Adam Neely, The Smartest Musician on Earth

Adam Neely, The Smartest Musician on Earth

I don't nearly hey how's it going man good to see you last time I saw you was it NAMM right the great disaster and amazing experience that is named yes and before that was in Canada and we we played metal together yeah that was quite an experience man if you guys haven't seen this video it was this thing that was put on Jared Dean's channel and there's like a behind-the-scenes thing with Stevie T up there to make a metal song it was really cool and it was a strange experience but it came together it was great was it man that wasn't their pitch though they weren't they didn't say hey you guys want to come up here and play some metal they were like just come up here and see what happens and that was when I met you and I had already been checking out your videos on YouTube and I think I actually tried to get in touch with you at a previous name show and we didn't hook up because that's what happens at NAMM there's a million things happening but we are kind of kindred spirits because we both went to the esteemed Berklee College of Music good so that makes us really really good musicians and no no as a result we are opinion matters more than everyone right that's definitely not the case but there is certain certain de kindred nests of course with people who go to Berkeley I mean one of the crazy things and that I found is that just Berkeley alumni are everywhere and you just end up running into people and you're like oh my god you went to Berkeley and it's such a huge school too because you know I there's a bunch of the people that I play with now that went to Berkeley that I didn't know at Berkeley and we went to Berkeley at the same time yeah it's you know it's there's so many people who go through Google go through it and but it was pretty cool like meeting you and realizing hey you went to Berkeley – did we go around I was around the same time right I graduated in 2011 what about you I was I graduated Berkeley in 2009 okay how old are you uh how old am I I'm terrible question I'm 29 I'm 29 29 okay so maybe you're you're a little older than me I'm 28 okay either way people of all shapes and sizes and ages go to Berkeley so what would you say is the biggest thing you took away from going to music school well I think the biggest thing was just the community of people that was honestly and this is something I say all the time to people who are interested in going to music school you go to school so you're in an environment with people who are equally as passionate about the music as you are at least from my perspective that's the that's my big takeaway because I met some pretty amazing musicians who are just really down to eat sleep breathe music 24/7 yeah and you know that's a pretty special thing and it's very difficult to find that anywhere else besides music school and when you have a bunch of young kind of stupid people just who don't know anything about the world but they know that they really care about music it's a pretty wonderful thing and Berkeley's great for that because there's so many different kinds of people who come together so many different kinds of genres represented so many different kinds of instruments that is a pretty special place but you'll find that sort of thing anywhere obviously like the curriculum the programs great you know I had a great time learning a lot of you know interesting jazz theory from people I was a jazz composition major so oh interesting yeah we were very very there were not that many many of us at Berkeley jazz companies now yours we were not the cool kids let me tell you that there weren't there weren't many cool kids I don't know that's that might be a one one place that's kind of devoid of cool kids which I think adds to its charm there are a lot of people who may think they're cool I was one of them yeah I thought I was really cool it's an interesting thing because you're you're constantly writing the line of like look at me I am awesome I am a god and oh my god I'm not good enough for anybody oh my god do I even believe here person is so much better than I am yeah extreme highs and extreme lows certainly and that's a lot like the music biz I think for sure you know we have kind of a unique music career that I don't think even a lot of faculty at Berkeley would be able to teach in a way that we would which I think that could change in the future but I think that music school to kind of put a bow on this topic I think the most important thing that I learned was to be unsure myself all the time interested to be able to deal with that sort of mental strife because you either practice or you don't practice you either gonna get good or you're not yeah but being able to deal with failure and people being really really good and you comparing yourself and figuring out how to forge through that I think that's the actually the the unwritten benefit of music school for sure I mean I that's just something you have to deal with constantly and it's less your ability to feel good about yourself or bad about yourself it's just understanding that it's always these ups and downs and almost detaching yourself from your ego in a way just you know music school definitely helps with that because if you're able to separate yourself from feeling like you know amazing and feeling terrible and just like letting it you know letting having faith that everything will be alright and you know this is gonna be a lesson that needs to be taught and needs to be learned about things beyond just music but it certainly was it's certainly heightened in music school because you're doing something that's so you're so passionate about you're so excited to play music and that can bring some pretty pretty crazy emotional highs and lows for sure so for any of you guys who don't know Adam he has a really cool YouTube channel that I don't really know who to compare it to maybe you can tell me some of your influences but if I had to summarize it I would just say it's it's like a house works for music you know what how stuff works is have you heard of that it was like one of the original sort of just like explainer videos when those were first being created oh that was a platform where they were the really high quality ones lived and you could go there and figure out how anything works that yeah name how stuff works so you do that but with music and I want to ask you a question why do you know so much stuff