Victor Wooten is an American bass player and composer and a recipient of 5 Grammy Awards. He started learning bass when he was two. He has 4 elder brothers, all of whom are also musicians. Everyday after school they would practise their instruments. He started performing with his brothers in their family band—The Wooten Brothers Band when he was only six years old. Victor joined the group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones as a bassist in 1988, which brought him recognition for his bass skills. He then released his own albums and created a workshop – Groove Workshop aiming to teach others bass. In 2000, Victor created a bass/nature camp — Victor Wooten’s Center For Music and Nature, which taught a unique combination of music and nature studies to students from all around the world based on Victor’s 40+ years of experience. Recognizing the connection between the two, Victor experimented and eventually developed an approach that could be shared with others to immediately help understand and play better music, as well as (and more importantly) improve all aspects of one’s life. Victor is one of the most respected musicians in the world.
We interviewed Victor ahead of his debut gig in Hong Kong.
5奪格林美獎的低音吉他手和作曲人Victor Wooden, 兩歲便開始學習低音吉他。他的4位哥哥全都是音樂人，每天放學後他們便聚首練習樂器。Victor Wooden的表演生涯就始於兄弟們組成的家庭樂隊-The Wooten Brothers Band，當時他只有六歲。1988年，當Victor成為樂團Bela Fleck 和 the Flecktone 的低音吉他手時，他的技術得到廣泛肯定。後來他開始灌錄個人專輯和成立Workshop – Groove Workshop，志在傳授低音吉他技術。在2000年，Victor根據自己40年以上的音樂人經驗，將低音吉他和自然學習融合在一起，創立了Wooten’s Center For Music and Nature，教授世界各地的人低音吉他技術。這湛新學習方式令人更了解音樂及奏出更好的音樂之餘，還全面提升學習者的人生體驗。這令Victor Wooden成為現世其中一位最受尊敬的音樂人。我們將於Victor Wooden的香港首次演出前訪問他。
Interview Questions by 訪問問題由 Christopher Johnson.
Translated by 翻譯由 Sophie Lai and 和 Dicky Kwong.
Hong Kong welcomes you! You have a lot of fans here in Asia. How do you feel about visiting Hong Kong for the first time? 香港歡迎你！據我地所知你喺亞洲有好多支持者，咁你對於今次首度探訪香港有咩感受呢？
VW: I’m really excited to come to Hong Kong. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit. To be invited to perform here is a dream come true.
VW: The listeners in Asia are awesome! They are definitely attentive and more polite. I can tell from the stage that they are totally getting it. Because I don’t visit Asia as often as other places, the audiences really make us feel welcomed.
What are some of your favorite things you do to pass the time when you are not performing, during your tours overseas? Sightseeing for example?
VW: I like to meet people when I travel. I do like to sightsee, but I prefer to do it with new friends who live in the area. Because everything is new to me, everything is worth seeing. I also like walking around looking at whatever is around me. I love nature, local music, and meeting interesting people. It’s easy to find things to do in new places.
Are you a fan of foreign cuisine? Hong Kong has some great food! 咁對於外國食物你有冇興趣呢？香港係美食天堂黎㗎喎！
VW: Yes! Yes! Yes! I am ready to eat!!!
VW: I will be playing my Fodera 4-string Yin Yang Monarch bass. It’s the one I’ve been playing for many years.
VW：今次我會用我支Fodera 4-string Yin Yang Monarch低音吉他。我咁多年嘅表演都係用佢。
You’re a family man, a father of four. How does having your own family affect your songwriting and creative spark? 你家庭觀咁重，又有四個小孩子。你嘅家庭又有冇對於你創作音樂有重大影響呢?
VW: having a family makes an already wonderful life even more special. There’s never a dull moment, which gives me many
things to write about. The love totally translates into my music.
Plus, my kids are all good musicians and singers. I can get ideas and inspiration from them.
You come from a very musical family! How is it that you chose to play the bass as opposed to say, the guitar or the drums? 真係一個音樂世家！點解當初你會選擇玩低音吉他呢？
VW: I’m the youngest of the five Wooten brothers. When I was born, my brothers already knew they needed a bass player. That became me right away. So, they chose the bass for me. I was very lucky.
We understand you had a birthday this month! Happy belated birthday wishes! How did you celebrate? Did you do anything special?
VW: Thank you. My birthday, September 11, is always a special day. This year I spent it relaxing with my family. The following day we went to a fun place called Escape Nashville where they put you all in a room and give you one hour (and a few clues) to find you way out. It was so much fun.
VW：多謝！我生日9月11日係一個好特別嘅日子。今年我好輕鬆咁同屋企人度過。之後個日我地去左一個叫Escape Nashville 嘅地方好似逃出香港咁。好好玩！
The way that give back to music and society is so amazing! How did you first come up with the idea of the Victor Wooten Center for Music And Nature?
你運用音樂對社會嘅回饋真係好值得我地去學習！你係點樣構思到Victor Wooten Centre for Music And Nature嘅呢？
VW: After taking my first class in Nature Studies back in 1991, I realized that that class was a good model for teaching music. Also, a good friend of mine was already hosting Fiddle (Violin) camps in Nashville, Tennessee . Those two programs, along with my strong desire to share, helped solidly my own ideas for how I wanted to run a program. I held my first camp in the year 2000.
You are an inspiration to musicians all over the world! What would you say to someone who is just picking up a musical instrument for the first time, and wants to learn?
VW: I would like to tell everyone that you are already musical. You just need to learn how to express your musicality in a new way – through an instrument. No matter how much you learn, don’t forget what you already know. And, remember to have fun. Sharing your fun with others will make it even more fun.
Do you have any plans to go back in the studio any time this year? We’d love to hear more of your solo work.
VW: Yes! I’m hoping to start recording my new record this year.
Your first solo album "A Show Of Hands" was absolutely mind blowing! Years and years later a lot of bassists are still trying to figure out what you were doing on that album! Did you expect that your bass playing would have such a huge influence on the world of music, way back then?
你第一隻個人專輯“A Show Of Hands”真係令我聽出耳油！時隔咁多年有好低音吉他手都重諗緊你當時係點彈！你有冇諗過自己既音樂會對大家咁有影響力呢？
VW: Although I knew that I was doing something different, I definitely wasn’t thinking about the effect it would have on the world. I was focused on getting my ideas out and recorded in a way that made me happy. Sometimes, getting your ideas out of your head and heart can be difficult. I hadn’t heard a solo recording done that way before so I didn’t have a model to rely on. I was really happy that I was able to make a record I was proud of, and I hoped a few other people would like it.
The fact that it has inspired people around the world is an amazing bonus.
You have some amazing concepts about music as a language and a pathway for spiritual growth. How did these ideas develop and how has it affected you as a musician and a person?
VW: These ideas came about because of how I learned to play Music. I was really young when I started playing with my brothers. I was learning to speak Music at the same time and in the same way I was learning to speak English.
As I grew and became a teacher, I realized how special I had been treated by my brothers and my parents. I also realized that all children are treated that way when learning their first language, but not when learning music. Realizing that we are comfortable talking about all aspects of our lives, I wanted to help others become just as comfortable speaking with music. Treating music as a language still seems to be the best way to do it. This way of thinking has made me a better musician and, more importantly, a better person.
You’ve laid down some of the most amazing bass tracks on many records. Your playing just comes to life, whether it’s a groove or a solo. There’s an unmistakable feeling of joy and excitement on your bass lines. How do you convey such emotion in the things you play?
VW: Again, thank you. The same way you can hear the joy in someone’s voice who is excited about life. You should be able to also hear it in their music. Because of how I think (or don’t think), it allows me to use music like a language and express myself clearly.
Thanks a lot!!