Skill, Grace and Style – Catching Up with Janelle Monae Bassist Brandon Gilliard.
Get ready to meet a rising star who is as down to earth as they come.
Tell our readers a bit about what you do.
I play bass with an artist named Janelle Monae, she’s signed to Atlantic records and was just on the Grammys. I’ve been playing with her for about a year. We’ve done a lot of different shows. Everything from the White House, to the Sydney Opera House, we even did a show with Prince. That was great. Every show’s been something pretty special. When I’m not on the road with her I play with pretty much anybody else.
How long have you played bass?
I’ve been playing since I was eight. I’m old now (laughs), I’m 29. Growing up I always played in church, played in my daddy’s quartet group, stuff like that. I did marching band. Marching band’s not really a gig, but you know (laughs). I was a music major and I gigged when I could, when I didn’t have class. Then after college I moved to Atlanta and I’ve been hitting it pretty hard since then. I had been gigging full-time for six years before I ever got my first road gig with an artist signed to a big label.
Who’s the coolest person you’ve met so far in your travels?
I met Prince. Prince is really cool. He has a really deep voice. He… he’s Prince. (laughs) He’s always Prince.
Who are your favorite artists besides Prince?
Brad Paisley. Funny enough I like a lot of the country artists. For one thing, in the music the bass players and the drummers really lock a lot of times. So you know, all of Brad Paisley’s albums have been great, I guess that says a lot about him but it says a lot about all of the session musicians too. I love Miranda Lalmbert, I love Earth, Wind and Fire, I met those guys in California. It was cool.