22.02.2015

DICTATED - Sonja & Jessica - Double Trouble

Av Rune Grande
(Metal Blade)

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The Dutch death metal band DICTATED have two tough girls with each their guitar in front. The band have currently released their new album entitled "The Deceived" and we felt it's time to let the two girls, Sonja Schuringa and Jessica Otten, share their very articulate contributions to The G-String Series. Enjoy!

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SONJA SCHURINGA

When did you start playing the guitar? In what age and which band was actually the one that made you wanting to grab a guitar and start playing?

Hi! :) I actually started playing in a band when I was around 18 years (singing) but I started playing the guitar when I was 21 years old. I was listening to metal from the age of 12 years, so there were many bands who inspired me to start my own band.
The band I sang in, was not my ideal music to play, there were different levels of motivations and many different future plans. At a certain point, it got to an argument and I was fed up with playing this kind of music. One of the bandmembers sarcastically pointed out  I should start my own band and see how far I would get by playing guitar in a Deathmetal band....

What actually makes a guitarist unique? Feeling or technique? Many people for example cannot stand Satriani...who is absolutely a master when it comes to technique!

I've seen guitar players with an amazing technique, but lack of feeling. Playing the most technical, text book correct riffs/solos/songs. Very impressive indeed and it can make a guitarist unique. You have to have a certain basic techniques (obviously) for playing the guitar. Feeling/a musical ear is a necessity, a must have to be able to combine riffs, get the aggression out of the guitar, make the audience feel the energy of the song. To take Satriani as an example: An amazing technical guitarist with all the feeling that's needed for the music he writes. With the absence of feeling, he'd never be as good as he is.

So I'd give you the most boring conclusion: A bit of both :)

What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?

My first guitar was an acoustic Spanish Salvador guitar for playing/strumming Classical Gas by Mason Williams, haha. The first electric guitar I got was a Aria Pro II. And yes, I still have both of them, hanging on my wall. Never play the Aria anymore though.

Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?

Equipment can do the magic for the guitarist. This is a combination of question two, technique. A guitar player has to know what kind of equipment is needed to create the perfect sound he/she wants. There is an huge difference between cheap pick-ups or pick-ups designed for the guitar/certain music. You have to pick the right gear for the ultimate combination and to get the most out of your music. No pedals for me please :)

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What kind of equipment do you use? Guitars...pick ups...amps...? Do you use different equipment in the studio and different while playing live? If yes then what is the reason?

At the moment I'm playing a matt black Ibanez Prestige with Seymour Duncan Blackouts, a Mesa Boogie amp, a 4x12 Celestion Marshall 1960 cab, a noise gate pedal MXR and a Boss tuner :) I do pick the best cables I can find. And for a back-up I have my old Jackson Kelly with EMG 85's, which will be on the market soon. I'm selling it so I can bargain with Henri Sattler to buy an SKG.

Because of the combination of my gear and Yessica's, we never change our amps. Only fine-tune it when we get new guitars or pick-ups. We believe the combination of her and my taste makes and creates the sound of Dictated.

Construct the guitar of your dreams...brand, pick ups, strings..everything!

I'm a huge fan of Ibanez! It's hard to let that go, but I keep my eyes open for other guitars, as the SKG guitars. I love the newest model Anubis or Pulsar. It depends on the guitar to pick the pick-ups though. It's all in the right combination. Still, I'm a creature of habit, so probably Seymour Duncan Black outs :)
I've learned not just to change strings. I do and will always love Dunlop B set string (12-54 string). I'm not a real fan of coloured guitars, so only (matt) black, white or anthracite 'coloured' for me. I wouldn't go anymore, fixed bridge for me only!

Now form the band of your dreams...with you participating of course...Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?

Vocalist: Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapication) Guitarist: Joe Haley (Psycroptic) Drummer: John Longstreth and bassplayer Sean Beasley (Dying Fetus)
I'm scared of that combination haha. I'm sure I'd need to pick up the pace if I want to keep up.

Are you participating in the composing of your bands material or you're just a performer? How important is it for an artist to be able to express himself? I mean, if for example you were in a band only for performing someone else's musical themes...would you handle it not participating...not being able to express yourself?

