Brazilian guitarist Edu Ardanuy chats about his personal relationship with rock and guitars

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Edu Ardanuy. A name that carries profound meaning for the world music scene and for all the music professionals who elected guitars as their preferred form of expression. Born in San Paolo Brazil in 1967, this “guitar genius” was nominated in 1998 by Guitar Player Magazine in the “Top 10 Greatest Guitar Players” list, thus projecting him into the Olympo of the masters of this instrument.

We had the incredible chance to get in contact with him some time ago to ask him some insights into his extensive music career and about his personal relationship with rock and guitars.

Montreal Rocks: How and when the love for guitar grew in you. Who and/or what inspired you?

Edu Ardanui: Since I was a child I felt captivated by music, my mother was a professional singer and my father, besides loving music, used to collect vinyl records so, music was always present in my house.

My interest on the guitar came from my early days influenced by my oldest brother, Átila, who started to play guitar and bring home records like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Jimmy Hendrix. This caught up my attention and fired up my passion for rock and consequently for the electric guitar.

MTL Rocks: What was your dream when you were a child? Did you dream about being a rock star? 

EA: I never had the pretension to be a rock star although the idea pleased my mind! Lol

But I always dreamed of having a rock band.

MTL Rocks: What is Rock for Edu Ardanuy?

EA: Rock is my history, a lifestyle. In my opinion, the most relevant music segment from our era! Rock is attitude, music freedom, although I do like other genres like blues, jazz, country, funk, but fusion and rock are my favourite styles.

MTL Rocks: You are about to release a new solo album, could you tell me more about it? When it will be released? How many tracks? What’s the story behind it? Is there a specific ‘music trace’ you wanted to leave?

EA: My new album is almost done, it’s missing only the album art cover, it’s called “Wild” and has 10 new songs which I was the composer. Basically, it’s a power trio, me on guitars, Manny Monteiro on drums and Glecio Nascimento on bass, one of the best bass players that I ever met and that made all the difference in the final result of this project. The making off of this album was possible mainly to my friend, drummer and producer Manny Monteiro who gave me a lot of incentive for doing this job, including offering his studio for recordings and mixing process. We also had the participation of some great keyboard players like Vini Morales, Saulo Martins, André Youssef, André William and Tiago Mineiro who contributed a lot with their talent. The idea of this album is different from my first album Electric Nightmares which was heavier e more progressive rock, Wild is a mix between the Classic Rock, Blues, Jazz and a spice of Funk on the grooves. Wild is somewhere inside the Fusion world, but always driven more to the good and old Rock n Roll.

MTL Rocks: How do you develop your creative process?

EA: I don’t have a formula, I just sit and start to play. When some ideas start to appear you need to know how to grab them in the air! To separate the wheat from the chaff! I always record firstly on my cellphone when I think that I found something interesting. Then I listen to the recording to see if it is worth to develop something from there. Sometimes I start by a riff, a melody or maybe a groove, I don’t have a rule. But what inspires me the most is to listen to good music.

MTL Rocks: How would you describe your sound? What makes Edu Ardanuy one of the greatest guitar players in the world?

EA: It’s hard to do a self-description/analysis. I appreciate your compliment and your kindness but I don’t consider myself not even by far one of the best guitar players in the world! When I think about guys like Jimmy Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Alan Holdsworth that unfortunately are not among us anymore but are eternal, or Jeff Beck, Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale, Eric Johnson, Steve Morse, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen among so many others that I’d need 5 pages to mention! I can’t put myself in this special select group of Guitar Heroes. I consider myself very auto critic and privileged for living in the same era as these geniuses that were such influence to me and gave me a direction. My music is a mix of everything that I listen since I was a child and I try somehow to come up with something original from all of that and this is the hardest part of the musical process, but I keep trying.

MTL Rocks: How do you think your sound developed through the years up until now?

EA: Time is the key to improvement. If you age with intelligence and sensibility, your music age fine as well. At the beginning we tend to prioritize quantity and speed but with time you realize that music is so much more than that and you start appreciating more the quality of each note! Nowadays I care more about the composition and the interpretation of what I think is the big differential among musicians.

MTL Rocks: You have been playing with different bands like The Key, Anjos Da Noite, Supla and Dr.Sin, Sinistra… what’s the main difference between playing with them and playing solo?

EA: Every project is different, musically speaking or the relationship between the members with their contribution to the songs. I’m proud of participating in all of these bands that you mentioned, all of them were part of a great learning process in my career. In particular, the band Dr. Sin was the most important because we stayed together for 25 years, 10 albums, several festivals like Rock in Rio, Monster of Rock and Hollywood Rock, just to mention a few among so many others, and the biggest portion of my musical career I stayed with them.