well I don't this is the thing is that I have a good I have a good ability to give people the impression that I know a lot of things no I I know I know stuff one of the interesting things that this YouTube career I guess that have like sort of developed for myself and you've developed for yourself and we all have is that I have an excuse now to research I have an excuse now to spend a lot of time learning about things and poring through scientific journals and listening to a bunch of kinds of music and talking to a bunch of people with the express purpose of creating a video trying to talk about a particular esoteric subject in music theory and philosophy in linguistics and you know all these things that are you know before my youtube channel I just had a an interest in like I was passionate about learning I was passionate about just the world around me but now I have an excuse to actually learn more which is fantastic because now I get to make these videos and you're asking like what you know will you compare my channel to the one that's going around all the time is Vsauce four or the Vsauce of music Vsauce if you don't know who vsauce is oh yeah yeah he's like Bill Nye for the internet generation just like with these really interesting videos about mathematics and science and it's you know I like to try and think about making the videos that I do kind of with that in mind like when I listen to somebody like maybe Neil deGrasse Tyson or Michio Kaku or any of these science popularizers or type people I don't actually after listening to them talk I don't actually know that much about quantum mechanics or quantum theory or astronomy but I get excited about it and now have like a general inkling of it and so you know even if I'm talking about I don't know some really crazy complicated irrational time signature or something really far out there I like to try and just get people excited about the same things that I'm getting really excited about so yeah that's that's kind of the where I'm coming from I'd like to use my youtube channel as a means of just learning more for myself and also getting other people really excited about the subjects then I'll give an example of a video that you're the most proud of okay so the video that I released today actually I'm pretty proud of it's about infrasound it's all about like this whole I read this thing about how like they're supposed to supposedly this frequency that when you play it it's an infrasonic frequency we can't hear it it's too low it's below the human range of hearing supposedly when you play it at high enough volume it causes your eyes to vibrate and because your eyes vibrate yeah and it's ridiculous because your eyes vibrate then it causes all these crazy miss firings in your eye and that's maybe a reason why people see ghosts so I was like alright great I'm gonna like test this I'm gonna like learn it and like go into the subject seeing like okay will I be able to see ghosts and I bought myself a sub woofer that was able to reproduce that 18 Hertz tone I did it I wasn't able to see ghosts but I kind of used that as a jumping off point to talk about infrasound and also ways of tuning and basically was just like this yeah a lot of what happens next will blow your mind yeah kind of like what what do you think like I don't understand how you found to research that thing because I that's the thing that's unique about what you do is I can go on my channel and I'll talk about music theory that anybody will be like oh I know what that is even if they don't know how to do it they're like oh I understand but when you approach these subjects it's like literally every video you put out as a title I'm just like alright what the hell is that and how could anyone even not even find out about it but you go through these video essays on the subject and I'm not a study guy I don't study I was never good at studying or things like that and your videos seem like something that I would not like however I do like them and I think that's saying something for any of you who are like not into you know any sort of learning which can be a lot of us from time to time it's really interesting so how did you come up with this subject where where is the inspiration do you just stay on the internet for 24 hours a day or how does it happen yeah I stay on the internet a lot I mean Wikipedia rabbit holes are a real thing and honestly like some of it is just like I get a germ of an idea so I had heard of this because of a researching another subject there is a video of mine that did very well and I'm actually really proud of it it's what music is this what is the slowest music possible and basically I used the video to try and explore like how we listen to music how we listen to rhythm and how we listen to slow music and there was a composer that I was that I found out about and learned about while I was researching this video his name is Lamont young and he composed this piece of music called the well tuned piano which is a very it's a very weird piece of music it's like six hours long it requires a micro tonal piano and it's really interesting to listen to and so I listened to it and then I was doing a bunch of research about the well-tuned piano and while I was doing that I had heard about this frequency to super low frequency so it's like this kind of I have this all these different Google Docs where I just like list all the like random ideas I have and a big part of making my videos is less about like these you know really esoteric subject is about almost telling a story with the subjects like and I pay a lot of clothes I pay a lot of close attention yeah I guess then I pay close attention there we go English yeah I pay close attention to the structure of my video essay is the same way that you might pay close attention to the structure of your songs you want to have like high points and low points you want to sort of approach the editing with a sort of rhythm you want to approach everything with almost a musical bent and that is why I think that the video essay is such a popular medium on YouTube because it is a kind of a storytelling sort of thing so you can tell stories about any number of different subjects doesn't have to be music and some of these things might be fairly boring and fairly dry the papers the scientific papers that I read like all the time are really boring and really dry and some of them I was just reading this book it was the rhythmic elements of music or