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Exclusive Q&A with Blackstar bassist Tim Lefebvre!

February 23rd, 2018 | by admin
Exclusive Q&A with Blackstar bassist Tim Lefebvre!

Earlier this month we announced that Tim Lefebvre who played bass guitar on David Bowie’s Blackstar album had very kindly agreed to doing a Q&A for us. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. See them along with Tim’s answers below….


★ When you close your eyes, what is your enduring memory of David?

Gareth Bird, Manchester

TL Hey Gareth.

Thanks for writing in.

I guess my memory would be david sitting in his chair at the magic shop control room kinda running things.


★ Can you share with us a moment you remember with David, from around the time of recording Blackstar or something he said (maybe some Bowie magic wisdom or a joke etc)?

Thanks for the beautiful bass playing on the album. It’s truly evocative, fitting for the songs and sounds so fresh.


Stowe Gregory

TL Thank you Stowe!

Many jokes and laughs were shared.

But he was a very erudite guy. And “killing a little time” was originally called “black man of Moscow”. He told us that there was a monarch who was actually black that ran Moscow in either the 17 or 1800’s.


★ What was it like meeting David and were You starstruck?


TL No, just eager to please. He was also pretty sick from chemo at the first meeting so there was genuine concern for his well being.


★ Hi, who came up with the two parts to the Blackstar track and what influences did you have around the bass elements

Kind regards

Chris Dovey

 TL Chris! Prob the best track I’ve done on record. The first movement was pretty scripted in David’s home demo. I just tried to make deep dark subby tony levin-Esque sounds there. But the middle and end I got pretty creative and came into the control room after take 2 wondering if tony and david would have me re do it lol

Basically the middle “something happened on the day he died” section, I was trying to channel Herbie Flowers through the lens of Justin Meldal Johnson of Beck’s band.

The end section I just wound up on some sly and the family stone 8th notes, then went into Pino Palladino “voodoo” world and bent it a little bit, as mark guiliana was playing such a stark beat.


★ When you play with Donny McCaslin & his group, the improvisation sections are so amazing. So much interplay & interaction among everyone, as well as a well-paced buildup of energy, ideas, & sound. Really in the moment. How do you work on that sort of progression with other people?

Joseph De La Cruz

TL Honestly that’s just what we’ve done together for years; improvise as much with sound as notes. You just do it and try to authentically channel electronic sounds or noises (those can be music too!!)


★ How do you work on your inner time?

Adrian Bartol

TL You just always try to have a drum beat or record or any rhythm in your head and try to not stray from it. It’s hard! And practicing with records or a metronome are obviously big helps.


★ Hey Tim,

My question is regarding the upright bass. I think I saw a picture of you playing it one time and I didn’t know you played.
I am primarily an electric bassist but played upright for a year or two in high school. I gave up working on it for various reasons but am thinking about getting back into it.

What is your opinion on upright vs electric? Has the ability to play it given you opportunities you would have otherwise missed out on?

Thanks for reading. I know I cheated with two questions.

– Noah Albright

TL Haha yeah you did cheat!

Yes, playing upright bass has gotten me on recordings and gigs that otherwise would not have been possible.

I think I played upright on “no plan” speaking of which.

Upright is a physical instrument, and to master it is literally impossible due to the infinite fingerlings, scales and techniques.

BUT! It’s a beautiful sounding thing to play upright. I love it. I’ll never be a master but as long as I can play passably well I will continue to do so.


★ What do you start a practice or recording session with? Are there any particular exercises or do you just get on with what needs to be done in the session?

Hollie Mitchell

TL Yeah you just try to get your sound happening in your world. Also you try to not get tangled up in cables and headphone wires and stuff. That can ruin a take and has happened to me many times In the studio.

When I practice, I just kind of pick up the bass and play freely and atonally to see if I can find some new ideas.


★ How did you you get into the stuff with Knower and Louis Cole? That is some of the funkiest bass I have ever heard in my life! I love seeing you pop up in their videos looking suave.

