Bassist, record producer and songwriter, Colin Bass has worked in a wide range of musical fields with a diverse range of international artists.
Born in London in 1951 he started playing professionally in 1968, playing guitar while dressed in flowered shirts and velvet loon-pants, in clubs, village halls, colleges, army bases and anywhere else that would have them, around the UK with his band, The Krisis.
In 1970 he switched to bass guitar and made his first professional recording with the psychedelic rock band Velvet Opera before joining 60’s-chart-topping pop-soul band The Foundations for some protracted dues-paying on the cabaret club circuit.
In 1972 he teamed up with songwriter Ernie Graham to form Clancy, one of the original London “pub-rock” bands, with whom he recorded two albums for Warner Bros records, featuring some of his first original (but not very good) compositions .
In 1976 he joined the Steve Hillage Band for an extensive tour in Europe and the USA and in 1979 he joined the progressive-rock band Camel, recording a number of albums and touring world-wide until the band’s farewell tour in 2003. In 2013 Camel leader Andy Latimer, having recovered from a lengthy period of illness, took the band back on the road. Further tours took place in 2014 and 2015, playing to sold-out venues across Europe.
From 1984 to 1992 he was also a core figure in the pioneering “World Music” group 3 Mustaphas 3, recording five albums, tirelessly touring the world and collaborating with artists such as Ofra Haza, Stella Chiweshe, Dembo Konte & Kausu Kuyateh and The Rinken Band.
He has also made two albums and two live albums under his own name and three albums recorded in Indonesia under the name Sabah Habas Mustapha. The title track of the first, “Denpasar Moon”, became a hugely popular song in Indonesia in the mid-90s and has been covered by over 50 Indonesian, Malaysian, Japanese and Phillipines artists.
The third album in the series, So La Li by Sabah Habas Mustapha & the Jugala Allstars, won considerable international acclaim and was nominated for a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award in 2001, enabling the band to undertake two European tours, performing at many top international World Music Festivals.
He has continued to work with Indonesian artists, producing two albums by the Sambasunda Orchestra and the Sambasunda Quintet. In 2010 he headlined the first Monju World Music Festival in Bandung, West Java.
As a record producer he has worked with a wide range of internationally acclaimed artists including: The Klezmatics (USA), Sambasunda (Indonesia), Etran Finatawa (Niger), Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird (USA) and the Krar Collective (Ethiopia) amongst others. As a guest artist he has appeared on albums by a number of internationally acclaimed artists including top Malian singing star Oumou Sangare, playing bass guitar on all tracks of her 1993 “Ko Sira” album. Other artists he has worked with include Algerian pianist Maurice el Medioni, Zimbabwean mbira queen Stella Chiweshe, the late great English guitarist/songwriter Duncan Brown, Madagascan roots rockers Tarika, Senegambian kora masters Dembo Konte & Kausu Kouyate, Polish art-rock legend Josef Skrzek and master Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya.
From 1994 until 2008, he wrote and hosted a weekly radio show for the RBB German Radio Network channel Radio Multikulti, broadcasting from Berlin, where he lived from 1987 until 2011. He has also contributed articles – mostly about Indonesian Popular Music – to various publications including The Rough Guide to World Music (Penguin Books). Contrary to an entry on Google, he is not, nor has he ever been, a half-brother of Bo Derek.
In 2012 he returned to his hometown of London and produced albums by Prince Robinson, Lord Mouse & the Kalypso Kats, Alhousseini Anivolla and the Krar Collective and also acted as musical director of the Bamboo Pearl Orchestra for their appearance at the BT River of Music Event for the Olympics Culture Festival. In 2013 he travelled to Niger to record a new album from the Tuareg/Wodaabe ensemble, Etran Finatawa, in a tent in the Sahara Desert.
Since October 2012 he has been living on the Snowdonia borders in North Wales where he runs Wild End Studio. He was co-producer of the album ‘Tincian’ by the genre-busting Welsh roots band 9Bach, with recording and mixing taking place at Wild End Studio. The album was released on Real World Records in May 2014 and won the Best Album of the Year at the 2015 BBC Radio 3 Folk Awards.
In 2015 he released his third solo album, ‘At Wild End’, financed entirely by a successful crowd-funding campaign. An intentionally eclectic look back at some of the contrasting styles of music Colin Bass has been involved with through his career. That same year saw another Camel tour of Europe with the band headlining some major Progressive Rock festivals.
Productions for other artists have continued apace. In 2016 he travelled to Helsinki to work with Finnish kantele player/singer/songwriter, Maija Kauhanen and Wild End Studio was the venue for recording and mixing sessions for the second solo album by Etran Finatawa front-man Alhousseini Anivolla. Both these albums were released in April 2017. 2016 saw Camel undertake a tour in Japan. The DVD ‘Ichigo Ichie’, recorded live in Tokyo was also released in 2017.
Current work in progress at Wild End Studio includes sessions for a collaboration with keyboard player and composer Daniel Biro, vocal contributions to the new Amarok project of Polish guitarist Michal Wojtas and writing sessions for the fourth Colin Bass solo album.