For the last decade, Brooklyn-based songwriter Jeremy Bass has been the Musical Director of The Secret City, the OBIE Award (Off-Broadway Theater Awards) winning performance gathering. Bass started with the group when its membership numbered in the single digits, and has seen The Secret City’s membership grow to the thousands during his tenure. Even with such a substantial and supportive artistic community as an integral part of his daily life, Bass wrote his new pair of albums in literal isolation. Returning to single living in Brooklyn after a rough divorce in late 2013, Bass found himself secluded in an empty house, sifting through his memories.
“All I wanted to do was hole up in a cave and wait for the storm to pass,” he remembers of that brutal winter of 2013.
Ultimately, the period resulted in two distinct but complimentary records - Winter Bare, a Merle Haggard, Tom Waits, and Johnnny Cash-influenced group of songs that feature the mandolin and banjo, “divorce gifts” that Bass bought for himself, and the upcoming New York In Spring, a collection of Bossa nova-inspired tunes featuring Bass’ live band, and influenced by the great Bossa nova composer Jobim and Brazilian guitar masters Luis Bonfa and Baden Powell.
“We worship art” is the The Seceet City’s slogan, and Bass’ determination to complete Winter Bare and New York In Spring to his standards, and in such a short span of time (the records are both being released in the first half of 2015), shows that he believes. “The need to finish New York In Spring kept me so busy that I didn’t notice the cold and exhaustion any more. I became obsessed with creating a completely different sound than what came before.” The first of those sounds from New York In Spring can be heard on “Firefly,” the albums initial single.
“I wrote it for a girl I fell in love with at the restaurant where I was working when I first moved to NYC,” Bass recalls. “I was teaching myself to play bossa nova at the time, something they didn’t teach at the classical conservatory where I was studying. It’s a tricky technique, but becomes part of your muscle memory. ‘Firefly’ was the first tune I wrote using this technique, and it paved the way for the songs that followed, many of which ended up on New York in Spring all these years later.”
Thematically, Bass describes the song as “just a sweet, green love song about a guy trying to get a kiss from a girl.” Winter Bare by Jeremy Bass is out now. New York In Spring arrives on June 9th, 2015.