something the rhythmic structure of music this book is super boring I really dislike reading this book but there are some really interesting things that it starts with and so what I would do is I would take those interesting things it's talking about prosody and the relationship of the speaking voice to music and try and explore it in a way that I would find actually interesting and engaging to people and a lot of that is just taking the nugget taking the core nuggets of these things and using them to tell a story with it so I understand where you're coming from some of this stuff is really dry and really boring but I guess part of my like mission statement is to try and not make it boring yeah well that's a good it's a good mission I think you're accomplishing it so what I don't think I've said again for anyone who doesn't know Adam I don't think I've said that you're a bass player I'm a bass player you're the first bass player on the music is wind podcast how does that make you feel oh my god honored is that are you honored is do you feel like very privileged yeah no I do feel tell me why what like your best response is to people who make fun of bass players who are guitar players well I think you did say it in Glens video something about yes so you can keep it clean I mean a lot of the time I will say I'll call a guitar a toy a toy the toy bass or the toy guitar or something like that because it's smaller and yeah I need girly strings and like oh that's a good one yeah that's you that's I guess my default I mean you know some people say like bass only has four strings but you can say well violin only has four strings cello has only four strings and you know that's there's a million different way of like saying charge of a stupid instrument so what do you think where did you I've seen live streams of you playing bass for five hours straight I have to say I didn't watch all five hours have a dare you I did check in with you to see what was going on so this obviously is something that you would do in maybe not in that capacity but you are a really really good musician and you obviously have done shed sessions that have spent many hours you know in a row like that what I want to phrase this properly how do you look at practice versus creativity how do you blend the two together well it's interesting because I would consider them two separate things or at least two separate ideas or maybe creativity is something that you can practice and apply when I I've done two really long really long live streams and they're kind of as almost a youtube performance art sort of thing rather than something that you're supposed to watch the whole way through one was I was playing the lick which is a famous jazz meme lick over and over again yeah that was that was terrible but then I did one called the five hour practice routine where I had a practice routine like our incredibly detailed practice routine that I just went through the entire thing was basically playing all the major scales in all intervals in all keys and all inversions of all triads and alt all seventh chords in every key ascending and descending it was a completely comprehensive list of things it was not really meant to be you know not something that you really are supposed to do every day and it was kind of again a performance art piece to see if I could you know actually do it and you know at the end of it this is the interesting thing at the end of it when I was very rarely have ever played for five hours straight like that and that was one of the few times I have and I think it was the non-stop like literally there was a metronome going and you didn't well I don't know if you got up to take a bathroom break or get a glass of water or something but well ya know it was it was pretty much it was also interesting because I could probably I could have probably done it in less time but since it was a YouTube like I was trying to teach people what I was doing so I was saying what I was doing and explaining and so I probably could have done it in four but yeah I was sitting there the entire time and I was doing it kind of for two reasons it was a little bit of a performance art piece I wasn't suggesting that you should do this every day but there are plenty of people who say that they do that every day a five hour practice routine and I was doing it kind of to prove the point that that is ridiculous when you are comparing practice routines there is this especially among musicians especially among young musicians there's this tendency to try and outdo one another I'm practicing three hours a day oh yeah well I'm practicing five hours oh yeah well I practice eight hours a day and it was kind of a to show how excessive it was it was ridiculous it was very physically taxing I would never suggest you and or anybody to practice that much per day so I've done these streams as kind of like to show you what you can practice though and it was a you know meant to be productive so but what I was doing during that was I was practicing scales I was practicing fundamentals of my instrument I wasn't practicing songwriting I wasn't practicing creative bass playing within songs I wasn't doing any of that it was something very different and there is a there is a difference between the two things and I think when you're learning your instrument you have to kind of think about these two things as like the scales the mechanical things the technical proficiency at your instrument I think you have to think of that as something separate that you have to practice and then also songwriting and composition and these other things they're their skills they're things that you've just you add to your bag of tricks so how do you practice songwriting doing it a lot and I'm not I'm not a songwriter but I'm a composer whatever that means I might I have a graduate degree I went to the Manhattan School of Music after Berkeley and I got another jazz composition degree and the way that you practice composition is you just do it a lot and you don't keep like revising the same piece of music over and over again you just keep writing new pieces of music it's the same thing for practicing scales you keep practicing the scales over and over and getting better at them and every time that you write something new you get slightly better at it and I'm there's this book call by gil goldstein called the jazz composer it's something about jazz composition but I remember this thing he talks about if