Monday, March 30, 2015


 Welcome to Tune Hear!

This is a weekly series to be hosted by Prepared Guitar. It is my hope that the following information would not only highlight the artist, their techniques, and their musical endeavors, but also cause others to reach for their own goals in a realistic way. It is my hope that this will be an international site where guitarists worldwide would not only have the opportunity to listen but also be motivated and inspired to follow their dreams.

As any true artist will tell you, the sense of wonderment and the joy of discovery is part of the journey in the creative process. To refuse to rest on your laurels and to keep reaching for that which may seem unattainable, brings about an inner joy and satisfaction that helps to take you to that next level.

Rejyna is such an artist. By continuing to expand her sonic canvas, adding an array of colors, imagination and good ole’ fashioned hard work, she has created a world of sound that is engaging for herself and her listeners.

With that, let me introduce Rejyna, originally from Columbus, Ohio (but living in Southern California for the last couple of decades). Welcome to Tune Hear!

What’s your earliest memory of having a connection with music? 
My mom’s singing and her playing records.  I consider her a ‘professional listener.’  She played ukulele and piano when I was young and nowadays she is in choir and theatre.  Singing with her and watching her be so connected and inspired by music infected me from as far back as I can recall.  My first piggy bank funds were spent on 45s and soon after, I took on a paper route so I could buy a ‘component stereo’ and LPs from Three Dog Night, Grand Funk and Doobie Brothers.  It was TDN’s vocals that first hooked me, but the band of ‘Jimmy-Mike-Floyd-Joe’ made me deliriously excited.  Mom joined the mail-order record clubs and I was got to pick some too!  To this day, Mom and I are always turning each other onto music we discover.
What led you to choose the guitar for your own musical expression?
For years I focused on singing.  The elementary school wanted me to play sax or clarinet, they “already had drummers” - so I opted out of band.  In middle school, friends of mine started playing guitar so I spent my paper route savings on a $60 335 copy and a $15 amp.  As time went by, my friends all quit playing.  I didn’t quit – even though my guitar teacher told me after a half dozen lessons that she wouldn’t keep teaching me “if you don’t look at the sheet music,” I said “why would I look at the sheet music if I already have the song memorized?”  We then parted ways and I started writing songs even before I knew all the chords I was playing.  Autodidact is me. 
In hindsight, I am also equally attracted to playing drums, and if there had been a Hammond and Leslie around when I was growing up, I may never have left that mesmerizing magic machine for a stringed thingy.

Was there a particular guitarist, other musician, movie, art, sound, life event that caused you to hear music differently?
Prog.  After learning barre chords and single note melodies to Nugent, AC/DC, Kiss, Aerosmith and the like, I wanted less mindless repetition – I was getting bored.  Through friends and record store hunts, I discovered Kansas, Yes, Gentle Giant, UK, Jethro Tull, Al DiMeola, Pink Floyd, Shadowfax, Klattuu, Rush and Styx.  The boredom ceased then and never returned – I had been baptized by prog - and before it was commonly referred to as ‘prog.’  I saw nearly all of those bands in concert and my ears (and the space between) was permanently renovated.  I figured, either I could spend time learning to copy Howe, DiMeola, Lifeson, Holdsworth, Barre – or I could spend the same amount of time trying to come up with my own songs.  I started booking studio time and became hooked on recording.  Soon enough, I realized it would be more frugal if I bought a Teac 3340S with a loan co-signed by my parents.
What specifically about that appealed to you?

No 3 chords over and over, no endless chorus repeats.  The music had dynamics - fast-to-slow, soft-to-loud.  There is unconventional instrumentation, key changes and time signatures.  There were all kinds of special effects and sound colors, good vocals and harmonies, virtuosic playing.  Most of all there were lyrics that were as intelligently written as classic poetry.  Words weren’t wasted on worn-out clichés, the topics were contemporary and fresh – and socially allegorical.  It felt like art instead of commercial pop and it sounded AMAZING, especially in a good set of cans (Koss Pro4A) – at high volumes – over and over.  That ‘saturation’ kind of listening is ‘studying’ to me – and I still do that with many of those same bands. 
My first modes of self-expression were drawing and writing – specifically poetry.  When I discovered lyricists like Neil Peart, Kerry Livgren, Jon Anderson and Ian Anderson, I dreamt that there just might be a place for another wordsmith to peddle sonics and syllables.  I then abandoned plans to be an architect.

