An Interview with Gideon Voon
Most people might know Gideon Voon as the guitar player from the Polynesian metal band Shepherds Reign. He won first prize in the recent Rubber Monkey Music Competition with his solo project song "Wanderer's Path"
Where did you start with writing wanderers path?
It initially came from just a guitar idea, which is now quite buried in the background but around the one minute mark where the whole band comes in- that was the first section I came up with, and then I built all the other instruments around that. That's how the initial idea started anyway.
How many instruments do you play on Wanderers Path?
Just guitar really, the drums and bass were programmed. The strings- which are one of the main instruments in the song- were done by a friend James Cullen. He studies composition at Auckland University, so he’s really good with orchestral stuff.
How old were you when you started playing guitar?
My mum sort of forced me to get lessons when I was age 7. I was a kid so I didn’t really enjoy it back then, but the age I really got into it was around 14. That's when I saw bands on MTV and thought “Oh bands are cool, electric guitar is cool”
Who are some artists that inspire you and what makes them stand out to you?
My favourite guitar player at the moment is probably Mateus Asato, he’s one of Instagram's most popular guitarists. There's an instrumental band that’s quite current called Polyphia, I’ve followed them for a while. Those are some more recent ones, but if we go back a bit more- obviously Hans Zimmer, and some of the more old school ones like Joe Satriani, he’s one of my big guitar influences. I also always credit Paramore as being one of the bands that inspired me as a teenager, so I think I'll always have a bit of their inspiration in my music somehow.
What’s an instrument you would love to learn to play, and why?
I can give you two off the top of my head, I’ve always wanted to learn violin as you can probably tell. It’s a very nice sound, the melodic range is great and there's some stuff the guitar can’t do, you get a nice, more sustained sound. The second one is saxophone, which would be quite difficult to learn because it’s totally different to guitar. Those are two instruments I really like the sound of and wish I could implement more in my music; which I have already done with Violin so Saxophone might be the next step.
Do you think having a decent knowledge of music theory is necessary for writing a good piece of music?
Definitely not. Take my band for example, the person who actually writes a lot of our music is our drummer, he plays guitar as well. He has no idea of any music theory at all but he writes some of the sickest, heaviest riffs in the band. Whereas I'm the complete opposite, I come from a very theoretical background so I have to understand what is going on music-theory wise, it all has to make sense to me. Whereas my drummer is just like “Oh yeah this note sounds good”, he just makes it sound natural and it sounds good so no I don’t think you need it. But everyone’s different, having music theory knowledge works for me.
How much of a difference do you think proper studio recording quality makes?
It definitely makes quite a difference. Most of my EP’s have been done just by myself in my own little home studio setup, and just the other week I helped produce some music for one of my mates who is a singer. We recorded vocals in a proper vocal studio with all these Neve Preamps and you can definitely tell it makes a big difference.
Do any art forms outside of music inspire your songwriting in any way?
I guess if you include movies, that's a big thing for me. Obviously the Hans Zimmer references, I love the way music and movies work together, so that's probably the main one.
As someone who makes music, does that give you a different perspective when listening to music?
Definitely, for sure. I’m quite an analytical person so that definitely applies when I’m listening to music. Because I have a trained musical ear I can listen in on all the different sections and focus in on the guitar or focus on the drums and see what they’re doing. So that is kind of a blessing and a curse, I remember in my early days of listening to music I wasn’t really trained I was just enjoying the music as a whole. That's what I try to do sometimes, drown everything out on the analytical side and just enjoy the music.
Any shows or music releases soon?
My main band has a single coming out very soon- and some shows, nothings been announced yet but if you want to follow my band Shepherds Reign you can find out. As for myself, I’ve actually started working on my 3rd EP at the moment so that’s something to look forward to for me.