SEGAS interviews Karan Andrea

Karan is a highly trained vocal performer who has recently created a popular instructional video series entitled “Guitar Player Wanted: Vocals a Plus.”  Karan will be one of our clinicians at this years SEGAS and will be teaching many of the tips and tricks included on her DVD, as well as taking questions from the audience.  Don’t miss out on this clinic!

SEGAS: Firstly, we would like to thank you taking the time to do this interview with us Karan!  Tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get into the music business?

Karan: My pleasure. I suppose like most artists, it’s something you are simply driven to do. When I was quite young, maybe three or four years old, I knew I wanted to sing and write songs. Even at that age, I understood the power of music – and the deep, emotional power of a good song. I was discouraged from taking that path, so it was many years before I really thought about it with any seriousness. I didn’t mean to get into the ‘music business’ in any big way at all. I was playing local gigs, had done a demo CD, and then took a break from it.

During that time, a friend who taught guitar had a couple students who got band gigs and were expected to sing. He asked me if I could help them out. I put together some notes and met with each student separately. They really responded to what I showed them, and I realized I had something pretty cool. So I decided to put it together in DVD format, which I had been promoting on my own until I landed a digital distribution deal with Truefire.com.

Since then, I have also become a GuitarPlayer.com blogger – the only woman, I believe, and the only non-guitar-centered blog. I’m proud of that! Even though a lot of hard work went into getting here, much of it was simply timing.

SEGAS: Do you give many live clinics?

Karan: I do some live clinics – I’d love to do more, but my schedule is pretty crazy. I love teaching, whether it’s one on one or in a group workshop or clinic. It is so inspiring for me when I see someone really connect with something I’ve shown them, and it changes them as an artist, and as a performer. Those moments are so powerfully positive for me. With the way technology is going, I am looking at doing more online clinics. Truefire has asked me to join their Guitar Sherpa program, which offers personalized online training, so that is coming down the pike soon – probably once the DVD is available on their site. I am also looking at offering a songwriting-based workshop online. I’m doing one locally where I live, but with webcams and such, there is no reason why I can’t put a group together with members from all over.

SEGAS: Which do you consider your primary instrument, voice or guitar?

Karan: Voice. Definitely, voice. I am a functional guitar player, but I’ve worked much harder on developing my voice as an instrument.

SEGAS: What types of things can we expect to learn from you at your SEGAS clinic this year?

Karan: Mostly what I do is begin with the Cliff Note version of the material on the DVD. Then I have found that the best clinics happen when I let the attendees drive it. I could jabber all day about this or that vocal technique, but if it doesn’t address the needs of the people in that audience, the clinic isn’t of much use. So I really open the floor to questions and work on the fly. It’s often seat of the pants since I have no idea what questions I’m going to get, or what kinds of music the attendees are into. But that’s what makes each clinic different and interesting for everyone. If you attend several of my clinics, you aren’t going to hear the same thing the same way every time. There may be overlap, but not as much as you’d assume.

SEGAS: You’ve been hailed as the “smartest woman musician in all of upstate New York.”  How do you feel about this type of attention?  Do you feel like it presents a unique challenge to meet this standard?

Karan: Lol. That was really sweet of Elliott Randall to say… and a huge compliment. I suppose I never thought about it as something to live up to. Thanks for that. Now I’ll have added neurotic tendencies! But seriously… I’ve always pushed myself. I’m the classic overachiever, you could say. I love nothing better than to work with people who are better than I am. I constantly work ‘over my head’ – I try things that I’ve never done, and expect myself to be able to do them. I don’t stay in my comfort zone. Safe isn’t inspiring. So the standard comes from those particular quirks in my personality. I don’t think about it, and more often than not, I think I’m a miserable failure!

SEGAS: What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome in order to get where you are now?

Karan: Terror! It took me a long time to work through performance anxiety. It’s an awful thing when you are totally driven to do something you are terrified to actually do. It’s always a good time when you walk up to a mic – you start to shake and twitch, and sweat, and your throat tightens up so you can’t utter a word, much less sing. You can’t hold on to your guitar pick, and your left hand is so tight you can barely force yourself to relax it enough to change chords. Oh yeah… But once I learned to channel the adrenalin, it gave me that ‘goes to 11’ sort of feeling that makes performing live such a rush.

SEGAS: What album are you currently listening to?

