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Our New York editors Joe & Nico had the chance to interview critically acclaimed instrumental metal musician Angel Vivaldi.    Angel was generous with his time and knowledge, read the interview below!

Nico:  Hey Angel! How are you doing today?

Angel: I’m spectacular! How are you guys?

Nico: Glad to be here, honestly.

Joe: Little bit of a rough ride, but y’know.

Nico: Yeah, parking was miserable but… welcome to New York, I guess.

Angel: Yeah, that’s one of the reasons why I moved out! Haha.

Joe: That’s one of the reasons I’m considering it…

Nico: I don’t doubt it. So, how does it feel being back in your home town for a show?

Angel: It’s unbelievable. I mean… this is the second sold-out show we’ve had in New York, consecutively, so really, it’s a tremendous honor, it’s amazing. Home shows are… it’s such an outpour of just… it’s a different color of energy, y’know? It’s still really high octane, but it’s a different shade of blue, or a different shade of purple, or a different shade of yellow.  So, here man, it’s such a warming orange that I feel.

Nico: Fitting, given your gear!

Angel: Funny enough, y’know! It’s just something really special.

Joe: You got a lot of family coming out to see the show tonight?

Angel: Some, only cause the show is a little earlier, cause the venue was double-booked. It’s a lot of FANS though, man! The show sold out within a few hours. It’s super overwhelming.

Nico: That’s incredible! Have you played here, before? At the Santos Party House, specifically?

Angel: No, but we’ve played at the Highline Ballroom. It’s not too far, though.

Nico: Fair enough. So, what do you do in your down time when you aren’t working on being the amazing shredding wizard that you are?

Angel: More of the business end of things, really. I’m kind of like a one man show. Y’know, every tour I’m always the TM – I’m always the Tour Manager, I’m booking the vans, designing the light show myself…

Nico: That’s impressive.

Angel: Oh thank you man! I feel like it’s important to know what your strengths are. And I say this in every interview, but it’s so crucially important: knowing what your strengths are and knowing what your weaknesses are, knowing what you’re capable of doing…. People who listen to the record, they have a certain experience listening to the record. But for the live show, I wanted to do something special, so it’s more of a visual manifestation of things. The light show, it’s like painting with lights, so to speak, with the stage being your canvas. And when I hear something, I see colors. I’m a very visual person, in that sense. So it’s very cool to be able to express myself in a stage production sense. I didn’t previously know how to design a light show either. The last tour was the first time I did it… and I spent a LOT of money on lights and thought “Well now I HAVE to learn!” But every tour I do something new, because it’s a little bit of a learning curve, and it snowballs, haha. But there’s that, there’s hiring the band, scheduling the rehearsals, designing the merch, ordering the merch, booking the van, booking the trailer, flying the merch guy in from this place, flying the tech guy in from that place, and then there’s the online social media. We’re actually doing a documentary that I’m editing while we’re doing all this, so I’m up to 4 or 5 AM all night, only to wake up at 7 AM to drive 13 hours to the next show–

Nico: Wow.

Joe: You are the hardest-working man in music… seriously!

Angel: Thanks man!

Nico: Yeah, I am honestly impressed, and I’m not just saying that.

Angel: Thank you so much! And this year, I’m also releasing three records.

Nico: I was JUST going to ask you that, so there we go, haha!

Angel: Yeah man! We wanted to do it before the tour, but it was wearing too many hats… and we wanted to be realistic. I wanted to make sure that everything is as done as well as it can be and that nothing’s half-assed. After the tour, The Speed of Dark will be fully rerecorded and remastered and remixed, and it’ll be released then. I did put Away With Words Part 2 on hold… I’m releasing that EP in 2017 ‘cause I felt like giving my fans a full album of 10 songs is much more overdue. So there’s gonna be 2 Angel Vivaldi releases, and then during the fall or early winter I’m gonna be announcing a press release for a secret super-group that I’m working with. I can’t say much about it yet…

Joe: That’s okay, haha.

Angel: But it’s with vocals!

Nico: Ah!

Angel: It’s definitely different, yeah. But it’s – oh my god – it’s with some of the most amazing musicians that have been huge influences on me when I was growing up. So it’s… it’s BEYOND a privilege to be in the same room with these guys, let alone make music with them. It’s just insane.

Nico: New reggae record from Angel Vivaldi! You heard it here first!

Angel: Hahahah!

Joe: Can we touch on your writing process? You mentioned that you draw inspiration from colors, or that you see music using colors. Where do you draw your inspiration from? Will you go out and spend a day in nature, for instance, and kinda draw in from that?

