Siala : As a kid , I was just looking at like , “ Okay , I can play an instrument . This is fun .” I ’ m a kid , so I don ’ t know what money is , I don ’ t know about getting paid for playing an instrument . So , it ’ s more so when I became a teenager , I started to become aware of what I ’ m doing . There were times where people were like , “ Okay , here ’ s the pay .” Then in my head , I ’ m like , “ Oh , I ’ m getting paid for this ?” Then the more that happened , I ’ m like , “ You know what ? This could actually be my career . This could be a full-time thing that I can push in .” So , I think I was around the age of 12 or 13 when it hit me like , “ Okay , I could do this .”
CM : How have you approached building a career as a touring and session musician ?
Over the last couple years , Kemy Siala has become one of the most highly respected young bassists in Toronto . He ’ s toured the world with Justin Nozuka and laid down the bass for Savannah Ré ’ s acclaimed debut album , Opia . Siala is now on tour with hit R & B singer-songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson .
CM : What drew you to the bass and kept you playing it ?
Kemy Siala : I picked up the bass at the age of four . I come from a musical family . My dad used to play bass and drums back in the day . My mom used to sing , my sisters sing and play instruments , so music has always been in the family . But what kept me doing it ? I can honestly say that the bass chose me , because even the way I started playing was very shocking . So basically , my dad was going over songs for church service and he was just practicing the songs . I was just there as a kid , playing with my toys or whatever . He put the bass down and left the room , and so once he dropped the bass , I just picked it up and I played exactly what he played . My parents came back to the living room and were confused , like , who ’ s playing bass ? They looked and see me playing and they just started crying because it was just out of nowhere .
CM : At four years old ? That ’ s insane ! So , was it always obvious to you then that the bass would be a central part of your life and a career ?
Siala : So , the way I went about it is definitely social media . Social media , word of mouth , and also just getting myself into rooms that can make those opportunities happen . It doesn ’ t mean I have to play , I could just be there and sit and watch and learn what I have to learn in order to get to that level , right ? So , there ’ s times , especially before people knew who I was in the scene , any concert where I heard some musician from the city is playing , I ’ d go and just soak in all the knowledge . Ask questions , and just understand , Okay , this is what you have to do to get to this level , and this is what you have to do to get into those rooms that can bring you to that level .
So , just understanding and making sure I can make myself a student , because I realize , being a student will always make you grow . Because if you get to a point where you feel like you know it all , you ’ re stopping your growth . So , I told myself , no matter where I am in life , I ’ m always going to be a student in whichever room I ’ m in , whichever setting I ’ m in , so that I can get to that higher level .
CM : Savannah Ré ’ s album has really launched her , including the song “ Solid ,” which won a Juno Award . Can you talk about a getting on that album and building that relationship with producers ? And musically speaking , what was your approach going into those sessions ?
Siala : So , the producer , Akeel Henry , is a good friend of mine and he ’ s an amazing producer and Grammynominated . We knew each other through one of my friends and I remember I was actually on my way back from a trip in Africa when he hit me up and said , “ Yo , can you come to a session tomorrow ?” That same day , I landed , grabbed my car , and went straight to the session . At this session , Savannah was there and her husband was there , but at the time , I didn ’ t know who they were . I figured I was just going to record some bass and that ’ s it . So , one thing about producers I realized is they
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