Exclusive Interview : Gennaro Esposito

Tell us a bit about your musical history.

Italy. New York. Paris. Madrid. From my university studies at the Conservatory to Master Classes with jazz/fusion, pop and gypsy musicians in multiple countries, I have tried to combine different techniques and styles because I have always believed that music is a global language. Training in classical, flamenco, folk, rock, jazz, and more – across 2 continents – forms the basis of the rhythm and melodies behind my sound.

What projects are you working on now?

I’m in the process of my second CD that reflects my experience here in NYC and includes talent from both the US and abroad. Other projects I am involved in now include a new CD with an R&B/Jazz singer, playing classic funk with a 13-piece band, and performing original rock music with a local rock band. Collaborations aside, I produce curated pieces for independent filmmakers and am in production for a video series launching in 2014 called “Fashion Compliance.”

Gennaro-Dr-J_1000x714What role does music education play in your career?

Ongoing music education is an integral part of my professional career and musical evolution. Having discovered a way to make this fun, I spend countless hours each week fine tuning my tone, learning new materials, and identifying up and coming artists.

What do you think of the current state of the music industry?

Technology’s impact on the music industry requires musicians to be in a state of constant adaptation. Producing and marketing with an understanding of the current marketplace for music is integral to success within the music industry today.

Why do you use Mooer pedals?

From the gig bag to the pedal board, Uptown to Downtown, being a musician in NYC means Mooer pedals are a key element of my gear. Not only because of the conveniently small size but also because of the rich tone it puts out without any compromise.

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Exclusive Interview : Kyle Ragan

1) Tell us about your musical background
I grew up playing classic rock with my stepfather who is a fantastic drummer. honed my skills playing with his band, a bunch a great guys all over twice my age at the time. Though that music wasn’t my real passion, the 90’s really shaped me as a musician. I really loved a lot of the acoustic based rock groups and songwriters during that time. That really shaped my songs and playing style.

Kyle-Ragan_01_464x6492) What are you working on now?
A couple of things actually. My band Screams and Whispers is in the midst of recording our 3rd album. We are very DIY so we are engineering and producing it ourselves. We are very excited about that. Aside from that I also run a Youtube Channel, where I do gear reviews for guitarists. I have been building that up for the past 2 years. That is also a big focus for me.

3) What is the role of education in music?
Music education is VERY important to me. I grew up in vocal programs throughout my school years. It stimulates creativity and fosters teamwork. It teaches you how to be a part of something bigger than yourself. So important.

4) How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?
It is a double edged sword. The path to be heard is open to everyone now. The platforms exist, the opportunity is there. That said the days of the mega star are over except for a select few break through artists. Making a living is MUCH harder through the business. Also getting heard over the abundance of people making music is very hard. The options are limitless, the opportunity is there but you have to creative.

5) Why do you play Dr J pedals?
Being somewhat a gear head I have amassed quite a collection of pedals and run a pretty large board live as as result. With Dr.J, quite simply they make pedals that are exactly what a guitarist like myself needs. The Armour Buffer REALLY helped me tame my pedal board and deal with any signal loss I was getting across that many jumps. The Aerolite is a very Flexible Compressor allowing 2 options not commonly seen in other compressors. One, being a mix control which I find extremely useful and the other being an input level select which really comes in handy when switching guitars and allows me to quickly compensate for differing pick up output levels. This was key for me. Dr. J offer innovative solutions for these problems and others we commonly encounter, as well as tried and true mainstay gain pedals. Just a great company really trying to push the boutique sensibility into its more, mass market, parent company Joyo.

Click here to learn more about Kyle, and click here to check out his YouTube Channel.

Exclusive Interview : Joao Castilho

Tell us about your musical background
I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, in 1970, and started playing at age of 9. During my musical life, I’ve played with many great artists like Maria Bethânia, Djavan, Lisa Nilsson, Ed Motta, Sandra de Sá, Simone, Eumir Deodato, Zé Renato, Leny Andrade, Nana and Dori Caymmi, Pascoal Meirelles, among several others. In terms of education, from 15 to 18 years old, I had private lessons of acoustic and electric guitar. Since then I became autodidact, but at 2007 I had the chance to study harmony in a revolutionary way for 3 years with the trombone player Vittor Santos.