Raichel Corbett

TL Awww thank you! When I moved to Los Angeles they scooped me right up. Turns out they had known about me from recordings they liked (rudder and Wayne Krantz, even a Sean wayland record I believe).

Louis And Genevieve are always in some costume, so I felt the need to look at least a little interesting for the videos.


★ Hi Tim. I’m Ivan from Argentina. All the musicians that worked with Bowie say that his work method took them to do their best. Can you tell us what indications did he made in studio? and Do you feel that he improved you?
Sorry for my English. See you soon.

Ivan Bykaluk

TL Yes David was VERY positive in the studio. He would comment on the overall picture. We would have to self police ourselves a little to fox little mistakes. But he and tony always saw the bigger picture.


★ I’m sure there will be lots of serious stuff but i would like to ask

“Exactly how many albums did you ask David to sign?”

Mark Brabazon

TL Haha 2 and he didn’t let me forget it!



★ Based on the Instagram post of the signed and dedicated ‘Lodger’, how many, and which, albums did you get signed by David?


TL 2. He was such a funny guy. A world class insulter. Proud to have written insults by him on “lodger”. That and the “heroes” covers are framed and hung in my house. “Heroes” was slightly more serious. Was really glad to have a brief relationship with him.


★ What new projects have come your way since “Blackstar “album.

Thank you 🙂

Vivian Jackowski

TL Well, definitely an invitation to tour with Bryan Adams (so so much fun!), a project with Matt Cameron of Soundgarden (was/is a big blackstar fan) , and I’ve gotten to meet and play with a bunch of the guys and gals he toured with in the later years. They have all blown my mind with their talent and humility. I’ve been able to hire some of them to play on Rachel Eckroth’s new record, and which I am producing. We are doing a cover of “love is lost” and I hope we did it justice.


★ Did DB ever suggest any changes to the basslines you brought to the album?

Sean Zayas

TL I think David’s Demos made it pretty clear what the direction of the basslines should be on the songs. Some were impromptu, like “dollar days” so we just had to throw on our “pop” hats and come up with parts on the spot. James Murphy was there for that session so he was helpful in that regard.

But for the most part he trusted our instincts, which was very flattering.


★ How did working with David influence your music since recording Blackstar?

Helen Fox

TL Well, I certainly feel braver about what I do. Blackstar was a brave work of art. Why can’t we try to be that brave in our own little worlds?


★ How was it working with David and were you nervous?

Richard Mathams

TL Yes I was nervous but anxious to please. It was a small group there in the studio, so it was never a circus. Very workmanlike. David was warm, funny and erudite as hell!


★ A new song from the Blackstar sessions ‘Blaze’ is known to exist, can you name any other tracks you worked on during the sessions that didn’t make the album?

And finally, tell us what you have planned for this year and beyond?

Nick, David Bowie News.

TL Hmmmm not sure which one “blaze” is. I’m sure if and when I hear it I’ll know what it is.

I do know there were a couple that never saw the light of day: “somewhere” “when things go bad”, a really r n b number I can’t remember, and the others have been released already, I believe. (No Plan EP)

I’m finishing producing Rachel Eckroth’s record (should be out by September at the latest) which features her original songs and “love is lost”. A bunch of Bowie alumni shared their talents on the record including Gerry Leonard, Sterling Campbell and features some great musicians, including the one and only Derek Trucks, gary novak, zach danziger, jeff babko, sy smith, mark rivers, Carlos ricketts, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch but I’ll send you names when I recall them.

Also I have been touring hard and writing with Tedeschi Trucks Band. We are in the process of doing a new record. Exciting stuff!

Looking forward to doing my own solo record (electronic soundtrack kinds of stuff) and writing and recording again with Empire of the Sun. I’m also part of the bands, Boomish, Rudder, Teen Judge, Whose Hat is This, beat music, and Donny McCaslin’s band of course. So look us up!!!

Thanks so much Nick and all of you who wrote in and are so much a part of keeping Bowie alive.


Many thanks to Tim for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this.

You can check out Tim’s website here, Facebook page here, follow him on Twitter here and Instagram here.

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