INTERVIEW: Guitar goddess Orianthi on playing in a man's world
Meet Orianthi: The most bada** chick in rock with a big heart for up-and-coming musicians. She chatted with SheKnows about her upcoming show at the Troubadour and growing up in rock 'n' roll.
What were you doing at 18? Sneaking out of the house to hang with your boyfriend? Working at the Whippy Dip to help pay your car insurance? Australian singer, guitar player and all around rock star Orianthi was jamming with the legendary Santana. Why? Because she had a dream and she chased after it with abandon. Ori admitted to SheKnows that it wasn't always easy, but with her very rock 'n' roll, "screw 'em" attitude, she set out to make her dream come true. Now she's helping others do the same.
Thanks to the Be My Band contest, Orianthi is set to take the stage with four fresh-faced musicians from around the world who auditioned for the part. The contestants, hailing from all over the world, sent in videos of their performances and the contestants went through multiple rounds of voting. Now Ori and her team have selected the winners and the four guys (from Luxembourg, America, Italy and Brazil) are flying in to rehearse and perform with the singer at the legendary Troubadour.
"Yeah, so they go through rehearsals... and then I come in the last day of rehearsals and go through the set with them. And then we record the whole evening at the Troubadour on Valentine's Day," she shared.
Yikes! Valentine's Day is just around the corner! Is she nervous at all about performing with guys who have only been rehearsing for less than two weeks?
"I have confidence they'll be able to do their thing and hitch it up. You know, I've been put in situations where I've learned like 25 songs in a week," Orianthi reminisced. "They're not playing 25 songs. I'm not playing that many. But, you know, we're playing about an hour or so. It's gonna be a lot of fun. ...If they kick butt, which I think they will, I'll call them again to play more shows with me."
In other words, Orianthi and her team gave four very lucky guys the chance to go from playing in basements and garages to playing in the big leagues. Ori knows all you need is someone to believe in you and she's willing to be that person for these talented musicians.
"You know I've had the opportunity to get up on stage and jam with so many people and it's great," Orianthi said. "I just thought it'd be really cool to get a musician out of their home and their bedroom and flown out to Los Angeles to play a show. Just get to jam out with all these musicians from around the world. You know, it just kind of starts from there. You get that spark and inspiration of getting up on stage and doing that. It's like a drug, it's addictive."
It's addictive, but it's an interesting world for a young girl to try to dive into. The rock world and the guitar playing world are incredibly male-heavy. Even Orianthi's band of winners is made up entirely of guys. How did that affect her as a girl and how does it shape the way she does things now?
"Electric guitar is always going to be a guys' thing. There's not that many girls playing other than Bonnie Raitt or Jennifer Batten," said Orianthi. "But, the way I look at it is that it's like if you basically have a passion for something, it doesn't matter. You just keep on going. But it's always nice to have people that believe in you and people that inspire you to just keep on going... But with this whole "Be My Band' thing, people are like, "Are you gonna pick female players?" If they're as good, it doesn't matter. If a guy plays better than a girl, I'm going to pick the guy. I'm not just going to go out and find a female band play. ...I just wanna close my eyes and if they sound amazing, that's what it comes down to."
Orianthi was quick to point out that it's easier to get scared off by being the odd girl out if you're not truly passionate about something. Not to start a feud, but one of her final comments seemed rather pointed and, honestly, we loved it.
"You know, if you don't hold the guitar as an accessory and it's something that you express yourself through. Then it is what it is. I don't over-think it."
Orianthi found her passion for the guitar when she picked one up at 6 years old and threw herself into mastering it. Now she's rocking out with some of music's biggest names, instead of strumming along sweetly for award show cameras. What can we say? We think this guitar goddess is a legend in the making... and a real inspiration to all those little girls out there wanting to make it big someday.
Keep up with Orianthi and the results of Be My Band by following her on Twitter @Orianthi!