Tennessee Bass Massacre
Tennessee Bass Massacre is an electronic music duo located in Memphis, Tennessee and consisting of Drew Morris and Nathan Sparks. While Drew is a native Memphian, Nathan originally hails from Tampa, Florida, but these two represent Memphis with style through their dynamic shows and passion for music. I caught their late night set at the Memphis Electronic Music & Arts Festival (MEMFest) on August 30, 2014, and these guys had the entire room getting down, heads banging and feet moving constantly. The duo was nice enough to show up to the festival early to take some time to speak with me.
Ragin’ Randy: So, for starters, can you tell me how you guys met?
Nathan: Actually, the first time me and Drew met, we were both working a server job in a pizza restaurant, and, yeah, it was really just history after that man. I mean, we both just love the same stuff man, and he’s the ying to my yang to this whole duo man. What I lack, he does and vice versa. Yeah, that’s where we met. That was about 4 years ago.
Ragin’ Randy: Did you guys each do your own music before you met?
Nathan: Drew’s always been into music, like forever man, his whole family is musically inclined. I mean, he can tell you about that. But yeah, me, I’ve always been into music but never personally really did anything. I never played an instrument, never was able to read notes, I just always had it in my head, you know, and a will and drive to do it, so I’ve been self-taught completely, as far as me.
Ragin’ Randy: But Drew, you used to do music before Tennessee Bass Massacre?
Drew: Yeah, before, I started producing when I was about 16 or 17 with just basically a keyboard and a Launchpad, and I would try to make some beats. I played piano, but I really just kind of liked to jam on it, you know, I never really released anything. And once we [points to Nathan] got a Mac, well, we messed around on Fruity Loops for a while.
Ragin’ Randy: Yeah, I remember Fruity Loops [laughs].
Drew: Yeah, and that was kind of fun just playing around, but it was nothing really serious, and then we got ahold of a MacBook and got Ableton. It took a while to get into, man, but once we kind of just figured it out, it was really magical how we came together. Because we’re, like, the same, but at the same time we’re so different when it comes to musical tastes, you know, so that’s how the Tennessee Bass Massacre becomes what it is.
Ragin’ Randy: So, this may be a question primarily for Drew then, but how does your approach to making music differ when you’re doing it by yourself versus when you’re doing it as a duo?
Drew: It was definitely just more chill, ambient, kind of glitch hop-ish type stuff, and you’ll still hear that in our set, you know, with that incorporated, but you know, it’s a lot more brutal [laughs].
Ragin’ Randy: If you guys had to describe your sound in just a few words, how would you do it?
Nathan: Hybrid bass, man. I mean, yeah, that’s what we’re about. We’re not really stuck on a genre, man. I mean, you can hear that some of our stuff is, like, filthy dub, and then this new track we’re going to drop tonight is, like, hybrid trap.
Drew: You know, more like trapstep almost.
Nathan: Yeah and you know, it’s just hybrid, and really, it’s not like about a genre man, we just follow the sound, you know? Yeah, so hybrid would definitely be the best, because it’s dub, it’s trap, it’s a little future, you know.
Ragin’ Randy: You guys have a Halloween event coming up in Memphis that you were mentioning to me earlier. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Drew: Yeah, it’s at Newby’s. We’re bringing Luzcid down as the headliner from New York. He’s an amazing producer, so we’re real excited about that. Al Kapone, from Memphis, will be hosting it. It’s going to be a big show, we’re hoping the biggest show in Memphis. We’re going to have the bar side and the theatre side, so we’ll have live bands over in the bar side, and then DJs in the theatre. But yeah, it’s something that we’re really looking forward to. We’re hoping to do some collaborations with Al Kapone for that show.
Ragin’ Randy: Cool. Do you guys have any full-length albums that you’ve done, or do you just release tracks and remixes here and there?
Nathan: You know, honestly, we really don’t even do remixes, really. Pretty much everything’s just original honestly. To tell you the truth, this is the best way to describe us really. We never even really wanted to be DJs. Honestly man, we just like producing music. There’s a void for so much good music that never gets out there, you know, to average people that listen. You get fed a line of music that’s easily acceptable and easily accessible. Whereas, like, what we thrive in, even when we play our sets, we want to introduce people to music that you haven’t heard that’s amazing that you should be listening to. You know what I mean? And the same thing with production, we want to make music that you should be listening to. But what happened is they go hand in hand. You know, if you want people to listen to the music you create, you’ve got to be able to go out there and, you know, be able to give it to them, and what we found is that we’re extremely good at it, and we love it. I mean, there’s not a better time or place than being on a stage and killing a show. Like, there’s nothing better than that, I mean, there’s no drug on earth that touches that shit. Honestly, it’s a beautiful thing.
Ragin’ Randy: I feel you, I didn’t even have much of a crowd for my set this afternoon, you know, first set of the day, but I enjoyed it!
Nathan: Yeah, just wait, man, it gets better and better and better. It’s such a reward, because it’s hard man, I’m not going to lie, there are down times when you bust your ass to get where you’re at, and it takes so much work to do it, but if you’re true to it and you stick through it, it shows, and the people who are really about their shit, you can see them. And wait until you see our set, man, it’s live, it’s wild.
Ragin’ Randy: Alright! I’m excited! Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Drew: First off, we’d like to give a huge shout out to Brie Jackson, our manager. We owe a lot of our success to her hard work. She runs Mindset Promotions and is one of our biggest fans and supporters too.
Nathan: Definitely want to give a shout out to 1200 Hustle. We’re like a big family. It’s a whole bunch of great artists who are linked up and are really about their business. It’s a community of like-minded people, and they’re all serious, and we’re serious about our music, and that’s where great music comes from. So we’d definitely like to give a shout out to them.