Would you mind introducing yourselves and telling us what instruments you play?
b-SHAKE is a power trio composed of one singer and guitaris (Malik Alimoekhamedov), drummer (Augustin Hennecker also known as GUS) and a bassist (Régis Vanderslyen also known as Rage). All three originated from different musical poles and sometimes even different countries. Shaking these eclectic influences is what b-SHAKE is all about.
During the whole existence period of the band, b-SHAKE released a number of records, were included in several compilations and has been selected for a number of films for soundtracks. The complete discography can be viewed on the official website of the band www.bshake.com (“Discography” section) but the most important original releases are:
Our Future Begins Here [Release year 2005] – First album of the band including 9 original tracks reTuned (EP) [Release year 2007] – This is the last EP of the band now available in all major internet record stores such as iTunes, Napster, EMusic, Amazon, Rhapsody and many more.
How long has the current band line up been together?
The band changed its line up quite soon until 2007. From this moment the band has found its strong core and started to grow the staff crew around the project which now counts about 10 people.
How did you meet each other?
Being the former of the band Malik was a part of the project since the first days. In 2006 GUS joins the project. He reaches Malik by e-mail and after a short audition rehearsal they decide to work together.
For some unknown reasons, finding a stable bassist was never easy for b-SHAKE. The last bassist never came to the scheduled show. Malik had to ask his girlfriend to rescue the set by playing instead of the official member. She agreed and played with a wedding dress (her sister got married the same day). So one guy in the crowd appreciated the fact that the band played despite all these issues and gave us the phone number of Rage. The rest is the history…
How did you come up with your name?
We don’t really know! The most important word in the name is SHAKE hence. The letter “b” is there to make the “SHAKE” word a little less obvious.
So this is where you start to use your imagination. We personally go for b like Belgium, b like beer or b like booty but the sky is the limit here.
Did you always want to be in a band?
Pretty well. Yes. There’s something special about playing in a band rather than being a solo act. I think there’s more of that rock’n’roll chemistry when you’re duo or trio or more. Because music is not everything and as I can see the most attractive part of being in the band for a lot of people is this leather jacket and converse attitude. For a lot of people rock’n’roll is first of all drinking alcohol, sleep with beautiful women or men and may be play a gig from time to time. I must say that’s not that bad :-)
What music did you listen to while growing up?
We came through all the classics such as Metallica, Guns’n’Roses, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, The Beatles and all the usual suspects actually. Most of the time all these CD’s are from your fathers
collection. But then you grow up and start to discover some exciting new music your father cannot stand of course and this is where you realize you actually grew up. You’re now ready to create the third generation of music.
How long have you played your instruments?
We’ve been playing our instruments for a while now. I received my first axe when I was something like 14 years old. May be younger I don’t quite remember.
Our drummer, however, plays since he’s something like 9 years old! His only 18 now but he’s such a beast already. He went to London to study just that in a famous academy called “The Drumtech”.Rage is probably the most “academically” accomplished musician. He plays sax, guitar, piano and bass. He also started quite early.
What was your first instrument?
It was this acoustic guitar manufactured by THE national manufacture of strings instruments of Moscow. . It was completely unplayable but I was happy as hell. Then afterwards I started to have access to more elaborated pieces of equipment but it took me a while.The first drums of Gus were probably saucers and chop sticks I don’t know but he already had a Mark V, an electronic Roland drum set, a Tama starclassic, a jazzy Gretch and a shitload of percussions.Rage however received a lot of equipment from his father who played in a band for a while. Nowadays he’s got a great collection of axes and basses. He also likes big amps and fat FX pedals.
What is your current equipment?
We actually use a lot of equipment in studio but remain quite “simply analog” when playing live. The main pieces of our equipment are: Fender Classic American Telecaster, Fender American Jazz bass, Tama Starclassic, Fender American Precision Bass, Hagström Ultra Swede, Cort Acoustic guitar, Orange Rockerverb 50 with matched 4x12 cabinet for big gigs and a Epiphone celestion vintage Lady Luck 1x15 speaker, David Eden with matched 4x10 cabinet for huge gigs and a Markbass combo for smaller ones, a lot of effect pedals such as Big Muff, Bassmaster, LS-2 from Boss, Small Clone, Small Stone, Jekyll & Hyde, H2O, Roger Lynn Adrenalinn and more. I really do own a LOT of these. It’s all about sound design.
Are you self taught or did you have lessons?