We write the material with the members all together. I feel it's important to participate in writing the music you want to play. To add to your question: it makes you able to express the music and yourself better on stage, but also in the studio. You have to understand what you play, why you play it and what do you want the audience to listen to? I wouldn't be able to play in an all-cover band at all, because I wouldn't agree with every riff. It wouldn't feel complete. When you write your own material, you are able to create your own masterpiece, a song that gives you all the energy and an outlet for all the aggression.

Maybe when I'm old and wrinkly, I'd play in a blues/jazz band, playing cover songs, because I simply wouldn't be able to remember any of the riffs I wrote.

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Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?

So many times! And then the 'panic' kicks in! Especially when you work on a deadline. But, as I've learned writing the newest album The Deceived, the best song was written just the day before entering the studio. Inspiration squeezes out when pressure is applied, I always believe. You can lock yourself in a room for days on end; stare at walls, listening to music. But that one starting point (to me) comes at times when there is no way out (imagining a sergeant screaming in my ear) makes me write at my utmost.

Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?

I used to have a endorsement for my strings, but I switched to Dunlop. I think endorsement is also important for the brand you represent. Being represented by a quality brand could be of very good use, to both parties. The artist gets to play top notch equipment, has a strong name behind his skills and the brand gets more exposure in the genre it wants to represent itself in, thus make more sales to the fans following that band/guitarist. I'd say a win-win situation.

In all the years that you've been playing did something go totally wrong during a concert of yours? If yes, what was it? Please go ahead!

One of the things I remember very well was during a show in Belgium, playing a awesome gig with Paul Di'anno. I was having such a blast on stage, headbanging as hard as I could when at some point I smacked my own guitar straight into my face, haha. I was extremely dizzy and disorientated, for obvious reasons :)

Next to receiving marriage proposals and breaking strings during shows, I laughed my ass off when our former bass player jumped on top of a monitor box and smashed his head against the ceiling. Thank god for modern day technology, because it's all on video :)

Ok then...thank you for answering these questions. One last thing now! Who is the guitarist that you admire or that you would like to "punish" by have him or her answering these same questions?

There are many guitar players that I admire. I've already mentioned Joe Haley, but my jaw fell on the floor each night I saw Paul Ryan (Origin) play. I also admire Tom Whitty (Dyscarnate), Mendel bij de Leij (Aborted) and Diogo Bastos (Scarred/Satyricon)

 

 

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JESSICA OTTEN

When did you start playing the guitar? In what age and which band was actually the one that made you wanting to grab a guitar and start playing?

At age 14 I got a guitar for my birthday and started playing some tunes. But, as every guitarist knows, it takes discipline in the beginning. I took some lessons at a local guitar school but they couldn't offer me the things I wanted to learn. So I gave up and thought: ‘Guitar is not my instrument'. I didn't touch the guitar for a couple of years until I met Sonja at age 17. She was thinking of starting a metal band and asked me to join her. Of course I said no. But after a night of heavy drinking we got together and started to rehearse some riffs and songs. And so Dictated was born and I learned most skills along the way. From the early age of 12 I started listening to metal and bands like God Dethroned, Blood Red Throne and Dimmu Borgir triggered me to start practising more and more.

What actually makes a guitarist unique? Feeling or technique? Many people for example cannot stand Satriani...who is absolutely a master when it comes to technique!

I think that feeling is the most important ingredient for a guitarist. There are so many great guitarists that don't have the skills of Satriani, but nail the parts by putting in their feeling to make that special vibe. I see guitarist sweep picking their fingers off on stage but the vibe is totally gone when it comes to the performance of whole band.   

What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?

My first guitar, which I got for my 14th birthday, was a Fender Strat. The cheapest you can possible find haha. I still have it but I completely wrecked it. I wanted to know how it looked and worked from the inside so, in a way, the guitar thought me more than just chords. Therefore I will never throw it away! Or maybe make a clock or something out of it one day...

Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?

