Finding his musical talents early on in his youth, Philip Nielsen, the highly-skilled bassist from the bands Grit, Swarming Orchids, PixLips, It Came From A Lab and Tic Tic Boom!, embarked on his musical journey by first honing skills on the piano. With musicianship in his blood, Nielsen easily transitioned from the piano to the bass, but his extraordinary skills as a musician do not stop there, he also plays the upright bass (double bass) and synth keys.
“I play electric bass, which is my main instrument and I’ve been playing that for about 17 years. I’ve been playing the piano/keyboards on and off for at least 20 years, and I also play upright bass,” said Nielsen. “I started experimenting with the upright bass 6 or 7 years ago, so far it has brought the most attention to my work as a musician, which is a little ironic since it’s not my main focus”
Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Philip Nielsen toured extensively throughout Europe with the reggae/ska band PixLips and the punk band It Came From A Lab before later moving to Los Angeles, California where he would join the bands Grit and Swarming Orchids.
Aside from Nielsen’s vast knowledge of music, the commanding nature of his stage presence not only helps to raise the energy of the audience, but it ensures that all of his shows, regardless of which band he is playing with, are consistently exciting and never boring. While a band’s front man, or woman for that matter, generally gets the most attention in the media, the spotlight was never a factor for Nielsen; it has always been about the love of the bass.
“I like the way the bass glues the song together. My uncle who is also a bass player, once said to me that a song first starts when the bass begins to play after or during the intro,” said Nielsen. “During my years as a bass player I completely see what he meant. It just feels right for me.“
Nielsen recently finished recording Grit’s debut EP “LA Don’t Love You,” which is scheduled to be released in January 2015. Fusing together the southern rock, blues and punk genres, the song ‘Look Away’ off Grit’s EP was selected to be included in the film The Dust Storm, which is scheduled for release next year.
A film about one man’s chance to rekindle love with the one that got away, The Dust Storm stars award-winning Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue from Wild Decembers, The Rite, Home For Christmas and the shows Once Upon A Time, Love Is The Drug, The Tudors, Fair City and Jim O’Heir from the films Ed, Accepted, Safe Harbor, Comedy Hell, Welcome to Paradise and the hit comedy series Parks & Recreation, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Dharma and Greg.
Aside from Nielsen’s extensive background as a bassist in rock, reggae and punk bands, his work with indie synth band Tic Tic Boom! serves as further proof of his diverse musical talents.
Tic Tic Boom!, which is lead by Leilani Francisco & Mike DeLa, Philip Nielsen on electric bass and Joey Ponchetti on drums, released the EP “It’s the Heart That’s a Fool” in late 2013. Nielsen also plays synth keys intermittently with the band. Tic Tic Boom!’s music video for the song ‘How It Ends’ off of the EP was included in a segment on Blip.Tv by Style-City Music, and was also featured on Artist Direct’s website and Frequency.com.
Neilsen is also known for his work as the upright bassist in Drake Bell’s music video for the rockabilly inspired song ‘Bitch Craft.’
“I have always loved early rock and roll music like Elvis and Neil Sedaka among others, the upright brings the right sound and authenticity to that kind of music, much like certain electric basses have a better tone for certain styles,” explained Nielsen.
The song ‘Bitch Craft’ is off Bell’s third album “Ready, Steady, Go!,” which was released earlier this year and debuted at #32 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums charts. Additionally Bell, who has won three Kids Choice Awards in the US, as well as three Australian Kids Choice Awards, a Teen Choice Award and an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, is known for his work as an actor from the hit Nickelodeon shows Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show, as well as the films Jerry Maguire, High Fidelity, A Fairly Odd Summer and many more.
Although Nielsen notes the upright bass as being somewhat more challenging than the standard electric bass, the skills and stamina he has developed over the past 20 years allow him to transition between both instruments with consistent grace and perfect execution.
“The main differences between the upright bass and the electric bass is that the electric bass has frets, so I would say that the upright bass takes more discipline regarding hand positioning for the right intonation and playing in pitch. It’s also a lot more physically demanding, the size of it combined with the fact that it’s an acoustic instrument really makes you work to bring out the right tone,” said Nielsen.
Check out Philip Nielsen on the upright bass in Drake Bell’s video for ‘Bitch Craft,’ below.