Tone Talk with Jackie Venson

Jackie Venson - photo by by Ismael Quintanilla III Photography
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Austin-born, idiosyncratic singer-songwriter Jackie Venson has been named by Forbes as one of “15 Women-Fronted Musical Acts Getting Their Due At SXSW 2019” alongside Billie Eilish.  She has been named “Best Guitarist” in the Austin Music Awards. She is the third woman in 37 years and first African American woman to do so.

She has a new album coming out April 5, so stay tuned!

What is your definition of tone and how has it changed over the years? 

Tone has always been and will always be in the hands of the beholder. I don’t think the brand of the instrument or pickups or anything have a lot to do with it. Whether or not the person is known for certain effects like distortion or fuzz comes into play as well but even through that, there’s a foundational tone that exists only in the hands.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why? 

I use a Kemper these days, I love the different rigs available to me. I cycle between 15 different rigs on the Kemper, 3 different performances containing 5 rigs each, that I toggle on the Kemper Remote.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio? 

I like to go in prepared with ideas in mind and not anything set in stone. I like direction but I also like freedom to change course if the moment takes us there. The studio is kind of like a ride, you can go in with a destination in mind but what’s going to happen on the way there can’t be predicted.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage? 

I work with consistent instruments and I practice and rehearse a lot. I also make sure to play as many gigs as possible so I can feel at home on stage.

What does your practice consist of? 

These days I’m preparing for my album release so my practice sessions have just been running down the set. Before that, I would just think of stuff to program into the drum machine and just jam with it. Every now and then I like to practice scales and stuff, and soon I am going to work on expanding my chord voicings.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry? 

Be prepared to work your ass off, and hold your cards close. You’re going to need a team, keep the team mean and lean, and never get desperate. Be patient.


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