Interviews are usually done during the promotional stage of an album or a tour – and then they centre around these topics. However, albums and shows wouldn’t exist if the interview partners weren’t such enthusiastic instrumentalists. In our series „Saitengespräche“ (pun: „string talks“/“side conversations“) we want to take this into account – with interviews that focus entirely on instruments, amplifiers, effects, and other tech stuff. From gear nerds for gear nerds – and for those who aspire to be.
In this part of the series we talk to Mia Wallace, bass player of NERVOSA, formerly with TRIPTYKON and ABBATH.
When did you start playing bass guitar?
I started playing bass in 1994, my boyfriend at that time taught me how to approach to this amazing instrument.
What made you want to learn bass back then?
I grew up with music, when I was a little girl there was always music everywhere. Then, I knew M. In 1994 and he was playing bass with his band Emortualis and I was looking up to these guys immensely thinking that I would have liked to learn how to play an instrument and join a band!
Do you remember which model was your first bass?
My first bass was an old white Fender Squier, very heavy to play!
How many basses (and guitars) do you own?
Actually I have 10 basses, but I like to call them “my kids”…
Do the instruments have different uses for you, so do you have different ones for different bands or occasions, like studio, live gigs and holidays?
Absolutely, I’m using a 5 string Warwick Vempyre for Kirlian Camera and a 5 string Clover BassTard for Niryth, my 4 string “White Beast” (a restored Hoyer from the ‘70 by Bellan Liutery) is perfect for recording because it has amazing custom made pickups, for live concerts it really depends on the mood, but actually I feel more comfortable with my super flying V “Black Beast” by Bellan Liutery, a short scale 4 string bass designed by me and built from 0 by Bellan, with a super tremolo!
What do you attach particular importance to from a technical point of view, what criteria must an instrument meet for you to be satisfied with it?
First of all I started to realize that even though an instrument is cool visually, like the Dean flying V MetalMan I was using for the two videos of Abbath (Harvest Pyre and Hecate), it has to be also fitting my small body size: means that I will never use a long scale bass anymore like I did in the past. It caused me many problems related to an unnatural position of my small arm. Only short scale bass for me. Then the sound, pickups have to be super power to enhance the “fat” sound I like if bass.
You often hear about musicians who seem to have a special connection to their instrument. Do you feel the same way? Do you have a favourite instrument?
Of course, my favourite instrument is bass! I feel like it’s my weapon, and I’m shooting my pain and frustrations with it. My instrument is a channel.
Did you make special modifications to it, or is it a custom model anyway? Can you tell us the technical details here?
All my instruments actually are Custom made especially for my small size, this means that my basses are short scaled, small and light. Actually I’m endorsed by Bellan, but I’m open to new brands.
Is there a model, such as the instrument of a great role model, that you would like to play one day?
Amps are often leased for tours – is that okay with you or do you have your own amp with you? Which model do you play?
Actually I feel comfortable with Ampeg amps. I actually don’t have my own amp to travel with. I was the owner of a Warwick amp, but Triumph Of Death never gave it back to me after the split. I’m thinking about trying some Darkglass amps or pedal DI.
Besides the instrument and the amplifier, sound effects play an important role in the sound. Do you rely on single pedal mines, a multi-effect board or a combination?
It really depends on what band I’m playing with. With NeERVOSA I’m using a Rat for deep distortion plus a SansAmp DI, simple but powerful; with Kirlian Camera I’m using a lot of effects, like with Niryth: I use a chain of effects, starting from two Boss Chorus set differently, a delay, an equalizer and an Ibanez Weeping Demon wah.
Mind game: You are only allowed to take one single (!) effect on stage – which one do you choose? Which effect pedal makes up your sound?
SansAmp for sure.
Do you have an effect that you use in a completely different way than originally intended, or that you have perhaps even (re)built yourself?
Actually I set the two Chorus effects to create an unique sound, especially for Niryth.
Do you use a noise gate – why (not)?
No actually the SansAmp does the job.
Is your effect board „ready“ or in constant change?
Constant change also because I play in so many bands!!!
Finally, do you have a tip for beginning musicians?
Never think “it’s too difficult, I can’t do it”, just let your fingers bleeding and keep going.