KJazz has kicked off this year with a great start by introducing its listeners to new artists who joining the works with new projects and collaborations. The biggest project we have thus far is the new radio program that KJazz launched recently known as the ‘Excursions’ Program that airs every Thursday at 10pm to midnight. To bring in the inside scoop for our listeners about the program, KJazz interviewed radio show host Dan Seeff. Dan Seeff is a bass guitarist and song writers as well as the Director of the UCLA Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, who has worked along some of the greatest music icons in Hip Hop/ RnB culture today. Some of these figures include Kendrick Lamar, Logic, Jay Z, Joey Badass, and even Ledesi— within whom he had the pleasure of producing music with. Seeff is familiar with the ins and outs of the industry and has plenty years of experience under his belt. Below is the interview if you would like to learn more. You can also read more here in the KJazz newsletter.
Interview with Dan Seeff
- What is your musical background? Did you come from a family of musicians?
My parents love music. They both listen to jazz. My dad listens to classical music and my mom loves the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Neither are musicians but they are both serious listeners with a real understanding of music. I have two older sisters and all three of us took piano lessons. One plays flute and the other plays clarinet and guitar. I started playing piano at 5, alto sax at 10, guitar and electric bass at 16 and upright bass I began studying when I was 30. I have studied with musicians privately including Ron Carter, which has been one of the most important experiences of my life, but I have also taught myself along the way.
- Who are your musical inspirations?
I have a long list of musician inspirations. I love Pink Floyd, Yes, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Herbie Hanock, Earth, Wind and Fire. As a bassist, I love James Jamerson from Motown, Aston Barrett of the Wailers, Paul Chambers, and Ron Carter. As a guitarist, David Gilmour, John Scofield, Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. I could go on forever with musicians I love.
- How was it like working alongside some of the greatest pioneers of hip hop culture today?
It has been amazing to work with all these great hip-hop artists. I’ve worked with DJ Khalil more than anyone in my life and I still get excited when I hear new music from him. Also working with Khalil I get to do so many different things – play guitar, play bass, write lyrics, melodies, chord progressions, sing sometimes… I loved working with DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill since I spent a lot of time listening to their first album when I delivered pizza in college. Once I got in a room with him and heard the tracks he wanted me to play on it blew my mind because I know his music so well and I was hearing it now in an unfinished state and being asked to help finish it. Also working with Anderson.Paak, Aloe Blacc, Ledisi, A$AP Ferg has been amazing. Each artist makes music in a different way and I love contributing to their art.
- You describe Excursions as “connecting the dots between hip-hop and jazz”, what does this mean to KJazz listeners?
Jazz and hip-hop are connected in many different ways – I am actually learning more about that from my guests as I do the show. There is a lot of hip-hop that samples jazz recordings – re-uses old jazz recordings in new ways. But there are many other connections as well culturally, creatively and so on. My experience of getting into jazz is that it is a lifelong adventure that keeps revealing more the more I learn. My intro to it came through music that referenced jazz and that motivated me to dig deeper. Excursions can be that intro for listeners. After they hear the source of the music from their favorite hip-hop track, they can start down their own path of discovering jazz.
- Who would you recommend listen to Excursions and why?
I think anyone can enjoy Excursions. My goal is to make the listening experience like stopping by a friend’s house who has eclectic tastes. Everyone I know listens to more than one style of music so why not blend styles on a radio show? For hardcore hip-hop listeners I think it is interesting for them to hear the source of the music they love and learn about that and for jazz listeners I think it is interesting to hear how this great music has impacted an entirely different genre.
- What is your favorite part of the program?
I like everything about doing the show. Playing music I love, learning about new music, interviewing the guests… All of it is great.
- Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
It is hard to give advice to musicians since everyone’s situation is different and unique but you can’t go wrong putting a lot of time into your art and craft.
- When you’re not working in the studio or with the TMIJP, what are you likely to be doing?
When I am not at the Institute or the studio I am spending time with my wife (who is also a musician), practicing, reading or watching tv shows like Game of Thrones.