As you were trying to find your way, were there particular sounds, tones, or techniques that helped you to achieve your sound?
My first love is acoustic steel 12-string, I wrote many of the songs my band Citadel recorded using an Alvarez 12-string box.  When it came to my hard rock songs, the only guitar that felt right was a 335, as I didn’t much enjoy playing solid body guitars.  Initially, I played thru an MXR Distortion+ but soon enough switched to a Boss Super Distortion Feedbacker and Morely volume pedal into a stereo pair of combo amps.  Back then I shied away from things that felt like gimmicks: whammy bars, tapping, sweep picking, etc. – I just liked to flatpick chords and licks – no flashy tricks.  Instead of building an array of single effect stompboxes, I eventually added a Yamaha E1010, SPX90, and DeltaLab Effectron rack units – mostly for delay and chorus effects, and an occasional harmonizer patch.
Can you give an example of your work where it (pedal or technique) is being utilized?
It can pretty much all be summed up in the first two songs of our biggest selling LP, ‘The Citadel of Cynosure and Other Tales.’  The first two pieces, ‘The Dream Ends/Dungeons of War‘ and ‘Escaping Nepthon/Sneak-Break-Kick’ feature those very attributes I described above:  soft-then-loud, slow-then-fast, time and key changes, allegorical ‘storyline’ lyrics, clean and then distorted and lots of volume pedal ‘swells.’  We sold nearly 40,000 units of that release without a major label – and before ‘being indie’ or the ‘internet’ existed in most folks’ minds.


My obligatory self-indulgent extended guitar solo song, Savior, from that CD is:

And my crunch chords math-prog instrumental ‘showpiece’ is Mid-Winter’s Night Dream: 

How have you been able to build upon those early experiences to what you’re doing now?
Citadel still releases music every 5 years or so, the band members change depending on who has the time to put in and who needs to be ‘gettin' proggy wit it’ – but doing live Citadel shows isn’t feasible at this time.  A few years ago, my mom and two hometown music promoters encouraged me to try some solo acoustic sets.  I was certain I would be bored without a band.  Then the idea of using a looper was mentioned although I was pretty sure I’d never get the hang of it.  Well, I did get the hang of it.  I began adapting my songs to the limitations of looping with various approaches to song construction.  It may seem that looping would just be ‘boring repetitions’ to this ADD proghead but therein is my challenge.  I endeavor to use looping to create pieces that are anything but boring or simple repetitions.  I am now addicted to looping and tell all my students it is the first thing to buy after picking a guitar – even before buying your amp.  A looper is a practice tool (think ‘symphonic metronome’) and it is a writing tool and a performing tool.
Can you describe your current setup?
I started with one looper, now I have six.  I exclusively use DigiTech JamMan XT loopers for many reasons (explained here ), but mostly because they are sync-able, they store loops up to 10 min. each as native .wavs in 200 patch locations, the external footswitch allows stop plus patch up and down, and I modified them all so that I can ‘save’ a loop with my foot while it is playing back.  These are things no other loopers currently on the market are capable of at the price points of the JamMan. 
My rig is modular and expandable. In its largest incarnation, each instrument has its own looper slaved to the master looper.  I sing thru a harmonizer into a looper, I play midi guitar with the midi pickup having its own looper and the guitar-only pup having its own looper, I play electronic drums thru its own looper, I have a mando-on-a-stick that has its own looper – and all those then go to the board which also has its own looper via the mixer fx i/o.

