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Bill Laswell Biography


Home > Music > L > Laswell, Bill > Biography


Born: 1955/02/12
Birth Place: Salem, Illinois, U.S.
Genres: Avant-garde, Art Rock, Ambient, Dub, Electronic, Experimental, Punk Jazz, Industrial Hip Hop


Bill Laswell (born February 12, 1955 in Salem, Illinois and raised in Albion, Michigan) is an American bassist, producer and record label owner. He is married to Ethiopian singer Gigi.

Laswell ranks among the most prolific of musicians, being involved in hundreds of recordings with many musicians from all over the world. Laswell's music draws upon many different genres, most notably funk, various world music, jazz, dub and ambient styles. He has also played or produced music from the noisier, more aggressive end of the rock spectrum, such as hardcore punk and metal.

According to music critic Chris Brazier, "Laswell’s pet concept is 'collision music' which involves bringing together musicians from wildly divergent but complementary spheres and seeing what comes out." The credo of one record label run by Laswell, and which typifies much of his work, is “Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted”. Though projects arranged by Laswell may be credited under the same name and often feature the same roster of musicians, the styles and themes explored on different albums can vary dramatically: Material began as a noisy dance music project, but subsequent releases have been centered around hip hop, jazz, or backing spoken word readings by beat generation icon William S. Burroughs. Similarly, most versions of Praxis have featured guitarist Buckethead, but have explored different permutations with each new album.

Though some artists have chafed against Laswell's distinctive recording and production style — most noticeably some of his for hire production gigs including Motörhead, Swans and White Zombie — many other collaborations, such as with pianist Herbie Hancock and singer Iggy Pop have been lengthier and recurring.