Marty Fowler is always searching — searching for the right harmony, the right note, the best way to compose a new track, the path to musical enlightenment. As a highly in-demand bassist and electronic musician, he gets around. We caught up with him to find out a little more about what drives him.
Which instruments do you play?
Electric Bass, Upright Bass, Guitar, Keys, Computer
What is your favorite music to play? Listen to?
I love so many different kinds of music that this is such a difficult question, but I’d have to say my favorite music to play is groove-heavy R&B, as well as uptempo afrobeat/West African high life sort of music—basically, anything that really gets people up and moving.
As for listening, I love heavy grooves, but I also love music with a huge sound and epic quality, which could be anything from a John Williams film score to Ella Fitzgerald singing with a bombastic big band, to massive EDM and other electronic tracks—I think they have more in common aurally than most might realize.
What’s the biggest obstacle facing you as a musician?
My biggest problem as a musician is really honing my artistry. Again, since I love so many different kinds of music, it can be difficult for me to strip away some of that influence for a while just to focus on one sound for an extended period of time.
What’s your greatest accomplishment?
I’d say my biggest accomplishment was completing a two-week European tour through Italy and Austria with the modern jazz group PLS.trio, where I played some of the most challenging music I’ve ever played with some of the most talented, virtuosic players I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a stage with, but I could still hang and hold my own—even while playing to large crowds. I felt on top of the world at the end of that tour.
If you could get any gig in the world what would it be? Why?
Radio City Music Hall is such an iconic example of a high-end, large-scale venue that most musicians drool over, but I think I’d have to say that the venue I’d most like to play anywhere is actually Red Rocks in Colorado—it just looks so breathtaking and like a place people really appreciate art and open themselves to the whole experience of the show.
What’s the smartest thing you’ve done to help yourself as a musician?
The smartest thing I’ve done as a musician has been to keep an open mind. That’s lead me to learning music technology—an essential tool for any modern musician—and also to gaining valuable insights into other worlds of instruments, such as horns, various string instruments, percussion instruments, piano, and others, so that I can communicate a vision much more effectively with players of those instruments, as well as compose for them.
What is your most memorable musical experience?
My most memorable musical experience might still be my musical beginnings—three young teenagers in a basement trying to figure out how to play “Highway to Hell” and not totally suck—and loving every second of it.
What does music mean to you?
Music is the beautiful communication of vibrations in space, as perceived by our ears and interpreted by our brains, and the ultimate aural expression of our existential experience of life. In the words of E.T.A. Hoffman, “Music discloses to man an unknown realm, a world in which he leaves behind him all definite feelings to surrender himself to an inexpressible longing.”
photo cred: Pier Luigi Salami