Posted on April 02th. 2018
Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
A while ago I had a conversation with Michael McDowell, CEO of American based Shredguy Records, feel free to read the whole story at: http://interviews2016.metaltoinfinity.be/shredguy-records-a-talk-with-michael-sean-mcdowell-ceo-label-producer/
Both Michael and I have a huge passion for shred guitar music, on a certain moment he introduced me to a female shred specialist Phoenix Van Der Weyden, a name I never heard of so afterwards the intie, I checked out a few clips and was instantly overwhelmed while watching all the tricks and tactics she owned.
I contacted her myself and asked if she was able and willing to collaborate working out this following conversation. Phoenix was kind enough to go for it, as for me….
Well, it’s an honor to speak with this way shred guitar revelation so don’t wait any longer and let’s get started right away.
Stefan: Hi Phoenix, welcome here at MTI webzine Belgium… where were you originally born?
Phoenix: Hi there , it´s a pleasure to be doing this interview for the webzine. I was born in Rio de Janeiro to greek parents.
Stefan: How did you get involved in playing guitar?
Phoenix: I grew up in a very musical environment , my mother wasn´t a musician but she adored music , specially classical and 80´s Hard ‘n Heavy, so growing up listening to all those great bands just made me develop a huge interest on becoming a musician . When I was 13 I was watched Van Halen´s Live Without a Net and that was the moment I decided I´d become a guitar player. Never looked back ever since haha.
Stefan: At what age did you play your first notes – did you had a teacher who taught you the arts of axe wielding did you learned it all by yourself?
Phoenix: I learned some scales and chords after about 8 months I started playing mostly through YT lessons, I also had a few private teachers for a while but then after 1 year I decided I´d study it by myself, I wanted to develop my own style and study certain techniques and theories at my own pace.
Stefan: Who were your personal heroes, musicians you looked up to?
Phoenix: I´m heavily influenced by Vinnie Moore, Eddie Van Halen, Reb Beach, Tony MacAlpine, Jason Becker, Vito Bratta, Steve Lynch, Franz Joseph Haydn, Richard Wagner, Bach and many, many others.
Stefan: May I ask how many hours a day you spent to make your techniques better and better each day?
Phoenix: When I started playing I used to spend 8 hours per day practicing, everyday of the week actually, no matter what haha. Now I still practice everyday, for about 3 or 4 hours, also no matter what.
Stefan: What was most important, finishing your college years or practicing fingers to the bone to make your guitar playing better and better?
Phoenix: Definitely the guitar practicing and music theory studying, decided I´d invest my time studying music, I don´t regret doing it. It´s my passion and I´m grateful to be able to work with it !
Stefan: Due to many years of hard training to become an excellent guitar player, you probably would be offer your skills to one or another band, right? Did you ever teamed up with a band or not? If the answer is yes, I’d like to know a little background history – In the case of a negative answer I have to ask why Phoenix?
Phoenix: Well, thanks for the kind words actually. I did some studio works for the Swedish band Brüce Vain, they´re great people and the lead singer Tobias was a finalist on the last Swedish Idol.
Stefan: Described as a professional electric and acoustic guitar player…. I was wondering what’s the difference between handling both instruments in regards to learn the technical skills.
Phoenix: Although most of the theory is the same, electric and acoustic hold a whole world of difference from each other, from hand positions to nuances on how to apply certain techniques. My advice is that if you can, study both. You can always bring and adapt an idea from one to another.
Stefan: What about favorite electric shredder(s) – what about your preference according your acoustic heroe(s)? What make them so unique?
Phoenix: On the acoustic side, I´m a fan of Al Di Meola, Paco de Lucía, Django Reinhardt. I love them for the same reason I love my electric guitar heroes, it all comes to the passion, creativity allied with technique they make their music.
Stefan: Which music genre you prefer actually, are you fully dedicated to hard rock and metal music? Please name a few of your all time faves Phoenix.
Phoenix: My roots are on Hard Rock / Metal and classical but as you study music you develop certain tastes and start to appreciate other styles like Jazz, classic pop music made with quality and even movie sountracks.
Stefan: Any other family members playing a certain instrument?
Phoenix: No, just me, I´m the lone wolf on this one haha.
Stefan: Which type of guitar do you prefer to play with – why?
Phoenix: I´ve always been a fan of the 80´s superstars concept. They fit the style I love to play and also instigate my creativity to write songs.
Stefan: I suppose you don’t have released an album so far, am I right?
Phoenix: Not yet, but I´m glad to say that I´ll release my first album “Defying Destiny” this year around fall by Shredguy Records.
Stefan: Shredguy Records CEO Michael McDowell speaks about you with much praise, how did you get involved with him?
Phoenix: I met Michael McDowell on social media, he´s a great person and guitar player… a true fan of shred guitar.
Stefan: Any plans to release a new album through his label?
Phoenix: Yes, my upcoming debut album “ Defying Destiny”.
Stefan: Have you already been approached by some other labels interested in a collaboration?
Phoenix: Not yet, let´s see what future holds.
Stefan: With your outstanding skills, I won’t be surprised if you’re a teacher learning guitar starters some lessons about what excellent guitar playing is all about. Tell me about please.
Phoenix: I became a guitar teacher at the age of 15, today I´m a conservatory teacher. There´s nothing like the feeling of sharing what you learned with my students, it actually means the world to me.
Stefan: Do you have other passions besides shredding those axes?
Phoenix: I love to read actually, I´m a fan of classic literature and poetry.
Stefan: I’m a long time worshipper of shred guitar actions, maybe you have you some names for me of individuals worth to check out?
Phoenix: There are many, many talents out there… YT brought up to light some great underground shredders like Sam Bell, Jake Guy, Daniele Gottardo.
Stefan: Reaching the end of this conversation, I’d like to ask for your future plans Phoenix, speak frankly.
Phoenix: I´m very excited about this year because I got a record deal and also endorsements from TTM Guitars, Swiss Picks, Diodak Ghost Guitars and Planet Tone Pick Ups. I feel like things are starting to happen for me and I´ll try to follow this path.
Stefan: Thanks to participate on this interview, some last words to our readers would be awesome to end up this conversation finally?
Phoenix: Thank you very much for all the support, this is actually what makes me keep going on the music path. I´m very grateful to know people are enjoying my music and it gives me the motivation to work harder and harder on it. Let´s keep shred guitar alive !!