Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Emma Henderson, better known as Curly Hendo, has played bass for over 10 years. Her journey started at the age of three when she fell in love with the idea of combining dance and music, so she began learning how to merge the two. She is a graduate of Berklee College and has inspired many people around the world with her tenacity and desire to always aim high. Advocating for people to chase their dreams and live their lives to the fullest, Curly Hendo talked us through some of the elements that helped to mold the bassist she is today.
Tell us a little about your musical background. How old were you when you started playing guitar, and what inspired your passion for music?
When I was three years old, I started learning dance. I loved the idea of combining movement with music and the immersive experience of performance, but at the same time, I really wanted to become intimate with the process of making music. I began trialing a number of instruments to explore my love of music, but I was always drawn back to the immediate connection that I had with the electric bass and the awareness that it provided as I started out on the truest path of my musical journey. Exploring dance and music at large quickly helped me to realize that the bass provided the framework for both to exist as they do. When I started playing bass in school around the age of eight, I immediately felt a spiritual connection. There was a natural extension of self in how the music made me feel. It was transformative and helped me to continue on.
My inspiration came from one of my music teachers who had mastered a number of instruments, but I always noticed that when he played the electric bass, it transported him into an exploratory realm of countless performances. This, in addition to my learning path with the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) Rockschool, helped me to explore a diverse range of styles and genres that pushed me to higher levels of excellence throughout the years.
What inspires you to wake up every day and continue pursuing your dreams?
I have a love for life and the opportunities you gain from embracing it every day. I feel blessed that my passion for music has provided me with a career. This “life alignment” provides boundless energy, focus, and effort to evolve and explore musical performance. I truly believe everyone can achieve their goals and dreams with the right mindset. When I was 15 years old, I watched Bruno Mars’s Super Bowl performance, and it lit a fire inside of me to create and perform at the highest professional levels. Constant practice, performance, and my international travel (pre-COVID) have been fueled by a belief in reaching my dreams.
Also of importance in both inspiration and in taking steps to pursue my dreams has been the opportunities to collaborate with many talented musicians around the world. It opened my eyes to the truly global community of musicians awash with inspirational ability and “journey stories” shaped and nurtured by a unifying passion for music. This creative journey has been a blessed accelerant in both my development as a musician and in providing amazing opportunities that both pave my path and craft new dreams for my journey ahead.
Take us through your songwriting process. What types of environments do you feel you need in order to be your most creative?
I have a home studio, which is where I feel most creative and generally evolve bass lines for songs. I love to layer emotion and technique to evoke the tones and frame for the tracks I am creating. I always make sure I know where I’m going with the bass line and that I have a whole understanding of the different parts of the song. Normally, I will do different takes of laying down a solid bassline, then takes of going crazy and overplaying. I also love listening to a diverse range of genres and experimenting with different arrangements.
What guitars are you playing right now? Name your top two or three, if possible.
My first electric bass when I was eight years old was a Yamaha RBX170Y 4-string bass with 24 frets. I still keep this much-loved bass in my music studio as a fond reminder of the beginning of my bass journey. When I was 18, I bought a Sadowsky RV5-PJ bass. Switching to a 5-string was a game changer, but most importantly, this bass was one with style, shape, quality, and sound. Having the low B string gave me so many options. I absolutely love the Sadowsky basses and had the absolute pleasure of meeting the owner, Roger Sadowsky, in New York.
My top two basses at the moment are my white and black Sadowsky basses. My white bass is super lightweight, which is great for gigs where I’m standing and performing for a long period of time. Roger makes great bass guitars of such a high level of quality.
Finish this sentence: I believe music…
I believe music explores the essence of our spirituality and redefines the expanded extremities of ourselves.