you're gonna consider yourself a composer or a writer of music you have to treat that as a job the same way that a shoemaker treats their their job very seriously they go in every day to make shoes whether or not they like making shoes or not they just that's what they do they make shoes and so they go in everyday even if they take a lot of creative joy out of it a lot of they find artistic fulfillment in making shoes on the days that they don't want to make shoes they still have to do it they still go in and make shoes so I kind of view composition similar similarly and I kind of also view musicianship similarly if you're gonna call yourself a musician you have to go in every day and practice even if it's not five hours but you wanted to make a habit of it so that you can call yourself that the same way that the shoemaker calls themself a shoemaker because they go in every day and they make shoes and I found that a fairly inspiring sentiment for myself because it made me rethink kind of the whole thing it's not this thing that you just wait for inspiration to strike you have to treat it with some degree of discipline and you have to treat it with the same degree of respect that a normal quote unquote job would require and yeah I think that's that's usually that's how I think about like practicing creativity so with with technical with the technical side you can measure your progress with a metronome how do you measure your progress as a composer or a songwriter do you at all that's a very good question and I'm not sure if I'm a hundred percent qualified to say I know right that there is a metric but I can say that for myself my progress is it's something that I feel basically am I feeling more in more like the music that I'm writing is what I'm hearing in my head because in the beginning when I write something especially for a genre of music that I'm not super comfortable with I I hear something in my head I know what I like but I don't know how to achieve that yet and as soon as I start hearing music that I'm writing that matches the level of taste or matches the level of artistic intent that I hear in my head that's how I know that alright I'm on the right path I'm now doing things that are better than I used to but there is not that same sort of objective like alright I'm now you know the waveform is now closer to the metronome now I'm better at music it's not yet quite that same you know it's not quite that same level of scientific precision I don't think anyway I like that so if you were to pick up a bass at this exact moment and play the first thing that came to your head what would it be how good all right um weird doesn't have to be a song but what's the first that what are you thinking about right now it's gonna happen there's this chord melody I don't know why this just popped in my head Georgia yeah it's weird I've been working this this is the strange thing about like having a YouTube channel is that I have to now divide my time and divide my energy between actually making music and making videos about music and one of the things that I realized is that my chops on my bass guitar kind of go to hell if I'm not like all right you know if I've been making a video essay about like infrasonic sound I'm not practicing my face during any of that but one of the things whenever I do get a chance to play bass is I like to play chord melodies which is a strange like sort of thing for a bass player to play especially especially on an out-of-tune bass chord melodies are really fun for me because they're so hard to actually do on bass guitar they're like this this challenge because you know in regular guitar excuse me on toy guitar you have many many more options your fingers can go like all sorts of different ways but on bass you just don't have that option and you know I like it's basically just a way of like playing bass for myself just for myself and like letting letting me make some music with my bass guitar for myself in between video essing video essay sections so that's kind of what I was thinking like this is Georgia on my mind is one thing I was like working is that your own arrangement yeah I'd worked on it like maybe a year or two ago and now just like the past day or two I just started working on it again it's a it's just a fun like little thing and honestly I'm not quite sure why I'm playing right now cuz it don't have any of it worked out but that's just like a fun thing that I've been working on for myself well while your bass is in your hand there and speaking of chord melodies what is your favorite intervallic change harmonic change if you want to call it that what what is your favorite sort of it doesn't have to be a resolution but what's your favorite two chord change that's an interesting question there's a this one that happens all the time in like modern like fusion music there's this this change and it also happens in Radiohead do you know Ben Levin by any chance yeah he was in the same class as me oh really cool oh cool yeah he another youtuber guitar guy and he very quirky guy and he had this video where he calls it the Radiohead chord generator but it's a way of shifting from chord to chord where you're just using triads and one of the cool ways of doing it is like having a minor triad like this a C minor triad going to the major triad down a half step so if we have like C minor going to going to be major that's like one way of doing it and you can also like think about it as the seventh chord so like a C minor seven going to a B major seven the third and the seventh of the C minor seven are the same third and seventh the B major seven so even though they're not really any particular key they sound cool together because they're kind of like connected because they have the same third and seventh and that's like a cool like little thing so that's cool yeah that's you know there's all when would you when would you use that in some context if you had to write something on the spot put that into a a chord progression yeah so that that like that right there what I was just doing let me try and come up with some context for that little that's basically there's this thing that happens all the time actually in Brazilian music and a lot of like voice leading in bossa nova music but what it is is it's basically taking chords or taking like the individual notes of chords and voice leading them chromatically in a way such that the chords are not really in any particular key but they're