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Who is Case on Bass? Former Mercenary Soldier Now Musician

Date: Jul 11, 2015

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389 12th St. Brooklyn, New York

When I first saw Case on Bass backstage in New York, I was a bit wary. His appearance was somewhere between military mercenary and fashion model. He looked lone wolf dangerous. He gave off a sense of superiority sitting by himself. I immediately didn’t like him and had never heard of him anyway (he did zero promotion of his music).

Then I heard him perform on his bass guitar and became convinced he made a deal with the devil. His music was mysterious as hell. I came to find out later the music he was playing was called Bass Tones. I arranged an interview with him.

It was a curious interview. For starters, he has at least four different names he goes by. He won’t tell me his real name. He also is a chronic mover - he has lived in 10 different places the past 4 years, sometimes in big cities like New York or Seattle, other times in rural Appalachian towns like Athens, Ohio.

But before this nomadic lifestyle, after college he worked as an office accountant for several years and hated it immensely. Not satisfied with the money he was making and the lifestyle he was living, he left his accounting job in 2011 at age 25 and became a mercenary minesweeper in the Caucasus region. (The modern term for this is called a “military contractor”, but Case on Bass preferred to call himself a mercenary). It paid over double what he made as an accountant. He worked primarily in the war torn region of Chechnya identifying and clearing minefields.

“The work we did was somewhere between military and humanitarian,” said Case on Bass “Neither side had any maps of where most of the mines and booby traps were; they were laid years ago.” The work was slow-going and obviously dangerous. “We took no chances. Some people think mine clearing is getting up close and disarming the mine – that is way too dangerous to do on a regular basis. We would stand back and detonate the mines from a distance once we were able to locate them. 80% of our time was just trying to locate the mines; there were a ton of false positives with the mine sweeper because of all the shelling and spent ammo in the area. I know absurd violence had taken place here...”

Case on Bass did this work for 18 months and saved up $150,000 US dollars – way more than what he could have made as an accountant in the same amount of time. He returned to the US at 26, and then a white hot creative burst began. He started making experimental music with Casebere & Joyner and then his solo Bass Tones series. He has published no less than 12 albums this past year.

Strange for a musician however, is the fact that he does not participate in any social media, saying he doesn’t believe in it. That may be detrimental to his career.

And after talking to him, I still don’t understand how he created his mysterious music. It sounds like music from another world, with a completely different meaning than most music. I don’t know how it relates to his past from what he told me. “I’m just giving thanks to my Creator,” is all he said.

-Alicia Lee has worked for Spin Magazine and Inside World Music and currently works as a publicist.

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