Guitarist

Artist: Sophie Giuliani

Soloing masterclas­ses: Pickup Music

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Australian-born and Los Angeles-based Sophie Giuliani is a 23-year-old session guitarist of high order, having played with Olivia Rodrigo, Empress Of and Mayer Hawthorne among others, and she recently took to the Coachella stage with R&B pop artist Thuy. She is also a popular online guitar tutor (check out her Pickup Music masterclas­s). But her route to guitar playing took some surprising turns.“My interest in music came from ballet,” Sophie explains.“I hated it and was more interested in the music being played, so then I did a hip-hop class. But once I started playing guitar I knew it was something I really wanted to do.”

Coming To America

Sophie didn’t hang about – by the time high school hit in Victoria, Australia, she was already thinking ahead.“By 14 or 15, I was looking into schools in the US,” she says.“With social media these days, there was already a community of players and I was watching people who study at Berklee and Musicians Institute, so I already had the dream of coming to America, that idea was circulatin­g. And then I watched the whole John Mayer thing and saw that he went to Berklee…” She stops and laughs: “It was only for [a few] months, so maybe you can’t count that. But all the way through high school I was trying to get as good as possible to make an opportunit­y.”

The Journey

This drive has seen Sophie good with her now being establishe­d in LA, and her musical journey matches miles travelled.“The first guitarist I knew was Slash,” she says, “but then someone gifted me the Crossroads video in 2011, and that’s when I discovered how much of a blues guitarist John Mayer was and I was just like,‘What is happening?’That opened up so much for me; it opened my mind to Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King and all the Kings. But I grew up listening to Van Halen, Clapton and Def Leppard – and Prince is one of my all time favourite guitarists. And then in my teens I went down the jazz rabbit hole, although I’m nowhere close to being a jazz player!”

In Session

Sophie is predominan­tly a session guitarist, a demanding practice that requires a broad spectrum of musical knowledge.“The range of music I’ve had to play in the last year is so vast,” she says.“As a session musician, [listening has] helped me a lot getting gigs in different styles.And I think each phase has helped me really home in on whatever the artist is needing. For me, it helps me understand a vision and it’s easy when somebody makes a reference and you’ve gone down that road before and you can hear what they’re asking.

“A lot of the time, communicat­ion in music is referencin­g artists and music of a certain time,” she explains.“If someone asks you to give them Prince comping on little voicings, if you haven’t listened, how can you know what they’re talking about?”

Stage Management

By its nature, the role of session musician is seen from a different angle – a support act to the main character on stage or in the studio.“I don’t like being centre stage,” Sophie admits.“I enjoy being behind; I’m a bit of a wallflower and I feel comfortabl­e being on stage, playing someone’s music and being excited about bringing that artist’s project to life. I love being part of a team and I’d feel a little afraid if the focus was all on me! I’d love to sit in and watch the players in Nashville do their thing,” she continues.“I’ve seen people get jealous of others who are better than them, but I want to play with the best people. I want to learn!”

 ?? ?? Sophie had session guitar work in her sights in her teens, researchin­g teaching facilities in the States all the way from her native Australia
Standout work: Olivia Rodrigo BBC Radio 1 LiveLounge For fans of: John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa, Susan Tedeschi
Sophie had session guitar work in her sights in her teens, researchin­g teaching facilities in the States all the way from her native Australia Standout work: Olivia Rodrigo BBC Radio 1 LiveLounge For fans of: John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa, Susan Tedeschi
 ?? ?? Still in her early 20s, Sophie has played with an enviable list of artists, including pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo www.facebook.com/ sophiegiul­ianimusic
Still in her early 20s, Sophie has played with an enviable list of artists, including pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo www.facebook.com/ sophiegiul­ianimusic

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