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I've spent most of my career playing other people's songs. Now I want to show the world what I'm all about.
I've spent most of my career playing other people's songs. Now I want to show the world what I'm all about.
1,913 backers pledged $165,755 to help bring this project to life.

About

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My first couple years of playing guitar, I was a one- band girl. I did local and national tours with the bands I was in, I jumped on any stage from American Legion Halls to high school talent shows to Battles of the Bands, all the way up to the grueling small stage rotating slots of Warped Tour, where one band member would have to wake up at what felt like the crack of dawn, and go check in to see what time we were playing that day. However, I rarely even jammed with other musicians outside my band, mostly because I wasn’t great at being social back then.

That all changed on a fateful day outside a show in the San Fernando Valley. I must have been 19 or 20 when I overheard another local band in the metal scene lamenting that they had just cancelled a tour because their guitarist had quit and they couldn’t find another one in time.

“Why didn’t you ask me?” I blurted out. “I would have done it.”

They looked at me like I had just said I came from the Moon. “Really?”

“I mean, yeah. If you guys needed a guitar player. I would have totally jumped in.”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that casual exchange ended up being one that would shape the next 12 years of my life.

I had always had a knack for picking songs up fast, but I didn’t realize that that quality, coupled with the extreme competitiveness I developed in my years of gymnastics and ballet, would become the thing that kept me steadily working for the next 12 years. I would play guitar for any band that would have me, sometimes 3-4 shows a week, sometimes 2 sets with different bands on the same show. I would go from a 200 person club show to a sold-out soccer stadium on the other side of the world, back to the club gig without changing the strings on my guitars.

“We don’t want a girl in this band,” one band told me bluntly. “The only reason you’re here is because you sent us your video so fast.” (That video audition that I sent in at 4 am after getting the songs at 8 pm landed me on my first tour in Europe.)

I was a stubborn kid, a stubborn teenager, and now I’m a stubborn adult. Any time someone questioned my ability, it fueled me to kick down more doors and prove myself.

I met Steve Vai for the first time in April of 2016. ("Really? You never met him before that?" No, I never met him before that.) It was after the Generation Axe show in Los Angeles. That was the night that my hero, the reason I started playing guitar, uttered the words: "I'm putting together a compilation album of female guitarists, for my label Favored Nations. Has anyone talked to you about this yet?"

"No, no one has," I managed to get out.

"Well, I'm putting this project together and I'd love to have you be a part of it. Do you have a song you could send over?"

"Yes totally. Absolutely. I'll send something to you right away."

As my boyfriend Josh and I were leaving the venue, he asked me what I was going to send. My answer was pretty typical of how I usually start new things: "No idea."

Brad Tolinski, me, and Steve Vai at the She Rocks Awards
Brad Tolinski, me, and Steve Vai at the She Rocks Awards

A rule I've always followed in my career is, if someone asks if you can do something, the answer is almost always an immediate and confident yes. Can you play funk? Yes. Can you learn 16 songs in 2 days? Yes. Can you send a nonexistent instrumental track over right away? No problem. You say yes, and then find a way to make that yes truthful. The day after meeting Vai, I started working on what would become my first solo single, Pandemonium.

Pandemonium did something pretty powerful for me mentally- it proved to me that not only could I do what the instrumental guitar players that are my heroes do, but I could actually make something I'm extremely proud of in the genre. And after realizing that... now I want more.

As an unproven guitar player with exactly zero albums of my own under my belt, I want to do this first record myself. I want to make the album I want to make, and not have to get final approval from anyone else. The funds raised from this campaign will help me record, mix, master and promote this album- most importantly, enabling me to tour to support it! Touring budget is a huge part of a record deal, and since playing live is what I do best, I want to be sure I can get out there on the road and play these songs for you guys.

Secondly, and kind of more important to me- While a traditional label deal isn't my choice for this project, it’s definitely the right direction for my band, We Start Wars. If I commit myself to any label right now while my band is in its infancy, it hurts the position of the band to make decisions. It’s important to me that WSW has every opportunity available to us, and I need to take the careers of the 5 other people in the band into consideration as well as my own solo career.

Most important of all... THANK YOU!!! You guys, the music scene... YOU are what it's all about. Without you listening, coming to shows, and supporting bands and artists, none of us would be able to do what we do. I am so grateful for each and every one of you that took the time to check out what I'm doing, and for all of your support over the years, and I never take it for granted for a single second.

Risks and challenges

I don't see a lot of risk involved with this project!! I have a lot of the music already written, and I've been recording other people's music long enough that I know what to do and how to do it.. so now I just have to.. you know, do it. Those of you who follow me on social media already know I'm pretty good about posting updates, so you'll be able to follow along on the whole journey.

It's going to be fun.

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    Every Little Bit Helps!

    Pledge a dollar, get a thank you email from Nita and receive updates on upcoming events and releases.