Angel: So… I’m really into concept records. I appreciate it when an artist can go beyond the music and coincide with the artwork and the packaging and the feel of the album as well as the videos that go with that album cycle. It’s an entire package. So when it comes to inspiration, the new record is called “Synapse.” So it really ties into human emotions. You mentioned colors: I really went super ambitious with this tour and this album. I really wanted to tie to every human emotion. So, I literally painted my studio green, and I wrote specific songs with specific colors of green, as well as dark grey, and I wrote songs with that…. I woke up at 8 AM to write the green songs – to write the bright songs. I stayed up until 4 or 5 AM to write the darker songs. I wore different clothes, even. Y’know how they say in phone interviews to dress up, ‘cause you’ll feel better?

Nico: You’re like a method actor!

Joe: A method musician!

Angel: Hahah! I really do believe that acting is an art itself, though. And if you can tap into and really become that as opposed to just thinking about it – “Oh, I know what happy is!” – No. I wanted to really put myself in a bad mood and force myself to write something like that, and it’s a very moody record for that reason. So that’s been my method for this album cycle, but it’s always been different. When I was writing Away With Words, I definitely went through a horrible writer’s block – and a severe depression because of it. And it’s awful, because I definitely judge myself a lot, because you identify yourself as “I’m a songwriter, I’m a guitarist,” and when you can’t do those things, suddenly it’s “… what am I?” But when I softened into that experience, I was able to write more freely and more uninhibited. And honestly, it’s the record I’m the most proud of now. I hear the songs and I know exactly what I was going through. It’s like a time capsule.

Joe: Yeah, I think a lot of musicians can relate to that situation.

Angel: Absolutely. Or even like colognes! Like, you smell Tommy Hilfiger – *snaps* – ’97! Summer of ’97! I was at Venice Beach! You smell “Juke” – my uncle used to use “Juke” –

Joe: I still have that Tommy Hilfiger bottle sitting on my dresser!

Angel: Yup!

Joe: It made it through my marriage and into the new house… it’s still there, but I don’t even wear it!

Angel: And then there’s Polo… man, hahaha.

Nico: So, on the topic of sentimental things: you’ve got this BEAUTIFUL Ibanez sitting here. Do you have any sentimental gear?

Angel: Um. Well, it’s interesting that you say that. This guitar in particular, a friend actually sold it to me. Now, the reason why he sold it to me was that I saw it sitting there – this is a guy that flips guitars all the time. Y’know, in and out. I swear this guy should have a turnstile –

Joe: Do we know him?

Nico: Haha, yeah, we might know him.

Angel: Hah, there’s a chance, yeah. But yeah, he’s a really good friend of mine. But I picked it up and I just knew right then that one day I was gonna own this guitar.


Angel Vivaldi with his J-custom Ibanez!

Nico: Huh. Okay.

Angel: Months later, I was playing a custom RGD that Ibanez sent me at the time.  And I felt like the guitar fought me. I feel like, whenever I pick up a guitar and I plug it in… [plays beautiful melodies]… we’re getting to know each other… [continues playing]… doesn’t mean we’re gonna date… [keeps playing]… but if we vibe, there’s something magical that happens. And the SECOND I picked up this guitar, he saw it on my face. So the moment he wanted to flip it, he called me up. And he gave it to me for SUPER cheap – I’m not even gonna tell you how much, cause it’s criminal. This happened with another guitar, too. I have a six-string RG565 from ’93. Are you guys familiar with the metal guitarist forums and the SSO forums?

Joe and Nico: Yeah.

Angel: Yeah. This particular RG went through five of my buddys’ hands.

Nico: We’ve got a few guitars like that.

Joe: Yeah.

Angel: Exactly. But we had a gear fest meeting and we had all these custom guitars, and all these custom amps… and out of all the amazing guitars there – all the Blackmachines and whatnot – I couldn’t put this RG down. I played it all fucking week. The previous owner just gave it to me. And yeah! I don’t have a lot of guitars. I have three Ibanezes: I have the six string that sits at home. This is my main [points to the guitar he is currently holding]: this is an RG7CT – one of 18. Mahogany body, flame maple top. The neck is SUPER thin, offset inlays, maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. Been using DiMarzio pickups for many years. For this tour I’m test-driving the Illuminators, they’re fantastic. They REALLY sing. And then I have an LACS that’s just Basswood. It’s super simple.

Nico: What ever happened to the Universe, from your old YouTube days?

Angel: That Universe was actually a loaner from my bassist! Just for the music video, haha.

Nico: Alright, makes sense. So, how have you evolved as a musician since those days? Personally, I’ve been following you since you were blowing up on YouTube and Ultimate-Guitar and stuff. How would you say you’ve changed since those days – since early Angel Vivaldi?

