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Geared Up: Sulene Explains Her Fondness for Her Fender Jazzmaster



Sulene is going at it hard with her new single and forthcoming EP. The highly regarded singer and songwriter just revealed “We Go Hard,” the first single from her brilliantly titled record, In The Style of David Lynch. “We Go Hard” is a nice sample of what you can expect on the album, heavily influenced by industrial and up-tempo indie pop, and entirely self-produced. In The Style of David Lynch will be released in collaboration between Secret Friends Music Group and Trash Casual.

Originally a native of Cape Town, South Africa, Sulene is now based in Brooklyn, New York. She moved to the United States to focus more on her musical career and to become more involved in the indie music scene. Since settling in the U.S., she has had some impressive feats, including touring as a multi-instrumentalist for Nate Ruess, lead singer of the hit indie-pop group fun. She’s now prepared to emerge as a solo artist, anchored by her own talents and charisma.

A lover of fine gear, we recently spoke with Sulene for our latest Geared Up interview where we discussed at length her fondness for Fender guitars, particularly her Fender Jazzmaster.

What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?

Sulene: “Hmm… probably my Fender Jazzmaster. I have one go-to guitar, one go-to synth (my Prophet-6) and one go-to pedal for distortion/vibe (small-sound, big-sound mini). But I’m probably most ‘recognized’ through my guitar-playing since that’s my main instrument.”

How did you come to possess your Jazzmaster? Vintage shop, regular shop, borrowed money, gifted. Give us the details..

“I’ve always been a Fender-player, but a few years ago I was fortunate enough to be endorsed by them so I was gifted a few guitars. From there I fell in love with my Jazzmaster, it just feels right in my hands and sounds amazing. I really like the shape of its body as well, that’s a big deal when you’re performing live. It’s easy to reach the higher frets are well, which is important to me because I love playing one-string guitar riff on the low E (laughs). It just had a great tone there.”

Did you use the Jazzmaster heavily during the recording of “We Go Hard?”

“Yes! The Jazzmaster if in all the choruses of ‘We Go Hard.’ It’s also featured in the post-chorus. It’s one of those prior-mentioned one-string riffs I like to write and play (laughs).”

Geared Up: Sulene Explains Her Fondness for Her Fender Jazzmaster

Do you have a special was that you recreate your album tones in a live setting, or is it more just plug-and-play?

“I only play guitar live (the rest is in tracks), but I use the same pedalboard and guitar live that I used to record the tones in my record. I’m so used to my pedals that I have the tones pretty dialed in by now. I use a vocal pedal (Roland VT-4) to re-create the autotune effects, the chorus on my chorus at times, and sometimes delays and reverbs.”

How easy is it for you to tweak the device and get the tone/sounds you need?

“I find it really straightforward to tweak tones on my Jazzmaster. With that and my pedalboard, I have my tones pretty dialed in. I also understand how things will sound depending on where on the neck I play the part. It’s super useful to become familiar with your gear over years of use because you can dial things in pretty quick and have go-to sounds.”

How does the piece of gear hold up with regular touring and gigging?

“It holds up great! I used this guitar on all my solo shows, as well as on national and international tours with Nate Ruess (of fun), LPX, Candy Hearts, and more. I used to play guitar for those bands and artists.”

Do you have a backup for the Jazzmaster?

“Probably my Fender American Strat. It’s a pretty different guitar, but prior to my Jazzmaster it was the guitar I played for about ten years, so I know it really well.”

Time for some fun. Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.

“Oh, unfortunately that would involve my vocal pedal. I mean vocal pedals are notoriously sketchy on stage, but I’ve definitely had the attune function glitch out on my real hard on my cover of ‘Say My Name’ live… the sub bass kicked in that that shit went haywire. Like I sounded like a cartoons on drugs, it was skipping between pitches and voice formants.”

Any final thoughts or comments on your Jazzmaster?

“Couldn’t speak higher of my guitar pedals, I’d say! I love all these in my photos, they’re so solid, sound so amazing, and to this day I find new ways to combine them and make really unique tones.”

Artwork for the single “We Go Hard” by Sulene

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