At HARMAN, it’s our mission to develop state-of-the-art audio solutions that provide enhanced listening experiences for music lovers at home, on the road, and on-stage. In recognition of Make Music Day 2018, we spoke with William “Bootsy” Collins, legendary Funk musician, singer-songwriter, and HARMAN Professional Solutions Ambassador, about what inspires him to create music and the advice he has for today’s aspiring musicians.
Q: What drew you toward a career in music?
A: My older brother, Catfish (Phelps Collins). Our father wasn’t around, so I looked up to Catfish. He was eight years older than me, played guitar, and he was very popular in our community – I desperately wanted to be like him.
Q: What motivates you to make music every day?
A: I listen to the universe and always keep my ears open to the voices and vibrations of the Mighty One! I listen, watch, and learn to see how we, as the custodians of this planet, are meant to evolve as one with love. This is what inspires me – the collision between what you believe and what you don’t believe, the Yin and Yang, positive and negative, truth and consequences. If you live on this planet, you’re going to go through both ups and downs, and best songs and decisions come from this “Theory of the P.”
Q: You’ve been creating music for several years. How has the way we make music changed since you started playing?
A: I came into the music scene in the early 1960’s, when electric instruments were gaining popularity. The electric guitar was starting to be favored over the acoustic guitar. The upright bass was the bass to play until the electric bass was introduced. Then pianos and organs were synthesized. While the industry was going through these changes, I was still learning my craft. I had to figure out how to fit into a world that was changing – but that was alright with me because I wasn’t stuck on playing anything specific. I was willing to play anything as long as I was playing music with my brother!
Q: What musical innovations do you think were the most influential?
A: Wow, great question! First, I would say the electric guitar followed by the transition from the upright bass to the electric bass. The synthesizer was incredibly influential, as well as the Linn Drum, which put the fear of God in a lot of drummers. Prince made it the most popular, in my opinion.
Q: What innovation has excited you the most in recent years?
A: The introduction of computers has really changed the way we make music. I don’t know if it excites me the most, but there’s a new level of ease when it comes to making music and recording songs. Years ago, if one of us played the wrong note or chord, the whole band would have to start all over again. It really made us get it right the first time.
Q: In recognition of Make Music Day, do you have a message for all the musicians and music lovers who celebrated?
A: Learn about the past as much as you can, listen to old music and get a feel for what’s inside it – not just the notes but the spaces in between them as well. Try and feel the timing and the way the musician is expressing him or herself. That era was all about self-expression and just playing what you were feeling. When you put your heart and soul in every note you play – that’s what makes you a human magician and not just a musician. That’s what separates the great musicians from all the rest.
Q: Why did you decide to collaborate with HARMAN Professional Solutions?
A: I’ve been using HARMAN and JBL equipment and Crown amps since 1975, and they’ve withstood all the punishment I threw at them with my Bootzilla Spacebass. The wear and tear from being on the road would have taken any other equipment out, but not HARMAN products. That’s why I still use them to this day, so I can deliver the best sound quality to listeners. HARMAN has never failed me.
Q: What advice would you give to young musicians navigating this rapidly changing industry?
A: The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that things will never change. Learn the basics, keep up with analog and digital, and embrace whatever the future brings. Make your mark within the change and continue to grow with it instead of standing on the sidelines watching it all go past. I say practice, practice more, and get in touch with HARMAN!
On Make Music Day, music-enthusiasts across the world gathered to celebrate the profound impact music has on our lives. Learn more about our diverse and talented lineup of legendary artists and HARMAN Professional Solutions Ambassadors on our website here.