Well Gus and Rage have been to academy. I never was. So I sing the notes and they write them down. It all depends on what kind of music you’re into. I don’t really think you need these for the kind of music we play. Personally I live quite well without it. The best way to learn an instrument is to learn it with your heart and with your ears. At least five minutes each day. No exceptions!
You’ll be up and running very quickly.
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Certainly 3 sets of in-ear monitoring systems, a good sound card like a MOTU for example, a powerfull MacBook Pro, some compressors, limiters, enhancers, mixing table, MIDI controllers, more fat sounding guitars like Gretch White Falcon, a B4, Rhodes, MS-10/20, Polysix, some Moogs.
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
The main parts remain the same. However, being in the studio allows us to experiment a lot. Personally I prefer the studio work. This is the most creative part of all that. Especially the production and post-production processes. We all enjoy it a lot. Most of the time when you come to the studio and you see all these authentic instruments and effects, you cannot resist to give it a try. So you give it a try and then you cannot imagine the song without it anymore.
Do you record at a purpose built studio or do you record at home with portable digital equipment or pc/mac with audio software?
Both. When you go the dedicated studio, you’d better know why. It’s quite expensive most of the time and the guy is often overbooked. If you start to experiment for more then a day, it becomes really annoying after a while.So we rehearse a lot before we go for a studio. We also record all the ideas using our portable home studio. This way the producer can hear the most of the idea and it makes the recording process smoother.
Which software do you use?
Personally I use Ableton Live 7 as a sequencer, our sound engineer is on Digital Performer. I have some useful plugins like FM8, Arturia Minimoog and CS-80, Miroslav Philarmonik, Blue, Guitar Rig 3 Kontrol Edition, Battery 3 and some other classics.
Do you have any new recordings planned?
We’re about to finalize a new EP “My Polyphonic Cocktail” with Rudy Coclet a famous Belgian producer who worked with a lot of artists all around the world. This one should appear very soon in all major internet and some physical stores all around the world.
When is the new ep released?
The new EP should appear in a month or so. There’s no exact date of release for the moment. But the best way to stay tuned is to join our mailing list on www.bshake.com.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
This process is always enjoyable. I found it to be the most creative part of the music creation process. This is where you can go for experiments and paint some incredible and fresh strokes like using a mellotrone for example which is absolutely impossible to do live.On the other hand, studio experience improves your technique. You really can hear each and every imperfection. Things you’ve never heard before. It makes you move forward and improve yourself. After a while you know how to approach a studio and thing start to go faster.
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
It absolutely should be something new and different. We’re not like those “rough” bands like The Libertines for example. We’re not trying to capture THE live sound. Neither are we a band like “Keane” who perform live with absolutely identical sound in studio and live. We like experiment in studio. We do like weird sounds and rare instruments, overdubs and effects. It’s never possible to reproduce these sounds live and we don’t want to actually. But we do rearrange songs and add other effects which allows us to “say the same things” but in the whole new manner. People appreciate that.
Do you have any favourite tracks from your original material?
It’s difficult to choose favourite tracks from the repertoire. First of all we wrote them all and those are our babies :-)
We love them all. On the other hand, once the song is written, recorded and most of the time played more then 100 times, you actually feel yourself emotionally detached from the song. There’s still a magic but some other kind of magic.However freshly created songs are always more pleasant to play. Currently the hot tracks are “Despite All Reasons” (www.youtube.com/bshakemusic) and “Scratching Words”. You can listen to these tracks on www.myspace.com/bshakemusic.
Who are the main song writers for the band?
Most of the time Malik Alimoekhamedov writes songs and lyrics. Once it’s done we try to b-SHAKEize the song all together.
Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
Personal experience or experience we’d like to go through. It can be a fiction but if you look twice you’ll always see real persons or situations somewhere. You know it’s difficult to write about the war if you’ve never fight for your country or sing about love when you’ve never been in love with someone. I mean, of course you can, but it will most likely appear ridiculous to someone who had a real experience.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Song writing is an emotional process. The hardest part is to get in the mood. You’ll never be able to write something decent if you force yourself. It has to come naturally. You watch an exciting movie, read an interesting book, meet someone great and on your way home your emotions become a melody spontaneously. All you have to do is to not forget the melody and grab the guitar or keyboard when you arrive.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
I found the album “Ray Of Light” of Madonna really perfect from the first till the last note. I don’t know who were songwriters and arrangers for this album but guys if you read this article please call me!
Who are your favourite song writers?
It’s complicated. There are so many and many of them are completely unknown. But to name a few famous songwriters I would list Peter Doherty, Dave Grohl and John Lennon probably.
Which countries have you gigged in?
