it’s like left hand and right hand on piano. You have to have each part really solid. Initially, there’s not much movement as a bassist because you’re focused on singing. The learning curve takes much longer. It’s not like you can just go learn a song and sing it. It can take months before you can perform a song. CM: What have your experiences been like as a woman in the music industry? BD: All the women in my family were mu- sicians. I was always ahead of the game. In school, with music, I knew so much more than the boys did it seemed. I always had quite a bit of confidence. Then you realize that sometimes there’s an ego involved. It’s a real fine line on how you are supportive, but still hold your own and not be bossy. I have had my bouts of discrimination as a female artist, more in the United States than in Canada. For example, I was booked to play at Birdland with a very famous veteran drummer and then got canned off the gig a week before the hit because I was a female. Sometimes the older gen- eration has a hard time with the idea that women can actually play because perhaps they hardly saw it in their lifetime. Now it is more commonplace. I felt he was just un- comfortable in his own skin in general. On the contrary, I have met an abun- dance of encouraging and supportive colleagues – young, old, male, and female – here in NYC, too. It’s important to teach the younger generation that these barriers can be and are being broken. BD: My aunt was a session singer in L.A. She sang with Sergio Mendes and Clare Fischer. I grew up singing along with her albums. For some reason, in college, I thought it would be a sell-out if you were to sing and play. I was more into instru- mental music. Then after I won the Juno and started touring more, I realized I felt like a mute on stage and wanted to ex- press more. Montreal native Isabelle Banos plays electric bass and synthesizers for the indie pop group Caveboy, in addition to having performed with the likes of Ria Mae and Scott Helman. 54 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N