they're connected because all the court are all the notes the voices within a particular like chord progression they're moving by half-step and your ear hears those moves by half-step and that kind of likes them so that was kind of like a C minor going to a B major going to go into like a b-flat suss I guess going to a sus resolving to a major so no key has C minor B major B flat sus a sus that's just not a thing that happens in any team but yeah just descending thing I don't know and I like this that sort of thing where it doesn't have it like a particular key Center it's just kind of this floaty sort of thing there's a piece of music called OneNote Samba which has a similar sort of idea where like the chords are D minor I mean it's in a key but it's the same sort of voice leading it's like a D minor 7 going to a D flat 7 going to a C minor 7 going to a b7 and there's an F on the top every time samba because there's only one note there the entire time but that's like a common yeah a common thing that I don't know just you're asking me these questions that I'm just like well that's what's happening right now in your head yes right now that's good that's what I like about music it's always you know it's always changing so it's interesting that you use that kind of chromatic movement because I just made a video about your smiling face by James Taylor oh cool the whole thing yeah yeah is chromatic all the way down the major scale but it's like the hellos happy-go-lucky chord progression you'll ever hear and I just think that's it's really interesting because you're you're approaching it from a sort of darker perspective and in in the way that it sounds but music is just so mysterious that way is it yeah when's your when's your video essay on chromaticism affecting major and minor harmony good coming as the problem is like I'll have an you know will have an idea like this and then it's just like alright well that's the next month of my life but that put that in the queue yeah how much how much time do you spend on a video because man I was watching your video today that you mentioned what was the title again uh what did what clickbait did I settle on how to see ghosts using infrasound yes yes okay so how because when you're playing the tune that you ended up with there were every single note that you played had a little text bubble indicating I don't know the frequency or what whatever it was that must I was just looking at it from a editors perspective and I was just like he had to find every single note and have a tiny little text cut yep do that you had to do it manually unless there's some final cut wizardry that you know that I don't yep oh that had to take hours so how long do you spend on a video it takes well that video in particular when I released today was at least I mean I'm gonna say a month altogether I mean it I'm working on many different things at the same time as you probably do too or maybe you don't I don't know but I I'll have like I'll be hacking away at an idea for a while so I wrote that tune last month like a month ago and you know over the course of the month whenever I had like an hour that I felt like it I could start like you know keyframing things and doing like those little text bubble things and you know it's getting to the point where I'm probably gonna eventually hire a video editor to do a lot of those things but I consider that a big part of my channel is to be doing these like little I don't like the little editing animation things I really enjoy and I really like your creative identity yeah and it's it's a way for me to express myself outside of music too and yeah it takes a long time now for other videos like for Q&A s those will take a little bit less time but I'll still spend a very long time trying to articulate the things that I want to say to answer you know people who write in with their questions and I'll spend a very long time just practicing my answer like over and over and over again until I get something that I feel like is right you know when you make youtube videos like it it's it like my I feel like my job a lot of the time is more of as a video editor and as an actor weirdly enough yeah which is strange like you know practice seeing lines is something that I spent a lot of time doing because I really tightly edit these you know scripts to make sure that every word is exactly what I want to say and you know just practicing that and yeah it's just that's just what it is and that's why like when I pick up the bass it's a treat for myself it's like I get to play bass I'm terrible remember this thing yeah oh my god I remember I remember speaking of that and then I want to ask you about your your work you do in the live music scene in New York but while your bass is still there what is the most difficult thing that you can play that is not difficult for you but it's really difficult for someone else and I'll give you an example like I would just say this is a really difficult looking thing it's just a finger picking do you have something like that that's like super flashy looking but really it's simple like I used to really be really into tapping like like that's my flashy thing I never really do it anymore but so that that to me is my like hey look at me that's way really fast but that was like a that was like a Joe Satriani thing oh yeah yeah yeah I mean well part of the reason why I stopped doing it is just because I didn't think it sounded that great on bass guitar I used to be like if my very first video on YouTube was a me tapping my seven string bass like a seven string bass at the time and I played the Maple Leaf Rag and everybody's like oh my god that's so amazing and you know I've lost all those chops like a decade ago but part of it is I just didn't like the sound of it that much and it was like it ended up feeling like a little bit to show off efore no particular reason that's cool I still remember how to play the beret buck beret and E minor but yes I thought that song was written by Tenacious D this is Bach and it rocks it's a rock block a buck best yeah I can't I couldn't ever top that so uh let it and you know the person that like kind of rekindled my interest in tapping was actually Sarah Longfield cuz like you know we did the thing up and we are and I mean it's are just like go-gurt and like damn that's pretty cool yeah she was playing something and I was trying to pick it and I was like maybe I'll actually just do this with a