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Interview: Trace Bundy – Part 2

25 Feb

Continuing from Part 1, Trace talks about the feel of his newest album,
his gear, his obsession with capos, and his favourite fingerstyle artists.

There was a four-year gap between your last two releases. Could you comment on that?
It was way too long for sure, between albums. But I was just touring so much, and having so much fun playing shows, that I never had time to put together a new album and record. After ‘Adapt’, I just toured everywhere for like three years, and then finally I thought “Aw man, I  guess I should probably record a new album now“, so I recorded Missile Bell. And then I just kept touring and touring for another four years, and then I was like ,”Okay, I really really need to put out a new album now”, and so I put out Elephant King. Now I’m starting to realise it’s not a good time between releases – it’s just too long. So now I’m trying to commit to releasing an album at least every two years, or maybe even a year and a half.

How do you feel your playing has evolved between the album you released in 2004, Adapt, and your recent release in 2012, Elephant King?

I think one thing I’ve really started working on since Adapt, is trying to make sure there’s a really strong melody in every song. When you’re experimenting with fun, two-handed tapping techniques and stuff like that, it’s pretty easy to just go crazy with the techniques and lose the melody. I see that a lot with young guitarists who’re starting out with this style. They might be doing some cool techniques to watch on the guitar, but when you sit and listen to it, maybe it won’t sound quite as good.
What I wanted to do with Missile Bell, and then with Elephant King was to really use those techniques to create melodies that you can listen to and they get stuck in your head. And actually in Missile Bell, I also tried to add some effects and layers and devices like reverse looping, and a lot of the songs sort of run into each other on the album. So one song would end, and then there’d be some harmonic or drone playing and then the next song would pick up with that same drone or harmonic, in the same key.

When you’re experimenting with fun, two-handed tapping techniques and stuff like that, it’s pretty easy to just go crazy with the techniques and lose the melody.

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Interview: Trace Bundy – Part 1

25 Feb

For anyone who’s been a longtime listener of the progressive fingerstyle genre, Trace Bundy needs no introduction. He’s been dubbed the ‘Acoustic Ninja’ because of his technical virtuosity, and is known for having a very engaging and energetic live show. I first encountered solo acoustic fingerstyle guitar through Trace Bundy’s music and have been an obsessive fan for five years.

Lancia E. Smith comes closest to describing how I feel about Trace’s approach to the acoustic guitar: “Almost anyone who knows me personally knows that I have loved Trace Bundy’s mesmerizing acoustic  finger-style, heavy percussive guitar work since the first time I heard him play 8 years ago. There are strong elements that sound like echoes of Leo Kottke and Phil Keaggy, whom I have appreciated for decades, and yet there is an intensely contemporary and fresh approach in Trace’s technique that makes it stylistically unique. “
With that, here’s the interview:

Could you tell us a little about your guitar life before you became a serious musician?
 I started when I was about ten years old, when my brother and I bought a cheap acoustic guitar for ten dollars. It was a pretty terrible guitar *laughs*. So we started playing and my brother was really into heavy metal, and he made me play all these heavy metal songs on the acoustic guitar. The first song I learnt was by Metallica.

Were you into heavy metal too?
Not really, no. I like some of the milder stuff, but my brother’s into really heavy metal. But he’s my older brother and whatever he said, I had to do. *laughs*
But then I moved away from heavy metal after a while, and started playing a lot of acoustic stuff,  a lot of old stuff like The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel.  Basically songs where I learnt how to use my fingers, instead of a pick. And I found that every time I learnt a new song, I also learnt a new skill, or a new technique or chord progression.
So I kept learning all these songs and then I started figuring out music theory  – like why two chords sound good together where maybe two other chords won’t sound good together. I just kept learning all these “rules” of music on my own and I never took any formal lessons or anything. Once I’d started learning all those rules, I was able to take all my skills on the guitar, all the techniques I knew, and all the theory I’d learnt and started writing my own songs.
So my earliest songs, they were just sortof okay. They were just these basic songs.

 

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Interwiew with Dylan Ryche

16 Feb

A fairly recent player in the Canadian fingerstyle scene, Dylan made his debut in 2011 with his simply-titled album, “Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar”. Dylan rose to prominence in 2012 when he won the 2012 Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Competition(He also placed second in the same competition in 2010).
Here’s our interview with him conducted by our newest contributor, Gereon Leug:

Hi Dylan. Thanks a lot for taking the time. First of all, congratulations on winning the Fingerstyle Championship. How are things?
Thank you very much. Things are going really well. I certainly enjoy that festival. I’ve met a lot of great people and musicians there that have since become my friends and it is a great honour to have my name alongside some really amazing players that have won that competition in the past.

Don Ross, Andy Mckee, Craig D’Andrea, Ewan Dobson, Trevor Gordon Hall, Gareth Pearson… the list of great players who placed in Canada is long. Did you prepare differently? Were you very nervous or was it “just another gig”? Were you happy with your own performance?

Those are some great names for sure. I felt a lot more prepared and not too nervous having been through it all before when I placed 2nd in 2010. I can always find something I wished I’d improved upon in a performance, but overall I was fairly happy with it, especially since it was the first time I’d played two of the tunes live.
My approach was to focus on what I could control which was to just convey my music to the audience as best I could.

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Interview: Acoustic Labs

18 Jan

Acoustic Labs is a musical project started in 2009 by  California-based guitarist, Gregory Campbell  Johnson. Over the years, Gregory has garnered a following on YouTube by  posting unique, ethereal covers of popular themes such as Lux Aeterna (from Requiem for A Dream), O Fortuna, and, most recently, the theme from Skyfall, as well as some haunting originals of his own.