Angel: Honestly, it’s got to do with knowing what’s going on around you in the industry and seeing how the music itself evolves. I listen to it all and I just take LITTLE aspects of the stuff that I like and I apply it to my own blueprints of how I write music. I think that’s how artists that are interested in having longevity in the industry – that’s how they succeed. Cause they’re not going balls deep into a genre. You gotta understand, when you do that, fads fade. VERY quickly. You have a matter of two to three years. And with how fast technology is changing, people’s attentions spans are getting shorter. You gotta understand: you are sharing your fan-base with THOUSANDS of other bands that are doing the same shit that you are, y’know? So what’s gonna set yourself apart from them? That’s the question. But throughout all that, I’ve always stayed true to what I wanna say. And that’s – that’s my evolution process.

Nico: That’s honestly admirable, honestly.

Angel: Well thank you man!

Nico: So, what music do you listen to when you’re not working on your own stuff?

Angel: Oh, man. I listen to a lot of stuff. I don’t listen to a lot of metal, to be honest – and I bet you guys hear that a lot.

Nico: Yeah, we do.

Angel: I listen to a lot of EDM, World Music, Brazilian Jazz, I grew up with Dance music in the house.

Joe: Mmm, same here.

Angel: Y’know, New Jersey. A lot of Spanish music as well. A lot of Freestyle from back in the day. I really enjoy it, tremendously. And I get really weird too! I listen to Ivo Papazov – Bulgarian Wedding Music. It’s crazy. Steve Vai was the one that talked about them, so I checked them out and fell in love with them. Another one is Korean Pop and JPop…

Nico: Yes!!

Angel: Y’know, like BoA, I could go on and on… the guitar work is INSANE too.

Joe: Shoutouts to Sithu Aye!

Angel: Yes! Sithu! He’s such a good dude! I saw him one time and I was like “Oh man I gotta say hi to this guy.”

Joe: He’s kinda owning the whole anime-guitar thing right now. It’s so cool.

Angel: Oh yeah. He’s killing it, man. Good things are gonna happen to him.

Nico: Absolutely. So, do you have any inspiring words for your fans?

Joe: Yeah, ‘cause we’ve got a lot of younger readers who look up to guys like you. So if you’ve got any word for them about going forward, or pursuing a career in music, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

Angel: Well, definitely to coincide with what I said before: be aware that fads do die. So if you want longevity in the music industry, definitely do what feels true to yourself, not necessarily what’s gonna sell your records for a year or two. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t try to take on something that you’re not good at. I can’t design artwork, so I hire someone to do that for me. You gotta know your capacity and know what you’re passionate about and what your vision is. Go for it. Overall though, it is the best and the worst time to be a musician. It’s the best time cause you can do everything yourself and do a DIY, but it’s the worst cause you’ve got 20,000 people who are doing the same thing you are. You have to really be realistic. The reason why I say I was successful in 2008 is that I my success as the day I released my first record and I had it available for people to listen to. That’s why I’ve NEVER been disappointed. Everything here? It’s like… the cake, which is the most important part for me? That was just releasing that record. Everything that’s happened since then is just the icing. So, do it for the right reasons. Do it because you love it. And, last thing: don’t tour unless you KNOW you’re gonna play in front of people. If you go on tour too prematurely, you’re gonna waste money playing in front of bartenders. I’ve seen it so many times. People are so anxious to get out on the road, but you have to be honest with where you career is, be patient, be creative, and be resilient. Never, ever, EVER stop.

Joe: So, when you left your job to be a full-time musician, is that where you felt you were? That you’d be able to tour, and you’d have people in the stands every day?

Angel: Honestly, I could have done it a little earlier, but I felt that I was close enough to the fire to get warm, but not to get burned, so to speak. Because stability was a very important thing for me. Technically… probably in 2013, I could have done it full time. But y’know… I like being home, and writing records that way. But the more the fans wanted it, I had to do it. I don’t do this for myself, I don’t do this for money: I honestly go on tour and go through 80% of the bullshit for my fans. I’m not here for anyone else: I’m here for my crew and for my fans. I think that’s where your head has to be. It’s more of a selfless thing. Some people love touring… I wasn’t necessarily built for the road, haha! But I really think that you need to be honest with where your career is. Make sure that when you do it, that your investments – touring is an investment, gear is an investment, music videos are an investment. So… invest wisely!

Joe: Well, unless you’ve got anything else…

Nico: I think that about covers it. Thank you so much for your time, Angel!

Angel: Oh, dude, please! The pleasure is all mine.

To catch up with Angel’s latest & greatest, click here.  We highly recommend purchasing his music, as that helps keep him pumping out high quality tunes! 🙂

If you want an Ibanez and are trailing to nail Angel’s tone, then click here to view our current Ibanez inventory!  As authorized dealers we can help you find the right Ibanez for you!

This interview was conducted by our New York based team, Joe Cox & Nico Madden.  You can find Nico haunting Instagram here, and Joe’s delicious music right here


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