different part she's like just harmonize me with me like this I was like oh hold on hold on actually this sounds much cooler if I do something like this yeah man it's always nice to be humbled what was interesting meant just unheard just one second the thing that was really interesting working with her is she knows nothing about music theory and she will let you know over and over again that she knows nothing about music theory but like it was it was really cool working with her because she obviously had all these crazy cool ideas but anyway I just wanted to mention her one more time because yeah that's I liked that too she I remember she said that and it was kind of I mean it was a great balance of musicians because if you have too many people who think similarly and in in regards to creating well I don't know if even people who know music theory approach it the same way but just having a sort of communication barrier that actually works out in a positive way sometimes because you have to express yourself in like a more primal way when it comes to music and you know people are always asking me do I need music theory to do X or should i if I learn music theory will I lose all of my soul and the answer is no to all those questions yeah I mean the thing interest very interesting working with Sarah and also I think Steve et said that he didn't know atheria although like when people like that say they don't know theory Oh for me it almost feels like they're they're not sent they're like I don't know it's almost like a defense mechanism because I think they know they clearly know a lot more than they are letting on almost yeah and I I think that it's what you say is is a method of communication that's very very useful and it depends on the situation like for that particular situation that we were working on we could just like throw ideas back and forth just by playing them and that was really great and that was honestly like whenever I compose with other people I haven't got that opportunity that's usually the way it goes down but there's other situations where that sort of thing just would not work out and would just just been a lot easier just to say like alright let's you know do a two five turnaround on the Bernina whatever like I don't know just spouts out whatever normal theory BS that we typically would use but that saves you know time and money in a recording studio which is you know at the end of the day it saves money knowing theory which is a for some people like that's when it the lightbulb moment hits like oh if we can communicate this that quickly it will happen now it won't happen four hours from now it will happen right now and I think that's a really big utility in theory that doesn't really like get talked about that often but talking about it right now okay that's a that's a perfect segue into your other aspect of your career yes as a alive I don't know what what do you call yourself a gunslinger a gunslinger is that your your title you play bass for a lot of different projects it seems across New York City which I think New York City may be the hardest place to to do that in the world so how in a nutshell have you gotten to where you are and then I'll ask you about what it is precisely that you do yeah so before I started doing the YouTube thing full-time I was as you say a gunslinger I would call it myself a session bass player which basically means that a bass player for hire so if some original artist needs a bass player for them to play shows or touring purposes or whatever they can say like Oh Adam can play and then they'll pay me a flat fee that is completely that doesn't rely upon like door sales or album sales I just get paid a fee to play a show and that you know manifests in many different ways like I was doing a lot of theater like Broadway and off-broadway things for a long time there's a couple they call them cabaret is where it's basically people from Broadway put on solo shows and then I'll be in the backing band for them I was a member of the Musicians Union for a while because I was doing these theater gigs that require you to be part of the Union you're not allowed to play the gigs unless you have a union card which is interesting it's it was a interesting experience and I think an experience that I assumed that I would just that was just what I was going to be and then occasionally play my creative projects on the side and the YouTube channel kind of thrust me in a very very different direction from that but I still am very much part of this session scene because it's almost like I feel like it gives me a validation for myself and I really enjoy the challenge of being able to go into a situation and say like alright you got 10 minutes to learn all this material and then we're going on stage and for me that's like that's so exciting like oh my god the challenge so is this your like ideal situation as a musician right now well yes and no I mean I do want to be able to play Mike like our original music out and I'm starting to do that a lot more I do want to be able to do more crazy sessions I want to be able to tour with pop acts you know for a while I was actually the music director of a wedding band and I've gotten a lot of shit on my channel for that because like only good Adam is a weddings like a wedding band musician he's so cheesy and to that I say and I've actually talked with some of my friends who are probably the most insane killing musicians you'll ever see they all play weddings on the weekend like everybody and the reason for that is that's where you actually make money that's where you sustain yourself that's where you sustain your career and so you can go and do your artistic sorts of things during the week Evan Marion is voted number two bass player or like he was voted up-and-coming bass player and bass player magazine alongside Hadrian furrow and Esperanza Spalding a friend of mine amazing amazing bass player played with Allan Holdsworth before he passed like he was part of this band plays with Virgil Donati plays with all these people he's in a wedding band he plays all the time every weekend he travels and gets paid an insane amount of money in order to play weddings and that's you know it kind of doesn't uh and I feel comfortable saying that cuz he said it online on my on my channel so I don't want to like say anything else about anybody else but it's almost like this dirty secret that everybody plays weddings well it's not really a dirty secret