From the confines of a tiny Brooklyn apartment come bassist nEko Soto’s first tracks as a solo artist
: “Shoot Myself” is a straight up gritty blues song with some curvy melody lines, while “Leaving My Girl” shows off Soto’s bass chops with a funk-styled bass line. Read on for the artist’s colorful musings on whiskey and his predictions of self-dissipation:
How did you get into playing music? Back in 1998, I was a freshman in high school in the Bronx when a couple of new friends I made in homeroom said they needed a bass player for their punk band. The idea of being in a punk band sounded pretty awesome to me. At that point in my life I had never even touched an electric bass and I hadn’t even gotten into punk yet, but I was hooked on the idea and felt pretty cool at the mere fact that someone asked me to be in a band! My father, being a guitar player and musician himself, was really cool about it and treated me to one of those Fender basses that come with the little practice amp. Sure enough, when I got the thing, I put it on and was like “Well, I guess I have a bass. What the hell do I do now?” I went to practice with my first band ever and I sucked so they never called me to play again. They kicked me out of the band after that one practice! Bastards. I’m thankful though, because maybe I never would have even gotten a bass to begin with.
Did you play with other bands before going solo? I’ve been playing in and out of bands for over 10 years now. I still play in other bands because I actually do love to play that supporting role the bass player needs to play in a band. I also do music full-time. It’s how I make a living, so as anyone in the music scene knows, especially the NYC music scene, it definitely ain’t easy to pay rent and bills strictly playing music, particularly original music. I’ve lucked out in many instances and I do some hired-gun work and get paid to play and tour and record and things of that nature. I was always cool with just being a bass player but over time I felt like I had some things to say and express. That’s pretty much when I got into writing songs and teaching myself how to sing and play. I progressively got better at writing, but to be honest, I wasn’t writing very good songs. I’d write a couple of cool things or parts or rifts here and there, but I just hadn’t quite figured out how to be completely vulnerable and let go and just write a good fucking song. You have to be vulnerable in order to truly express yourself and write anything that’s worth writing. May sound somewhat corny, the whole “find your voice” thing, but it’s true. Look it up. I’m kidding, you can’t really look it up. But you can try. I’ll stop now.
Which do you like better, recording or performing? It’s like vodka and whiskey to me. I love vodka, but I really love whiskey. Feeding off the energy of a crowd is an incredible high that literally transforms you into whatever character you’re portraying up there in that moment. Just listen to a recording of an awesome live show you went to where you really let loose. It can be mixed and mastered professionally and it can still sound fucking incredible, but it’ll never top actually being there, in that moment, sharing that collective energy with whoever was there. You can try to relive the experience by living vicariously through that recording, but that moment is gone forever. That’s the beauty of performing. That’s the beauty of a live show. There’s something eternal about being on stage and I dig that feeling. The studio can be a very frustrating experience. I love it, and sometimes things just go your way, but it can be very tedious. The studio has been known to turn pacifists into violent fascists.
Do you have a regular group of musicians that play/record with you (drums, guitar, etc.), or does that change regularly? I recorded SHOOT MYSELF and LEAVING MY GIRL with my good friend Devin on Pro-Tools in his tiny-ass Brooklyn apartment. He was kind enough to help me out and play guitar on both tracks. He’s signed to FrenchKiss Records and is currently touring the world. He’s easily my favorite artist out there, major label or indie label, human or alien, you name it, he’s awesome. Straight-up in your face, I wanna drink, grab a girl and dance Rock n Roll. I’m definitely hoping to solidify a core band but if I have to do somewhat of a revolving door of musicians due to scheduling differences or conflicts and things of that nature, so be it I suppose. I found some Brooklyn cats, a guitarist and drummer to fill out my three-piece, that are incredible musicians and we’re currently practicing and gearing up for some shows that should be taking place before the year comes to a close. I’m really excited!
Plans for a full length album? I would absolutely love to record a full length album. I don’t exactly have plans to record one just yet though. The game has changed so much these days. I don’t think it really makes much sense to record a full length album out of the blue unless you’re backed by some sort of label, have your own studio, have someone backing you financially, or have a good amount of money yourself, you know? Once you’re done with that album, what now? Hope you have a following because who’s gonna buy it? You have to tour, you have to have merchandise, you have to market it properly. You really have to be honest with yourself. There’s a lot that goes into making an album outside of just recording the music. A lot of those things, in most cases, musicians don’t want to be burdened with doing. Or sometimes they’re just either not good at it or don’t have the means to really do it properly. I think I’ll record a few more low-fi demos with the DIY spirit, hope people like ’em, start playing some shows in Brooklyn and NYC to create a bit of a buzz, maybe throw together an EP or something, tour, gain some interest by a cool Indie label, become a pretentious and pompous rock star, consume way too much whiskey and impregnate multiple women in multiple states in similar fashion to Hip-Hop great Old Dirty Bastard. Then, after my music career sails into the sunset, I can work as a laborer into my 70s before retiring with poor health and massive amounts of debt. Finally, I’ll be able to live happily ever after as a massively miserable and depressed man who has no idea why or how his life went by so quickly. Isn’t that the American Dream?