Becky Gebhardt

Artist of the Month | September 2009

 

Becky uses the Big Twin in her sitar. She also plays bass and guitar in the band Raining Jane.

Becky is an aquarius, born and raised in Los Angeles. She started playing the bass with Raining Jane in 1999. She also composes music for the band, and was able to play bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, upright bass and sitar on the band’s album “Diamond Lane.” Her favorite book is the dictionary (the OED to be precise) and her favorite piece of literature is Hamlet. She hates shopping except for music and food. The list of her favorite music is long and varied but two consistent names at the top of the list are Sonic Youth and Ani DiFranco.

Here is the long story of how she got into music and where it has taken her so far:

Becky started playing the bass guitar at the age of 13. It was the early 1990′s, and for some reason alternative rock made a lasting impression on young Becky. She started obsessing over bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and Smashing Pumpkins, and then researched the music that influenced those bands, most importantly discovering Jimi Hendrix and Sly & the Family Stone.

Originally, Becky wanted to play the drums. Then without really knowing what it was, she decided instead to play the bass (guitar was too ordinary). Around the age of 10, Becky had taken a year or two of piano lessons, so a cursory grasp of music was already in place. By the time she reached her teens, her dream was to be in a band. She was driven by the desire to be as intimate as possible with the music she loved, which meant listening to songs over and over and teaching herself to play them. About a year after picking up the bass, a friend gave her an acoustic guitar, so she started teaching herself to play it as well. That classical guitar is still the only acoustic Becky has ever owned.

Becky continued playing bass and guitar through high school. The private, Catholic school she attended did not offer music classes. The only opportunity she had to play at school was with the choir during mass. Eventually she connected with some friends and played the bass in a few garage bands.v

In the fall of 1997, Becky began attending UCLA. She met Mona Tavakoli the following year. In February 1999, the bassist of Mona’s band quit, so Mona introduced Becky to the band. The band had just renamed themselves Raining Jane. Becky’s first gig with the group was UCLA’s Spring Sing.

At UCLA, Becky majored in English and minored in music history. She took some music performance classes, including West African drumming and mariachi guitar. In her junior year, she started taking sitar in the ethnomusicology department, learning from world-renowned sitarist Shujaat Khan, son of Vilayat Khan. Becky’s education in North Indian classical music has influenced her significantly. She has brought sitar into the music of Raining Jane a little bit, and plans to continue doing so.

After graduating from college, Becky took a job as a writer for a new, small-time community newspaper based in the area of Los Angeles where she grew up. Within a year she was promoted to editor. In the fall of 2004, Becky left her position at the newspaper in order to focus on her music career. She still does occasional freelance writing.

In June of 2004, Becky purchased an upright bass. She hasn’t had much time with it yet, but hopes to focus on learning to play it sometime in the near future. She has also recently began dabbling in lap steel guitar and charrango (a mandolin-like instrument) which her brother brought her from Peru. She plans to continue developing as a musician and songwriter for the rest of her life.

Check out http://www.rainingjane.com/ for more information.

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