you got to make money somehow and I'm now at this really interesting sort of crossroads because I don't need to do that anymore and it yet I still do it because I feel like in a weird way it validates me in the scene a little bit more because everybody else is doing it so I should be able I should do it also and it's it's an interesting thing for me because I'm kind of like living a double life the YouTube life and the session life and it's a I enjoy it though I really do enjoy it would you say you've ever met a session player kind of in the same scene as you who doesn't know any music theory no so that's kind of a requirement yeah no note everybody to put it succinctly everybody is a motherfucker that's the that's the term that's used yeah everybody site reads everything cold basically even even the singers you know there's a very very deep like singer scene to that's associated with the session scene because singers like singing backup for like late night shows and like doing all sorts of things like Broadway shows and stuff everybody has a pretty intimate knowledge of theory and reading and you know it's there I do know some people who don't who didn't go to music school but they still were able to teach them self and also just by the inertia of like being in the scene they have to they kind of have to come along with it say I'm really the reason for that is not only do people who study theory tend to be more you know into that kind of chops and things like being able to pick stuff up quickly but also what you mentioned earlier about the communication sometimes you don't have a lot of time to prepare for these gigs and you have to you're gonna get called back if you can perform with a moment's notice so that's really the heart of it it's not like you have to be on this level of knowing stuff be otherwise you're not good enough it's no you need to have these tools otherwise you won't be good enough yeah it's it's that that's the gate gatekeeping isn't so much like knowing theory cuz nobody really cares if you know theory or not there's a serious there's a series of things you must do in order to be able to do things and like be able to drop in at a moment's notice there's a session that I'm really I'm I'm such so glad to be part of it it's called the apartment sessions where it's basically this whole like collective Orchestra which every couple weeks crams into like a small apartment in Brooklyn and the arrangers write these incredibly intricate pieces of music like neoclassical jazz contemporary classical very intricate pieces of music and everybody has to sight-read it and the reason why everybody has to sight-read it essentially is just a matter of logistics because there's no way in a room to practice yeah you can't just get 4050 people in a room yeah and also these 40 and 50 people are like at the height of like just incredibly great session Broadway musicians there's a beatboxer gene shinozaki who's like one of the best beatboxers in the world or at least I think I'm not part of that scene but he everything I've heard of his is absolutely insane he comes in like there's all these different people who lead these very intense professional lives and then they have to go in this situation where it's like alright here's a piece of music we're gonna like run it like maybe two or three times and then we're gonna hit record play it play it good and it's there's a certain thrill there's a certain thrill that comes with that because you know it might not be perfect at the end of the day and not might not have that sort of like same thing is like a professional recording where everything is just like layered in and just like MIT like the perfect sort of take but just because everybody's on edge and trying to like show off and like at this like everybody is vibrating at a high vibration frequency I don't know it's an exciting thing and so it carries with it its own creative energy even though it's not like creating music straight from the soul now you're trying to like do the do the job that you were hired to do and I don't know I really still get a kick out of that and I think I will continue to get a kick out of it for a long time so what is your next big thing that you have planned do you have do you make plans like that or what what what's the next thing that you're really excited about well okay I mean the next video essay I had a couple of ones that I'm like working on when it's gonna be about The Girl From Ipanema which is you know the background music that you know like in V for Vendetta a Girl From Ipanema is and that and I am gonna make a whole video essay about this you know dumb little background song but hopefully explain some things and go deep on it in terms of YouTube videos that's it I have like a couple of shows I have the singer showcase that I do it's called jazz school I do it I have it coming up in June June 12th at Rockwood if anybody has in New York City doing that I don't know there's there's so many like little things that are floating around it's hard to say like alright the next big event but going to Germany and next month you're you're gonna be there right yeah I don't know if we're allowed to reveal that but let's just say Adam and I will be in Germany for some unnamed event oh okay well we're going to Germany yeah okay last last couple questions here rapid-fire questions don't have to be rapid-fire answers okay what is something about music that you believe that other musicians would disagree with you on there are things let's see if I can put it this way there is such thing as good and bad music but it's very difficult if not impossible to quantify that ok there we go we'll leave it at that what if if every bass player in the world had to drive past a billboard every day to and from where wherever they're going what would you want to put on that billboard route fifth so you would just troll everyone yeah okay got it last one how do you play music in three words or less lots of bass lots of bass coming from Adam nearly that is that needs to be a bumper sticker lots of bass lots of bass yeah well you asked for like the tribe trying to give you the rapid-fire like first thing that comes to mind so lots of bass we're going without the bass awesome man Adam Neely check out his YouTube channel it'll be linked in the show notes and it's been a pleasure chatting with you brother yeah man I'm looking forward to hang out soon yeah I'll see you on another continent alright