I released two solo CDs called “Equilibrium” and “Percepções” (you can check them at Spotfy). I also released two books: “Toque Junto” and “EstudandoImprovisação.” With the bass player Jefferson Lescowich, the drummer Renato Massa and the saxophone player Marcelo Martins, I formed the group FOCO, with two CDs released: “FOCO” and “Tempo Bom com Chuva”.

joaoCastilhoWhat are you working on now?
Right now I’m back to Djavan’s band. We just finished recording his last album. Also, I’ve been playing with Nana Caymmi among other artists, and composing music for TV shows, films and publicity.

What is the role of education in music?
If you are talented but have no music theory education, you will never know how far you could get.

How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?
Things are changing fast, especially for recording industry. The streaming market is forcing an adaptation of this segment, which is affecting other music businesses in different ways, such as concerts, film score, composers, etc.. Let’s see where it goes… We, as musicians, producers, composers, should be prepared to adapt.

joaoCastilho_pedalboard

Why do use Pickboy picks and Mooer pedals?
I’ve always liked Pickboy picks very much. Great quality, big variety of materials and lots of different shapes. About Mooer, they sound great, are small and light, which is everything I am looking for. Click here to learn more about Joao’s gear.

To learn more about Joao please feel free to visit www.joaocastilho.com.

Exclusive Interview : Jay Gore

Neal Walter caught up with Jay Gore at this week’s Luck Strike Live session in Hollywood. Jay, just back from a tour in South Korea, talked with Neal about his his career and showed off his Rockready gig bag and his custom Pickboy picks.

What’s your musical background?

I’m an LA native. When I was 13 I had a band and we’d play the songs we wrote at the Sunset Strip clubs. I went to G.I.T. for a year when I was 17 and I’ve been a working session and touring player ever since.

What are you working on now?

I just finished recording all the guitars on the new Warren Hill CD, Under the Influence. It’s an amazing collection of classic 70s and 80s rock songs done instrumentally, but true to their original forms and styles. Also, I’m getting ready for a small tour of Asia and writing for my second CD, a follow-up to my first CD, Identity, which is available on CDBaby and iTunes and JayGore.com.

What is the role of education in music?

I think it’s extremely important. It goes beyond learning musical theory, it teaches discipline and patience, which is so important when you have four days to learn a 90 minute show for that big pop star you’re going to tour the world with. It teaches how to speak to the other musicians that you’re working with. When you have an idea you’ll know how to explain it. Most importantly, it trains you how to be able to step into any musical situation and adapt to it, instantly.

How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?

I feel that the music industry is near death…and by that I mean on monetary level for artists. There will always be music and musicians and gigs. Monetizing it all is becoming far more difficult. For some reason creating art for “exposure” became more important than paying your bills. Lots of people are making a lot of money in music. Most musicians are not.

jayGoreCustomPickboyWhy do use Pickboy Picks?

Very simply, Pickboy picks are the very best for me. I’ve used them over 20 years. I love the great tip, it makes articulation so much easier. The material helps the pick to glide off the strings with far less friction between the string and pick. And, I just love the size of the picks that I use (PB14P100 Classic), they’re just a hair smaller than other picks. Bottom line…I play better with a Pickboy!!!

 

Click here to read more about Jay Gore.

Exclusive Interview : Sid Griffin

1) Tell us about your musical background?

I was the ringleader of 1980s indie heroes The Long Ryders. We were second only to the Replacements in the USA as Hip Indie Band of the time and second only to the Smiths in Europe for the same time, same thing. We were part of a movement in the USA called the Paisley Underground which was a major deal in L.A. thirty years ago. It was quite a scene, equal to Liverpool in 1963 or NYC in 1977.

2) What are you working on now?

I play bluegrass with a British band here in London called the Coal Porters and I play solo singer-songwriter gigs. The Coal Porters have five albums out and all of my music, solo or band, is on Spotify and iTunes should someone want to check me out. The Coal Porters play mainly in the UK and North America but we play a few festivals in Europe every summer.

I also do solo gigs all around the world. I have played everywhere from Hollywood to Hong Kong, San Francisco to Syracuse to Sydney to Stoke-On-Trent as a solo act and am doing that most of this month.

3) What is the role of education in music?

Without music there would not be enough Art to separate us from the beasts! I am heartsick our schools, both in my native USA and in my adopted English hometown of London, do not have nearly enough emphasis (or budget!) to give music a greater role in the classroom and in the upbringing of our children, who are after all not only the next generation of musicians but the next generation of leaders.