Nowadays I have my band which is called Sinistra, with a darker and heavier sound, sang in Portuguese. We are doing great just waiting for the end of the pandemic to hit the road.

But in instrumental or solo projects the dynamic is very different, the musical speech is different and musical arrangement is in full responsibility of the author, not like bands which the responsibility lay on all members. I love making music no matter bands or solo projects.

MTL Rocks: How would you describe the Brazilian rock scene as of now? 

EA: The underground has their movement with very good bands, but the mainstream has no space since a long time. The exception is when big festivals happen where the headliners are international artists, like Rock in Rio.

But on the other hand, there’s several levels of popularity that a band can achieve and this depends on competency, professionalism and originality.

MTL Rocks: Throughout your extensive music career, what is your fondest memory? 

EA: I think the big festivals and opening shows with Dr. Sin to bands like AC/DC, Kiss, Black Sabbath, Steve Vai, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Mr. Big, among others.

But if I had to choose one, would be the Hollywood Rock Show where we presented Dr. Sin to 50000 people being broadcasted live on TV for the entire country. For us, this was a historic moment.

MTL Rocks: Is there a song that is particularly close to you? 

EA: Mention only one song is a hard task! But I’ll mention the first that came in my mind: Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles), but I could spend the entire day mentioning songs that elevate my spirit or brings a commotion. 

MTL Rocks: Studio or Stage? What do you prefer or/and can you describe the differences between the 2 from your experience? 

EA: They are two distinct things but are equally amazing. Studio is a laboratory where you can try everything and you have as many chances as you want until you get what you want.

Stage is another energy where the interaction with the people is the synergy with the musicians, and the truth of the first attempt, without editing and second chance.

MTL Rocks: Do you have any regrets concerning your career? Something that if you could, you would change?

EA: I regret nothing, I don’t have a crystal ball to foresee the future and see what could have happened if I’d have tried something different. Life is made of choices with risks. I tried to minimize the risks and optimize the chances of success! I didn’t become an international famous Rock Star but I went further than I imagined when I was a kid, especially as a guitar player and songwriter. Today I’m well recognized in my country which I’m grateful.

MTL Rocks: What are the bands /artists that you are looking at now, that you think have an extreme talent and that you would recommend following?

EA: I am from 1967, my references are still the bands from the 60s, 70s and the 80s but I like more recent music too. I can mention Brazilian guitar players like Andre Nieri, Mateus Asato, Fulvio Oliveira, Michel Leme, Artur Menezes, Cesário Filho, Patrick Souza, Cacaus Santos, Luís Kalil among others, these guys are amazing! I also like a lot guys like Eric Gales, Guthrie Govan, Josh Smith, Mathias IA Eklundh, Greg Howe, Tom Quayle e Ron “Bumblefoot” They are guitar players that impress me, great inspirations. But bands that I really love are the classics like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and so on.

MTL Rocks: The music panorama is changing also a lot also in the way musicians can collaborate. I know that you recently released a single together with another talented Brazilian guitar player based in Montreal Roberto Hendrigo. What can you tell me about this virtual collaboration and about the experience of writing Mapa together with Hendrigo?

EA: I meet Roberto Hendrigo when he came to me looking for Skype lessons, he taught and played professionally already in Brazil before coming to Canada and when he came to me I asked what I could teach that he didn’t know already? He laughed and spoke to me about his projects and, among them, that he was making an instrumental album solo and he would like some suggestions for arrangements and so we started to work on top of this weekly until one day, he invited me to be featured with a solo in the music Mapa which I said of course! Lol… Roberto is a very talented guy, focused, dedicated and with a good character, I’m sure that he will build a solid career in Canada and worldwide. About the song Mapa, I thought that is a great composition and I enjoyed participating in it.

MTL Rocks: What is your biggest fear? And the biggest challenge you encountered in your career? 

EA: My worst fear is that the pandemic never ends! Lol Now seriously speaking, is that I’ll not be able anymore to be in constant motion and evolution, that I’ll have nothing more interesting to show and therefore, to become irrelevant, that’s why the challenge is the eternal search for something new in my music and in my guitar playing, otherwise it’s time to stop.

MTL Rocks: Any advice you wish to give to young (and not only) guitar players who’d like to follow in your footsteps?

EA: First of all, you don’t choose music, music chooses you! You know when you’re born to that, but nothing comes easily, a talent without hard work is useless, so dedication, focus and professionalism are a must when it comes to having success in any field, therefore in music nothing changes,

It’s important to always mirror yourself in the best references because musically speaking we are what we listen to, so open your mind to all kinds of styles, as long as it’s quality music! And for me there’s only two types of music, good and bad, it’s up to everyone how to distinguish between one and another, this cannot be taught, it’s a matter of good taste and intuition. Luck comes in handy sometimes too! Lol

Francesca Sacerdoti

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