Your validity as an artist will be tested. Make proper use of sounding boards. How?

Posted: January 6, 2023
Sounding Board - a person or group whose reactions to suggested ideas are used as a test of their validity or likely success before they are made public.

Some of the top artists in the music industry can implement an idea without even testing the validity of their idea. Seamlessly and smoothly a transition can be made without notice. Changes to their style, sound or persona will be acceptable in the eyes of their fans or public. The reputation that these artists have made for themselves will go untarnished. Often, artists will need their Publicist, Manager, or even band members as a sounding board. However, there the artist type I am referring too has a character that is intuitive. They can make changes without reason, almost instinctive. It works for them. If they were to use a sounding board, it would go against all sense of reason for them.

I interviewed an artist earlier this year. From the start of the interview to its completion, she was in full control of what she wanted to accomplish. She left us amazed, with the desire of wanting to know more about her. We are now at the start of 2023, and eager to know what she has been up to. We know that she has busy throughout the year, and to some degree must have made decisions without needing the support of a sounding board. What she is doing has worked for her.



L.A. Based Rock 'N' Roll Violinist, Emily V, is one of the most unique, eccentric, and exciting violinists of our day. Her style is commonly described as a guitarist taking the lead much like Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, and Warren Haynes. She currently performs as an exciting solo experience while looping her instruments and creating a rock n roll drama that unfolds before the audience’s eyes and ears. She also performs seasonally with the elite musicians of rock super group The Kevin Sousa Band. She has toured the USA and been a featured performer at festivals, clubs, business conferences, and private events.

She began playing violin at age eleven and has been an unstoppable force since. Awarded a scholarship in Violin Performance, Emily studied Classical music, Theory and Composition, and World Percussion music (African and Brazilian) at Cal State Long Beach. Emily’s love for Rock and Roll, and Blues music began to show when she would sit in with musicians at venues in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. This led to performing both as a solo and side musician for over 15+ years now.

Emily has toured with the iconic, world-renowned punk band The Adicts and has performed with Walter Trout (The Walter Trout Band, John Mayall (Canned Heat), Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real, Willie K, Johnny Avila (Oingo Boingo), David Shelton (Don Felder), Stevie (Crosby, Stills, Nash, David Gilmour, Loggins and Messina), Wade Biery (Joe Cocker, Roger Paltry, Don Felder), Jorgen Carlsson (Gov’t Mule), Travis Warren (Blind Melon), Todd Wolf (Beth Hart), Jimmy Paxson (Stevie Nicks), Mike Malinin (Goo Goo Dolls). Michael Leasure (Walter Trout), Matt Hughes (Warren Haynes), Donovan Frankenreiter and Steelheart. In between touring with other artists, she continues to have local residency gigs at venues in her home area. Emily is “Not Your Typical Violinist”.

Early 2022 she mentioned the following to Guitar Thrills Magazine: “I have played violin for a long time. I was classically trained and went to school for music and theory. I believe all of that has helped me along the way, BUT what helped me in my performing the most, was when I worked as a waitress in college. I would go to the Irish bar next door and meet and watch every band that played there seven nights a week. I never left the house without my violin, so when the bands found out I played, they would invite me to come sit in with them. That was the best schooling anyone could ever get. Literally, I would just play any song and style. Most of my playing was probably horrible, but I learned so much. That was when I met my first guitar partner and started a band. We played the local circuit until I met my next band and so on and so forth. I really started to craft my own sound as I joined different bands and experimented with different types of pickups and violins and gear. Now when I perform, I love it so much, it just oozes out of me uncontrollably when I get on stage. Being on stage and performing is a spiritual experience every time. I treat myself like a professional athlete and keep my body healthy and as fit as possible with nutrition and exercise. When I finally get to do my thing on stage, it’s like letting a horse out of the race gates.” – Emily V

I strongly believe that she continues to perform with such intensity that her sound is like a “spiritual experience”.


Interview with Emily V and Guitar Thrills Magazine

GT: Welcome back Emily. We are really excited to interview you again. I can’t think of a better way to start of the new year, than with an interview with a musician of your skillset. Our first question to you, involves the topic of a sounding board. Do you use them? Is there someone that trust to run ideas by, or to test the validity of your creative thinking?