Listening to music is part of daily life for almost everyone on Earth but I feel playing music, any music at all, classical or folk or whatever, is crucial to learning how to work and adapt to others. And how to work with and adapt to your own strengths and weaknesses. It is not only how a person learns who they are and what they can do it is how a person learns who others are and how important they are to him or her through the music they make together as part of an ensemble.

4) How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?

Right now the music industry is coming to grips with the digital age. We are still seeing the transition from a generation, like previous generations, who expected a hard copy such as an LP or a CD and a generation which will hardly own any hard copies at all. My daughter is fifteen and plays guitar, piano and violin. She has about fifteen CDs, no vinyl and tons of things on her MP3 player. My son is five and he will own no hard copies of music unless I leave him my hefty collection of vinyl and CDs in my will!

And yes, I think musicians deserve to be paid for their music! It breaks my heart people think because something is digitally available it is free. My bands and I deserve to be paid for our labours and so does your band!

5) Why do use Pickboy guitar picks?

I used the Pickboy 1.00 hard pick. It never leaves your hand due to perspiration, it is balanced perfectly and the THWACK it makes against the string itself never dominates the sound. The pick is part of the sound and the music and helping you control it by the way you hold the pick, by the tightness of your grip and so forth, and the Pickboys I use stay in my hand every time. Like a loyal St. Bernard these picks do exactly as they are told! They are the best by far in my mind’s eye and I can hear this.

Learn more about Sid Giffin on Sid’s artist page.

Exclusive Interview from Brazil : Samp!

1) Tell us about your musical background

Since early childhood, I started digging music from my parents CD’s, where I found my first influences: Eric Clapton, The Police & Pink Floyd.  From age of 3 to 10 that was it. I started to play guitar when I was 12 years old, a year afterwards I personally met one of my major influences on guitar: Jimmy Page. And since that day, I never put down the guitar. As s teenager I was listening to lots of different genres. I was hooked up on Joe Satriani, but I was also listening to Oscar Peterson, Ben Webster, Ella Fitzgerald, B.B.King and Sinatra because my mother was constantly listening to them at home. While my father was passionate about Steely Dan, U2, Boston, The Rolling Stones and of course, Tom Jobim. I was definitely very influenced by Eddie Van Halen in my early twenties, and have always considered myself very hard-rock oriented. From AC/DC to Guns N’Roses, Kiss, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin.. Well the list goes on and on.. But if I had to pick just one, which is a VERY hard thing to do with so many amazing players, I would definitely pick Jimmy Page. Not only because of his music, but since I had the opportunity to personally met him, not once but several times during my teens, I can securely say he influenced me the most. Jimmy gave me so many great insights and advice. I will be forever grateful for that.

2) What are you working on now?

I am currently recording my new solo album, which will feature lots of guests from all over the globe. Some from New York, others from Rio de Janeiro – Brazil, and also a great singer from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Then, I am moving to London, UK.

3) What is the role of education in music?

Music represents so much of the culture of one nation, of a generation, of individuals. Try to put music in words.. It’s impossible. I mean, I am sure you can, but do you really think words do justice to this divine thing music is? Music has completely changed my life – has shaped me into who I am today, have kept me out of trouble and focused on what was really important for me. I have been a private guitar instructor for a bit over than 6 years now, so I have seen the impact music has caused in people’s lives. It simply changes it, for the better. The more educated and cultured people get, more positive, intelligent and respectful the society becomes and therefore, more value the profession gets, stimulating new aspiring musicians and artists. Education is everything. It would be great to see in the future, a world where schools around the globe would offer music classes.

4) How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?

As far as my understanding goes, I feel like we are in the middle of a shift, a transition, reflections from the technology revolution. The modern music industry as we know nowadays is a little older than a century, right? And music exists ever since humanity started. So what is happening right now, is a shift, a period of adaptation, which measured in time – it’s nothing if compared to all the years of existence of the music industry. Illegal downloads are being prohibited world-wide, and eventually we will get to a point where no one will ever be able to illegally download a song anymore. The world has changed a lot, and in record time actually. For example: Facebook is the largest media company in the world, but doesn’t produce any content. Air B’n’B is the biggest accommodation company in the world, but they actually don’t own any property. Same with Uber – the biggest taxi company ever, they do not own a single car in their fleet. My point being is, everything has changed. And now we are all adapting to these new circumstances, creating new rules, laws, roles, jobs and basically, doing tests so that eventually we gonna have better answers, and therefore a more solid, fair and remunerated system – or market if you will – to our music industry. I would say, I am definitely optimistic about it.

5) Why do use Pickboy picks?