For instance the countries we’ve gigged in are Belgium obviously, France and UK.
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
The most important strategic countries would be USA, UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Japan.
Who would you like to tour with?
With any great band actually except perhaps Babyshambles where you’re sure to play only a half of planned gigs :-)
How do you promote your music and get your music to new fans?
By means of internet mostly but not only. Radio and TV spins are still the most important promotional channels. We distribute our press kits, blog, manage social networking profiles, meet interesting people, spread the word about the band, play gigs. After each promotional campaign we observe increasing visits to our website www.bshake.com.
Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
Absolutely. These are musts for any indie artist out there. By the way we’ve got selected by Reverbnation for a so called “Sponsored Songs” program. This campaign is sponsored by Microsoft Windows. Our single “Scratching Words” should still be available on our Reverbnation profile (just lookup for b-SHAKE on www.reverbnation.com) for free. Soundclick has reviewed our music once. Very interesting platform indeed.
Do you think such sites are good for independent and unsigned artists?
Well, they certainly are. The idea behind all these platforms is great. The only problem is perhaps the day-by-day increasing number of such websites. I started to join a lot of such platforms and it almost became a full time job. Every week there’s yet another artist social network which allows you to upload music, pics, bio and blah blah. Most of them never offer any kind of Web 2.0 integration and thus keeping it all up to date each time something relevant happens is a burning hell. So we do really focus on the main platforms and those who allow some kind of integration with our official blog.So if you’re about to create some “new” platform, think twice! Musicians job is music creation and not content management.
Do you think the internet overall is a good or bad thing for new artists?
It opens doors which were closed in the early days of music industry. So it’s fine. But the amount of high quality music makes A&R’s and other industry actors way to selective. So that probably not the best part for some artists. But as you know competition is always a good thing in terms of quality improvement. So we’ll see. For instance it works quite well for us and we’ll keep doing that.
With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit unknown artists?
Centralizing all this information would be really great! Nowadays it’s almost impossible to have all your websites up to date on a daily basis. No, I think we have more than enough tools for internet promotion. Perhaps someone will come up with some ultra simple and extra innovative idea soon.
Would you sign with a major record company?
Yes we would if the company shows a certain amount of involvement for this project and not just grows up its roster without doing anything for the band. Nowadays it’s easy to get forgotten by your label and if you’re second record is not a frank success, you can say good bye to your musical career. Important decisions can take centuries before someone gives a go. This problem applies less to indie labels but still.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
A very representative example of Belgian rock music. Maybe a bit exotic. A bit complicated from time to time but still mainstream sounding. Analog and warm. Punchy and psychedelic.We are the band who was selected to represent Belgium for Grammy Awards 2010.
Who do you listen to or do when chilling out?
Radiohead, Emilie Simon, Headphone, Muse, Ray Charles, Queen and the list goes on and on.
Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
Sure. Bands competitions are great ways for indie bands to get noticed especially when you win! We won some of them and were quite far in the championship for others. Some of them were not that good however. But you should definitely go for such contests if you play in an indie band.
What’s your best/worst experience at a gig?
The best experiences are when you’re performing well in front of a huge crowd. Festivals are
generally great for that. However we’ve also played for something like 4-persons crowd. We always do our best but most of the time such gigs are rarely success.
Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
I found it necessary to be nervous before a gig. It’s a normal psychological reaction. It ends 3 minutes after the beginning of the show but this stress secures a high quality performance. It’s strange but it works that way. At some period of time the bands self esteem became to big. We were absolutely not nervous before the show and this is where we became absolute mess! A couple of shows like that and gigs start to make you nervous again :-) (but that’s a good thing)
What are your day jobs if you have one?
Rage is social assistant. He helps people to find a job, helps them financially (here in Belgium we have a high level of social security), etc. He can be a gentle employee or a real pain in the ass.
Gus just started his studies at “Drumtech” (London).
A Malik is an IT guy.
You should be really involved if you go for that twilight life style.
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
A couple of DVD’s about extreme sports all over the world but these projects are not promoted internationally. Otherwise we’ve been selected for a soundtrack of a non-official Pete Doherty documentary “Pete Doherty: Off the record” in UK. We sometimes sell licences for the usage of our music via companies like Pump Audio for example. These are then used for films and other media products.
Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Absolutely. This is THE best way to get your music heard by tons of people out there in my humble opinion. If we have a chance to do it again we’ll certainly go for it.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
We always have a lot of interesting things to say and we like to share it with the world. We would be glad to share it with you and your audience via our official website www.bshake.com. Join our mailing list and let’s roll.