My mini ‘busking’ rig is a guitar, a headset mic, two loopers and a vocal harmonizer thru a Cube Street amp.
My guitars are an 80’s Ovation Super Shallow Balladeer, a Yamaha APX500II and my main axe is a Godin Spectrum semi-hollowbody synth guitar – which is the most ultimate sounding and playing guitar I’ve ever owned, more than making up for the 335’s I sold when times got lean.  I use Yamaha mixers and drums.  My only guitar fx is a vintage Boss GT3 multi-effect.  My synth guitar module is a Roland GR-20.  I use AudioTechnica mics and IEM’s and I play thru a PA.  I sing thru a DigiTech Vocalist Live Pro (or the Live 3 for the mini rig).  I no longer use my vintage guitar amps unless I’m playing in a band/session situation.  I use Jim Dunlop glass slides, capos, straplocks and exclusively use their 1mm Black Nylon plectrums.  I am allergic to nickel so I can only play bronze and steel strings, and I never acquired affinity for the neck width nor limited upper fret access on nylon-stringed guitars.

Let’s take a moment to highlight some of your current work.
My current solo work includes the live CD I released in 2011, when I first started using one looper and a small vocal harmonizer.  This CD includes the first song I wrote for looping, the instrumental ‘Happy Hands.’  First, I play the chords of the song, then I layer in a lead part as an overdub, then I layer in a harmony lead part, then I layer in the bass part – and recently, I layer in drums. Here’s me doing it without the drums: 

and click here for an even faster tempo with drums on last years’ Loopfest Tour.

My new solo CD, IDIO, was created spontaneously using multiple memory slots on a single JamMan Solo, before I had my six-looper setup.  In the liner notes, I go into a very detailed description of the process that brought this 16-cut album ‘out of me’ during the tiny ‘noodling’ spaces between songs during rehearsals.  The songs cover many styles and my prog-rock and symphonic-metal influences surface every now and again during pop, folk, latin, rock and world-music flavored songs.  The liner notes are online here: and you can sample the songs on SoundCloud here:
The videos for my new songs ‘Looking For You’ and ‘Common Voice’ show me with my multiple-synced-looper setup:

Is there a sound you’re still trying to achieve or are you satisfied with where you are now sonically?

I’m always looking for new colors for my ‘crayon box’, so in that sense, I’m never ‘satisfied.’  But in reality, I’m very happy with the sound I’m getting and the songs that are coming out of me.  I’ve never played with so much passion and emotion.  My litmus test for contentment is when I look at the clock and realize that I’ve been playing for hours…and sometimes that can happen with just a guitar and one looper thru headphones.  But unless I’m only doing scales, I never pick up an instrument unless there is a recording device at hand because I cannot stop writing and I don’t want to waste a single idea.  That concept started when I was young and kept a cassette recorder under my bed because all my good song ideas used to come to me right before falling to sleep, like the chorus line in ‘Escaping Nepthon’.

What can we expect to hear from you in the future?
Initially as a soloist, I was adapting Citadel songs for solo looping.  Then IDIO came out of me, written entirely on a looper.  I’d like to keep those two elements involved in my live shows while bringing in some improv and fusion energies.  I’ve recently made a mod to my rig that will allow multi-phrase pieces so I can integrate more proggy pieces too.  My favorite styles of music to watch others play are jazz, classical, prog and symphonic metal – and I freely snatch influences wherever they tickle or taunt.

And in reality, I miss playing with other musicians.  So, I’m hoping the future will bring some collaboration and maybe some band outings.  There are four to six more Citadel songs nearly ready for release and it would be fun to take those on stage too. 
I’d love to make some conceptual, story-type videos, and I really enjoy showing others how to use gear to express themselves.  I also work in live-theatre and film and I’m interested in sound design for those types of projects. 

If readers are interested in checking out your work further, where can we direct them?
I’m easy to find online if one spells my name correctly.  My portfolio site at contains my music, film, video, art, lyrics and photography work from the past decade or so but it is sorely in need of an update.  For the most current content, peruse the following places:

Thank you very much for your time and participation in Tune Hear.

In closing, one final fun question:

If you had an opportunity to ask any guitarist or musician a question, who would it be and what would you ask?

Ian Anderson, would you please produce my next CD?

Send US your PROJECTS, and let us accompany your dreams.
We look forward to an international partnership where music, especially guitar oriented, is shared and enjoyed by a wider audience.
So TUNE HEAR for your sonic journey!!