Emily: I have been extremely knowing in my visions since being a young girl. I can remember growing up and knowing exactly what kind of clothing and fashion I liked and dressing myself very creatively. I am creative in literally everything I do. When I get a chance to redecorate a room, I get a vision and stick with it and create it. When I get an idea for a dish of food I want to make, I see it through to the last detail of my vision. When I get the itch to change my hair color, it turns into an artistic endeavor. When it comes to music, it is no different. I hear a song on a drive and it can spark an avalanche of ideas and imaginativeness. If someone could crack my brain open, it would see every detail, from the arrangement and different instruments, to what the venue looks like, the lighting, the stage design, how the audience feels and what outfit would be designed for it. That being said, I have at times “talked” my ideas out with various people and support in my life, but typically, I am already “in” the vision and know exactly what I want to produce. This could come off as sounding “self absorbed” but I do believe that this is the very definition of an artist. Artists are here to create what they feel and see and dream. The world can either love it or hate it, but it doesn’t stop the artist from manifesting art. Therefore, I believe that the artist should be confident in what they do themselves because that is what creates authentic voices.


GT: There seems to be a large percentage of artists that lack confidence in themselves to make the right decision. Do you believe this could help or harm a musician?

Emily: This is a great question and very much is what I was touching on in the last response. Sometimes there seems to be young artists that lack the confidence in their creations and decisions. Sometimes teams of people take over to produce a product for consumption. In my opinion, it is taking the art out of the artist. Instead of something imperfect, raw and intriguing, it can become “too perfect” and “soulless”. I think in the end, the audience can feel that they become disconnected to what the original message was supposed to convey. Also, when you create something in your own confidence as an artist, it will naturally attract an audience. Pave your own path and do what you feel because that is what the world needs now more than ever!


GT: I believe it might be easier for an artist or musician to test ideas without requiring guidance if they have been in the industry for a while. They have the experience and wisdom to follow through with their creative process. Do you think in time, a sounding board for ideas will no longer be needed?

Emily: Well, going back to what we discussed, I actually think it may become the opposite. I read a quote by Rick Ruben that talked about young artists not taking chances because they are inexperienced, but that older artists don’t take as many risks because the audience might not like the change. This quote is not verbatim but really made me think about taking chances as always. Another quote of his that I really love is “The best way to serve the audience is to ignore them”. This is everything in one sentence that we just talked about. I also love the quote “If you feel comfortable in the field you are working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water that you feel you are capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel like your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” This Bowie quote is the reason I have my Bowie tattoo to remind me everyday to stay out of my comfort zone.

I think it can go one of two ways, either an artist becomes more self sufficient in their own creative process and get the chance to live a completely authentic life OR the artist becomes increasingly dependent on “running ideas by others” or even relying on someone else’s creativity to produce something that in the end, isn’t even their own. Which one would you choose? For me, I would always choose the former. I think it is the most exciting thing to put something out there and see what gets scooped up. When it doesn’t, it’s ok, in the end we just keep putting art out there. That is the success.


GT: I really enjoy your thought process. I think you are honest and have knowledge and wisdom to follow the right course. You do what feels right, even if it’s during a performance. Is this an accurate assessment?