Nowadays you can reach a lot with the right equipment. But I think that's not the way to go. Everyone should start learning guitar on the crappiest axe they can find and keep on practising. Otherwise your skills will not develop as they should and sooner or later you're equipment will fail you. Sometimes I see guitarists with 10 footswitches getting ready on stage and I wonder if they're trying to hide something or they just want to create the perfect sound... Less is more!

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What kind of equipment do you use? Guitars...pick ups...amps...? Do you use different equipment in the studio and different while playing live? If yes then what is the reason?

My favourite axe, which I also use for live and studio recordings, is my Schecter Hellraiser with 2 EMG (81 & 86) pick ups. I love this guitar because of the solid heaviness and smooth neck. It needs a lot of maintenance though. If you don't change your strings on a daily basis or if you put it right in the flight case after playing a show it will become you're biggest enemy haha! When it comes to amps I prefer ENGL. Not because I think it's the best amp in the world but it has the perfect stage sound combined with Sonja's Mesa Boogie. For recordings we use digital equipment but always make sure to re-amp the tracks with our own guitar amps/sound.

Construct the guitar of your dreams...brand, pick ups, strings..everything!

Well I'm pretty much happy with the brand I have now so it would probably be another Schecter, but than a matt black seven-string with a fixed bridge and some Rail Hammer pick-ups for a massive sound! I don't really have the ultimate dream guitar like a ‘custom made Gibson' or something... It needs to be extremely comfortable and reliable. I don't care for brands, image or looks...

Now form the band of your dreams...with you participating of course...Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?

I have a serious problem if we all have to fit together.... I have quite a broad interest in different kinds of metal genres. But let me give it a try. By my side I would like to have Robert Vigna (Immolation) on guitar. His feeling and inspiration are amazing! On drums I would love to have Francesco Paoli (Fleshgod Apocalypse). His drums skills surprise me every time. Vocals need to be represented by Shaun LaCanne (Putrid Pile) and finishing up with Mike Flores (Origin) on bass for the crushing finishing touch.

Are you participating in the composing of your bands material or you're just a performer? How important is it for an artist to be able to express himself? I mean, if for example you were in a band only for performing someone else's musical themes...would you handle it not participating...not being able to express yourself?

Me and Sonja write and create most of the music. Of course all our (session) members have their own voice within the band but when it comes to writing the music it's just Sonja and me. When you start a band and it becomes an important part of your life, its very important to be able to express yourself in the music. This is a blessing as well as a curse because you are always, night and day, involved. I for once would love to join a band where my mind and creativity are not important and just play the music I'm hired for to perform. I do think that you need to have a connection with the music, but I believe you can express yourself just as much when your head is empty and play the parts given to you.

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Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?

Of course! I think every musician deals with this problem now and then. You can't be in full writing mode all the time. I have moments where I can't even come up with one decent guitar riff. Otherwise I have moments where I can write a whole song in just a couple of hours. It really depends on your mood, your energy and external inspirational factors. For me it works to be forced into writing. Not everybody will agree with me on this, but when I have to come up with new material, I get into the rehearsal room with Sonja and don't leave until we have a few good ideas. If we end up throwing them out later, that's fine but you need to stay active when it comes to writing.

Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?

At this moment I don't have any endorsements. We did have some in the past for smaller equipment like strings and picks but these kind of endorsements bind you to one brand and create limits. For example the strings would rust after one gig or I don't really need thin picks but heavy small ones like Jazz III picks. I do think there are some advantages for an artist to be endorsed (service and quality for example) but again, I think endorsements create limits for the artist. I would kill for a Schecter endorsement though...

In all the years that you've been playing did something go totally wrong during a concert of yours? If yes, what was it. Please go ahead!

I make sure I'm prepared for every show but you can't always prevent unexpected things to happen. Nothing wild really happened besides the usual broken strings, broken cables or other technical difficulties. The worse that happened to me during a show was seeing my life flash in front of my eyes when I saw the whole P.A system come my way when a drunken visitor knocked the whole thing over. It's hard to keep playing with a mini heart attack but we did it haha. 

Ok then...thank you for answering these questions. One last thing now! Who is the guitarist that you admire or that you would like to "punish" by have him or her answering these same questions?

One guitarist I really admire is Christian Andreu from Gojira. I would really like to hear his stories and answers to these questions!

 

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