The main focus of this project is cinematic and ambient music, although it does digress into other genres (such as this cover of the Deadmau5 track, “Strobe”). In this interview, Gregory talks to us about his music and his inspirations:

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Interview With Guy Buttery

13 Dec

Guy Buttery is a South African guitarist with a very unique and introspective musical style. I’ve been really impressed with his music and have shared it a few times already, so i wanted to ask him about his background and find out where he’s coming from musically.

First could you tell us a bit about your musical background?

Growing up with older brothers who were budding musicians, guitars were always around the house. Almost as importantly, there was also a good solid dose of old school rock and folk music at home. In my household, taking up the guitar was somewhat inevitable I guess.

However, I started on the piano for a year or so and apparently showed some aptitude with the instrument, but quite clearly remember being repeatedly told I hit the keys too hard. I think that approach more or less carried over into my formative years as a guitar player, and definitely right up until my first album in 2002.

Who are your main influences?

The list is endless and changes all the time, but I guess artists like Van Morrison, Michael Hedges, Steve Newman and The Doors were definitely some of my main influences.
What led you to play solo acoustic guitar?

Strangely enough, it was probably Led Zeppelin. They had a handful of acoustic tunes that really hit me slap in the middle of the forehead. I pretty much went on to learn almost every single Zeppelin song ever recorded, all on an acoustic. I think this also led to me being a somewhat heavy-handed player with a tendency to break a few strings than most 12 year olds.

But when learning how to play their tunes, I found the stripped down acoustic version of the same song almost more dramatic. I could get jailed in certain countries for saying that, but at that time, that was definitely my truth. I also always felt all the verses with lyrics were more or less gaps between the guitar solos.

The guitar really spoke to me. Much like a bagpipe might do for a Scotsman, it felt like home. I had my first few profound emotional and spiritual experiences behind the instrument and I think that really shook me up and kept me going at it.

You also play the sitar, have you studied classical Indian music?

I literally had one lesson with a sitar teacher in Durban, South Africa who basically taught me how to sit, hold and tune the thing. I came to the sitar more or less for the ‘sound’. There are thousands of incredible Carnatic and Hindustani classical sitar players out there playing in their tradition so beautifully. That was never my intention. I’ve always been more interested in cross pollination with the sitar which I think has worked with rock bands, maskandi artists (traditional Zulu guitar music) and folk music.

Hearing my little pint-sized guitar ideas colossally deepened and expanded upon by a 52 piece orchestra will be something I won’t forget in a hurry.

These days however, I more or less only use the sitar in the studio as a colour. I was doing a guitar festival in Italy a few years ago and someone said “life is too short for more than one instrument”. At the time I found it quite humorous but realised there may have actually been some truth in that. The guitar is enough of a handful as it is and reveals more of itself every day.

What is the musical scene like in South Africa for a solo instrumental musician? Do you feel being from there has influenced your music in any particular way?

The South African music industry is relatively small in comparison to maybe the US or Europe. All the guitar players doing it professionally down here have met or know each other from a festival or some gig somewhere and it feels a little more like a community than a “scene”.

Having said that, the musical landscape is ridiculously diverse and full of incredibly talented and soulful musicians. Growing up in SA has unquestionably influenced my creative process. Be it the music, the people, the rhythms or the landscape, it all seeped into my musical framework and is still what inspires me to create most of my idea’s.

Tell us about your collaborations with Nibs van der Spuy. From what I understand he was your guitar teacher?

I have been performing on and off with Nibs van der Spuy since I was a teenager when he was still my guitar teacher. He gave me my first break with opening slots for his band ‘Landscape Prayers’ who were very well known in SA. He was also elemental in getting me my first record deal and getting me on the road.

Two years ago we were performing at a festival in France and we both decided to finally knuckle down and put an album together. I reckon it’s safe to say that working with Nibs has been the most fun I’ve had with music. We’ve been super creative over the course of the last few months and pretty much written another record’s worth of material. I’m sure we’ll lay another album down soon I hope.

And you recently performed with an orchestra?

That was a trip. I almost never get nervous performing in front of an audience but practically had to be pushed on to the stage for that one. It ended up being a totally incredible and fulfilling show. Hearing my little pint-sized guitar ideas colossally deepened and expanded upon by a 52 piece orchestra will be something I won’t forget in a hurry.

I was very fortunate to work with arranger Chris Letcher whose arrangements and song-writing I have admired for years. We first collaborated at one or two shows in London a few years back and more recently ending up working together on some of my compositions which landed up on my vinyl only release To Disappear in Place. I felt we were always on the same page when it came arrangements so when the opportunity to work with the orchestra came up, Chris was my first port of call.

The whole concert was recorded and filmed so hopefully something will come of that next year.

What are your plans for the upcoming year? Any future releases planned?

I have a few exciting recording projects I’d like to get stuck into next year, including a covers project I’ve slowly been chipping away at. As well as collaborations with a few artists, but I’d prefer not to reveal too much at this stage. I will also be touring Europe as well as South Africa during the course of next year.

www.guybuttery.co.za
www.facebook.com/guybutterymusic

Listen and Buy Guy Buttery’s music available on CD, LP and digital download here -http://guybuttery.bandcamp.com

Some YouTube links –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QWXyHCpw7E – 7” Postcard
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSudUSmAGrs  - Half A Decade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2ZEBSCJy04 – With Nibs van der Spuy

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