Emily: Yes I believe so. In the original interview we did, we talked about how I sat in with as many bands that would possibly let me in a live setting. It taught me so many things. One being, you’ve got to think on your toes every time you’re on stage. Actually, this lesson was originally really taught to me by my original violin instructor, “Kayda”. She was first of all the one that always told me I could do ANYTHING on the violin as long as I had a good foundation of technique and intonation. She also would do a very simple exercise with me. We would play a classical piece together. Sometimes I would lose my place (as I was still learning to ‘site read’, which is essentially playing and reading a piece of sheet music for the first time). If I lost my place, she would keep playing and I would have to track the music with my eyes and jump in when I found my place. Both of these settings were extremely significant to my musicianship. Every time I am on stage, it is a moment to learn something new and figure out a way through a situation that can be at times challenging or can be a moment to be inspired by something new. Being on stage is at times, an out of body experience for me. In fact, someone just came up to me after a performance and said “you’re on stage when you play, but you’re not here.” I can be playing in front of five people or ten thousand people and I can still go inside my own world and hopefully bring the audience on that trip with me. It is a wonderful experience and one I hope to continue to share. As a musician, you have to have instincts on stage, whether it is gear that suddenly stopped working, a broken string, an absent band member, a different song, a strange stage lay out. Whatever it may be, you’ve got to adapt, and have the instincts to keep the energy flowing for everyone involved. And then you take it down to the level of actually playing and improvising. If you’re by yourself you generally have more control of the temperature of the mood and song. When you’re with a band and one that feels each other well, then you all have control over the instinctual decisions on stage. You become like a large dragon slithering its body through the sky and blowing beautiful fire. The audience can feel the heat and get excited.


GT: I think you are doing great on your own. I love your style, and your presence on stage is noticeable. Do you plan to continue performing on your own, or would you prefer to link up with a full band?

Emily: I am very open to what the future brings! Right now, I am extremely enjoying the process and challenges of being a solo artist. It has already taught me SO much in my own creative process and refined my visions. I do see my solo act growing to bringing more musicians on stage. I love the synergy of a band and the electricity that can be created in a live setting. I also would love to continue to be a featured artist in other bands when the energies align. For me, I just keep making music and when people see and love what I do, then it becomes a harmonious relationship in performing together.


GT: Who are some artists that you would like to open for?

Emily: Gosh, there are so many!! I would love to be a part of or open for The Rival Sons, Reignwolf, David Gilmour, Jerry Cantrell, Radiohead, and Dave Grohl to name a few.


GT: Is there a venue or theater that you would like to play at?

Emily: All of them!! Haha, but seriously, I want to do it all. Especially Wembley Stadium and Red Rocks.


GT: What kind of support do your fans provide? Do you receive feedback from them regarding your accomplishments?

Emily: I love my fans. Of course without them, there’s not much of a show or anyone to bring on this venture with. I feel I have been very lucky with the support from my fans. There seems to always be such positive feedback in what I accomplish.


GT: The violin that you use, what brand names do you work with? Is there a particular sound that you prefer? I know what to look for in guitars and amps, is there any difference in the violin?

Emily: My violin path has been pretty interesting. I was gifted two of my father’s violins (that I still have) that he played as a young boy. My next violin I got to play was one that a neighbor sold to me when I was around fifteen years old for fifty dollars. It was an old violin that came from a Russian lady and was around a hundred years old. I loved that one because it had a rich and dark tone. I have always been drawn to a richer, deeper tone of a violin rather than a very bright and sparkly one. I believe this flavor lends itself to rock music a bit better. I have also been fortunate to play on solid body electric violins. While I think there are definite advantages and situations that lend themselves well to this type of instrument, I much prefer an acoustic violin with an LR Baggs bridge pickup. I love the feel of the vibration of the acoustic instrument, it feels like it becomes a part of my body when I play it, like a living limb. I also play all of my instruments through an LR Baggs Venue D.I. I always said, if I was stranded on an island and could only take one pedal, it would be this one!! Also, because I play with a pick up, obviously my sound is determined by my pedals and amps I play through. This is an ever-changing setup for me depending on what I want to achieve, but my constants have been the Quilter Aviator Amp, Lr Baggs DI and pickups, the Dunlop Bass Wah pedal, my Line 6 wireless and my TC Electronic flashback delay, the Green Rhino distortion and my Cordial Cables!


GT: I am excited to get you into the January issue of Guitar Thrills Magazine. We continue to receive excellent feedback on each issue. I know the January issue is going to be EPIC. So, this is going to be a great fit for Emily V. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We will have you back soon. There is many more questions, that we have for you.

Emily: Thank you so much!! I always enjoy talking shop with you and I am excited to see what 2023 brings and all of the plans I already have in motion. Stay tuned because this is going to be the best year yet!!!

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