Tone Talk with Poliana Magalhães

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I have been doing a bunch of different gigs since I was twelve years old. I am Brazilian and I started my career there.

I was the resident bass player for the late show ‘’Adnight Show’’ in Brazil for a couple of years and recorded and toured for different artists from Brazil, Europe, USA, and Persia. I am currently working on my first album, and I am about to release my first single in the next couple of months. I am very versatile, and I can play different styles, but groove is my highlight. You are going to hear a lot of Funk, Soul, Brazilian, and rock on my album. I am terrible at talking about influences. I am obsessed with knowing new artists. I love transitioning to different things and never staying stocked in some style or artist. My parents used to play a lot of rock from the ’70s, Brazilian, and funk music for me and my brother. I love Pino Paladino. He plays with everybody, and he knows how to be elegant and on point in any gig.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
In my opinion, it’s all about the way you hit the strings. If it was otherwise, everybody would sound the same playing the same amp and bass. Some bass players can get great sound from bad instruments, and some can sound dead playing amazing instruments. I like keeping it simple. I get a JB or a PB and a Fender, Aguilar, or GK amp, maybe a couple of effects, depending on the gig, and use my fingers to make it shine.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why? 

Bass and amp

5 string Jazz Bass American Elite Series
4 string Jazz Bass American Elite Series
Fender Bass Man 800 head

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They are versatile and consistent. Everybody loves the Jazz Bass, and it works for any gig—Funk, Rock, R&B, Brazilian, Gospel, or Persian.

Pedals:

A bunch! Like 20. I put a couple of them together depending on the gig I am playing.  I often have:

Octabass – EBS
Filter Twin – Aguilar
Nano BassBalls – EHX
Microtubes X and Duality Fuzz – Darkglass Electronics
The Warden Compressor – EarthQuaker Devices

And when I can be creative and weird, I put my bit Commander and Avalanche Run on the scene. They are both by EarthQuaker Devices.

What about strings?
D’Addario Nickel Wound 0.45.  Sometimes flatwound to play some sick funk tunes or get that dead vintage sound.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
A good one: go out to see some sunlight.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Very important: Making friends with the sound engineer! Making sure I have my gear on point. Every place has different acoustics, so you learn some tricks on the road, but I am very intuitive about that. I listen to myself playing and move the bottoms until I get the sound that I want.

What does your practice consist of?
To be honest, the time that I have to practice I am preparing a setlist for the next gig.

It consists of learning the songs how they are, then playing the songs how I would like to play them so I have ideas to give during rehearsals and I can sound myself (if they want me to), searching for the right tone and effects for each song. After that, I practice walking around my studio which gives me independence from what I am playing to what I am thinking and how I am gonna move. When I am playing, I like to have fun, so I do not want to have to think if I want to run around while playing that lick.

Right now during the pandemic, I am studying the Improvisation and Harmony by Junior Braguinha Brazilian and Harmony fundamentals by Jackson Azarias, both Brazilian bass players.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Be strong, consistent, and no drama. People are still processing the fact that women are as good or better than men in the music industry (and other areas).

I believe it is important that we politely educate those who throw sexist comments on the table while we are doing our job. It’s important to question them on why. What do they really want to believe? Also, learn how to say no and to value yourself and how much you deserve to be paid. If you don’t, they will take advantage of you.

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