Artist Profile

Keven Eknes

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Please tell us about your formative years and how you got started as a guitar player.
Accidentally stumbled upon guitar as my best friends musical father encouraged our friend group to start a band. Being around 10 years old, all of us agreed it would be a great way to get girls. I just happened to fall in love with the guitar from playing in a band together, learning songs that we loved.

Who were your major influences over the years and how did they shape your playing and music in general?
My taste constantly changes. When I started playing I had a huge obsession with Slash. I have always been the kind to dig really deep into just a handful of players, trying to nail every aspect of their playing. Slash definitely helped shape my sound, and from there, Yngwie Malmsteen helped me expand my vocabulary and speed. Discovered my love for Blues through Stevie Ray Vaughan, and soon after became a part of the local blues community. One winter, Guthrie Govan came through my hometown, and the local music store who held the clinic/concert, recommended me check it out. Watching him triggered a love for fusion, as it was unlike anything I had heard, and I soon after started transcribing his solos and songs. The most influential players to me have a certain unique sound to their fingers and touch, and for years, the most inspiring players to me have been Andy Timmons, Allen Hinds and Steve Lukather.

What are some of the musical activities and projects that you’ve been involved with recently?
Released my Solo EP “Northern Lights” a few months ago, however my “dayjob” as a sideman/session player have taken most of my latest focus. Just before the global lockdown I finished some dates with Jonathan Cain (Songwriter/Keys/Guitar for Journey), who I also did “Don’t Stop Believin Christmas Tour” with end of last year. Also recently opened “Music City Nights” on the General Jackson in Nashville, among many recording sessions for various artists, film score productions and gear demos.

What are the challenges that musicians face in today’s music scene and what do you do to meet those challenges?
I think something that’s been relevant lately, is the balance between online presence and “validation” amongst the live gigging scene. Each one is so different and requires a completely different skillset. To get asked to do live gigs/tours/sessions, one need to not only be excellent at networking, but also have a somewhat charming personality, that others would like to be around. To do the online thing, it’s important to learn recording, editing and developing an online persona that translates well through media whether its video, audio or both. Both aspects of the modern musician requires so much time spent and on the upkeep, making it extremely hard to balance the two. I usually go through phases where I create a lot of content, and at some point I fancy being out and socializing more. Luckily Nashville is a fairly small city, so I am able to keep my relationships around town to some degree, even when I’m not present.

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What does your guitar rig consist of and how is it used to shape the sound you envision?
My rig changes all the time. Obviously .strandberg* guitars, been also using Victory Amps for years. I like the Sheriff 22 and V30 Countess. In the effects loop I like Strymon and Neunaber for all the wet stuff, and if I need an additional drive box, the LPD 87 is my to-go-to. Most essential part of my rig is my volume pedal, I use Ernie Ball VPJR. Live I usually use Fractal Audio, as it’s the most consistent sound and feel wise, especially since 99% of my gigs are with in-ears (Custom JH Audio for that!). Pretty simple rigs, but they all respond to every small nuance shaped from my guitar, which is the most important to me.

What do you find appealing about .strandberg* guitars and how has it affected your playing and artistry?
They’re the most resonant guitars out there. You can literally feel the body come to life as you play a note. They have a certain unique sound and inspires for a playing style that is not physically limited. Being so unbelievably easy to play, they have unlocked technical aspects unlike anything I was able to do before. In a way, it’s showed me ways around the guitar, which has opened my playing style, no matter what kind of guitar I play. It also healed a tendinitis I had for years. Being so resonant inspires for more articulative playing as the dynamic response is so rewarding.

What are your plans for the immediate and long-term future?
My next step is to go through the songs I have written for gear demos the past year, and choose my favorites to develop into full songs for a new EP. Long term I hope to keep doing what I have been doing, possibly at some point move and experience a new place and community, with a scene that exports a lot of music worldwide through different tours etc. I want a healthy balance between my solo and session career.

Any other closing thoughts?
Love you guys! Thank you for all the support and the amazing innovations. So proud to be a part of the family.

Love you guys! Thank you for all the support and the amazing innovations. So proud to be a part of the family.

Keven Eknes