Interview with Julia Lamb, Tom Grennan bassist and ICMP alumna

We quiz our bass alumna Julia Lamb on her crazy year with BBC Music Introducing Artist of the Year Tom Grennan...


Our alumna Julia Lamb spent 2018 with one of the UK's brightest new stars, Tom Grennan. 

As bass player with BBC Music Introducing's Artist of the Year, she's helped power Tom to the top of tastemaker tip lists for this year as well as completing her studies with us at ICMP.

We caught up with Julia towards the end of last year to find out more on her musical journey, how her studies helped shape her and what the future has in store... 

How did you get started in music?

My dad is a drummer and played guitar too, so there was always a guitar lying around the house. But it wasn’t until I saw the movie ‘School of Rock’ that I wanted to pick up the guitar. I guess I was inspired seeing all those young kids around my age at the time playing instruments so well (and because it’s such a great movie!)

What drew you to the bass? 

My main instrument has always been guitar, but I knew playing bass would help me get more work. I started on the Higher Diploma course at ICMP a few years ago and we were always in need of more bass players for our bands so I decided to pick it up.

Where do you look for musical inspiration and influence? 

I’ve always been into funk, soul and Motown but lately I’ve been playing over a lot of hip-hop and R&B. Lauryn Hill, Mac Miller, Anderson Paak are a few artists I’m listening to a lot. There’s also some crazy good modern guitarists on Instagram and YouTube (like Mateus Asato) that I listen to for inspiration. My all-time favourites are John Scofield, Julian Lage and Mark Lettieri.

What led you to ICMP? And how did you find your studies here? How did they help shape you as a musician? 

I wanted to go to a contemporary music college rather than a jazz college, and I knew London would have so many opportunities for me as a session player (I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia).

Studying at ICMP helped me develop versatility and well-roundedness as a musician. I loved being surrounded by people who were passionate about music every day.”

You've spent a lot of 2018 on tour with Tom Grennan - how have your experiences been? How do you survive life on the road?

It’s been amazing. I’ve gained so much invaluable experience as a performer and have been lucky enough to travel to some incredible places at the same time with a really fun group of people.

On tour I try to go for the healthier foods on the rider (fruit) and have a Berocca every day. That stuff’s a life saver. You have to find a rhythm with things. I also try to do yoga in the lounge of the bus whenever I can (easier said than done with everyone’s bags piled in there) and that makes the rest of my day feel so much easier.

You also perform with Zuzu - how do you approach working on different gigs like this?  

With Tom I’m playing to a drummer who’s on a click whereas Zuzu is a more straight up set-up with no track. It means I have to be extra aware of where everyone in the band is at and move with them. With Zuzu I play everything with a pick so it’s also fun getting to dig in a bit more on those gigs. 

What's the best piece of advice you could give about launching a career in the music industry? 

Realise early on that it’s cut-throat but it’s not just about your craft - half of it is about being easy to work with and not being an asshole because it’s such a ‘social’ industry."

Have you any tips for aspiring session players and how they can sustain themselves in their careers? 

Invest your time into projects that you really believe in and that you think will pay off long-term. Still get out and gig as much as possible because every gig is exposure and gives you experience, but keep searching for those artists/projects with a lot of potential.

Also go to lots of auditions. It’s a whole skill of its own that you need to practice and even if you don’t get the gig it’s important to meet musical directors who may offer you other work in future.

What are you looking forward to in 2019? 

Tom’s doing a headline show at Royal Albert Hall in March which will be really special. I’m also going to try get involved with more artists and play more guitar gigs...

Follow Julia on Instagram for more. 


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by Jim Ottewill
January 28, 2019
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