This past Sunday night I played a gig with Dereck Higgins. It was a groovy thing. His happy countenance lit the whole scene. As a bass player, he is more of a rocker than a blues/jazz man. This is surprising to some who know that he comes from deep jazz roots. His late father, Red Higgins, was a great tenor saxophone player, who played with big names jazzers of the time; that time being the era of jazz, the 60’s. As we rehearsed for our gig, I learned more about Dereck, and found out that he was raised around some pretty heavy players. Miles Davis, John Coltrane and the likes paid regular visits to the family home.
Dereck’s two brothers, James and Patrick are also great musicians. My husband and I have had the privilege to play with Dereck’s brother Patrick, guitar, on occasion over the years, but have never met the notorious James, whom Dereck credits as the greatest player in the family. The three brothers played with their father for many years, until Dereck chose another direction musically. He chose the way of indie/punk, and it chose him back. He refers to The Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show as the beginning of his epiphany in rock.
Dereck is known primarily for his powerful bass playing in bands such as Digital Sex, RAF, Norman & The Rockwells, Full Clip, Elvis & His Boss, Righteous Vibration, Disco Ranch, Ernst and Backworld. Lately, he has been on tour in Eurpoe with Son, Ambulance. He was the wardrobe supervisor for the just released film “April Showers,” and said that he really digs working in film as well as music. As if all of this isn’t enough, Dereck is a wonderful graphics artist, and has created some lovely album art.
I recently sent a request to Dereck through Facebook with five questions. Here are his thoughtful responses:
1) Q: How’s the music career going?
A: Thanks again for asking. Here you go: My career is going well. I have finally broken through my fear of the road and have been touring. It also feels like I am being taken seriously more than ever by the music and art community in Omaha.
2) Q: What’s happening this summer for you?
A: After touring the US and Europe with Son Ambulance I am now focusing on my own band. We have gigs coming up and we’ve started recording tracks for our debut album. I also play in a band with film director Nik Fackler and we are working on new stuff in the drum and bass style. The results will likely be called something other than The Family Radio, our old name. I will be a guest musician with two bands from Denmark that will be playing at the Nebraska Pop Festival in August. The bands are Cleeman and Labrador. Besides that I am a hired hand on bass and have gigs with The Soldiers of Soul and Rump Posse coming up. I am on the creative team for an upcoming feature film project titled “Silent Partners”. Scheduled to start shooting next fall in South Africa I have a lead role in the film.
3) Q:What’s been the most exciting thing to happen to you in the past 6 months?
A: Life has been pretty exciting in general but I want to mention two highlights. Last year I worked on the production crew of an independent film titled April Showers. The movie saw its theatrical premier in April and that was very exciting. Before that I was on tour with the band Son Ambulance in Europe for three weeks. That was awesome.
4) Q: Tell me about any new recording (s) you may be a part of?
A: Yes I am currently recording demos of my band preparing for our first cd/album release. I have a project in the works that will culminate in an exhibit/installation at a museum (possibly the Bemis). I’m doing field recordings toward that project and will be in collaboration with a photographer who has some amazing stuff he shot in the Amazon a few years ago. At some point Dapose of The Faint will be involved with this project.
I recently collaborated with German dada artists Kommissar Hjuler und Mama Baer. We did a limited edition cd-r with racy artwork from the Kommissar. Apparently one of the copies is on display in a museum in Flensberg, Germany. I’ll be doing another project with them shortly.
Son Ambulance were offered a one-off single deal with a small German label and I hope to get the band cracking on following up on that opportunity.
I also have a pending collaboration with a duo out of Iowa City.
5) Q: Personal life? got one?
A: I have a special someone coming to visit from out of town next month. She is about as close to having a girlfriend as I care to get at this time. I don’t date much because I have mostly had awful experiences with that part of life. I know that I am loved and I love a lot of people and express it enough to get by without having a robust sex life.
My sisters are coming to town to visit. They both live in California and I am really looking forward to spending some time with them.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I have already worked wardrobe for two more films to be released this year. “Lovely, Still” written and directed by Nik Fackler will be out around Christmas time. It was a great pleasure and learning experience working with Academy Award winning actors Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn. The other is an independent science fiction film called “The Scientist”. I don’t have any details about its release.
For more information about Dereck Higgins: Dereckhiggins.com
First published for examiner.com on June 17, 2009
There is nothing finer than waking up to a pic of Dereck Higgins with a cup of coffee in his hand! I asked him to update me with what he’s up to lately, and as always, he was upbeat, with new projects overflowing like a bouquet of flowers!
Just wrapped finishing a mural project, worked with Cey Adams the original graphic designer for Def Jam records as well as many others. Collaborating with Emilie Balz through the Bemis on a project involving food. Providing soundscapes and music for Chilean artist Claudia Bitran, who is currently in residence at the Bemis. She is doing a complete remake of Titanic. Very psychedelic. Just finished doing exploratory sound work with Di Mainstone from London, known for her amazing Human Harp project. About to release my second vinyl album this year, Murphy.
“Flyover” came out in February.
In the band Strange Attractors who have music featured in the film “Bent Over Neal” premiering tonight in Omaha. The band plays tomorrow night at The
Waiting Room. Continue to collaborate with Danish singer songwriter
Cleemann, doing a house show with him November 2. Details will be
announced soon. Playing a rare show with the band Hotlines November 6 at
O’Leaver’s. What I can remember for now.
I almost forgot, I have two OEA nominations. One for best progressive
artist and one for artist of the year. I’ll be playing the nominee
showcase at Reverb November 21.
For more information about Dereck Higgins: Dereckhiggins.com