Karan: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. It’s one of my favorite records top to bottom. Amazing songwriting, great playing – David Sanctious was in the band at that point and brought a lot of really beautiful keyboard work to that record. I think it was the band’s loosest, most creative collaboration. I listen to it every 4th of July – kind of a little ritual I have – and it tends to stay in my CD player for a while after.

SEGAS: What is your go to axe?

Karan: I have two. Both designed by Trev Wilkinson. One is an Italia Mondial, which has a beautiful, funky retro look to it, but has a really interesting and modern set up. It has two humbuckers with the typical 3-way switch, volume/tone. The twist is that it also has a piezo bridge with its own volume and tone controls, and its own separate output. When I plug in with this guitar, I use two cables – one for the electric setup to an amp, and one for the piezo to the PA.

The other guitar is a Fret-King Black Label Elise Gordon Giltrap signature model. It has a similar setup. On the electric side, it has a humbucker and a P90, and it has a piezo bridge as well. This guitar blends the two systems to one output. It’s a semi-hollow mahogany bodied guitar with a rosewood fretboard. Plays like butter.

Along with the dual acoustic/electric setup, each of my guitars has four Timara Custom Shop string drops installed. Most people are familiar with D-tuners that drop the low E string to a D. My friend Tim Wallis designed string drops that can be installed on any or all of the guitar’s six strings.

Since I have a couple songs I wrote in a DADDAD tuning, I needed a way to get there and back without spending time retuning my guitar, and without using a second guitar for just that tuning. We installed string drops on the low E, and the G, B and high E strings. Depending on which drops I engage, I can go from standard tuning, to drop D, to DADGAD to DADDAD and back to standard tuning in no time. All I need to do is some minor tweaking on the tuning since changing the neck/string tension can affect the overall tuning slightly. But it saves a lot of time, and when I’m performing live, the last thing I want to do is spend 15 minutes changing to a different tuning.

So my go-to guitars are truly inspiring to play. I am always finding new ways to blend the acoustic and electric systems, which really feeds my creativity.

SEGAS: Have you studied music formally or you self-taught? (If so, where?)

Karan: I have taken voice lessons for years – still do. I’ve also taken guitar lessons on and off. I am not formally trained in that I did not go to music school, and I don’t read music well. I can understand what I am looking at if I’m given sheet music, and can follow it, but I do not claim to ‘read.’ As far as the songwriting side, I was an English major – I doubled in journalism and literature. All of that training directly connects to my songwriting, and contributes to the bar I set for myself when I write songs.

SEGAS: You seem like quite the entrepreneur, what types of challenges are involved with being not only a performer, but an instructor as well?

Karan: Well, you always hope that when you perform, especially in front of your own students, that you don’t suck! Lol. I think finding the time to do it all – that’s a challenge. Separating the performance mindset from the training/teaching mindset is another. I always say that training, practicing – that’s where you drill technique. You build muscle memory, and refine your skills. Performance is all about managing chaos and covering mistakes. Of course most of the time, it’s not quite as dire as that sounds, but really, in live performance, anything can happen, and you have to be prepared and confident enough to deal with whatever comes and move on. Perhaps that’s why I run my clinics like I do – apparently, I like that feeling of managed chaos.
SEGAS: Do you make it to the southeast much?

Karan: Not as much as I’d like. I’m from the South originally – Lexington, KY and Raleigh, NC. I haven’t been back to Lexington in many years, and except for the SEGAS show a couple years ago, I haven’t been back to Raleigh in a long time either. I’m looking forward to visiting Raleigh again for SEGAS 2012. It’s changed so much since I left.

SEGAS: What kinds of things can we expect from you in the future?  Do you have plans for more instructional videos?

Karan: On the instruction side, I want to get the online lessons up and going, and the songwriting workshops too. I don’t have a release date from Truefire yet on the current instructional DVD, but once that is up, I will start working on another instructional project. Possibly shorter, more focused videos that allow you to work on one specific technique or trouble spot.

On the artist/performance side, I had taken a fairly long break from performing at all because of my schedule, and I am coming at my performance now from a completely different direction. I switched from acoustic to electric guitar, which gives me a much larger sonic range, so I am revisiting my set list and putting something together that will be very different from what I’ve done in the past.

 

 

 

July 26, 2012 in 2012,News,Show | Comments (0)