Kiko Loureiro Interview at The Guitar Institute

Brazilian Kiko Loureiro recently played a Masterclass at London's The Institute of Contemporary Music, and the Guitar Institute's master of ‘world guitar' Tolis Zavaliaris was on hand on 11th March 2008 to ask a few pertinent questions to this exciting new guitar star. Kiko is a genuinely fresh new addition to the ranks of virtuoso metal based guitarists, bringing an eclectic mix of influences that reflect his South American heritage - and these combined with a world class command of the modern rock guitar idiom results in a genuinely cutting edge axeman.

In March 2007 Kiko was voted "Best Guitarist" by respected Japanese music publication BURRN. Quite an achievement for a young guitarist from Brazil, whose meteoric career has spawned numerous studio and live albums with ANGRA, as well as solo albums ‘No Gravity' and ‘Universo Inverso'. After witnessing Kiko live it is no surprise that he has been awarded this accolade...

Kiko delivered an exclusive two-hour performance and chat at the Institute, and he definitely didn't disappoint anyone - a dazzling player, extremely well-versed in a wide range of styles, his laid-back and friendly demeanour meant the event became a session not to be missed!

Have look here for an exclusive video of his incendiary performance:

Kiko uses Seymour Duncan pickups in his ESP signature guitar, and Seymour Duncan were kind enough to support the event by providing a prize for one of the students present. Let's hope Kiko returns to the UK sometime soon!

Welcome to the first of many interviews provided by The Guitar Institute...

When did you start playing the guitar?

Well it is a funny story! My older sister was having acoustic guitar lessons at home and she decided to quit. Because my mother had already paid the teacher in advance for a number of lessons, she asked me to take over; I've never stopped playing the guitar since! I started by learning easy traditional Brazilian tunes with few chords and rhythms.

You originally started playing the acoustic guitar, so what made you change to electric?

I remember in 1985 I watched the Rock in Rio festival on TV. I was thirteen years old and the sound of the bands amazed me so much I decided to switch in to electric guitar. Kiss, AC/DC, The Scorpions, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden and many other great rock bands performed at that festival: it was a mind blowing! However, to be honest with you my interest for the acoustic guitar and Brazilian music has never stopped.

Who's your favourite guitar player?

I really like Jeff Beck. The man is, I don't know around sixty or something, and still to my ears he sounds so fresh and modern. He always experiments with something new and he never repeats himself. He still works hard with his music and he plays whatever he likes.

‘Universo Inverso' has won much praise from the guitar press as being a genuinely new approach to the virtuoso instrumental rock album genre: what was the philosophy behind the new album?

I always like to experiment as a musician. I started my career with Angra and I got known as a technical rock guitar player, but I never forgot about, or stopped learning, Brazilian traditional music. So now I felt it was the right time for me to combine these two influences together and come up with a new and fresh album.

What motivated you to change your sound on the new album?

Playing with other musicians is very important. The experience and the inspiration you get push you to create new things and become a better musician. In this way you keep your sound and ideas fresh all the time. On the new album the musicians come from different backgrounds and cultures and some of them there are not into rock at all. That really helped the development of the compositions.

Why did you title the album "Universo Inverso"?

I have always tried to go into different types of music. I always believed that music is unique and thinking of the different types makes us realise how huge a subject it is. It really does contribute to our health wellbeing as humans. With ‘Universo Inverso' you have the metal guy from the one side and the Brazilian traditional guy from the other.

Do you consider ‘the market' before you record an album?

Not at all. I always do whatever I feel doing with my music. I like to play, to jam, to gig; I like to be around music all the time. If I believe that I have material for a new album which I am happy with, I go for it with no considerations.

What are you up for the moment?

Well I travel a lot, mainly promoting the new album, playing with Angra, doing guitar shows, clinics, workshops and many more things; all associated with music!

Tell us about your new guitar?

My new signature guitar is made by ESP. There are two different models the SE and STD, with the differences mainly in the woods and the paint job! It has two Seymour Duncan pickups, the Custom 5 on the bridge and the SHR-1 Hot Rail on the neck. They have an Ebony fretboard and twenty seven frets, which from the 12th to 27th are scalloped.

Finally, any future plans?

Many! I would say keep playing and composing music. It is my way of life!

Tolis Zavaliaris, London March 11th 2008