Jayen Varma – Indian slap bassist
I have a bunch of draft posts that I started a long time ago which need to be finished. This one is from 09/29/2011.
I first saw Jayen Varma on Youtube in the summer of 2009. His speed and his unique style really impressed me. He’s a classically-trained tabla (drum) player in India who took up bass and applied tabla techniques. I’ve mostly seen people describe what he does as slap-bass, but I think its actually tapping, or its more-often tapping.
Here’s a video of him playing with a guitarist that he collaborates regularly with:
[edit 02.02.2015] Since 2011, more information is available about what Jayen does. He describes his style as Indian slap bass. From what I’ve seen on one of the two brief tutorial videos (below) its similar to what Larry Graham does, as opposed to Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers does in hand position. In his video, Evan Brewer (9:30) said that there are two main hand positions for slapping, an “overhand” and an “underhand” position. Larry makes use of an underhand position, and Flea uses overhand. Unless I’m misinterpreting what I see, Jayen seems to utilize a variation of underhand.
Jayen also has a website now, and one of the pages is specifically about the history of slapping and its evolution into what he does. The page includes information about how to practice, which is demonstrated in the videos above. Here’s a link:
Here’s another link to an interview in For Bass Players Only (Jon Liebman’s website – if you’re not already a subscriber, I’d recommend looking at it, he has a lot of great stuff). A lot of the information here is duplicated on Jayen’s website, on the slap bass page. I don’t know which came first, his page or this interview. There are a few additional pieces of info here though – surprisingly (to me), Jayen’s first song on bass was The Number of the Beast, from Iron Maiden. I had no idea he’d enjoy Steve Harris!