Well, firstly I simply love them. I really love heavy picks, but I also like the feel of a slim pick, with a nice grip on it. It seems quite impossible to get that combination, but Pickboy just nailed it. So many great picks, the Pos-a-grip series, or the Classic one – either the Vintage or the Luminous.

Secondly, I strong believe that in an era with thousands of great players everywhere, with boosted exposure granted by the Internet era, it becomes quite hard to be highlighted as an unique player among so many great ones. Considering that, in the beginning of my career I chose build for myself a killer setup which would give me the most unique tone ever, in some sort of way. And the most important part of your tone is definitely your hands and your approach towards the guitar. Having a pick in your hands that feels so great, almost like if it was glued to your fingers, becoming part of them, it’s absolutely priceless.

samp-Pickboy-Rio

6) What gave you the idea to take Pickboy on location?

That’s a good one! Where to start..? I am very passionate about photography and I think the world we live in has lots of stunning places, and incredible landscapes. When advertising gear, usually artists take shots from the stage or inside a studio – which is cool too – but I felt like there was something missing.

I was thinking to myself, what kinda shot would be really inspiring? How can I, somehow, enrich people’s cultural lives unintentionally but at the same time, directly? Because that’s what it is. When sharing those shots, which through a common interest (in this case the Pickboy picks), connects with many others, we end up sharing the world with them. Famous sights, breath-taking landscapes from places that maybe none of them have ever been, wouldn’t dream of going, or maybe can relate to, because they have been there before or they live there – especially knowing that Pickboy is such an international brand!

So it all started when I was back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, visiting my family, doing a few sessions, and suddenly I found myself in the middle of such an exotic city, with breath taking sightseeing places, a camera in my hands and my famous Blue Pick from Pickboy in my pocket.. You can imagine the result. After a very positive feedback from fans, I knew I had hit something and now I am constantly exploring new and exquisite places, always looking for the next shot.

Learn more about Samp here.

Exclusive Interview : Larry Mitchell

Larry Mitchell_Credit_Andy A

1) Tell us about your musical background?
I am self taught on guitar. Although I sometimes say community taught. I used to hang out with some great guitar players and all around musicians. I understand music theory well. Reading charts , not so well. :0).  I grew up in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway Queens. Steve Stevens from Billy Idol’s band grew up in the Rockaways as well. He was the local rock hero and left a lasting impression on me. So was Jeff Thall from Bryan Ferry.  In high school years I got in to Prince, Nile Rogers, and a few other great guitar players.  I didn’t start thinking about tones until I played in a rock trio cover band called Currier. We did Rush and The Police songs. I had two big pedalboards to cover the wide variety of tones and special effects. Magic times for me when look back on it.

2) What are you working on now?
I produce other artists. Earlier this year I produced country gospel artist Jeanette Clarke new singles and singer songwriter Cynthia Becker’s 6 song soon to be release. But just now I’m wrapping up 5 songs I did for singer songwriter Randi Driscoll. I’ve done 3 other records and a few singles with Randi before. She’s great and I love working with her. Also I’m tracking Guitars for a new band project I’m in that I’m really excited about. It has Brian Hardgroove from Public Enemy and Stewart Copeland from The Police in it. We tracked some stuff back in March and I’m adding to that now. Other than that I’m enjoying my time off the road but also gearing up to get back on the road with my trio And head across the USA ;0)

3) What is the role of education in music?
Education is extremely Important. There’s so many things involved. It’s good to learn not only how to play but finances, business, web design and marketing are almost as important as scales and chord clusters. But learn the scales and cord clusters first. Keeping music on any level in schools is a big thing with me. I sometimes work with a org called “Guitars in the Classroom” please google them and see if you can help join or contribute in any way.

4) How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?
It’s a great time and a hard time to be in music right now. Technology is moving so fast. It’s amazing. The possibilities are staggering. Figuring out how to make a living and stand out in this time period can be intimidating. But it’s great that you can write a song and multitrack record it on your tablet and video that on your smart phone. Master it on your laptop and up load it to the iTunes Store and YouTube, all in a day. But then how do you get people to listen and view it. And then to …… Pay for it (buy it)?

5) Why do you use or what do you like about the MxD pedal?
I love pedals I have quite a few still. It’s great to have a pedal that I can plug right into a small Fender-ish type amp and at the click of a button go from that Fender clean to a full on Plexi style tone. It excels at getting that narly British crunch out if a small clean amp. Works pretty great with a plexi as well.