JUNE 2006 Featured Player of the Month

guitarist/singer-songwriter Linda Nuñez

Interview by Robert Urban for GAY GUITARISTS WORLDWIDE


'Gold Star'* Linda Nuñez is leader of the rock band NUÑEZ. She was born in the Gator Country, (Gainesville, Florida), to a Cuban immigrant father and a school teacher mother. She embodies the empowering feelings of 'Freeing Yourself to Be Yourself' through 'Straight'-forward Rock w/an Indie Pop feel!

NUÑEZ aspires to become a strong representative of the new breed of LGBTQI performers by reaching across the diversity and grabbing anyone within earshot through thoughtful lyrics, melody-filled and guitar-heavy songs and Linda's dynamic vocals...

* = “Gold Star” is an L Word reference to a Virgin Lesbian – No men, ever!

- What brand/model/year instrument(s) do you record and play out with?

The first guitar I really ever put a lot of money into was a 1996 Taylor Acoustic, 512 Grand Concert series, which I still use today. I use it for all my Acoustic shows, and quite a bit when in the studio. I also play a Gibson Chet Atkins (hollow body) and on the electric side a Gibson SG.

- What brand/model/year amps & effects (if any) do you use?

My amp is a Valvetronix digital modeling amp made by Vox (2004). When purchasing an amp for my electric guitar style, I thought about what to get for a long time. I decided on a modeling style amp as opposed to the traditional tube amps because my role within my bands as the rhythm player has always been to enhance the sound of my lead guitarist. So by having something that was as versatile as the Valvetronix is, I could fit many needs all in one box. It comes with 32 presets, which I then take a mold to the sound I want. I can constantly tweak and perfect the sound I'm looking for while storing others that I've built, until I get it just right. The process to store a sound is as simple as a touch of a button and I love Vox's easy to read handbook. I've had such success with this amp that I also use it in my acoustic show, running my Taylor through it and building a specific sound tailored specifically for that guitar.

As far as effects, I'm not really into having a rack of pedals at my feet. Too many choices drive me crazy. So I stick pretty closely to the basics…. a tasty bit of chorus in places, maybe some tremolo, or delay. I'm careful to use effects the right way, meaning I don't stick them on top of something just because I feel something is missing. I have to feel that the song calls for an effect. Otherwise you run the risk of stepping all over the music and/or the message because it's buried in effects.

- Any special/favorite instrument tones/effects/approaches/techniques you've used/discovered in recording and/or performance that you really like?

The best approach to recording is, by far, is to own your own studio. Seriously! The freedom that I found by having the time to perfect my overdubs and flesh out ideas was immeasurable and really made a huge difference in how Cry Mercy turned out. I strongly encourage young artists and songwriters to put together a simple home studio and learn how to operate the buttons and knobs on their own.

- Who are your main influences as an instrumentalist? Which artists? Which bands? Instrumentalist? Which artists/bands were your favorites in your youth?

My main influences when I was just beginning to play guitar are guys no one has probably ever heard of. In my formative years as a guitar player, I was fortunate to be working at Gibson Guitar in Nashville, TN. Everyday, all day… guitars everywhere you look! It was heaven and of course, every person in the place was a player of some sort. Guys like Chuck Yamek who toured with Tiffany in the 80's, Ric Olsen, guitar player for Berlin, and the list goes on. We'd grab a guitar while sitting at our desks and take a jam break. And of course no one really minded cuz everyone was too busy joining in!

Favorite bands/musical influences? The list is huge, endless really. I was a radio kid, which basically means that I listened to whatever I could tune in on the radio. My family and I didn't always live in the big cities, so I would hear one channel for a little awhile, until it faded out and I was forced to find something else. So what I got was a lot of everything, country, rock, country-fried rock, R&B, jazz, classical, pop. And then I studied Madrigal music and sang in concert choir all through high school. So my list of influences and favorite bands is long and extremely varied. But I have to say that vocally, the ladies of Heart (Ann & Nancy Wilson) and Pat Benatar really molded my approach to vocals because they sang with such conviction and strength combined with control, that really just did it for me.  

- Tell fans about your luv for your particular style of music, as opposed to other styles - how it became your favorite style of rock, etc

Rock music just always seemed to top my list of “favorite song” at any given time. It's tough to say why that is, just something inside I guess, like the way we know whether we're straight or gay. Coming from an athletic background I was always in motion in one way or another. Rock to me embodies that same emotion and allows me to be expressive in a way that feels most comfortable and natural for me.

- Do you play/compose/record only your own original music? Do you do any other work in music - e.g. teaching, recording session work, hired gun, producing, etc? Does your playing appear on recordings of any other artists?

I write or co-write all of my own material. In fact, with the exception of the title track, all of the songs on Cry Mercy are my compositions. In addition to writing and playing I also produced this record and in doing so, found that I have a real passion for producing and I hope to do more in the future. I also teach voice and operate my own home studio. I work with several other aspiring artists to develop their vocal techniques and help guide them safely to their musical goals.

- Is there a particular favorite solo or part you played on a recording, or a certain piece of composed music you wrote, that you feel represents your finest work?

Track #10 on Cry Mercy (you see, I also play piano) and I choose that one because it is so different from my mainstream. I feel that it shows a well- rounded musical education and I'm proud of that.


Any special thoughts on your instrument, and what it's meant to you in your life?

8. You know that question, “If you were stranded on an island and could only take 1 thing?” I could deal as long as I had a guitar and could sing.

Can you relate any special feelings or experiences about being a glbt player in the mostly straight music world... especially regarding your formative/learning years on your instrument?

I have never really felt like an outsider when it comes to being gay and being an artist. In fact I have sometimes wondered if being gay has helped me be accepted by my mostly male counterparts. Sex between us was never an issue, so it allowed us to work side by side on an equal level. And the wives never worried about how much time I was spending with their men, so all in all I'd have to say that my being gay was very much an afterthought.

As for what it was like in my formative years, it was a little tough only because I wasn't out of the closet, so most of the time I felt like I had to hide myself. But it was actually that uncomfortable position that was a deciding force in my coming out.

- For a glbt player - how does the overall music scene differ today
from years ago?

I experienced the Nashville scene from about 1994-1998 and I noticed how fatal it was to be gay and be in that arena. Artists like K.D. Lang and Shelby Lynne were often targeted and shunned by radio and concert promoters for their openness about their sexuality. Unfortunately it seems that the country music scene finds little virtue in being honest and true to yourself because not much has changed there. But in the rock world, things are very different and some artists are even applauded for being gay and proud. And while there are still strides to be made, I feel we are moving toward a more colorful palette from which to choose our musical heroes.

- Any advice for young glbt players?

Nothing pays off more than perseverance.

- What are your current and future musical projects?

Right now I am in full touring mode in support of my newly released 4th album entitled Cry Mercy. The band and I are gearing up for a summer of big things with stops in Tallahassee FL, Atlanta GA, Los Angeles CA, and Key West Pride Festivals as well as numerous acoustic solo/duo shows. I also have 2 films that I will be a part of. One shows the different stages of Indie artists and their journey up the musical ladder. Another is a short film that I am also starring in and that will feature my song “That's Where I Went Wrong” (Cry Mercy). After that? I guess I'll have to see what comes up.


More on Linda Nunez at: http://www.myspace.com/nunez


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