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Bassist Leland Sklar Utilizing SSL 2+ Interface To Create During Challenging Times

After 50 years of countless tours and albums, home studio “newbie” turns to SSL 2+ to keep working in these challenging times.
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Leland Sklar with his Solid State Logic 2+ USB audio interface.

Noted bassist Leland “Lee” Sklar, who’s played as a session musician on tens of thousands of songs with some of the best-selling artists of the past 50 years and toured as a sideman with some of the biggest names in the business, never once recorded a bass part at home. But when the pandemic forced everyone to hunker down at home, Sklar hooked up a Solid State Logic 2+ USB audio interface and got back to work.

Holed up at his house in the Los Angeles area during the city’s “safer-at-home” order forced recording studios to temporarily close, Sklar has become a prolific video diarist on YouTube, sharing events from his daily life during lockdown and playing along to some of his best-known recordings. Then came a call from his friend, singer, songwriter and producer Gussie Miller, who was recording a cover version of “Easy Lover,” a hit for Phil Collins that Sklar played live many times over the years while touring with Collins. “Gussie said, ‘Is there any way you could put bass on it?’ I said, I would love to do it, but I have no way of recording,” says Sklar.

“I’ve always been busy enough that I’m one of the guys that has never had a home studio, or done any home recording at all,” he adds. “When I would get home from work, I had so much to do around the house that I never really dedicated anything to recording. Plus, I have enough friends with home setups that if something came along, I would just go to their house and do it.”

Shortly after, Sklar was unboxing an SSL 2+ and connecting the 2-in/4-out USB audio interface up to a Macbook running GarageBand. “I ended up doing the track for Gussie,” he says. “We put it on YouTube and it’s been one of the most successful videos on my channel,” with close to 200,000 views and counting.

When Sklar started out in the early 1970s, he played with a group of session musicians so frequently — usually for Asylum Records artists such as Carole King, James Taylor and Jackson Browne — that they effectively became the label’s in-house band, known as The Section. Fifty years later, he’s playing with several of those same musicians and lifelong friends in a new band, The Immediate Family, one of whom he called to help him get set up to record at home for the first time. “The ‘new kid on the block,’ our guitarist, Steve Postell, who I’ve only known for 15 years, walked me through all the settings on GarageBand and how it all works,” says Sklar. “I’m really a newbie at this.”

During the current pandemic, “Like everybody else, I’m finding new paths. And I ended up with a tool that seems to be exactly what I need to do the things I was thinking about doing,” he says. “The SSL 2+ interface is the perfect tool for imperfect times.”

Sklar’s bass playing remains very much in demand. With many recording studios still not fully open for sessions, his phone is steadily ringing now that he has a way to record his bass tracks at home. Offering just a couple of examples, he says, “A friend of mine, Ramón Stagnaro, a great guitarist who I’ve done a number of records with, contacted me about a producer from Spain who wanted to know if I could play on a track. And now I’m getting ready to do a thing for George Shelby, who is the sax player in the Vine Street Horns, which is Phil Collins’ horn section.”

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The sonic quality of the bass tracks that Sklar has been recording directly into the SSL 2+ audio interface has been noticed. “Everybody that I have recorded anything for has contacted me and said, ‘It sounds great!’ And I’m running totally flat,” he reports. “I’m not doing anything in GarageBand; I just plug my bass in. As a way for my bass to get into a recording, it’s an excellent tool.”

Now in his 70s, Sklar has been working in studios with SSL equipment for much of his recording career. “I’ve been around Solid State Logic gear ever since the company has existed,” he concludes. “So I’m quite happy to now be involved with SSL after being a part of them for so many years and going through their equipment.”

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