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."
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)