Thundercat finds fame on his own

Grammy award-winning bassist Thundercat has collaborated with everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Michael McDonald.

He's in New Zealand for a few gigs to promote his new solo album, released last year to rave reviews.

If you don't know who he is, there's a chance you'll know his work. His bass playing with rap superstar Kendrick Lamar won him a Grammy in 2016.

But now he has his own moment in the spotlight - last year's critically acclaimed album Drunk. The hard work has paid off.

"Practicing, spend time with the instrument, it's always the answer," he told Newshub.

There's a bit of everything in Thundercat's music. Funk, jazz, and psychedelic soul - but he prefers describing it a different way.

"If you're like really into bondage... I dunno I've never really pitched myself. If you like car tyres and weird fumes, check out my music."

Thundercat (real name Stephen Bruner) is playing two shows in Wellington at the New Zealand Festival and another at Auckland City Limits.

He says there's a difference between festival shows and his own.

"You've either got somebody yelling at you, 'You've got five seconds left to play', or you can't hear, it's always something, you just try to move with it."

Drunk has a song with '80s legends Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins - Thundercat says he's a huge fan of both and the chance to work with them was the best way to show it.

"It's not just part of a joke, or a cool cliche, it's like I really f**k with these guys, you know what I mean?"

He doesn't just find inspiration from other music, but from Marvel comics, art, and fashion - but he says it's hard picking what comes on tour with him

"It's always intense. Either I come out of the house looking like a member of Gwar, or a lost orphan."

Drunk's album cover depicts just the top of Thundercat's head but has already been regarded as an instant classic. He says art can come from the weirdest situations.

"I'm peeing, farting, drinking water, there's a little blood in there. That photo was as real as it seemed. At that point I had been in the water for a LONG time. The guy that was taking photos was getting creepier and creepier. I was starting to feel like 'OK that's enough' but he captured something there, he really did."

At the end of the tour he's looking forward to going home to his cat - Turbo Tron Over 9000 Baby Jesus Sally.

He says she doesn't miss him while he's on tour - mostly because she's free to tear his stuff up.

"She's nesting in my Gucci jacket, covered in cat hair. That has happened on several occasions - I come home and it'd just be overtaken with fur. And I have to spend like three to four days getting hair off."

The flipside of finally achieving fame.


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