Los Angeles is truly an unique place to live and be an artist. Even in such a low point for live music performance, Los Angeles remains a sturdy pillar that artists seem to migrate to from all over the planet.
I recently sat down with Hassan Dahik from HGroove in Pasadena, California. Originally from Quito, Ecuador Hassan was the frontman and composer for “Ismusqa Brown y La Groove Machine.” Now Hassan has his own project [HGroove] and actively gigging around the greater Los Angeles area.
Hassan reminds me of that confident kid in elementary school that eagerly awaited show and tell. He genuinely believes in his music and is not afraid to show it.
I hear nothing but great things about Quito, can you tell me a bit about life at home living in Ecuador?
... "My hometown is Quito back in Ecuador. It's a really cool city filled with so much art. I remember seeing some of the most amazing street art, music ,theatre, and listening to traditional Pasillo music."
... "There is also a fantastic music scene and I have lots of friends back home doing well in the music industry."
What are some things you miss back home?
... "My family of course. It's very difficult at times living so far away from home. "
... "Besides that I miss my neighborhood in Quito. I have been craving our own special version of ceviche."
How did you discover music?
... "Music has always been there for me. Around eleven or twelve is when I really started to get into music and playing music, listening to bands like Blink 182 and KORN.(The first song I learned was All The Small Things - Blink 182."
... "I think I've always identified as a singer songwriter even though I am also a very passionate bassist."
When did you know that you were going to pursue music as your career?
... "I have always been in bands growing up. I did the choir and school bands back at home. When I was seventeen I started my first band which was great experience and gave me a taste of being on stage. After that moment I think I was hooked."
... "I appeared on a nationally syndicated program back home called Xpresarte"  and all my friends saw me. After that people saw me and I started playing and getting gigs. It was my tiny breakthrough."
Why did you leave home and come to Los Angeles out of all the places?
... "I was looking at several places to go actually. What attracted me to Los Angeles was the vast diversity of people and musicians."
... "At this time it was around 2011 and I was attending UDLA back home. I was going a three year bass program there. UDLA had connections with Los Angeles College of Music in Pasadena, California. I won a scholarship and found myself with a one way ticket to LAX."
How did you like your time at Los Angeles College of Music?
... "I really liked the teachers and the relationships you can build with them as professionals. The course material was great, plus I got to go to the master classes that LACM offers. I am very grateful for my time at such a great college."
You mentioned you are a bass player, so let's talk bass for a minute. Could you tell me your top 5 bassists off the top of your head?
5. Pedro Aznar
What song has your favorite bass solo in it?
... "NIB - Black Sabbath. It has a really nice classical bass solo which I loved as a teenager. Also Maxwell Murder - Rancid. The tune has a great solo with a pick, which influenced my playing a lot."
Let's talk gear...
Well, right now I use my Fender Music Man "Stringray". I'm currently in the market for an AMPEG PS-500 amp. I use Ernie Ball strings. I use picks sometimes, but mostly I use my fingers playing bass.
Living in Los Angeles for awhile now, how do you see the industry changing and what does that mean for the modern day bassist/musician?
... "The market is definitely saturated and now everyone can be their own producers or full band. Now the average musician has to be so much more capable than before. We as musicians need to start becoming more savvy with technology, marketing, performance ability, legalities of the industry, and networking than ever before."
... "It has to do with passion. And believing in myself [yourself]. Life can change if you work hard enough. I am here because I really believe in myself. Opportunities exist and ways of doing this actually exist. We must all keep fighting for that."
Do you have a "plan B" or backup plan?
... "My plan B is to start plan A over again. Nah, I don't know man - if life makes me go somewhere else I'll do whatever I have to do, but I'll never stop making music. I'll just invest back into myself because I'm an artist."
Did you have a mentor back home?
... "At university I had mentor. He plays piano and composes (Daniel Mancero). He was a great teacher with unique teaching methods."
Thoughts on Streaming?
... "It's an interesting question. Streaming for me was really popular when I was fourteen. I discovered so many different artists and bands that impacted my life positively. I think it's evolution within technology. Things will balance themselves out."
If you could open for any band, which would it be?
... "I would open for Residente. Their lyrics are amazing and our music is similar. I really like his [Residente] approach to songwriting. He incorporates social and political topics which I resonate very much with! "
Let's talk HGoove:
Hassan Dahik - Lead Vocals & Bass.
Sebas Jimenes - Guitar
Adam Lindberg - Drums
Roman Castro - Percussion
The band also preforms with various interchanging players in a horn section for gigs. The band is always looking for talent and hiring horn players. For further information please send a message to the offical HGroove Facebook band page here.
Who does the songwriting for the band?
... "I do all the songwriting. We have fun with our parts and the rest of the band makes contributions, but they are all my songs."
If you had to describe a HGroove show in five words...
Do you find if odd at times being the lead singer and bassist at times? It's not your average day setup.
... "Yeah it's amazing man. The bass is really underestimated during a gig. It helps me so much to develop professionally as a musician being out on the frontline(s)."
What are some goals you have for HGoove in the future?
... "We are definitely ready for a wider audience and festivals. I know this band will grow to do bigger tours."
You just released a music video called "Amazing Life". Tell me a little bit about that.
... "Well, it took about 6 months in total including post production. The process was a great experience for me; making music videos is a whole new art form that I am learning about. We met new people and expressed our music in our own way. The song expresses where I come from and what I'm doing."
You can check out the video here.
Doing any other projects around town?
... "Yes actually, I am playing with a few artists here in Los Angeles."
1. Analisa Corral
What is next for HGroove?
... "Right now we are working on a lot. I have been working wth John Avila on my single. It will be out early next year. Lots of music videos are currently in the early stages of production. Our potential is huge, so I just want to work hard and share our music with as many people as possible."
If you could have played in any movie sound track, which would one would it have been?
"That's easy. The Batman and Robin movie  - Composition by Danny Elfman and Bartek."
Hassan: "I'd like to thank you Ben for doing this interview for me, I am very grateful. Your work is professional and you made this interview fun for me."
Written by Benjamin Jay