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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

VAVÁ VOOM

Vanessa Wheeler’s genre-bending take on modern guitar pop is as exhilarating and unpredictable as her guitar collection. We head to Vanessa’s Los Angeles home to check out the technicolour tools of her trade…
PHOTOGRAPHY ELEANOR JANE
‘Cake’ is a custom Creston Lea creation. The cake motif was handpainted by artist Sarah Ryan and the guitar’s 26.75- inch scale neck is tuned B to B COLLECTION GUITAR MAGAZINE

Los Angeles is a city absolutely brimming with talent ranging from aspiring pop stars, weekend warriors and barroom brawlers to singersongwriters who set up shop on the Sunset Strip hoping to nab your attention and a record deal. Often portrayed as cutthroat, the constant grind of the LA scene can seem overwhelming to newcomers; and even once you’ve acclimated, making a splash is a full-time job. With each new artist trying to capture a piece of the market, cultivating ‘relevance’ and chasing trends, far fewer actually seem to be carving a path for themselves on their own terms. Vanessa Wheeler is one such artist.

Under the pseudonym VAVÁ, Wheeler painstakingly crafts music that bridges the gaps between pop, traditional Brazilian guitar, electronica, and R&B. Her voice soars into the ether above her grounded, intricate guitar work, much of which filters through her Brazilian roots and jazz-guitar fluency. Her right hand is a force of rhythm, which she augments with time-based effects and a particularly clear, dynamic tone, perfectly suited for her complex open-chord voicings.

“Music was just a natural part of growing up,” she ruminates. “My education was my mom playing what she thought she’d heard on the radio, which is another filter, I suppose. She’d play these classical flourishes and turns, she’d add them to everything.”

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