Usama Allati creates beautiful collaborations through cultural differences

Whenever we collaborate with a different musician, from a different nationality, background or culture, the richness of music that they have to offer is just fascinating. So, Music Exceeds Borders is all about this.

Lars Mullen: We're now going to leave the UK and we're going to head out east. Cross a few borders and land in Palestine to meet my good friend Usama Allati, welcome.

Usama Allati: Hey, Lars, what's up, man? Thank you for having me today, I'm honoured to be here.

LM: I've got to say, you're just another very clever multi-instrumentalist, on all things electric strings, tell us about that.

UA: I'm only a' guitarist and a bassist, I don't play any other instrument but I play all types of guitars.  There's all types of basses, normal ones, extended 
range ones, a little bit piano, a little bit, and a little bit drums. But, I'm not a drummer nor a pianist.  Just a guitarist and a bassist.

LM: Just explain extended range basses for people who might not know quite what that means.

UA: Normal basses or the traditional basses are the four and five strings basses. The extended range basses start from six string basses up to ten or even fifteen. There are so many extended range basses. You know, luthiers tend to create and  innovate. For myself, I play nine strings, a seven strings bass and the six strings as well. 

It's a tank, man, a nine strings bass is a tank. So it's a spaceship, it's an amazing bass. Lots of space to move, lots of space to 
solo on, and you never run out of possibilities.

LM: That's a tank, man. I like that. More space to groove, too, that could be a good album title.' And I like the way when you're at the top end of the guitar, you haven't got any dusty frets, obviously, because you're all over the place, and it's accurate. And you sort of, almost get it into standard guitar frequencies, and you make use of that very well. And you also did a very, very good introduction to the Fusion collaboration song, that we're all on.

UA: Thank you, thank you. It's an honour for me.

Last year I had to send my nine strings back to the States.  A client at the workshop saw it and he got interested in it. I had my luthier Mauricio, build me this amazing seven strings also, that I used on that collab. And, yeah, definitely, I have it here with me of course. Here is the beauty. You can see the tones of wood, amazing headstock, lovely body, it's spalted maple, and curly maple as well, a neck-through instrument. Very powerful, very accurate, very clean, very clear as well. It's one of the masterpieces that I am really proud to have. It's the one and only bass of this calibre in the Middle East and it's exclusive craftsmanship for me by MG bass, which endorsed me, like, three years ago.  

LM: Lovely looking bass, I love the contrasting colours as well. You mentioned just now about, you've been working on your house. I think a lot of musicians, obviously, we're not touring, or doing anything now, because of the lockdown periods. But you have a really unique project on which you've been working and recording before lockdown. Which is probably keeping you busy now, called Music Exceeds Borders, where you're working with musicians in other countries.

UA: So, I co-founded this project, as you may know, with my Corsican partner  John Batiste who is also a Fusion Artist.

We came up with this project in December 2018.  And the idea of it, is collaborating with musicians from all around the world,  gaining new experience, new music. You know, every time you collaborate with someone  who is not from your own country, they have a lot to give, a lot to offer, a lot to teach.  So it's always a huge experience and also special. Whenever we collaborate with  a different musician, from a different nationality, background or culture, the richness of music that they have to offer is just fascinating. So, Music Exceeds Borders is all about this.

LM: So, are you still welcoming people, to contact you to do these projects? Can they just call up Usama, have you got a website we could contact you?

UA:You know, when you surf through YouTube, Facebook,  Instagram and I see all those musicians who fascinate me, the way they play, I just approach them, and some others approach me. So that's how it normally happens.

LM: So nice to speak to you, all that way out in Palestine. Good 
luck with everything and let's see some musicians come and cross the borders to join your project! 

UA: I'm doing my best to to expand the communication with musicians and have more musicians on board, do more music, lots of genres, and just enjoy it.


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Lars Mullen

About Lars Mullen

With over 30 years in the music business, Lars Mullen does indeed wear many hats, as a writer, journalist, photographer, press person for his own company Music Media Announcements. As an extensive traveller, he's a familiar figure reporting from music trade shows around the world. Spending many years touring as a professional guitarist, Lars has also interviewed a host of top bands and artists, continues to write articles for magazines globally and still finds time to track down Fusion artists for our Artist Spotlight column and Fusion Virtual World Tour Interview Series.

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