Janek Gwizdala - Multi-faceted Multi-tasker

Every musician wants to stay busy but Janek Gwizdala takes multi-tasking to entirely new levels. On the international modern Jazz scene, he maintains a busy, some may say intense, recording and touring schedule. But the UK-born, LA-based Gwizdala is also a respected columnist, educator, and author whose recently self-published book - You’re a Musician. Now What? - has been garnering rave reviews. He is also adept at engaging his large fan base through social media networking channels such as Instagram and Twitter to interact freely with his audience while promoting his latest works.

And if that is not enough, he formed the charity We Need Strings to help musicians around the world who do not have access to strings. With many players changing their strings weekly – even daily – Gwizdala saw that there was still life in these strings; enough life for the countless players with no choice. So far the response has been extraordinary as hundreds of lightly used strings have shipped globally to musicians in need.

We were able to catch up with Janek in between breaks on his recent clinic tour of Australia and New Zealand to discuss a few of his many recent projects.


How was your clinic tour of Australia and NZ?

Pretty epic! It was my first time in NZ which is getting to be a rare thing these days with the amount of traveling I do. It had been on my bucket list for a long time, and with the dates locked in in Australia, there was no way I wasn't hooking something up in NZ while I was that close. The clinics were really well received, and there are already plans in the works for festivals in that part of the world in 2014.

How have you been getting along with your Aguilar gear?

I really enjoy the warmth of the sound. That's the first thing that jumped out at me when I played the gear. I have Aguilar pickups in my main bass, and am using the SL 112's with the Tone Hammer 500 head, and playing music has never felt better to me. The gear is light, powerful, and even LOOKS good!

I love the mellow vibe of Theatre By The Sea – how did you capture that feel within an improvised setting?

Well although this album does feature a large amount of improvisation, it was probably one of the most composed albums I've made in a while. I really had specific musicians in mind to play the melodies I'd written, and even left out a couple of compositions because certain people weren't available for the album. The combination of the incredible rhythm section of Alan Pasqua and Peter Erskine really gives a foundation of great time feel, and allows the soloists to go anywhere they want. We had originally booked two days to track the rhythm section, and did the whole album in 4hrs! So this speaks volumes to the level of comfort with the music those guys came to the studio with, and I think that translates in their performances.

What made you decide to write the book?

The fundamental reason for the book - You're a musician. Now What? - is to help people. I felt there was a gap in the market for direct advice from musicians who were actually making a living from leveraging the power of the internet. Aside from not wanting to have the same conversation with everyone I met over and over again… a conversation that started something like "So Janek, how does this internet thing work…?". Having all of that information in a book, being able to share my personal journey through the music business, and for that to be available to anyone with an email address and an internet connection… It seemed like a fun and helpful thing to write.

What was your writing process like for the book between recordings & gigs?

Like anything I've never done before, writing a book was a huge learning experience. But at the same time, the subject matter was something I was using and dealing with on a daily basis, so the research aspect of the book was quite simple: write about all the solutions I'd found to all the problems I'd faced. It took about a year from start to finish. From literally sitting in a Thai restaurant in LA talking to the editor about the idea, to almost a year later to the day launching the book live online at the Bass Player Live event in Los Angeles. Stressful at times, liberating at others, and in the end a real sense of conquering something I thought I'd never be able to do.

What’s in store for the rest of this year?

The end of 2013 is a little more hectic than I had originally thought it might be. I have two tour legs in Europe, the first in Italy, Spain, and France playing mostly my own material. I come home to LA for two days, and then head back to Europe for a trio tour with George Whitty and Tom Brechtlein that will take in Austria, Germany, Holland, Sweden and the Czech Republic. Back to LA for three days, and then off to NYC for a record date with Ada Rovatti, Randy Brecker, and a host of other NYC cats. I'll have a final two days in Los Angeles to tie up all the loose ends, shoot footage for my lesson site, and then finally shut the engines down for the rest of the year, recharge, and get ready for NAMM in January!

Thanks for chatting with us today Janek! We look forward to hearing more in 2014!

For more information on Janek Gwizdala including lessons and how to purchase his music and e-books, head to: www.janekgwizdala.com

To find out about how you can donate used but not abused bass strings to musician’s in need, go to: www.weneedstrings.com

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