I first became interested in playing bass guitar about 10 years ago. I played electric guitar a bit before picking up bass, but I never really connected to it. Bass was love from the first pluck. This instrument feels powerful and foundational – I’m always amazed at what a single note on the bass can do to a whole song, changing the feel and mood of it completely.
My name is Shahar Levy and I’m the head of analytics in a start-up called Fraugster. Fraugster is an AI-based anti-fraud solution for merchants and payment companies. I chose this job because I like connecting the dots and solving puzzles and riddles, understanding what’s important and what’s just noise. Fraud analytics is exactly this – we’re responsible for identifying and formalizing story patterns in data that correlate with online fraud cases.
I’ve been living in Berlin for the past 5 years, but I’m originally from Israel. I relocated with my previous employer, PayPal. They were looking for a fraud analyst in their EU risk team and I was looking to relocate to Europe, so it was a perfect fit from both sides.
I try to keep myself busy outside working hours, mostly filling my time with music, which is my biggest passion. I love playing music and I love music instruments – my main musical instrument is the electric bass guitar. Music has been a part of me my whole life. My home always had music playing, as well as some musical instruments around to learn, play, jam, etc. My brother and sister are also very musical, and we inspired each other to learn and to play.
My favorite bass player is Justin Chancellor from the band Tool. I must admit that I like his sound so much, I basically copied his entire setup. I play the same bass (Wal MK.II), have the same effects, and even use the same strings and pick! I also really like Les Claypool from the band Primus, though his style is totally different than mine – unfortunately, I could never play like him; he’s just too (crazy) good.
I like heavy and dark music. My inspiration comes from bands like Soundgarden, Tool, Porcupine Tree, Portishead, and others from that genre. I also like any other sort of alternative rock, and I find my interest shifts back and forth over time between music eras.
Over the years, I played in quite a lot of bands. I had a band back in Israel where we were playing covers for Tool. It took a lot of practicing to get to a comfortable level since the music is very technical and complicated. I had another band in Israel that played covers for Opeth, but only for their ballads!
When I moved to Germany, I was looking for a new band to play with and found the local Cosma Nova. With them, I played many shows in Berlin and even a couple in Hamburg and Frankfurt. I also participated in the recording of an EP with them. After about three years, I decided I wanted to focus more on heavier music and joined the band ‘Rest now, Paul’ (https://restnowpaul.bandcamp.com/), playing original melancholic rock and playing many shows in Berlin.
In parallel, I’ve been participating in a local project called Bands Berlin (https://www.bandsberlin.com/), where non-professional musicians like myself join together. With the help of a mentor, we play interesting versions of well-known songs and play a concert once every few months. The mentors are highly skilled musicians – besides all the fun I have, there it’s a great learning opportunity for everyone involved.
My most memorable music experience was during one of my first times on a stage back in Israel – it brought a big crowd to a famous venue of the alternative scene there. Not only was I quite nervous during that show, but the person responsible for the lights also kept turning on this huge projector directly over my head, and it felt like I was playing on the surface of the sun! In later shows, I made sure to have a comfortable environment around me so I could focus on my playing.
With my interest in music, I also became interested in the instruments themselves – over the years, I collected some unique basses from all over the world. That got me interested to try and build something myself. I’m actually in the process of building two basses: one ‘classic’ made of Mahogany, and an experimental one built from Epoxy resin. Both are nearly done now, and I hope to start gigging with them in early 2020.
My future goal with music is to become a rock star, obviously! But as a contingency plan, I just want to play live gigs and tour Germany/Europe if I get the chance. Recording an album with one of my bands would also be great.
I see a lot of similarities between my music and my current occupation. In general, you could say that there’s a lot of focus on creativity, self-improvement, communication, and personal growth. While it’s true for many aspects of life, here you could easily see how your attention keeps switching between these concepts continuously.
My advice to anyone interested in music and bass guitar is to get in a band and start playing, even if you think you’re not ‘there’ yet. Bass players have the benefit of being able to play simple lines and still sound great, so use that opportunity. It will push you forward and push you to learn and practice a lot more than online lessons or even a private teacher.