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    Album Digital Download

    Digital Download of Nita's album CONTROLLED CHAOS on the day of release!

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    Signed Physical CD

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    Base Package

    Digital download + signed physical copy of CONTROLLED CHAOS, exclusive TEAM HURRICANE t-shirt!

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    CONTROLLED CHAOS Package

    Digital download + signed physical CONTROLLED CHAOS cd, exclusive Kickstarter signed 8x10 of Nita, exclusive TEAM HURRICANE t-shirt, one of Nita’s guitar picks, aaaand a Nita Strauss VIP laminate!

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    Polaroid Package!

    With this package, you’ll get a unique, one-of-a kind photo of Nita taken during the recording process of the album!! Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS package.

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    VINYL IS HERE!

    You guys wanted vinyl, I shall make vinyl!! The CONTROLLED CHAOS vinyl pressing will be special printed vinyl (I don't want to give it away, but it won't be plain black) and will come signed, of course! This package will also come with a digital download + signed physical CONTROLLED CHAOS cd, exclusive Kickstarter signed 8x10 of Nita, exclusive TEAM HURRICANE t-shirt, one of Nita’s guitar picks, VIP laminate and one of a kind polaroid taken during the recording of CONTROLLED CHAOS.

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    Skype Call with Nita!

    Ask any questions you want, show me around your house, or turn this into a 10 minute guitar lesson. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS package.

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    Be Our Guest!

    Be our Guest- at the official album release party in Los Angeles, CA! Hear the album before anyone else does. This perk includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS package, but not your travel expenses (sorry)

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    Video Greeting from Nita!

    Nita will send you a video giving a shout out to your band, congratulating your kids on graduation, or whatever else you want to hear (within reason) for you to use, post on your social media, show off to your friends or whatever your heart desires. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    Pizza Night!

    Pizza double date with Josh and Nita at our favorite pizza spot in Hollywood, CA. Pizza is on us! Travel is not. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    Drum Life!

    This one is for drummers, or just big fans of Josh’s (like me!) with this package, you get a signed drum head, a pair of Josh’s signature Regal Tip drum sticks, and a Zildjian cymbal used on the album recording. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    Your Shirt On Stage!

    Send in a shirt, see it on stage!! Nita wears your band's shirt, your brand's shirt, or a shirt of your choosing on stage for the last song of the night (usually School’s Out!) No profanity, no politics, no Patriots jerseys. Also included is a photo of Nita in the shirt. This perk includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    Well worn Stage Gear- BK LOGO!

    I’ve been wearing the same few Beverly Kills shirts on stage for the last 3 years, at countless shows, festivals, photo shoots- you name it. With this perk, you get my trusty Beverly Kills logo shirt that’s been worn in front of literally hundreds of thousands of people. Little known fact- I have special shirts printed to wear on stage that are extra long (one of the perks of knowing the owner) so you’ll literally be getting a one of a kind item. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    Well worn Stage Gear- STAY HUMBLE!

    I’ve been wearing the same 10 Beverly Kills shirts on stage for the last 3 years, at countless shows, festivals, photo shoots- you name it. With this perk, you get my trusty Beverly Kills Stay Humble or Be Humbled shirt that’s been worn in front of literally hundreds of thousands of people. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    Well worn Stage Gear- INSTABRAG!

    I’ve been wearing the same 10 Beverly Kills shirts on stage for the last 3 years, at countless shows, festivals, photo shoots- you name it. With this perk, you get my trusty Beverly Kills Instabrag shirt that’s been worn in front of literally hundreds of thousands of people. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    Stage Gear- My prized Doc Martens!

    I got these Doc Martens in Sturgis, SD when we were on tour with Motley Crue and I wore the same pair at every show for the next two years. With this perk, you get my exact pair of well worn Doc Marten Triumphs that have stomped it out on stage in front of literally hundreds of thousands of people. I will air them out first (unless you don’t want me to, but that’s another conversation.) Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    **NEW** SIGNED IBANEZ GUITAR!

    With this perk, you'll get a beautiful Ibanez S670QM in Dragon Eye Burst, signed and personalized if you would like and shipped out to you directly from Nita! This pledge also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS package, vinyl, and Be Our Guest.

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    Guest Solo on your Record!

    Nita will record a solo or trade solos with your guitar players on a song of your choosing! Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    JIVA PACKAGE!

    With this package, you will be one of the very first people to get one of Nita’s signature Ibanez JIVA guitars, and you will be the actual first to have one signed (and personalized if you would like.) You will literally get yours sent to your house the same day that Nita gets a production model herself. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package.

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    NITA'S ACTUAL JIVA!!!

    With this package, come to a show that Nita plays with one guest, meet up after the show, and Nita will hand over the very guitar she played on stage that night- signed and personalized if you would like. Also includes the CONTROLLED CHAOS and Be Our Guest package. Two concert tickets are included, travel is not.

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Funding period

- (30 days)