  • Adam Neely says:


  • Vu Lam Dang says:

    Ling Ling practice 40 hours a day

  • ワカマンWAKAMAN says:

    Adam Neely is Tyler’s thin younger brother

  • staple face says:

    I agree with the title

  • Max Brezhestovski says:

    Hi, I'm trying to find the video you're mentioning here about infrasound… Ah, ok, it's called How to see ghosts… The reason I'm looking for it is I experienced visual effect of didgeridoo, dungchen (huge Tibetan horn), and while playing bass through a delay effect with a single repeat. The effect was always like a transparent cloud moving according to what you hear. In case of bass plus delay it looked like grapes or leaves growing.

  • intrepgun says:

    Around 38:00 they’re discussing music theory as a language, ‘if I can communicate this idea verbally, it can happen now, not four hours from now.’
    As a young budding bassist, I remember hearing Vic Wooten talk about music as a language. I’m still shit at theory, but I’ve absorbed it enough to get by.

    What’s just really clicked for me is how, with the same exposure time and depth, I could learn French or Dutch or Japanese. Musically, I can wiggle fingers and recall some shapes and licks and string them together, but it’s kind of just babbling. I can hear a piece and arrange a solo bass version (one of my favorite things) but it’s no different than monkey see monkey do. I can’t have a musical dialogue with intent and movement and tension, leading and responding. Maybe this discomfort, of feeling like I’m a musical baby sucking on my toes, will be the push to get deeper into theory.

  • Rook D says:

    Awesome stuff

  • High On Summer says:

    Damn Adam is such an influential bassist

  • TimeGallon says:

    Adam’s 29?
    Graduated (presumably from a 4 year degree) in 2009 which would mean that he enrolled in Berkeley at age 16?
    Someone please correct me.

  • RJ E says:

    I knew it, Adam Neely was the founder of spaceX. Had to google that

  • Thiago Araujo says:

    you guys are the real heroes. love from Brasil

  • Chaotic Embrace says:

    To much yappin like a bunch of birds – best advice paid forward to two millennials such as yourselfs- TUNE ur instruments and get some LESSONS before u barrage the internet with comments like "smartest musician" nonsense!!!!…….your a couple guys in their crazy grandparents basements with dial up connections that haven't dropped u off yet ( fingers crossed like the rest of us!!!!) …now put that internet fooey stuff aside and go back to memorizen your times tables – big test coming in Mrs Nowatalentz class on Friday!!!!……….. gees … they let anyone on the web these days!…must b a new thing- it won't last!……………………………………………… ha!!!!……………………..

  • Jean Dames says:

    Dude doesn’t look 29 at all

  • Aspirative Music Production says:

    One question for every successful musician I have is how much money do you make. It's too late to be a rock star in this day and age but maybe you guys make good income. This is some interesting subject to me.

  • Luminous Dark says:

    Thanks for all of the insights! Great stuff

  • Seth Campbell says:

    Adam is great

  • jennifer86010 says:

    Einstein had a very unusual job. He was America's number one thinker. Every day, when he wasn't occasionally teaching, he would force himself to go sit in a large easy chair and look out the window for several hours, and contemplate the nature of the universe. This was his job, and this is what he had to do for a living. The process yielded his Theory of Relativity, His Theory of Equivalence, his Theory on Gravity Waves, and his Theory on Special Relativity. Einstein also loved music, and played the violin. I'm sure he would much rather have been playing music than thinking deep thoughts for hours every day, but this was his job and he did what it took to make discoveries and put forth theories. Musicians have to do what it takes musically to put forth food on the table.

  • jennifer86010 says:

    21:40 "A "Normal" job? …..Well all jobs are boring and often disgusting. Doctors have to go in every day and be around sick people who are contagious. They have to handle blood and guts, and patients who are dying and regularly die in the doctor's hands. They have to put their fingers, noses and eyes in people's darkest inner private parts. Cut their bodies open, repair things and pray they live. They have to stick needles into screaming children, amputate arms and legs, stand by helpless as babies die, and then have to tell the horrible news to parents and families…and hope they won't be sued and lose their license. Oh and they also have to work 12 hour shifts for days at a time, and pay off their educational debts that can easily be over $1,000,000.00.

  • godtoHrD says:

    "I know stuff"
    – Adam Neely

  • Ice Man says:


  • Chris Krentz says:

    Music… music always changes.

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