Artist of the Month - January 2023
Written by Sheryl A. Stradling
Gavin Carney has been chosen as the Arts Council Menifee January 2023 Artist of the Month.
Carney was chosen because of his talent and involvement in ACM events. He has performed in the ACM Showcase, Menifee’s Got Talent and the summer evening music events at the Countryside Marketplace.
Carney is a 28-year-old bassist with a growing reputation for his eclectic playing style in original projects. He is a versatile player, playing a variety of music including pop, classic, and indie rock, as well as reggae, progressive and gothic metal. He also plays his own original compositions and is known for his ability to blend playing styles and music genres. He plays primarily with bands as a session player when an additional player is needed to fill in and is typically on the “first call” list.
He has been a member of the group Macro since November 2019. This group plays progressive rock, progressive metal, and psychedelic rock. Jam nights in Los Angeles are also part of Gavin’s repertoire. Musicians typically learn about them through networking. Musicians have a few days to a week to learn the songs and are expected to play the songs as written. Carney enjoys these opportunities because they are a great way to meet and work with other musicians.
Carney began his musical career early. At the age of 7, he was inspired by the Japanese animated television show, “The Big O,” where a robot girl played the piano. He wanted to do that too, and asked his parents for a keyboard. He got it, learned to play, and later took piano lessons.
At 17, he began playing the bass by watching YouTube videos. He realized that the bass guitar was an instrument that often blended into the background but stood out at particular moments in some of his favorite songs. One of the main songs that sparked his interest in playing bass guitar was “Cage” by the Japanese avant-garde heavy metal band Dir en Grey. In this composition, the bass guitar leads the song, demonstrating its potential. Gavin says he was drawn to Japanese heavy metal because of its sophisticated level of composition, creative arrangements and counterpoint (the interaction of between various instruments in different melodic lines).
As a music major at Mt. San Jacinto College, Carney studied music theory and learned to read music. He also studied jazz and classical music, but he says, “I’m basically self-taught when it comes to technique.”
As a songwriter, Carney equates lyrics to poetry.
“If they’re too explicit, it takes away from what someone can get from the music itself, but they shouldn’t be too abstract either,” he said. “The more I can learn, such as studying history, language, symbolism, psychology, etc., the more content I have, so I’m always studying.
While in college, he also studied automotive technologies and worked in this field for a few years. He realized the potential for injuring his hands was high in this field, and he was often too tired after work to pursue his music, so he decided to focus on music exclusively. He’s grateful that he made this choice.
Carney is passionate about his craft and says his biggest influence is learning from others.
“I am constantly learning and studying new music,” he said. “I study as many types of music as possible, and then I learn songs in that specific genre and apply the nuances of that genre until it becomes natural.” He is inspired by working with different people, playing all kinds of music and adapting to various styles.
Carney’s primary goal is to work with as many artists as possible, playing live shows and recording in the studio. In addition to bass guitar, he plays standup bass. He is working toward releasing and performing his original compositions. His influences span a variety of music genres, including rock, jazz fusion and neoclassical, a 20th Century trend emphasizing order and balance. He continues to be influenced by progressive rock and heavy metal, genres that are more technical and cerebral and build upon the complexity of harmonics and key changes.
In addition, Carney is drawn to jazz, funk, soul and neo soul and plans to learn more about these. His goal is to create a “happy medium” of genres. Gavin works to refine and finish his compositions, practice his skills, and network with others in the music industry. He spends from three to nine hours a day on his craft. This includes rehearsals, networking, social media, checking ads for potential jobs, and related activities. Since most of his work is in Los Angeles, there is plenty of driving time also.
Carney was born in Riverside and grew up in the area. He has lived in the Menifee area for around 10 years. Although not an ACM member, Gavin has participated in numerous ACM-sponsored events. He appreciates being a part of these events because it gives him an opportunity to practice and share his craft with people in the area.
Gavin volunteers at The Evermore Ministries Church in Riverside as a bassist, and with Wildomar Rotary at their musical events, assisting with event setup and takedown, as well as involvement as a talent judge and performer. He credits his parents for inspiring his volunteer activities. They were involved in Rotary when he grew up, and he learned from them to help others, show appreciation and pay it forward.
Carney is a multi-faceted musician who incorporates his many musical interests into both his playing style and musical compositions. About his music, Gavin says, “I think what the music conveys should be left up to the individual listening.”
To learn more about Arts Council Menifee, visit www.artscouncilmenifee.org. Need a talented bassist for your venue? Contact Gavin at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Instagram and Twitter @l_gavin_l