Michael Valerio is one of the most in-demand bassists in the Los Angeles studio scene. In fact, you’ve probably listened to Mike play bass more than just about any bass player. If you’ve ever heard a soundtrack from John Williams, Hans Zimmer, or Danny Elfman in the past couple of decades, you’ve probably heard Mike playing bass on it.
I’ve been meaning to interview Mike for years. We actually met nearly 20 years ago when he was principal bassist for the New World Symphony and I was subbing in the group.
Our mutual friend Stephanie Payne let me know that Mike was coming to town to play as a electric bass soloist with the San Francisco Symphony on John Adams’ oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary. This part is so challenging that Mike had an electric bass made specifically for this piece!
We dig into that and a ton of other topics, including:
- the experience of studying with Homer Mensch when Mike was a young student
- studying with Lawrence Hurst at Indiana University
- playing with Roger Williams and the New World Symphony (where he was principal bass) simultaneously
- doing the Mancini Institute in LA in high school, which was an opportunity to meet Chuck Berghofer (Barney Miller Theme and These Boots Are Made for Walking) – one of the most famous bassists you’ve never heard of and the first person to suggest that he move out to LA
- why moving to Los Angeles was the right move for Mike
- how Michael Wilson Thomas helped Mike – introduced him to David Low – a major contractor in LA who was actually a former New World member
- developing the skills to read things on sight
- how the studio scene has changed in the nearly two decades that Mike has been working
It was a pleasure to sit down with Mike and chat for the podcast. I know you’ll enjoy listening!
Links to check out:
- Mike’s Discography
- Mike’s LA Phil soloist page
- I left New York for LA because creativity requires the freedom to fail by Moby
- Mike playing Henry Purcell – Fantasias for Strings (YouTube)
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