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Infusing local music scene with African mastery of the bass

You can't dance to a piece of music without the bass and it is with this philosophy that musician Zachaeus Mwendwa is proud and passionate about his career.

"Bass is the link between rhythm and melody/harmony. It ties the music together," he said.

He added, "A bassist contributes to a song by adding depth and linking the harmony and rhythm together, contributing to the groove, feel, and style of the music, and completing the overall sound."

Coming from a family of musicians, Zach was born and raised in Kenya in the coastal region in a city called Mombasa but moved to Oman to take part in its evolving music scene providing the needed variety to grow the industry.

"Music has basically been my form of living; I could say, music is my life and vice versa. My dad was my mentor. From the age of three, I started playing African jazz piano, then after high school, I decided to major in the art," he shared.

Zach is currently a guitar teacher in the Classic Music and Arts Institute in Al Qurum and can be seen performing in different venues in the country providing that funk that pulls people in.

"I play bass because I love it. I love the sound of the bass on its own and in a song. I love the look of a bass, I love the feel of the bass in my hands and I love what the bass does for a song. How cool is it to play the instrument that holds the whole music down?" he said.

"Whenever I play the bass, that is the moment I feel at home. I feel I can communicate to a diverse audience through sound that entirely touches the heart. It’s the only moment I can say something without actually saying something. Before every performance, however, I have to know what I want to communicate, what I want my people to feel," he added.

Naming American Frank Brunot as his biggest influence, Zach shared that any musician worth their salt needs to master their weapons.

"The most common misconception about playing the bass is that it is easier to play than the guitar. The bass may only have four strings compared with the electric guitar’s six, but that doesn’t make it any easier to learn to play properly. It’s a different instrument that’s played differently from the electric guitar. Playing the bass requires a different knowledge base and skillset, so to speak," he said.

"I’ve learnt amazing slap baselines techniques from Frank Brunot. I've also picked up mind-blowing styles from other bass masters. To be good in anything, the key is to practice and listen to how other musicians play," he added.

From performing with mainstream artists in Africa to touring the country doing different gigs, Zach's move to Oman was to "make better and more diverse performances here in Oman."

"Oman is a beautiful country... with very kind social and nice people. I feel there is a great opportunity or rather potential for the music scene exploding to an infinite level," he said.

"For those looking to start a career in music, remember that there is no beginner that is going to be brilliant overnight. You have to be curious, learn from your tutors and ask the right questions. You also have to immerse yourself in music, to check different types out there especially the ones you never heard before and learn. The ability to play an instrument is a wonderful gift. Stick in and you won't regret it," he encouraged.

Zach is currently performing with local music royalty Thanae and her Pulse and Soul band. He is also bound to perform at Dubai Expo on November 27 with the group.

"I will be dropping my new guitar album on February 24, the same day as my birthday. I also conduct workshops at work so if you're interested to learn, you can reach out to Classic Music and Arts Institute in Qurum," he said.

For updates, you can follow Zach on Instagram @Zach_bassman or Youtube and Twitter using the same handle.

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