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Artist of the month: Rhys Sebastian

You come from a family with renowned musicians. What were your learnings in your initial stages when you started out?

Looking back, I can say that I’m glad I had an ear for music, which was always picking up on what my mother and father were playing at rehearsals. With the encouragement from my parents, I would be introduced to other well renowned musicians and sit in on rehearsals, occasionally performing with them. So I was quite blessed to be surrounded by a wealth of talent, professionalism and experience at an early age.

When did you first know you wanted to be a professional jazz musician?  

I think I’m evolving as a musician unconfined to genres at this moment in time although, my journey did start with heavy dose of Jazz and I’m very happy about it! I think this just sort of happened when I was 17 years old. The late Jazzy Joe, was my first clarinet and saxophone teacher and he’d take me with all the other senior musicians and his students to perform at Not Just Jazz By The Bay. He’d also request me to substitute him at the Sea Lounge, Taj Mahal Gateway where I truly learned while I earned, as my father would cheekily say. And since I was still young, I let the waters just flow naturally and allowed myself to play with people from different educations. Jazz though has been and is still a great influencer for me and I attribute that to one of my best people around me, Tala Faral.

What made you choose the sax as an instrument to play?

I didn’t! I started the piano at a young age but it was clear that football was dominating my studies and music while in school. My parents had to act quick. Mum mother’s father, John Dias, used to play the upright bass and other stringed instruments as well as the clarinet. They would have to keep me focused on using my time right as I just entered the teens and gradually got me to start something new. I learned the clarinet while my interest at the piano waned slightly but it was enough to get a glimpse into what professional musicians do, as the institutional Jazzy Joe took me under his wing. By the time I turned 16, he moved me onto the saxophone and that’s the one that stuck through. I still do have an inquisitiveness for the piano and now, the bass guitar.

Who did you learn from and what were your major learnings?

My parents, taught me so much then about life really and what it is to be a full-time musician while supporting a family. They tell me less now but still keep a keen eye on me. I suppose I could say, for me at least, I’m grateful for my parents and that they are always around for me. Sound’s cliched, but I’m still learning new things from my peers and friends, and feel great about that.

Are there any musicians you would specifically like to work with?

Jacob Collier is a bit of a stretch and several leagues and worlds out of my reach but I still dream.

Upcoming project

I’m looking forward to what 2019 has in store. While I’m primarily a session’s musician featuring on other artist’s work, I would like to present some of my own music this year. I am hopeful that I give myself the chance to do more public shows and am working on original content for that purpose.

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