Industry Feature Friday: Travis Switzer (Bass Player/Producer/Bolder Music)
Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!
Please welcome to the stage, multi-award winning bass player and CCMA Hall of Honour Inductee from St. Albert, Alberta, TRAVIS SWITZER!
His Facebook intro says: "Car guy, musician, producer, Canadian, bass player for Dallas Smith, 5x CCMA."
There's so much more - and it's all just as awesome!
He's been in the industry for awhile and here's how it kind of all got started:
"Back at home, Switzer’s father, a bluegrass bass player, had formed a band. Dad strummed banjo and steel guitar. Mom sang and his older brother played snare drum and mandolin. The band needed a bass player and the young Switzer was it." https://www.stalbertgazette.com/
Although Travis took Grant MacEwan College’s two-year music program focusing on jazz, pop and rock, he's become a very sought after mainstay in the Canadian country music scene as a (stage and studio) session player, and producer with (his own) Bolder Music.
Unlike singer-songwriters nominated for a song or album, support musicians are nominated for the year’s entire body of work that includes tours, festivals, live performances and recording sessions. After being in the industry for nearly 20 years, he is been deservedly recognized for his body of work several times! He's a five-time winner of the Canadian Country Music Association Bass Player of the Year, and was inducted into the 2018 Hall of Honour!
I've only met Travis Switzer once, and it was super quick backstage at the 2022 Extreme Mudfest! I've seen him play a lot though! He's awesome! There's a pretty good chance you've seen this talented musician on stage too! Travis has hit stages with Jason Blaine, Dallas Smith, the Hunter Brothers, Deric Ruttan, Tom Cochrane, Paul Brandt, Lisa Brokop, Kelly Prescott, Lindsay Ell, JoJo Mason, and the legendary Ian Tyson - and of course many others.
Travis, thank you so much for being my guest this week for IFF - it's an absolute honour!
Get to know more about bass player and Bolder Music's, Travis Swtizer here:
Sarah Scott (SS): Musician Travis Switzer - you're a five-time winner of the Canadian Country Music Association Bass Player of the Year, and was inducted into the 2018 Hall of Honour (2013 / 2014 / 2016 – 2018). You're also a producer with Bolder Music! You got your start many years ago and you were so wrapped up in playing bass, your father drove you 80 minutes back and forth to Regina every Saturday for music lessons. He could see back then you were so committed! Now look where you are! Your dedication has paid off and continues to do so! Tell us more about your musical journey and how you got to where you are today!
Travis Switzer (TS): I started very young in country music. Playing in my family band at age 7. Bluegrass, gospel, country of the day etc. As you said, It wasn’t really until my dad started driving me into the city (Regina) for bass lessons around age 12 when things really fell into place. I was exposed to so much music I hadn’t heard on the AM dial. From there, I went to post secondary for jazz, loved it, and just kept working, gigging, practicing etc. I love music, I don’t care about genres but my roots are firmly planted in country music from a young age.
SS: Your goal was to be a freelance musician and you've stuck with that and added production into the mix of things. You've worked the professional circuit for close to 20 some years and accumulated a track record of gold-plated artists who have your number on speed dial, but who is an artist you would love to share the stage with? AND Who would you love to produce a song for?
TS: In the country world, I’d love to play a show with Vince Gill. The production on his early albums shaped how I’d hear music for the next 30 years. I’d also love to go back in time and play with the 40’s big swing bands. That music speaks to me.
SS: Which skills should one have to help you perform effectively as a musician? Meaning, as a whole - onstage, offstage, on tour, in studio...etc. How can an aspiring bass player/session musician have and maintain a well rounded, healthy career?
TS: Ok, this is a tricky question. Obviously execute your craft to the best of YOUR ability. You don’t need to be the worlds greatest musician, but you do need to the worlds greatest version of YOU as a musician. Listen to music that makes you feel like a beginner and do it often. It’s all about growth
Also, be fun…. Music is supposed to be fun if you’re doing it right.
Respect the other musicians and the entire team you’re working with. The best way to do that, be on time, know the parts and be supportive. It’s a team sport on the road, sometimes you’ll need to be a be player.
Protect your hearing (ask me how I know).
SS: Now you have Bolder Music, where it also lists you as a producer! What is your philosophy as a music producer? Do you like to be transparent so that each artist has their own sound or do you have a particular sound that is your signature in all of your productions?
TS: I love hearing what artists sound like and putting my influence on top. After all, that’s why someone wants a producer. I do have safe places in my productions when I find I fall back into but I’ve also forced myself to push through them. My philosophy is, I thrive on letting great musicians make great music. Hire the player that really feels connected to a sound…. Session musicians have influences just like every other artist, tap into that. Don’t run from it. Do that every step of the way, you’ll likely have something special at the end. Artists, managers, songwriters, mixers etc….
SS: What's the most unusual venue or show you've ever played at?
TS: The most unusual was likely the old 6 nighter bars that are now gone. The venues were fine, the people watching on a Tuesday night though, it was “unusual” haha
You can follow Travis here: